About Us


ARCE established its scholarly library in 1978 to support research on various aspects of the history and culture of Egypt. The library grew over the years and, in 1994, a generous donation by long-time supporters William Kelly and Marylin Simpson allowed the physical library to be established in ARCE’s Cairo Center.  The eponymous library has continued to grow through contributions, grants, exchanges and ongoing acquisitions. Today the collection contains more than forty thousand volumes, of which approximately 20 percent are in Arabic.

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The library collection focuses on Egyptology and Islamic studies and includes most standard scholarly reference works as well as some 300 journal titles. The acquisition is undertaken on other subject areas (e.g. Greco-Roman World, Arabic Literature). The Simpson Library collection also includes a substantial number of rare books, including a complete set of the bulletins of the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l'Art Arabe, a first edition of the Description de l'Egypte (one of only five complete sets in Egypt), and the catalogues généraux of the Egyptian Museum and the Musée National de l'Art Arabe (the present-day Islamic Museum)

A unique feature of the Simpson Library is the photographed and photocopied collection of select Arabic manuscripts that are held in various Middle Eastern and European Libraries. Acquired by scholars working in Cairo and throughout the Middle East over the past eighty years, the collection includes many works by the Arabic philosopher Avicenna and members of his school. These works have been photographed and photocopied for public use; the original photographs are preserved in acid-free paper.


The Simpson library is available to ARCE members, staff, fellows, and representatives of affiliated expeditions. It is also accessible to the staff of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, faculty at Egyptian universities and postgraduate students, members of other foreign institutes and expeditions, and, by courtesy, to colleagues in general. The library’s large volume of publications in western languages, especially English, makes it an invaluable resource to scholars in the Cairo area.

In 2021 ARCE launched its library portal, which provides access to a digital library. The digital library currently grants users access to over 5000 digital publications. Our digital library can be accessed within the library, by library users. Remote access is only available to ARCE members. (become a member)