Cairo University library stems its objectives from its educational institution. The success of the university in accomplishing its message depends on the validity of its libraries, which are responsible for the educational and research process at the university. The mission of the library is part and parcel of the message of the university as being centerd on education, research and community service. It helps the student, the researcher, and the professor carry cut their job as it provides them with the varied sources of information. Besides, the library sorts out these sources and keeps them. Similarly, it is responsible for orienting library frequenters to know how to find out sources of information and how to make advantage of them.
As a source of information, university library comes first because it serves all educational and research functions of the university. It helps create new vistas of science and knowledge over generations. It connects the past and the present by means of continuity.
Apart from its educational and research role, the university has an educational part in developing capabilities and faculties. Undoubtedly, university library is the center of awakening, from which varied activities have radiated due to the treasures of knowledge it possesses and due to the services it provides for its frequenters. These services aid those library-goers to achieve their objectives, expectations and ambitions.
Accordingly, the university set up its Central Library in April 1931 inside its campus. It was officially inaugurated on February 27, 1932 . Since it was established, the Central Library at Cairo University has been characterized by distinct features; it was showered with grants and presents from scientific bodies both in Egypt and abroad. Moreover, it received a big and valuable collection of printed books, manuscripts, Arab and foreign periodicals, maps, archaeological coins, merits of decoration, papyri, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and general and specialized references. It also received a collection of valuable and rare books either donated or purchased.
Of the invaluable and distinguished collections of books possessed by the Central Library is that of Prince Ibrahim Helmi. This collection is of particular historical significance for all researchers interested in the history of Egypt , Sudan , Nile Valley as well as the history of the East as a whole. This collection comprises a lot of rare resources in an elegant binding. The Central Library, likewise, comprises the collection of Prince Kamal El-Din Hussein, donated to the university. Most of this collection is on literature, geography, and journeys. Besides, it has enriched its treasures by purchasing a set of collections prepared by scholars, Orientalists like those of the Orientalist scholar "Zibold", Professor of Archaeology "Bonker", and professor "Max Mayer Hoff", which entails Arabic manuscripts on the history of medicine and medical sciences. The library, similarly, comprises the collection of late "Ahmed Talat", which consists of a large number of Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts. It also has the collection of Professor "Mohamed Askar", which encompasses a lot of basic Arabic references, such as dictionaries, and books on medicine, history, arts, and religious sciences. The Central Library was, further, granted varied collections and rare publications in different languages; foremost among which are the book of "Description of Egypt", written by the scholars of French Expedition.
Moreover, the library has invaluable collections of minted coins, granted by "Mr Datari". They comprise a collection of archaeological coins belonging to the Greek and Roman eras. These collections are as complete as those at the British Museum . It is to be mentioned that these gifts granted by grand scholars and distinguished figure still exist in the library.
In order to achieve the objectives of the university to serve society and meet the basic requirements of scientific research and education, a special library is set up at each faculty and institute. This library entails the respective and specialized books and references, which serve the educational process there. Added to this, it is subjected to the technical supervision of the General Department of Libraries, supervised by director general of university libraries and headed by Professor Vice President of the University for Higher Studies and Research.
The library has devoted all human and financial resources to serve its frequenters. Each department of the library carries out the assigned role as follows:
It enriches its treasures by selecting, purchasing and registering Arabic and foreign books and references for the Central Library of the University. It also procures scientific periodicals for all faculties and institutes affiliated to the university. Besides, it exchanges university publications with other research centers nationally and internationally.
Indices Department technically deals with library materials, which come to the library. The department applies the Anglo American rules of classification and the Library of Congress method of classification.
The department photocopies theses on microfilms in order to keep breast of technological developments and use them for saving and retrieving information. It also publishes bibliographies of MA and PH.D. theses accredited by Cairo University . It, further, publishes topical bibliographies for scientific bodies upon their request. It, likewise, offers other services, such as publishing, binding and preserving acquisitions.
The department registers and classifies theses accredited by Cairo University . It also prepares the required indices to facilitate their retrieval.
The department follows up and carries out recommendations and decrees issued by University Council. It supervises employee development programs, and prepares reports and statistics.
The department technically supervises libraries affiliated to faculties and institutes. It also supervises stocktaking in these libraries.
The department implements the operations and measures related to personnel affairs in terms of dues, promotions and leaves…etc.
The department carries out all accounting and balance sheet measures. Affiliated to it is the university press department, which sells printed materials to students and researchers at 25% discount. The press department is also responsible for exchanging publications with other bodies.
The department is entrusted with renewing and maintaining the indices of the Central Library. It is used for updating and modernizing the indices of some libraries of faculties and institutes.
This department is responsible for facilitating research and checking the invaluable possessions of the library. It also replies to the inquiries of library frequenters and orients them. It, further, allows internal checking out through halls specialized in all scopes of knowledge. Books and references have been classified on an objective basis. It is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the academic year and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. during summer holiday.
It comprises books, references, encyclopedias and dictionaries about English, French and German languages & literature.
2- Halls of Heritage Books, Islamic Studies; and basic references about Oriental studies.
It comprises books and references about the field of humanistic and social studies libraries, history, geography, philosophy, psychology, sociology, media… etc).
It comprises MA and PhD theses in the field of humanities and sociology.
It includes a collection of general and specialized references on varied branches of knowledge. It has dictionaries, and indices. It provides local and foreign periodicals.
It is equipped with the latest audio devices and recorded tapes of lectures and books on the branches of Arabic, philosophy, history, sociology, media and law. The hall records these tapes for free for blind students.
University mission has developed over time and has become more related to the issue of society. Similarly, the objective of the library has developed; it moves from the stage of storage to being an advanced information device. The library has been linked to the university information network of the Supreme Council of Universities and the Information Network in the Center of Technology and Community Development. Appropriate agreements will be held to help researchers check the available database.
The library has not be limited to the aforementioned tasks; it pays due attention to its radical change by applying modern technology (computer) to automate the technical measures to set up a data base. This database is to serve the General Administration for Libraries in a manner which facilitates the following objectives to materialize:
1- Organizing the processes of building up sets and rationalizing procurement.
2- Organizing the processes of retrieving the required information to serve the research of teaching staff and researchers in a quick and appropriate way.
3- Preparing statistics, information and bibliographies which reflect the activities of the libraries, thus improving performance, and providing effective library service for all frequenters and researchers.