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Qatar launches national library project

500,000 records related to Qatar set to be digitised

Gulf News

Manama: Qatar National Library (QNL) is set to open in 2014 amid hopes that it will become one of the most important and iconic landmarks in Qatar and the region.

The project for the building, launched on Monday by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, was announced by Shaikha Moza Bint Nasser, chairperson of the foundation and wife of the emir, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.

The launch coincided with the 50th anniversary of Dar Al Kutub, Qatar’s first national library that opened in Doha in 1962.

“As a national resource, the library will preserve the rich archival heritage of Qatar and the cultural legacy of the Arab World accumulated over the past centuries,” the Foundation said. “Yet, while embracing the country’s tradition and heritage, the QNL will provide a bridge to the nation’s future as a knowledge economy, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.”

The library is expected to provide innovative facilities for exploring interaction between devices and human beings to promote new ways of learning, the statement said.

It will partner with the British Library to digitise 500,000 records relating to Qatar. An ‘eHub’ will make millions of electronic books and documents accessible at the touch of a button, and the archives will be accessible remotely through a mobile phone or other handheld device.

QNL will operate a Qatar Reference Service and provide access to more than 60 online databases and websites and will have more than 300 public computers, wi-fi and multi-media production studios.

“We are proud to announce the development of a project of globally unique scope and breadth in its field to bridge the gap between past and future and enable a true modern renaissance of Arab culture, education and scientific discovery,” Claudia Lux, QNL project director, 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. However, this journey will begin as soon as a strong digital library and a virtual reference desk are key services the Qatar National Library will provide before the new building officially opens.”

QNL will also introduce the Gulf and Arab Science online portal. The platform will be launched using digitised material from the British Library’s Indian Office Archive as well as its oriental manuscripts.

“Once complete, the portal will become a key cultural asset of Qatar, open to researchers from around the world, students of all classes, and Qatari families researching their own rich cultural histories,” the statement said.