Egyptian library steps in to save Tropics Institute collection

Some 400,000 books which are part of the library collection of the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam are likely to go to Egypt rather than be dumped, the Volkskrant reports on Thursday.

The books were set to be thrown away because nobody wanted them but now the world famous Biblioteca Alexandrina in Alexandria has offered to take them and other documents.

Library director Ismael Serageldin, who is a former vice president of the World Bank and Wageningen university professor, is currently in Amsterdam to finalise the details, the paper says. ‘I could not bear the thought that this material would end up in a paper shredder,’ Serageldin is quoted as saying in an email.

The Egyptians want to keep the collection accessible to scholars and will also pay the packing and shipping costs, the paper says, quoting Hans van Harteveldt, the institute’s chief librarian.

The library collection is being broken up because the government has withdrawn funding for the institute. Some parts are going to the Peace Palace collection, the Rijksmuseum, the maritime museum in Rotterdam and the medical archives in Urk.

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