Photo used for illustrative purposes.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
As technology continues to permeate every aspect of our life, leading to dramatic changes in the way we access and consume information - 24/7 on our fingertips, an oft-raised question concerns the relevance of libraries in today’s information age. Why do libraries still exist, and can they continue to advance humankind with knowledge and inspiration as in the past?
From the time of the earliest libraries in ancient Babylonia and Sumer, libraries have served as invaluable repositories of rare, unique and scholarly information. In the UAE, the concept of a library first took root in 1925 when Sheikh Sultan Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the then ruler of Sharjah (1924 - 1951) opened a private library in Al Hisn—Sharjah Fort.
This private library, which has since evolved to become the Sharjah Public Library, is today nearly a century old and ready to embark on its second centennial. With six branches spread across the emirate to service the communities in every part of Sharjah, SPL stands as a testament to the enduring need of society members to explore knowledge, information, and culture through its vast and ever-expanding resources.
Apart from its nearly 97-year history, what makes the Sharjah Public Library one of the greatest community institutions in the emirate is its innovative approach to learning and community-building and its agility in adapting to meet the needs of tech-savvy digital audiences.
Established at a time when information was scarce and access to information was even more limited, SPL continues to flourish in an era of disruptive technological change, and demonstrates that by being flexible, resilient and resourceful, libraries can continue to enhance learning and professional development and provide services that are beyond just the borrowing of books.
Although digital tools of learning are indispensable to modern living, libraries provide both tangible and intangible benefits to society and continue to stay relevant in contemporary society.
The tour offered a comprehensive overview of HoW’s key features – an impressive collection of physical and digital resources including rare books, its multipurpose halls, spaces dedicated for reading, working, hosting events and exhibitions, fabrication laboratories, and an advanced printing facility.
The Smart Locker service uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that allows members to use their Emirates ID or SPL’s membership cards to collect and return books.
The Kalba Public Library, a subsidiary of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), has announced its plans to reopen and operate at full capacity beginning on Monday, August 3.
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