Pick 10 Scots Treasures for the New Ally Palais; Elite Pounds 200m Egyptian Library Needs Our Books

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), November 12, 2000 | Go to article overview

Pick 10 Scots Treasures for the New Ally Palais; Elite Pounds 200m Egyptian Library Needs Our Books


Byline: BRIAN LIRONI

BOOKS by Scottish writers are in tough competition for places on the shelves of the most prestigious library in the world.

A campaign has been launched to get works by our literary giants into the Great Library of Alexandria.

No, not Alexandria in Dunbartonshire - the slightly older Alexandria in Egypt.

Builders there are finishing off a new pounds 200million state-of-the-art library, but they have a problem - they can't afford to fill it with books.

After spending that massive amount on the building, bosses at the library have only been able to afford 400,000 books.

That leaves an awful lot of empty shelves as they built it to take eight MILLION. And that's where we come in.

The first Great Library of Alexandria was the main centre of learning in the ancient world.

Its vaults were packed with books by writers and philosophers like Homer, Plato, and Socrates.

Unfortunately, the original building was burned to the ground by the Roman conqueror Julius Caesar in 48 BC.

Now a new Ally Palais could see works by Aristotle and Pythagoras rubbing covers with those of Scots like Walter Scott, Robert Burns, James Kelman and Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting.

The Egyptian government, having rebuilt the Great Library, has started a new collection of books and artefacts from around the world.

And Nationalist MSP Margo MacDonald wants Scotland to send a collection of our own literary masterpieces.

The Lothians MSP has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament, congratulating the Egyptians on their new library and calling for an "appropriate body" of Scottish literary works to be included in its collection.

Her motion has already received cross-party backing from 30 MSPs.

Culture Minister Alan Wilson has asked his advisers to begin drawing up a list of works that would be a fitting reflection of Scottish culture and history.

Margo MacDonald said: "I think we should send a collection of Scottish literature as a gift from the parliament of Scotland.

"We need to ensure that our culture and heritage are properly represented in one of the most important libraries in the world.

"The motion has been signed by around 30 MSPs already and the Culture Minister has said he is keen to do something.

"He is due to be advised by his civil servants about the works of literature that should be included in the collection. The next move is down to the minister."

The new Library of Alexandria took more than 10 years to build. It has been designed to become a cultural landmark worthy of the city's distinguished history.

It is shaped like a huge disc leaning towards the sea, and most of it is below ground level.

Inside, the library is modelled on classical libraries of the past, with elegant, fluted pillars holding up the disc roof.

Carved into the granite external walls are 4000 characters from alphabets of every language.

The library is expected to be a magnet for scholars from around the globe. …

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