His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will patronise on Monday evening the official inauguration ceremony of Qatar National Library (QNL) which has a total capacity of 1.2mn books.
His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser are to attend the ceremony which will see the one millionth book placed on the library shelves.
QNL's inauguration ceremony will also be attended by a number of dignitaries from across the world, including presidents and representatives of heads of friendly states and a number of former presidents as well as senior officials.
QNL is a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF).
The official opening is being celebrated with a variety of public events over two weeks, including lectures, seminars, exhibitions, educational and training workshops.
The objective is to highlight the role of libraries in spreading knowledge and promoting the history and heritage of Qatar, in the Arabian Gulf region, and beyond.
Through its function as a research library with a unique heritage library, QNL will promote a deeper global vision of the history and the culture of the Arabian Gulf region, and it will provide all citizens and residents of Qatar with equal opportunities to benefit from its facilities, and services.
QNL will support creativity and independence in decision-making among its pioneers and the development of their cultural knowledge, as well as its leading role in the library and cultural heritage sector in the country.
QNL supports Qatar's move from dependence on natural resources to diversification and sustainability of the economy, by providing the necessary knowledge resources for students, researchers and anyone living in Qatar, in order to enhance lifelong learning opportunities, empower individuals and society, and contribute to a better future for all.
The QNL building, designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is fully accessible to visitors with special needs. It features numerous custom-designed innovations, including an automatic book sorting system, several interactive media walls, and self-check-in and check-out machines that make borrowing books easier for members.
The Heritage Collection, located in the centre of the QNL building, includes rare and valuable texts and manuscripts related to Arabic and Islamic civilisation. In addition to Arabic manuscripts, historical maps and globes, scientific instruments and early photography, the collection also contains writings by travellers who explored the Arabian Gulf region over the centuries.
The library has received more than 161,000 visitors since last November's opening, and more than 51,000 new members registered. The number of borrowed books has exceeded 300,000, of which 185,536 are from the children's and adolescents' group and 115,278 are from the main group, enabling it to become a destination for all the members of society during the past six months.
The books are distributed in three main areas in all fields of arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, including more than 150,000 books and magazines in the library of children and adolescents. The QNL provides more than 200 electronic sources, such as books, magazines and foreign periodicals in various disciplines.
The Heritage Library contains 50,000 historical and heritage items, including more than 4,000 manuscripts, more than 1,400 historical maps, dozens of atlases, astronomical instruments, navigational instruments, historical images, and other heritage artifacts.
On the occasion of its official opening, the QNL has prepared a wide-ranging programme, which will launch with an exhibition entitled "Arab and German Tales." The exhibition sheds light on the history of the folk tales and the Arab and German stories, and how they affected each other. It presents some of the modern styles of storytelling in Qatar and Germany, and some contemporary German and Qatari stories inspired by the tales of "One Thousand and One Nights" and the stories of the fictional "The Brothers Grimm".
The exhibition will witness the opening of the heritage library, which includes a wide range of collections on science and knowledge during the different periods of Islamic history. It has documented the interaction between Arabs and the West over the centuries. The exhibition contains more than 400 rare and precious items in the heritage collections of the library. These collections include manuscripts, printed books, maps, archival records, photographs and travel tools, and a number of exhibits collected in one place to reflect the unique character of Arab culture and the development of East-West relations and the history of Qatar.
The library is organising a seminar entitled "Truth Matters: The Era of Fake News", which includes the talks about the methods of using fake news in the current political climate to manipulate political agendas, and what should be done about it. The event also features the project of "The Book Club for the Blind", which is a project that provides social opportunities and promotes equal access to the resources and services of the library. Also scheduled is a lecture entitled "Information is Beautiful: A Data-Driven Tour of the Universe" presented by David McCandless, a London-based author, data journalist and information designer.
The library will host Dr Essam Heggy, a planetary scientist at the Viterbi School of Engineering in the University of Southern California, and a Rosetta co-investigator at the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory to a public lecture on the natural forces that define the environment in Qatar and its important role in shaping life in the past, present and future.
The traditional Architecture Week offers a lecture entitled "Traditional Architecture in Qatar", given by Islamic archaeologist, Professor Claire Hardy-Guilbert, a senior researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, a member of the French archaeological mission to Qatar between 1985 and 1986, who will be talking about the traditional architecture features in Qatar. The lecture will be preceded by the opening of an exhibit of historical photographs of civilian, religious and military buildings in Qatar captured during the mission and recently acquired by the library.
Selected experts and architects from Qatar, countries in the region and the world will participate in the conference of architecture to discuss the issues of architecture in the Arabian Gulf and its traditional features, and to identify its features, stages of development and impact.
The events include seminars, lectures, and stargazing at the library, in which staff of the Heritage Library will present rare manuscripts about astronomy. A range of binoculars and telescopes will be set up outside the library in order for the public to watch the celestial bodies, while Christopher Alario, QNL Information Services Librarian, Historical Maps and QNL Director of Historical Research and Partnerships Dr James Onley will lecture on the geographical location of the Qatar Peninsula in ancient historical maps.
The ceremony is scheduled to be wrapped up with a lecture by Marcus Fraser, Honorary Keeper of Islamic and Indian Manuscripts and Miniatures at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, who will also deliver a lecture on The Origins and Modifications of the Blue Qur’an manuscript.
The Blue Qur’an, some leaves of which are in the Heritage Library collection, has long been recognised as one of the most significant examples of early Islamic manuscript production. (QNA)