That night, the rector of the University of Alexandria called the professor and asked him to prepare a memo about the Great Library’s rise and fall.
The task, he said later, made him realize how deeply the ancient library resonated, not only with Egyptians but also with many around the world who shared his scholarly thirst.
Backed by the university, Professor Abbadi began developing plans for a new research institution and ultimately persuaded the governor of Alexandria, the Egyptian government and Unesco, the United Nations educational and cultural organization, to lend their support.
In 1988, President Hosni Mubarak laid the foundation stone for what would become the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a $220 million seaside cylindrical complex. Designed by the Norwegian firm Snohetta, it comprises a 220,000-square-foot reading room, four…