Eighth Wonder: The Library of Alexandria

TUE, OCT 23, 2007

The Library of Alexandria is regarded as the eighth wonder of the ancient world and the first great library in Western history. The books on its shelves were the medium through which scientists, philosophers, poets, historians, and musicians of antiquity enriched human experience with their research and creativity. Its collections embodied the genius of classical Greece, and its loss is the greatest disaster in the history of learning. In this lecture, Professor Jameson focuses on the origin and history of the library, on its collections and arrangement, on its scholar-librarians, and on the library’s eventual disappearance. He will also speak about the revival of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, whose purpose is to restate the universal legacy of the ancient library in modern terms. Andrew G. Jameson received a doctorate in history from Harvard University and a Doctorat d’Universite from the Sorbonne, a master of science in library science from Simmons College, and a degree in archival management from Radcliffe College. He retired after 42 years of teaching and administration at Harvard and at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was assistant vice chancellor. Professor Jameson is director emeritus of Books for Asia of the Asia Foundation and president emeritus of the Academy of Art University of San Francisco. He served for many years as a consultant to the American publishing industry for charitable book projects in Africa and Asia, and as an adviser to the national libraries of Nigeria and China. He is a member of Harvard’s Graduate Council and a trustee of the William Saroyan Foundation. Professor Jameson was visiting professor of history at Bosphorus University in Istanbul and an adviser to the library of Ecumenical Patriarchate. He was recently elected to the Explorers Club of New York for having climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and trekking across the Sahara.

Boston Athenaeum
NOVA: Building Pharaoh's Ship Series
NPR Who Needs Libraries Series