posted on 27/09/2003: 1300 views
Sharjah Library, the biggest in the UAE in terms of size and collection, offers unique facilities to all sections of society, including children as young as two. Housed in a huge building with a grand façade that reflects Arab architecture, the library offers special services to 'special' readers in its 'library for the blind' - the first of its kind in the country. The other unique facility is the Linguistic Centre, which is equipped with a computerised language learning system. People can learn as many as 16 languages without spending hefty amounts at commercial language centres. Library staff teach people how to use the facility.
The library contains 20 specialised sections, two public halls, an audiovisual section, linguistic centre, special needs library, special collection and Internet café in addition to a clinic and a canteen. The library was established in 1968 at the African Hall at the Sharjah Municipality and then shifted to the Cultural Centre and finally to the current location at University City.
Most of the library's readers are students and teachers from universities in the University City. People from the city and other emirates also go to the library but their numbers are much less compared to the facility. The library currently has only 2,244 members despite the fact that it charges only Dh160 for lifetime membership.
The library consists of two floors. The first floor comprises the general library, including all general books in Arabic and English and the periodicals sections. Approximately 150s periodicals on interesting subjects are available. An audiovisual library comprising electronic books, video and audiocassettes is also located on the same floor in addition to a Special Collection Hall which contains rare manuscripts and books published before 1950. The same floor also houses the Language Centre. The ground floor includes a symposium hall and 20 specialised libraries and a research centre.
Another unique feature of the library is that members can take their children along and they don't have to get separate membership for them. They can leave their children in the dedicated children section, which houses a children's library and an edutainment area. The library is fully automated and visitors can use the 18 computers placed near the entrance to find a book. Finding materials from anywhere in the world will soon be possible through the library's website; http://www.shjlib.gov.ae.
There are permanent exhibitions in the entrance hall of the library. They include: An exhibition of books written by Dr Sheikh Sultan, publications of the Department of Culture and Information (DCI) Sharjah and Sharjah Library and copies of new arrivals at the library. The library management under the supervision of the DCI also organises the Sharjah Reward for Library Literature in a bid to create awareness among the general public about the use of the library. Sharjah Library has its branches in Kalba, Khor Fakkan and Dibba Al Hisn. Plans are under way to open two more branches in Al Dhaid and Hamriya. (The Gulf News)
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