Doha’s lacking library culture

AngelPolacco's picture
AngelPolacco

Title image: aisquared.com

Being an expat from Canada, I know that we’re pretty big on our public libraries.

As a child, I would plead with my family to go to the library everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a bookworm who loved reading intellectual books. But I developed my love for reading because of the easy access to books. There was an existing culture of going to the library and borrowing books, movies, and much more. I learned a lot about different things just by myself.

Image source: torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com 

You would want to actually sit at the library and spend your day just reading. And there was the added benefit of libraries ordering books and items from other library branches if they didn’t have something that you were looking for at the time. There would be libraries on virtually every street corner. For someone who didn’t own a computer growing up, this was an entirely new and fascinating world to me.

Personally, I felt great having a library card and being able to borrow whatever I liked. The library introduced me to so many of my favorite books today. There’s just so many options, and browsing through a library is such a wonderful experience, particularly if you come across interesting finds that you’d want to read. I also met a lot of great people. Like I said before, people liked going to libraries as there was an existing culture of going to libraries and just reading for the sake of reading. 

I don't see that here in Doha; people wanting to spend time in the library and read for leisure. Nor do I see children wanting to read either. I feel that reading is important to help us grow as people. Books impart so much knowledge to us and teach us about different things, as individuals we take from information that we relate to.

Image source: thenational.ae

During my time in Doha, the only time I ever used a library was as a student when I went to university. And that’s mostly because I had to. Sure there were days when I borrowed movies and books for myself, but I just didn’t feel the same connection I did when I was back in Canada. I never wanted to actually spend time in the library and just read. I also only had access to this library because I was a student.

I know the Qatar National Library (QNL) is trying its best to reel in people to register and become members. But that’s just one library in Doha that’s trying to encourage more people to read. It’s very understandable that Canada and Qatar are very different, but Qatar can offer so much more in terms of information and resources. Particularly since not many people know much about the region and its rich history, politics, culture, as well as religion.


Image source: architecturaviva.com

Sure, Qatar is very into the museum culture, but museums offer a different insight to the past, in fragments rather than whole narratives or recollections. The best part is that libraries have actually adapted to the digital age, and you can literally find whatever you like on your devices. QNL actually has a digital library that you can check out. So instead of carrying a book around you can have the resource on your phone or device. So you don't even need to physically visit a library, although the experience is far more enriching and rewarding.

Libraries are also great because you don’t keep the books, which is way cheaper and more efficient for you in terms of not having to cart off a huge collection of books with you everywhere you go. The whole system of borrowing and returning is great, and teaches you a lot about time management as well.

So in short, libraries are awesome. I just feel that we’re constantly moving away from acquiring more knowledge and instead we’re focusing on keeping up with social news, music, celebrities, etc. Let's inspire the younger generations to get back into reading again. It will surely develop them intellectually as well as make them value the joy of reading.

What do you think? Are we moving away from books and reading? Do you think we need to encourage people to go to libraries? Comment below!