Qatar National Library (QNL), officially inaugurated by His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Monday, has lent over 320,000 books over the last five months, a senior official disclosed on Tuesday.
“We have opened experimentally since November 2017. It is about five months and we have had about 200,000 visits to the library so far. We have a vast collection in different languages," Dr Sohair Wastawy, executive director, QNL, told a press conference.
“We have several programmes that cater to young adults, young children and people with disabilities and special needs. We have about 500 events happening under the library,” she explained.
“QNL has been granted the status of national library under an Emiri Decree issued on March 20 this year. The library will be governed by a board of directors. At this point we are in the transition stage of moving into a new entity,” Dr Wastawy clarified.
The library’s lead architect, Rem Koolhaas, said that the whole process of making the building happen took a very long time.
“This really played into our advantage. We had the instruction that the building should be one that stimulates reading and inspire the population engage with books. That became the key intention of the whole project and hence we decided on such a design. Once you enter the building, you are surrounded by books,” explained the architect.
Roly Keating, CEO of the British Library, along with several other officials took part in the press conference.
As part of the official inauguration of the library, QNL held several exhibitions and other activities on Tuesday. The Heritage Library Exhibition was the first event. On display are more than 400 items from the QNL Heritage Library collection that illustrate the spread and evolution of ideas throughout the Arabic and Islamic world, as well as document interactions between the Arab world and the West over the past several centuries.
It was followed by Qatar-German Exhibition: Arab and German Tales – Transcending Cultures. This was organised as part of the Qatar-Germany Year of Culture and the exhibition examined the history of Arabic and German fairy and folk tales, and how the two traditions influenced each other.