As a man whose vision of paradise is "some sort of library," Ismail Serageldin must sometimes feel like he works amid the Garden of Eden.

The former World Bank vice-president is director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) -- Egypt's $220 million reimagining of the ancient world's most celebrated library, built on its historical site in the city of Alexandria.

The 66-year-old Egyptian -- who has authored more than 50 books on a variety of topics including biotechnology, rural development and sustainability -- has become the first person in over 1,600 years to be officially named "Librarian of Alexandria."

The original Library of Alexandria, founded in 288 B.C., housed hundreds of thousands of scrolls by some of the greatest thinkers and writers of the ancient world. Drawn by this center of knowledge, scientists, mathematicians and poets from all cultures gravitated to Alexandria to study and exchange ideas.

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