Long service: Gholam Mohammad Hussaini has been with Dubai Pulbic Library for 37 years Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/XPRESS

DUBAI Reading books is slowly becoming a lost habit in this age of e-books and easily available information on the internet. These days, you can read whatever you want on your smartphones.

However, nothing can replace reading a book in its physical form, and perhaps this is why Dubai Public Library has managed to not only survive, but thrive. The library is celebrating its golden jubilee this year.

The library has seen growth in line with the growth of Dubai. From a mere 3,000 donated books in 1963 when it opened its doors in Al Ras, the library boasts more than half a million titles across a network of eight libraries today. And to make itself more accessible to its 17,000 plus members, the library has decided to introduce a mobile app which will give information on the availability of books.


“We get about 35,000 new books every year. We are continuously upgrading and very soon we will also introduce a mobile app for our members,” Abdul Rahman Ebrahim Abdul Rahman, Director of Dubai Public Libraries Department, told XPRESS.

Though the library is five decades old, there are people associated with it long enough who have been witness to the tremendous changes. One such staff is Gholam Mohammad Hussaini, customer service officer, who still remembers the days when he came to work at the library as a 14-year-old. “People would come here to meet each other. We had English and Arabic books placed together.

“Those days we knew nearly every member personally,” he added.

Working with the library for more than 37 years now, Hussaini has been witness to many a change. “I had never used computers until they got them in the library. I have also grown in line with the library.

Library staff say contrary to general perception, interest in reading has only grown over the years. “The subjects and type of books people read have changed, but they [people] have not stopped reading.

Children’s library

“We have children who come here and read for hours. They read fiction, science, technology, everything,” said Ruqaya Hussein, head of the children libraries unit, who has been working with the library for 24 years.

The coming years will witness further modernisation, according to Abdul Rahman. “We have kept the membership costs reasonable and will continue to modernise it. We want more people to read.”

How much does membership cost:

You can take individual/family/corporate membership by submitting an insurance deposit of Dh150-Dh200 and Dh50-Dh100 for a five-year membership.

You can donate your books to DPL. Once the staff find it good to be accepted, it would bear a stamp mentioning the donor’s name

Members of DPL can also get a 10 per cent to 20 per cent discount at specific bookshops