View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Libraries for the UAE to Stimulate Reading

Desert of Libraries
A great article by American Bedu made me realize that the United Arab Emirates is short on public libraries and that building such resources might be an effective way of encouraging reading.

The development of the Internet with e-Books and Kindle will never substitute for public libraries but this new technology will certainly shape the type of libraries that might be constructed.

Fostering Reading
When our children were young we lived in the NZ city of Dunedin at a time when a new public library was built and opened.

It was a state of the art library at that time with lots of places for people, especially children, to sit and read or listen through their ear phones to a book being read.

The much-loved family ritual of visiting the library every week did much to give our children a love of books and reading.

Libraries in the Emirates
Two years ago His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed, Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the initiative called the ‘Knowledge Complex’ to stimulate the translation of great literature into Arabic, encourage Arabic authors and address the challenge the illiteracy rate in the Arab region which is the highest in the world.

Hand in hand with this initiative must be the building of public libraries where books, magazines and online resources might be accessed and enjoyed.

Mosques, Health Centres and Libraries
Sheikh Mohammed recently established a new decree whereby all new shopping centres must have a mosque and a health centre within the facility.

Perhaps it might be good to also institute libraries in all new shopping malls to encourage the love of books and the joyous habit of reading.

People in the Emirates might then experience more often what James Crossley described when he said:

“It is impossible to enter a large library... without feeling an inward sensation of reverence, and without catching some sparks of noble emulation, from the mass of mind which is scattered around you.”

Further: Libraries Become the Hip Place to be, The Age, 13 June 2009

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne. One of my favorite libraries.