Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Fire at the Institut d'Egypte Cairo

[First posted 18 December 2011, updated as new material appears]

This is an attempt to pull together (outside the Facebook, Twitter, etc. firewalls) the various pieces of information available online on the fire at the Institut d'Egypte, Cairo, 17 December 2011.  If you have something to contribute, please comment below.  

Efforts to coordinate volunteers to work on conservation of the collection are being communicated at the Facebook Group:  Save the books إنقذوا الكتب

William J. Kopycki, Field Director, Library of Congress--Cairo, Egypt, US Embassy has posted images of Library stamps from the Institut d'Egypte with the hopes that it would be useful should any of the Institut's holdings be spotted in the antiquarian book market. This is merely a precaution and should not be construed as anything being reported missing or outside the control of NLAE or the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.

Appeal for Assistance:
Dear all,

As you know lots of books were damaged and destroyed yesterday when the Institut d'Egypt was set on fire. The salvaged books have been handed over to the Dar al-Kutub, who are now organizing a rescue effort led by my amazing book conservator colleagues and involving DAK's staff of conservators. We're getting a vacuum packing machine there to stop the development of any mo...ld. Here's a list of materials needed in large quantities. Please deliver to DAK Corniche. We are also ready to purchase them, but it would be great to get them delivered asap. One of the most important things is the bags-- we needed them to vacuum pack the books, so we need the bags used by food companies to vacuum pack food. It is extremely important to find a company which will sell or donate these bags in bulk.

Please reach out to your networks and help us save these books. The first 24 hours are crucial. This is my number for anyone who needs to reach me, 010 6664 7823. I am heading over there in a bit. We don't need people now as the staff of the Dar Al Kutub is working, but in a few hours we might need help to register supplies, organize things, etc.

Thank you! Please spread.


gloves (medical, non-latex)
extension cords
bags used by food companies for vacuum packing
bin liners /garbage bags
nespaper (printed or unprinted from a press-- better!)
plastic (milk) crates
aprons/lab coats


General Descriptions of the Library

Revival of l’Institut d’Egypte from the  Bibliotheca Alexandrina.  And see also:

  La Main à la Pâte
  Description de l'Egypte

Press Releases
 Digitization of Description de l’Egypte

News Bulletin
 Digitization of Description de l’Egypte

Institut d'Egypte described at Archives Made Easy, an on-line guide to archives around the globe 

#Tahrir : Regarding the Scientific institute, from Egyptian Chronicles.


Press / Blog Reports

Egyptian Libraries Investigations Series: Who is protecting Egypt’s rare libraries? Sayed Mahmoud, Mohammed Saad, Thursday 12 Jan 2012, Ahram Online

"The Egyptian National Library and Archives houses the oldest collection of Egyptian heritage, yet is currently only serving as a storage facility"

Dozens protest detention of witness to Institut d'Egypte fire, Sun, 08/01/2012 - 22:09, Al-Masry Al-Youm

The real tragedy behind the fire of Institut d’Egypte ,Khaled Fahmy,  Tue, 03/01/2012 - 12:54, Egypt Independent

Sennari House to temporarily house books rescued from Egyptian Scientific Institute, Nevine El-Aref, Monday 2 Jan 2012, Ahram Online

Temporary headquarters chosen for Scientific Institute, Mon, 02/01/2012 - 11:09, Al-Masry Al-Youm

BLUE SHIELD International News:  The library of the 'Institut d'Égypte' in Cairo , Update (December 29, 2011)

Jere L. Bacharach's Recommendations for a 21st Century Library of the Institut d’Egypte

L’Institut d’Égypte: In Memoriam, By Daniel Pipes, 27 December 2011, National Review Online

Rare Books Staff Help Restore Burned Institut d'Égypte Documents, news@auc, December 25, 2011

Interpol notified of stolen manuscripts from Scientific Complex, by Heba Hesham / Daily News Egypt, December 26, 2011, 6:14 pm.

Action taken to restore Egypt Scientific Institute, A meeting to draw a comprehensive restoration plan for Egypt Scientific Institute is to be held Tuesday at the Ministry of State for Antiquities, Nevine El-Aref , Monday 26 Dec 2011, AhramOnline


Zahi Hawass: December 17, 2011: A Sad Day in My Life

BLUE SHIELD International News:  The library of the 'Institut d'Egypte' in Cairo: Report of the first week 

Egyptian Scientific Institute evacuated in anticipation of collapse, Mona Yassin, Thu, 22/12/2011 - 18:24

Blue Shield 2nd Statement on Egypt (20 December 2011), 22 December 2011

What's happening after burning the Egyptian Scientific Institute, Cybrarians, Wednesday, 21 December 2011 22:14

Jere Bacharach reports on H-ISLAMART from Cairo on IFAO and Thesaurus Islamicus participation in conservation efforts at the Egyptian National Library

70 percent of books destroyed in fire, says Dar Al-Kotob head, By   Heba Hesham / Daily News Egypt December 20, 2011, 6:14 pm

Destruction de l'Institut d'Egypte: Paris demande une enquête - Yahoo   (Video news report)

A black Saturday for Egypt, By Maryam Raafat - The Egyptian Gazette, Wednesday, December 21, 2011 12:47:29 PM

Update on Burning of the Institut d’Egypte, Cairo, distributed to the global community on the IFLA listserv, and archived at The UTFA Librarians Committee Blog.

Egyptian Ministry lauds Sultan’s efforts, The Gulf Today, December 21, 2011 

INSTITUTE D'EGYPTE DESTRUIDO, EL CAIRO. GALERIA FOTG. (Dic. 2012) (facebook), By Francesca Berenguer

Sharjah emir to renovate damaged Cairo library, donate original manuscripts, Al Arabiya News, Tuesday, 20 December 2011.

Egypt Scientific Institute up in Flames, from Informed Comment by Juan Cole

Rare documents burned in Egypt clash, Pretoria News, December 20 2011 at 01:22 pm

امير الشارقة يتبرع بترميم المجمع العلمي تقديرآ لقيمته

Irina Bokova urges protection of Cairo’s cultural sites after fire at the Institute of Egypt, UNESCO Media Services.

Qui est derrière l’incendie de l’Institut d’Égypte?, France 24,

Cairo institute burned during clashes, Associated Press in Cairo,,

حاكم الشارقة يتكفل بترميم المجمع العلمي

حاكم الشارقة يتكفل بترميم المجمع العلمي
صورة أرشيفية لبقايا كتب نادرة من حريق المجمع العلمي

The Fire at the L'Institut d'Egypte a "great loss", from Illicit Cultural Property by Derek Fincham.

Amid street clashes, civilians coordinate to rescue rare documents (illustrated),  Mai Elwakil Ola El-Saket, Mon, 19/12/2011 - 22:35

Thousands of rare documents burned in Egypt clash (illustrated), AYA BATRAWY, Associated Press, Updated 12:39 p.m., Monday, December 19, 2011

Updated: Egypt Institute Burns; Scholars Scramble to Rescue Manuscripts on 19 December 2011, 2:03 PM ScienceInsider

Kairo: Institut d’Égypte stand in Flammen  (including photos of the collection taken in 2006)

Protesters tell of saving books from Institut d'Egypte fire - Egypt Independent

اللجنة الأثرية: ترميم المجمع العلمى يحتاج عاما بتكلفة 2 ونصف مليون جنيه

اللجنة الأثرية تبدأ عملها فى معاينة المجمع العلمى

د. المناوى: النسخة "الالكترونية" من كتاب وصف مصر فى مكتبة اسكندرية

Library fire in Egypt clashes destroys 'irreplaceable' 200-year-old documents - From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN, December 18, 2011 -- Updated 0459 GMT (1259 HKT)

Napoleon's 'Description De L'Egypte' lost to fire amid clashes - Ahram Online, Sunday 18 Dec 2011

Le - Publié le 18/12/2011 à 21:28 - Modifié le 19/12/2011 à 08:32 

After Iraq National Archives, after Baghdad Museum, after Cairo Museum, Why Was Egypt's Library Not Secured?

Library fire in Egypt clashes destroys 'irreplaceable' 200-year-old documents. December 17, 2011 | From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN

#savethebooks on Twitter  
In fiamme i tesori inestimabili dell'Istituto d'Egitto al Cairo
An archeological committee has been formed to inspect the Geographic Society building, burnt out amid clashes in downtown Cairo
Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 18 Dec 2011

Paul Barford's review of the day's events: Cairo: Institute D'Egypte Burning


Unknown said...

Inside the Institut d'Egypt: viaa @bintbattuta and @TabulaRogeriana on twitter

Chuck Jones said...

Thanks Tom, I had just seen that myself and have now added it.

Anonymous said...

good evening...i work as librarian, and i will be so happy if i could take a part to save this books...just i need more details about what you need...I can read and write french , arabic and english, i can make inventory or range books
Please contact me on

Chuck Jones said...

Amira, please get in touch with the people at the save the Books Facebook group: