The Launch of Memory of Modern Egypt

26 Oct 2008
Under the Auspices of HE Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak The BA Celebrates the Launch of the Memory Of Modern Egypt Digital Project Alexandria— The BA will organize on Monday, 27 October 2008, a celebration at Cairo Opera House, under the auspices of HE Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, Chairperson of the BA Board of Trustees, marking the online launch of the Memory of Modern Egypt Digital Archive: . Senior officials, intellectuals, and public figures will attend the event. Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Library of Alexandria, stated that the Memory of Modern Egypt Project provides a complete digital repository of materials documenting Egypt’s rich modern history during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, available to all in an expansive, multidimensional online archive. The repository features photos, documents, stamps, coins, newspapers, magazines, audio and video material, historical studies that were originally written for the Memory, as well as other first-hand collections that no other single library or collection can offer. Serageldin added that this important Project is a joint endeavor between the BA Special Projects Department that was responsible for the scientific material, and the International School of Information Science (ISIS) implementing the technical aspect of the Project. Dr. Khaled Azab, Director of BA Media and Special Projects Departments, maintained that the Memory of Modern Egypt project is the largest digital archive covering the history of modern Egypt during two centuries and providing an authentic and comprehensive look at culture, politics, and social life in Egypt, from the era of Mohamed Ali in 1805 to the end of Al-Sadat’s presidency in 1981. He added that one of the most important characteristic s of this archive is its neutralization and focus on the unknown aspects of the history of Egyptians. Dr. Magdy Nagy, Head of the BA Information and Communication Technology Sector, stated that the large amount and diversity of information provided by the BA Special Projects Department for the implementation of the Project imposed a big challenge for ISIS in designing and building the infrastructure of the Digital Archive. He added that the challenge was to design an interface and an infrastructure easy to navigate, and a search tool supporting the Arabic language enabling the users to obtain the required information easily. Another challenge was to present the visual material such as the photos, maps, video clips, and others in an attractive and user-friendly manner. Dr. Noha Adly, Director of the ICT Department and ISIS, mentioned that to overcome all the challenges in the design and implementation of the Memory of Modern Egypt Digital Archive, the repository was structured around five main themes – Rulers, Prime Ministers, Events, Subjects, and Public Figures – with each of these divided into subtopics, creating an index with over 500 dimensions. Every item in each of the material categories is also classified by one or more of the theme subcategories, creating a multidimensional web of materials and themes. She pointed out that this cross-referencing of the two indexes – materials and themes – allows users to explore all the connections between the different material available in the repository and significant people, events and subjects in modern Egyptian history. The Memory of Modern Egypt Digital Archive is a culmination of three years of meticulous efforts and collaboration between a team of young staff members from the BA Special Projects Department and the ICT Sector under the supervision of Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Dr. Khaled Azab, Dr. Magdy Nagy, and Dr. Noha Adly.