LAU launched its Center for Lebanese Heritage with much fanfare and a news conference at the Beirut campus January 7, 2002 to highlight what university officials hope will be a magnet for the country's various artistic and cultural treasures.
“The center is to be equivalent to the collective Lebanese memory in terms of heritage, in any form, in any language and in any part of the world,” said the center's director Henri Zoghaib.
The heritage in question includes literature, music, plays, movies, audio recordings, poetry and records of the country's history produced by Lebanese, in and outside Lebanon.
But it will not be limited to works of fine art, or the performing arts, Zoghaib explained, adding that the collection he envisions would include items such as a historic pine nut cracker from a Lebanese village and 320 agricultural objects no longer in daily use but of great historic value.
“The university has committed itself to collecting and organizing Lebanese heritage in the Gibran Library at its Byblos campus,” said President Riyad Nassar during a news conference in the Irwin Hall auditorium, adding that LAU would rely on the best technical equipment to protect and preserve the heirlooms.
Zoghaib, himself a poet, said that the center was founded to protect the heritage from one generation to another and to safeguard it.
The center will eventually move to a separate building at the Byblos campus.
The center's council, a group of experts advising the director, include National Conservatoire director Maestro Walid Gholmieh, composer Elias Rahbani, former ambassador Fouad Al Turk, LAU professor and actor/director Maurice Maalouf, Dr. Elham Kallab Bsat, AUB professor Dr. Sami Makarem, Dr. Zinat Bitar of the Lebanese University, noted Lebanese painter Mr. Wajih Nahleh, Lebanese University professor Dr. Najwa Nasr, and Dr. Fawz Abdallah, director of the Byblos campus library, a precursor to the Gibran Kahlil Gebran Library now under construction.
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud met members of CLH's Advisory Council March 5, 2002. From left: Mr. Elias Rahbani, composer/musician; Dr. Najwa Nasr, expatriate affairs expert; Mr. Wajih Nahleh, painter; Dr. Zinat Bitar, LU professor of art history; LAU President Riyad Nassar; President Emile Lahoud; former LAU Vice President for Academic Affairs Nabeel Haidar; CLH Director Henri Zoghaib; Dr. Walid Gholmieh, composer and director of the Lebanese Conservatoire; Dr. Elham Kallab Bsat, director of UNESCO's Humanities Center in Byblos; Dr. Sami Makarem, AUB professor of Islamic studies; Mr. Maurice Maalouf, LAU professor of communication arts; Dr. Fawz Abdallah, director of LAU's Byblos campus library.