Officials in Dubai have never come up short when it comes to thinking out of the box, trying to find new ways to do things, looking at problems and seeing solutions, and being innovative to maintain, improve and foster public awareness. And that’s exactly what is happening at Dubai public libraries. In other cities around the world, municipal officials look at libraries, their maintenance costs, the expense of replacing and up-keeping books, dwindling readership and membership, and a declining interest in the printed word — and short-sighted city bureaucrats act to close such facilities, ending a tradition and heritage that has existed for centuries. Progress, they will say, pointing out that all the information contained in those tomes is readily available at the click of a mouse.

But that’s not the case in the UAE. Municipal officials here look at libraries, see their potential, their resources, their ability to educate, inform and entertain, and wonder how can they harness these places of learning and transform them, making them more meaningful and relevant. That’s where innovation comes in.

In Dubai, the municipality has opened a series of libraries at public beaches. Yes, we all have enjoyed reading a book while relaxing at the beach. It’s a simple marriage of convenience, one that makes you wonder why someone never thought of that before. Now, the Municipality has taken this innovative thinking one step further, opening a series of libraries at Dubai parks. How resourceful is that? Enjoying a favourite author, exploring a new subject, growing one’s personal knowledge-base while enjoying the emirate’s wonderful outdoors. Dubai should trademark these innovations — other library administrators around the world will be chiding themselves and asking: “Why didn’t we think of that?”