Located on the third floor of the campus library, the rare books & special collections section is considered by many to be one of the university’s hallmarks. Researchers and scholars come to AUC to access the archived material, some of which documents Egypt as well as other aspects of Islamic art and architecture.
“[It is a] chance for [students] to use the original sources of history and scholarship,” said Stephen Urgola, the university archivist and director of AUC records management “They get to see the materials and draw their own conclusions.”
The entrance to the rare books library hosts a small photo gallery; on display are a number of archived black and white photos that take you back in time.
A collection of more than 50,000 books, maps, articles, CD’s, and photos are preserved at the rare books library, carefully relocated from the Tahrir campus in February and March last year.
The university archive, which consists mostly of photos and records dating back almost 100 years, offers students are glance through AUC’s history, its presidents, deans, administration, provosts and academic departments. Publications, most notably those of the AUC Press, are readily available through this collection.
Archived material is derived from the works of prominent history scholars and contributors in Egyptian history. They include architectural drawings and a large photo collection. As many of the items in this portion of the library had been damaged prior to being collected, there is a conservation lab which aims to restore these books, photos, and maps.
The map collection thoroughly describes Cairo’s often overwhelming streets and roads.
Eman Morgan, the Periodicals & Electronic Media Coordinator, said that students should be aware of the rare books collection.
“Many books are out of print and cannot be found in the main library,” said Morgan.
Those in charge of the maintenance, preservation, and replenishment of the Rare Books & Special Collections have made many of these resources available on the Internet through DAR (Digital Archive and Research Repository). This is a digital platform for media files, images, and audio files.
Although many of items in the rare books library are not allowed to leave the third floor of the building, some books may be checked out overnight or for several hours. A range of information is available on reserve as well, according to professors’ preferences.
“I don’t assign students to use that section but sometimes they do it on their own, [but] I think it’s very useful,” said History Professor Michael Reimer.