Innovative Public Libraries in United Arab Emirates: Taking library services in public spaces

SENGATI-ZIMBA, Mary and MAVODZA, Judith and ABU EID, Emad (2015) Innovative Public Libraries in United Arab Emirates: Taking library services in public spaces. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 147 - Asia and Oceania.

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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Innovative Public Libraries in United Arab Emirates: Taking library services in public spaces

Public Libraries in the United Arab Emirates are recognized as repositories of human knowledge and heritage especially in today’s knowledge-driven economy where knowledge and innovation are essential drivers of growth and prosperity. Public Libraries provide access to information which may be used for self-development, cultural awareness and enhancement and continuing education. For children and young people they provide a positive alternative to pastime reading, researching and participating in activities organized by the library. United Arab Emirates is a union of seven emirates and public libraries in these emirates are affiliated mainly to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development (MCYCD), and libraries set up by local entities. The National Library in Abu Dhabi also serves as a public library and has recently embarked on projects of establishing branch libraries in different locations in the emirate. Most of the libraries have been established as joint ventures between government institutions and departments, and private companies, each providing either space, personnel or funding. In an effort to build a knowledge society in the UAE, the MCYCD and Abu Dhabi Municipality have partnered and took a step to bring library services to areas where most people congregate including shopping malls, public parks and beach with the goal of providing access of information to the community. As the Minister of Culture stated during the inauguration of the public library at the beach “We want to create an environment where information is available to everybody at any given time and place”(The National April 10 2014).While public libraries in public spaces is not a new phenomenon in the West, it is exciting and intriguing in the UAE and the region, where the majority of population are employed and have no time to visit libraries. Hence such an innovative venture has been well received by the public who would have otherwise been shopping, laying at the beach, etc. This allows residents to achieve multiple goals when they visit such public spaces.

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