In international terms, Qatar may be a tiny country, but it's certainly not tiny in terms of its economic ambitions, international progress, and cultural development. Qatar continues to flourish despite many challenges in recent times, and one of its most remarkable cultural achievements is the Qatar National Library (QNL). This phenomenal learning and teaching resource have long aspired to make a significant contribution to regional and global knowledge by being recognized as one of the premier national libraries in the Middle East. Through expert and imaginative use of learning assets, collections, and spaces, it's enabled many opportunities for learning and research among students, teachers, researchers, and children. It's an open door to the worlds of knowledge, educational entertainment, and so much more!
The 45,000 sqm state-of-the-art library building is designed to encourage visitors to explore the progression of knowledge from the past to the present. It's been designed to achieve a balance between content availability and accessibility on the one hand, and content preservation and security on the other. Cutting-edge technology is a prominent part of the building -- not only to make the building user-friendly but also user-attractive.
There's a wide range of state-of-the-art computer systems, tablets, interactive screens, and audiovisual equipment. This is evenly distributed in different areas of the building to fit different users’ needs and improve their experience.
In addition to full-text online resources, QNL currently has around one million books in its collections. It also has more than 500,000 eBooks, periodicals and newspapers, and special collections. The renowned Heritage Library was integrated with the library in the summer of 2011 and the highly knowledgeable and qualified librarians are experts in their particular fields of teaching, research skills, literacy, programs, and knowledge management. Combining all these skills together with QNL’s strong service ethic, the library offers many activities and opportunities for the local community to do, learn, and discover.
The Innovation Station is a dedicated space within Qatar National Library that fosters creativity, inspiration, collaboration, and engagement. It serves as a hub for innovators, artists, musicians, creators, and learners to express themselves.
Offering free access to different creative areas for all users, it consists of a 3D-printing and scanning section, recording studio, and videography/photography room with equipment for digital design, musical instruments, virtual reality accessories, do-it-yourself (DIY) electronics as a self-based project, and much more. All are welcome to the Innovation Station to learn about new technologies and share creative ideas and imagination.
There's an inspirational learning space for children to not only fall in love with reading but also to encourage their curiosity through engaging with the Library’s space and its vast collection of resources. It's a specialized library space that houses educational toys and fun electronic resources, as well as a collection of more than 100,000 children's books!
The library hosts numerous activities for children and their families, such as interactive story-times, workshops, early literacy programs, creative art activities, cooking, and theatre clubs and so much more!
In addition to the general-interest holdings and academic online resources, QNL hosts the Heritage Collection of rare books, manuscripts, and other materials related to Arab-Islamic civilization. Previously known as the Arab and Islamic Heritage Library, this collection was begun by His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani in 1979 and was integrated into QNL in 2011.
The Heritage Collection provides an unparalleled array of historical sources about Qatar and the region, including writings by explorers who visited the Persian Gulf over the centuries, Arab manuscripts, and historical maps and globes, as well as scientific instruments and examples of early photography.
One thing is clear; the Qatar National Library has written itself into the cultural and educational past and present of the nation, and will do so successfully in future years to come.
Have you visited the Qatar National Library? Tell us your experience in the comments section below, and don’t forget to like and share this article – it keeps us going!
(Image credits: Qatar National Library, Cover image: Shutterstock)
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