The library is locted in the upper floor and consists of two rooms; the first is the references hall which is newly labeled “Hall of Prince Omar Toussoun”, the first honorary president of the Society. It holds books in 14 languages including old, rare and elaborately illustrated books that cannot be found elsewhere in Egypt. Among those rare books there are: the beautiful Sir William Hamilton’s 1767, Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities and Voisin Bey, Le Canal de Suez, in six volumes, an unparalleled account of the construction of the canal by the man who was, at one time, director general of the project. There are also two volumes of letters from Champollion 1872; Recueil des Historiens des Croisades, in Arabic and French; Nicoll, Birds of Egypt, Tousson's elaborate publications on Alexandria and the Nile branches and many more standard texts.
This room also houses the massive collection of photographs of Henri Maurer.
Across the passageway, lies the second room under the name of Mostafa El Abbadi, the second honorary president of the Society. It is the Periodicals Room, recently re-indexed; it holds publications from over 200 institutions, universities and societies, dating from 1818 until the present day. During Soheir Z. Bassiouni’s term of office as Secretary General, she, together with young student volunteers, undertook the arduous task of recording and classifying the contents of the library for the first time.
This rich resource not only serves the local community but also continues to attract foreign scholars, Arab researchers and the various university students. There is a new policy to develop the library collection. This has been helped by book donations as well as by buying some up to date archeological publications.
The Collection of Maurer’s Photographs
The library also houses a massive collection of photographs taken by Dr. Henri Maurer. Dr. Henri Maurer from Switzerland, the private dentist of King Fouad I, was an active member of the Archaeological Society of Alexandria during his residence in Egypt in the first half of the twentieth century. He was a keen amateur photographer who used most demanding techniques of photography and development which enabled him to produce some known masterpieces. He was fond of visiting out-of-the way sites, not easily accessible in those days. After Maurer’s death, his widow thought of the Archaeological Society as the most suitable place for keeping her husband’s valuable collection of photographs. Thus, she donated this treasure to our Society.
The collection includes hundreds of photographs of archaeological monuments and natural scenes taken in a variety of locations inside Egypt, and outside in Africa and Greek islands. There are eight albums of Maurer's East African safari undertaken in 1928 - 29, a further eight albums offering a unique view of Siwa Oasis in 1938, five albums on Sinai circa 1933 and, literally, thousands of other photos covering all corners of Egypt. The photographs were mostly taken during the period 1920 - 1945. Some of the sites they depict do not exist any longer.