UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has named the American University in Cairo’s Libraries and Learning Technologies, Rare Books and Special Collection Library in Egypt as the laureate of the 2022 UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize, following the recommendation of an international jury of experts.
“The Rare Books and Special Collections Library is a powerful testament to how well-preserved, accessible documentary heritage can become a wellspring for the understanding of history and culture across regions. I congratulate them on winning this Prize,” said the Director-General.
In its recommendation, the international jury of experts recognized the unique expertise and outstanding work of the laureate in preserving and enabling access to Egyptian documentary heritage of global significance. The Library will be presented with the Prize in a ceremony in Cheongju, Republic of Korea, on 2 September, during the 30th anniversary celebration of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme.
The Rare Books and Special Collections Library
Founded in 1919, the American University in Cairo (AUC) became actively involved in the preservation of cultural heritage in the 1950s, when it acquired the collection of Sir Keppel Archibald Cameron Creswell, a pioneer in the study of Islamic art and architecture. It has since continued collecting and preserving rare books, drawings, and other documentary heritage, including, to name but a few, the papers, plans and artefacts of notable Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, the Van Leo Photographic Collection and documents pertaining to the history of Egyptian women and society.
The University’s Rare Books and Special Collections Library has a conservation laboratory and digitization center, contributing to its important work in preserving Egyptian documentary heritage and making it accessible to scholars, students, and the public. By supporting research and collaborating with other institutions in Egypt and beyond, the Library has become an indispensable research hub for Arabic and African countries.
Speaking of the role of libraries at universities and learning institutions in the preservation and sharing documentary heritage, Heba Sayed, AUC’s Director of Planning Assessment and Business Development, pledged “AUC-LLT-RBSCL will continue to work arduously to identify, keep, preserve and share the records and the story of those that have contributed to changing the world that many times are underrepresented in the mainstream historical record.”
The UNESCO / Jikji Memory of the World Prize
The UNESCO / Jikji Memory of the World Prize commemorates the inscription on the Memory of the World International Register of Buljo jikji simche yojeol, a Korean work considered to be the oldest book printed with movable metal type. Endowed with $30,000, funded by the Republic of Korea through the City of Cheongju, the Prize recognizes efforts to contribute to the preservation of and accessibility to documentary heritage as the common heritage of humanity.