The new year, tinged with the promise of a fresh start, can often be an overwhelming time when personal development takes a back seat to changes at home, work or school. For those seeking to rekindle their quest for growth, Qatar National Library continues to inspire as a beacon of knowledge. The services and resources the Library offers to everyone in Qatar, and particularly to members, are the backbone of its mission to spread the light of knowledge in Qatar.
In 2019, the Library built on the momentum of its highly successful first year by expanding its services and programming to reach all communities in Qatar. Enthusiasm for the Library is borne out by steady growth in visitors and memberships: the newly released 2019 Annual Report highlights a significant swell in membership, with more than 762,000 visits and 42,854 new members registering in the past year. Both numbers are a testament to the Library’s full evolution into a modern hub of creative, educational and social activities.
From a variety of book titles across diverse genres and languages, exhibitions, international festivals, book clubs, talks and classical music nights, the Library members and visitors enjoyed an abundance of choice in how to make use of the Library’s valuable resources and facilities to pursue lifelong learning and their personal or professional goals.
For families, the Library is a place where children and parents can read together at weekly Storytime for Children sessions. For students, Homework Club offers a place where they can seek help on assignments in several subjects. For researchers, the Library offers practical support to disseminate their work—in 2019, 455 research articles were funded through the Library’s open access program, thus supporting 517 authors from 38 Qatari institutions since it was launched.
Each day, users continue to take advantage of the Library’s multilingual collection of fiction, nonfiction, children’s and young adult books. Members borrowed more than 780,000 books in 2019, and the Library’s collections are still expanding as members’ needs and user feedback are continuously assessed.
Recognizing that lifelong learning begins at home, librarians provided parents and caregivers with numerous sessions throughout the year to help them encourage children, including those with disabilities, to start reading for pleasure at a young age. These programs, and others relating to child safety, health and development, were presented in cooperation with Sidra Medicine, the Qatar Nanny Training Academy and the Wifaq Family Consulting Center.
The Library’s international outreach culminated in the hosting of the country’s first international literature festival, JLF Doha, from 12 to 14 December. More than two dozen globally celebrated writers attended this first Middle East edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival, one of the most renowned literary festivals in the world, and hundreds of people from across Qatar took part in a lively exchange of ideas, art and literature.
Opportunities abound to carry forward these valuable exchanges in 2020 and beyond. The Qatari Authors’ Forum, launched by the Library in 2018, continues to engage emerging writers to learn from successful Qatari authors such as Ali Bin Towar Al Kuwari, Saleh Gharib and Jamal Fayez. And the Science Book Forum, which has welcomed more than 5,000 attendees to date, is developing young scientists from across Qatar through informative lectures.
In addition to offering a path to the future, the Library also continues to provide a fascinating window to the past. Several exhibitions, including the in-progress “Qatar, India and the Gulf: History, Culture and Society,” use items from the Heritage Library and other partner institutions to tell stories about Qatar’s past and its interactions with the wider world.
Reflecting on the year that lies ahead, Abeer Al Kuwari, Director of Research and Learning Services at the Library, said: “In 2020, we will continue to build on the wonderful achievements of last year, which saw the Library emerge as a central a place for knowledge development in Qatar. The beginning of a new year is a time to reflect on what has passed and set a course for the future, and our programs at the Library in 2020 promise to inspire everyone to learn new things, try new adventures and push themselves to do better.”
To kick off the new year, the Library has already concluded its successful participation at the Doha International Book Fair and opened “Between East and West: Biblioteca Angelica in Doha” exhibition. The Library also announced its program of events for March, which includes workshops, lectures, musical performances and much more.
To read the Library’s annual report for 2019, visit here https://www.qnl.qa/en/about/annual-report.