Lifelong learning is rooted in childhood—the skills and passions you develop as a child put you on the path that will define you. So it is critical that children are given as many opportunities as possible to fulfill their potential. Libraries for children and young adults offer a setting that equips early learners with the skills and habits they need to become educated, active participants in the community when they grow up.
Qatar National Library provides an ideal setting for families and children to pursue learning outside the boundaries of the classroom. In this inspirational space filled with light and color, children can discover and pursue new interests and talents in an engaging way.
“Reading with your children has tremendous positive effects on their personal and cognitive development,” says Maram Al Mahmoud, Acting Manager of the Children’s Library and Young Adults’ Collection. “The Library is a wonderful place for parents to strengthen their bonds with their children and get to know each other on an intellectual and social level.”
Luckily, the Library makes it easier for parents to make books and learning an everyday part of their children’s lives. Visitors can access more than 100,000 print books in many different languages that are available to check out and take home, as well as many electronic resources, including ebooks, digital magazines, and Arabic language tools specifically designed for children.
With so many options available, the Library hosts frequent events to help parents navigate the world of early education. Past workshops have included tips for storytelling and reading to children, and sessions on how to best choose appropriate books for young readers.
“We have a wide range of selections, which are growing with time and demand, we make it a priority to connect users with their needs,” says Al Mahmoud. “We have board books and picture books for beginning readers, and more advanced materials for older readers that introduce them to everything from famous people in history to science and math.”
Of course, the learning process has taken on increasingly different forms, the Children’s Library has computers and iPads equipped with the latest learning programs, as well as traditional educational toys, games, and arts and crafts materials.
“Children are very dynamic and eager to learn new ideas. We are constantly searching for new ways to serve them and address their educational needs through both new and traditional means,” says Al Mahmoud. “All of these resources—and our team of dedicated children’s librarians—are here to encourage children to pursue continuous independent learning and to encourage discovery and expression as a way of life.”
The community, in turn, has flocked to the Library: families have already borrowed more than half a million books for children, and events for children are among the most popular at the Library. These programs don’t just cover early literacy—they include STEM workshops, arts and crafts, and engaging sessions about Qatar’s history and culture. Frequent tours by school groups offer another way for young learners to discover what the Library has to offer them.
“The Children’s Library is amazing as it has many books for my children to pick from. It is a rich library and I am happy to have free access to these books. I want my kids to take an interest in books and want them to become good readers in the future. We are visiting several times a week and will continue to visit especially in the weekends,” said Rasha Ghanem, mother of two children.
Librarians at the Children’s Library work hard to extend learning outside of the Library’s walls into the wider community. The team supports librarians across Qatar, and the Library has hosted training for nearly 70 school librarians to help them transform the library experience for their users into an inspirational learning experience.
Al Mahmoud comments: “We here at the Library work hard to facilitate the learning experience through creating engaging programs for the little ones and their caring adults. We also strive to become the place that children will one day say that they have grown up with.”