“The health of our civilisation, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries,” famed astronomer and author Carl Sagan once said.
The axiom exemplifies the foundation on which Qatar National Library (QNL), a non-profit organisation under the umbrella of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), bases its entire ethos.
The digital era has significantly challenged the traditional definition of a library and its role in the society. Organisations within the information services sector have had to undergo major transitions to fully adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. Part of the transformation has meant a shift to integrated library systems that grant users digital open access to information.
“Metropolitan libraries all over the world handle the same issues of technology change and globalisation. They need to serve a multicultural society so that they adapt and cater to a variety of needs,” said Saadi al-Said, QNL’s director for administration and planning.
In its efforts to adapt to the digital explosion and rapid advancements in technology, QNL has undertaken its “most innovative and successful project to date”. Officially launched in 2014, the Qatar Digital Library has partnered with British Library to digitise over half a million pages of archival material.
The extensive collection of digital resources and archives contained are widely accessed by users from across the GCC, Europe, the UK and US.
By providing high-quality diversified online databases free of charge, QNL supports QF’s vision of unlocking human potential. QNL grants researchers and academics direct access to a wealth of knowledge across a variety of mediums.
“The advantage of QNL’s combined system is that it is able to cater to the varying needs of the general public. Anyone making use of QNL’s resources will be able to find both basic and scientific material on various topics of interest at their fingertips. There is a thirst for knowledge in Qatar and this is evident from the wide variety of resources being acquired,” said Dr Claudia Lux, QNL’s project director.
Qatar is set to become the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to host the Metropolitan Libraries (MetLib) conference.
The MetLib 2016 conference will be held in Doha from April 23 to 28.
The annual platform is organised by the MetLib section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the leading international body representing library and information services and their users.
The conference in Doha will be held under the overarching theme, ‘Pearls in the desert: unleashing potential’. Participants will explore human potential, focusing on areas of growth and development for both metropolitan library patrons and librarians.  
For registration and more information, one can visit www.metlib2016qatar.org

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