Shahira El Sawy holds MA in sociology-anthropology and MBA both from AUC, with many years of leadership and accumulated library and managerial experience. She also holds a BA in English language and literature from Cairo University. In the year 2002, El Sawy received an award from the Egyptian Association of Library and Information Science (EALIS) in recognition of being the first dean of libraries in Egypt.
Among her notable accomplishments are bringing RFID technology for the libraries; establishing Classroom Technologies and Media Services (CTMS); initiating a proposal for the Center for Learning and Teaching at AUC as chair of the University research subcommittee; passing a proposal through the University Senate in 2002; and co-founding the American International Consortium of Academic Libraries (AMICAL).
She has worked as a consultant with USAID for the Maglis Al Shaab Library and IT departments and the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah National Library in Kuwait. El Sawy was on the selection committee for the chief librarian of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. In 2003, she was appointed to the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) international advisory committee, which was established to help CLIR determine the future course of its international activities. She received the President's Distinguished Service Award for exemplary service and selfless dedication to the mission of The American University in Cairo in the year 2004.
El Sawy is a member of several local and international committees, such as the American Library Association/ACRL/LITA; the Egyptian Association for Library and Information Science (EALIS); EDUCAUSE (as AUC participating representative); the Middle East Librarians' Association (MELA); the Middle East Studies Association (MESA); and the Egyptian Association for Environment and Community Services. Her areas of research and general interest include learning technologies, the future of libraries, Nubian communities and environmental issues.