New details have been announced about the Qatar National Library, including information about what features will be offered in the high-tech building and a pushed-back opening date.
As QNL is a Qatar Foundation project, chairwoman and first lady Sheikha Moza bint Nasser officially launched the Qatar National Library project tonight to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Dar-al-Kutub, the Gulf’s first national library, which opened in Doha in 1962.
According to a QF statement, QNL’s offerings will include:
- Access to over 60 online databases and websites;
- 300 public computers;
- Wifi and multi-media production studios; and
- An “eHub” that make millions of electronic books and documents accessible online, whether at the library or remotely.
Among those documents are the more than half a million pages detailing Arab history and culture that the British Library will publish online in both English and Arabic through a partnership with QF that was announced earlier this year.
No reading culture
Despite a high literacy rate, educators have long pointed to Qatar’s lack of libraries as one reason it has not been able to inculcate a reading culture in its children.
The problem is widespread across the rest of the Middle East: a 2010 UN report suggests that less than 2 percent of the population in the Arab world reads even one book a year.
QNL hopes to start turning that around, project director Dr. Claudia Lux said:
The Qatar National Library of tomorrow will be created to be a place between home and work, where all Qataris can meet friends, enjoy moments with their families and spend leisure and creative time in their personal journey in search of knowledge and cultural experiences.
Credit: Renderings courtesy of Qatar Foundation