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The Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina Delivered a Public Lecture at Sofia University

Aula magna of Sofia University hosted a public lecture on the topic of “the Seven Pillars of the Revolution of Knowledge” delivered by Dr Ismail Serageldin, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Earlier, he had a meeting with Professor DHabil. Anastas Gerdzhikov, Rector of Sofia University. Dr Serageldin expressed his joy at the possibility of visiting the oldest high academic establishment in this country and said that it was an honor for him to give a lecture at the University.

Dr Ismail Serageldin is director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in 2002. He is chairperson of the Board of Directors of all the scientific institutes and museums affiliated to Bibliotheca Alexandrina. He is an adviser on culture, education and museums of the Prime Minister of Egypt.


Dr Ismail Serageldin is Doctor honoris causa of many universities, including those of Bucarest, Melbourne, the American University of Cairo, the University of Ohio, the University of Nantes, Manchester University, etc. He is on a visit to this country on an invitation by former President Petur Stoyanov.

Dr Serageldin’s lecture was attended by HE President Petur Stoyanov, HE Mrs Margarita Popova, Vice-president of the Republic of Bulgaria, HE Mrs Manal Yehia El Shinnawi, Ambassadress of Egypt, Associate Professor Martin Ivanov, Secretary of culture and national identity of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Professor Dr Habil. Anastas Gerdzhikov, Rector of Sofia University, Professor Boryana Hristova, Director of the National Library, Associate Professor Anna Angelova, Director of the University Library St. Kliment Ohridski, librarians, faculty and students.

In the fully packed Aula of Sofia University President Petur Stoyanov stated that it was both an honor and pleasure for him to meet Dr Serageldin in this country. He added that the Alexandrian library is the mother of all libraries in the world and, in a certain sense, the mother of world knowledge.


Petur Stoyanov recounted to those present the serendipitous event that was the cause of meeting Dr Ismail Serageldin some years ago. What impressed him most was Dr Serageldin’s unorthodox personality: he had been deputy executive director of the World Bank, he is a lover and translator of poetry, he is doing research work on Shakespeare and is preparing a book dedicated to the spiritual dimensions of globalization. Petur Stoyanov stressed that Dr Ismail Serageldin’s presence is an opportunity to hear the voice of one of the most influential intellectuals in today’s world.

Professor Boryana Hristova, Director of the National Library S. S. Cyril and Methodius, briefly introduced Dr Ismail Serageldin as founding director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, successor to the famous Alexandrian library.

Professor Hristova pointed out that the new library building, opened on 23 April, 2002, had been under construction for about 12 years and had been conceptualized to resemble the symbol of the Sun in ancient Egypt. There is a panel in front of it on which the letters of all known alphabets were inscribed. Professor Hristova also added that the library houses a reading room for 3500 users who can avail themselves of all possible library services.


Professor Hristova presented the overall work of Dr Serageldin as member of the board of different centers of the library and singled out the conservation center in particular. Professor Hristova also mentioned that he is an advisor on culture, science and the museums of the Prime Minister of Egypt. Currently, he is on the board of several consultation committees. He has been chairperson of the Executive committee of the World Digital Library since 2010. All that is done alongside other activities of international scale such as participating in various initiatives related to modern technologies and innovations, and the future of internet and modern communications. He holds honorary doctorates from 34 universities in the world. He is also the laureate of many prestigious prizes.


In his lecture “The Seven Pillars of the Revolution of Knowledge”, Dr Ismail Serageldin focused on the fast changing world and analyzed various aspects of globalization. In his words some of the more challenging issues of the topic refer to how we create the new global society, how we homogenize our cultures, and how we allow for pluralism. According to him, we are witnesses to a new type of legalization of the differences that are all around us and are more palpable than ever.

Dr Serageldin defined internet as certainly the most transforming invention of the past century. The Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina stressed on the ways our society gets transformed as a result of the advent of internet in our lives. According to him, internet has changed the world in which we live more than any political or military organization that we have ever known. Internet is all pervasive: it transcends borders and makes it possible for us to communicate fast from all locations of the planet. It has everything, i.e. a huge amount of information of various degree of quality: there are lies, rumors, authentic quotations and great truths, Dr Serageldin added.


He drew specific attention to the dynamism with which internet is moving ahead: 2002 witnessed the first social platform Friendster; 2003 – Myspace; Facebook appeared in 2004; 2005 marked the invention of Youtube; and 2007 saw the appearance of the first smart-phones.

Nowadays, the knowledge that is produced in the world is no longer confined solely to books but has turned into an enormous interconnected network, Dr Serageldin remarked. He mentioned that during 2010-2013 the daily information published on internet increased twentyfold. Dr Serageldin added that we are not ready yet to process the information we receive. According to him, a challenge facing libraries is to cope with the reality that everything is in a process of migration on internet, and that knowledge for the first time can become global and we must do something with it.

Human brain is far more easily adaptable to visual than to textual analysis. Nowadays data have been systematized as information; when the latter is explained it becomes knowledge; when the latter is accumulated it becomes wisdom, but in order to have wisdom, humanity needs a value system, the world famous scholar concluded.