The Egyptian National Library and Archives (Arabic: Dar el-Kotob) in Cairo is the largest library in Egypt. The second largest are the libraries of Al-Azhar University and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (New Library of Alexandria).
The National Library, the oldest government library, houses several million volumes on a wide range of topics. It is one of the largest in the world with thousands of ancient collections. It also contains a vast variety of Arabic-language and other Eastern manuscripts. The main library is a seven-story building in Ramlet Boulaq, a district of Cairo. The Egyptian National Archives are contained in an annex beside the building.
It was started in 1870 by a decree from Khedive Ismail through an initiative from Ali Pasha Mubarak, the education minister at the time. In its first decades the position of director were held by German Orientalists, most notable among them were Karl Vollers and Bernhardt Moritz.