Thursday, 20 April 2017

Public libraries… key to renaissance and modernization

While I was reading an article for ambassador and intellectual Mr. Abdel-Ra’ouf ar-Ridi in last Friday’s Al Ahram newspaper edition, I remembered what I read long time ago about the European renaissance and how one of the most important features at the beginning and set off of this renaissance was the efforts exerted by the Medici family that ruled Tuscany and Florence at the beginning of the modern era. This family believed and practiced the civilization and cultural role of wealth and responsibility of managing the society affairs. The princes of this family were famous for assuming such role, atop of them was prince Lorenzo the magnificent about whom it was said that he declared his intention to sell the furniture of Medici family houses to continue building the public libraries in Tuscany and Florence.

Ambassador ar-Ridi wrote about sources of terrorism and focused on the role of public libraries in building the civilization and cultural renaissance in Egypt… and of course the scientific and technical ones… he inaugurated the invitation to start building a thousand public libraries in Egypt… here I excerpt part of his article: “… since Egypt’s situation now is not only deteriorated in the public libraries’ field, but in the field of scientific research… as per the index of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Egypt lies almost at the last rank preceded by all other Arab countries except for Algeria and Yemen… as to the UAE, it occupies the first rank with Jordan following it in the second place”.

From this space of opinion pages of Al Ahram, I agree to this invitation and call upon everyone interested in the renaissance of this country to do the same thing so that this invitation sent by ambassador ar-Ridi can reach president Sisi to support the initiative of building a thousand public libraries in Egypt and issuing a law that makes reading a basic right for every citizen and having a public library a fundamental right for every human community… especially that there are many nations that precede us in such field… for example, there is a public library for every 28 thousand people in India… also, Iran has achieved better than this… and the Zionist state is even more and more advanced in such regard.

In my opinion, the hope in achieving the renaissance of our country in all fields starts by building the citizens’ awareness of their important role in achieving such hope… it is also known that building and increasing awareness is qualitatively and quantitatively connected to culture… we also know that means of reading have developed and that it is now available to have a flash memory, the one you can attach to your keys’ ring, which can hold hundreds of books in all fields… for this reason, I have already called more than once in my writings and TV interviews to start a campaign titled “a flash memory for every class”… this flash memory shall include well-chosen books regarding subjects and level to match the age range of those who shall read them.

I would like also to widen the scope of the invitation to include all the well-offs of Egypt and all civil communities; whether political parties, non-governmental organizations and all their likes in the countryside, desert and small towns to share in a collective work and go to the ministry of domestic development, that our good fortune happened to bring a great scientist and pioneering expert in the scientific and IT field on top of it, to start establishing the public libraries nationwide… next to reading and listening rooms, there shall be other halls for seminars and theatrical and artistic performances in general… and so, all who cannot find space to practice such activities in schools and universities shall go to these libraries… in doing so, the public libraries will turn into focal points of collective and creativity activities in all Egypt… side by side with youth clubs and residences of public culture… here I wonder about the current status of these two since we are about to fulfill our hope in building the renaissance of our country!

Ambassador ar-Ridi, that 80-years-old young man full of energy with his agile mind always wondering, has exerted a big and distinguished effort in the field of establishing and fostering public libraries so that they do not disappear with time… and he is still trying hard to fulfill the hope of working on building the first thousand public libraries so that we can have one for every hundred thousand Egyptian citizens… such thing might seem unachievable if we compared the percentage to other countries we mentioned above however we hope we can begin the journey of thousand miles with a single step… this step is the establishment of thousand libraries.

In such regard, the brave city of Suez is waiting to be the first one of the governorates’ capitals to have such public library as a first step… I knew that the land is already available… only the entity that will fund such project is left… as to the content of the library, ambassador ar-Ridi has promised to provide all support to have an international level of quality… and so I ask Mr. Hesham esh-Sherif; minister of domestic development to foster such project so that the efforts of providing the possibilities of building the public library of Suez are done under the auspices of the ministry.

Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar

This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on April 20, 2017.

To see the original article, go to:

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