‘Books are great tools in bringing people closer’ - GulfToday

‘Books are great tools in bringing people closer’

40 books

Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

Books are great tools in connecting cultures and bring people closer. Libraries play a pivotal role in this regard, open horizons for everyone and bring countries closer, said Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) Ahmed Al Ameri.

He made this observation while delivering welcome address at the sixth Sharjah International Library Conference, jointly hosted by the Sharjah Book Authority and the American Library Association on the sidelines of the Sharjah International Book Fair on Wednesday.

He said that the Sharjah is celebrating two occasions –successful run of the 38th Sharjah International Book Fair and Sharjah winning the coveted title from the UNESCO – the World Book Capital 2019. This is the highest recognition of culture, which has come due to four decades of unstinted work towards strengthening culture.

He said that the SIBF reinforces its efforts and joined hands with the ALA to host this conference.

“As we continue our thrust to create a stronger community culture of reading in the UAE through a multitude of initiatives as the Unesco World Book Capital 2019, this conference and our valued partnership with ALA only gains prominence,” he said.

Michael Dowling, ALA Director, International Relations Office, welcomed the participants and applauded the fact that about half of them were attending the conference for the first time and appreciated the remaining half for returning to the conference.

“Speakers from eight countries and participants from all continents make it a truly international conference,” he said.

Delivering the keynote address on ‘Taking the lead: Indispensable librarians’, ALA President Wanda K Brown said, “The journey to become indispensable begins with your decision to invest in you. We see that libraries are transforming daily. You have to either prepare yourself and catch up with it or sit by and let the change get over you.

We must ask ourselves why have we chosen this profession. We prepare ourselves when it is the vocation of the heart. That means you believe in what you do and you are passionate about the work you do. Because passionate people move an organization forward.

It is a partnership of two people determined to engage, to inform and to connect.

“When I say you are indispensable, it means it is partnership between you and yourself, you and your employer. So ask yourself, are you ready for the change. What should you do to prepare yourselves. Start by being a pro-active communicator not only with your supervisor but with yourselves,” she advised.

Several sessions were conducted by internationally renowned experts on significant topics including Beyond reality: expanding your library’s services to the virtual, How to get people to use the public library, Transforming your school library, The value of measuring outcomes: The Nashville Public Library experience and Libraries and information freedom. Several School Librarians of the Year also shared their stories, lessons, and keys to Successes.

On Tuesday, pre-conference workshops were held which revolved around topics titled “Planning, Assessing, and Communicating Library Impact: Putting the Standards for Libraries in Higher Education into Action”, “New Concepts and Applications for Cataloging” and “Building Empathy, Understanding, and Tolerance through Collections, Curriculum, and Virtual Reality.”

With more than 400 librarians from 18 countries, the number of participants touched all time high, which reflects the growing interest of librarians in the region to keep themselves updated with the international practices.

Michael Dowling, ALA Director, International Relations Office, said, “We have participants from the UAE as well all from the neighbouring countries including Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt. This year we have received the maximum number of participants, which further strengthens our confidence,” he said.

There were several service providers as well as companies showcasing tools needed to enhance libraries in the modern world. The annual forum has never been more relevant than in the current digital era, which is changing the landscape of publication archiving and retrieval. More librarians are coming from around the world taking advantage of the unique conference, which features internationally recognised speakers to help them enhance their skills.

Related articles