In honour of the new library of Alexandria
Introducing the "Beacon for Freedom of Expression" database

The Beacon for Freedom of Expression bibliographical database on freedom of expression and censorship world wide was designed and produced by the Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression (1995-2001), in celebration of the revival of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the world library of humanism. The project is now managed by an international board hosted by the National Library of Norway.

In ancient times, Bibliotheca Alexandrina represented a unique world forum of human knowledge, thoughts and ideas. The revival of the library, almost 2300 years after Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the worlds first "public" library was built on the African continent, is in itself an event of historic magnitude. No less significant is the fact that the revived Bibliotheca Alexandrina, truly representing the most outstanding library to emerge in our times, is inaugurated at the beginning of a new millennium.

The new Bibliotheca Alexandrina enters the new millennium with high aims of fostering a spirit of openness and the quest for knowledge, thus expressed by the UNESCO’s International Commission for the Revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria in their Aswan declaration:

´The Bibliotheca Alexandrina will stand as a testimony to a decisive moment in the history of human thought - the attempt to constitute a summum of knowledge, to assemble the writings of the peoples. It will bear witness to an original undertaking that, in embracing the totality and diversity of human experience, became the matrix for a new spirit of critical inquiry, for a heightened perception of knowledge as a tool and the quest for knowledge as a collaborative process.
The Aswan declaration on the revival of the library of Alexandria (1990.)

It is in honour of the proud humanistic traditions of the ancient library, and in accordance with the aims for the revived Bibliotheca Alexandrina as expressed in the Aswan declaration, the proprietors has dedicated the Beacon for freedom of rxpression bibliographical database on freedom of expression and censorship to the new world library of humanism and human rights.

Of no less importance, the database, containing bibliographical information on the writings of free thinking men and women that were banned through history, will serve as a tribute to the memory of the countless victims of censorship – past and present. In recognition that knowledge of the past is essential to understanding the present, today’s conditions for freedom of expression should be viewed in a broader context and time perspective; that of the world history of censorship.

Thus the database represents a unique source of knowledge that may enhance an open dialogue between the world's cultures on the universal right to freedom of expression, and consequently contribute to the awareness that freedom of expression, free access to information and a free debate represents the best defence any people have against suppression.

In recognition of the importance of information and education to the enhancement of human rights, peace and democracy, the Beacon for freedom of expression database also celebrates the United Nations Decade of human rights education (1995-2004).

The international database, presently containing more than 50.000 bibliographical entries concerning publications on freedom of expression and censorship issues, and censored books and newspapers through the ages, represents the most comprehensive collection of historic and contemporary bibliographical information on freedom of expression and censorship thus far produced. Through this database project, built on professional principles, the proprietors both wished to create a model tool for the systematic and continuous collection of bibliographical data on censorship and freedom of expression throughout history, and a model for efficient international collaboration across professional boarders.

In the true spirit of Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the database is freely available to users world wide.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom of opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.