A Guide to the Qatar National Library | ExpatWoman.com

In Pictures: A Look Inside the Qatar National Library

This extraordinary facility is suitable for visitors of all ages and should be on everyone's must-visit list

Posted on

24 November 2019

Last updated on 24 November 2019
Christine Sperr at ExpatWoman
by Christine Sperr
Qatar National Library

The Qatar National Library is a library like no other.

Designed by the Dutch architecture firm OMA, the building’s use of natural light represents ‘knowledge and enlightenment.’ A facade of corrugated glass and a reflective aluminum ceiling are designed to filter and diffuse the bright sunlight to create the optimum light level for reading. Outside, a sunken patio allows light to filter to the basement levels.

Overall the building encompasses 42,000 square metres of space for books and readers, housing Qatar's National Library, the Public Library, the University Library, and the Heritage Collection.

Incorporation of technology is a primary component of the Library from sourcing, tracking and cataloging all resources to engaging user interfaces to increase interaction and participation. Built-in technology features include aspects such as all books contain an RF identity tag for instantaneous location, an automated sorting system akin to an airport baggage handling system, digital check out and even an automated drive-through return option. In addition, there are digital totems strategically located throughout the library and large kiosks with interactive screens that offer visitors the opportunity to send digital postcards to friends and family, as well as, encourage visitors to play library-based themed games. There is even a sushi-style conveyor belt that allows books on showcase to be moved throughout a designated area for easy access.

The Qatar National Library is an extraordinary facility for visitors of all ages. The Library contains interactive, creative spaces for both children and young adults.

Check out the pictures...

Children’s Library

The Children's Library offers the following:

  • a collection of more than 100,000 children’s books
  • educational toys that develop the children's sensorimotor skills by getting them involved in fun activities
  • ebooks and electronic educational games available through the Library’s online resources

The Library hosts numerous activities for children and their families, such as:

  • Interactive storytime
  • Creative workshops
  • Early literacy programs
  • Book discussions
  • Science, Arts, literature and theater programs
  • Workshops for parents, educators, and caretakers on child development and learning, and much more
  • Programs and activities for children with special needs conducted by experts and specialists

Young Adult’s Library

The Young Adult’s Library focuses on readers from 12 to 18 years old. This inspirational learning space contains a vast array of resources:

  • More than 30,000 fiction and non-fiction books, graphic novels, and magazines
  • School support and college preparation textbooks
  • Video game consoles
  • Musical instruments
  • Computer labs with the latest software and applications
  • Study rooms
  • Workshops to improve information and research skills
  • Various types of programs and book discussions
  • Homework support from our specialized librarians
  • Self- and career-development programs

For People with Learning Disabilities

In addition to the Children and Young Adult resources listed above, the Library has sophisticated tools to accommodate children / young adults with auditory and visual disabilities. This focus and investment are evident throughout the facility as Qatar National Library is committed to ensuring that all our resources are accessible to everyone.

The Library’s main collection includes materials produced for those with disabilities, including large-print books, audiobooks and books in braille. Also, the Library’s dedicated assistive technology space is specially designed for people with disabilities, with adjustable workstations and the latest equipment and software, such as scanning pens with headphones, ergonomic keyboards and mice, braille keyboards, and portable electronic magnifiers.

Innovation Stations

Not only does the Qatar National Library focus on books in print and technology resources, but it also contains 4 Innovation Stations. The Innovation Stations are dedicated spaces within the Library that foster creativity, inspiration, collaboration, and engagement. They provide tools for innovators, artists, musicians, creators and learners to express themselves. Visitors can design 3D images with the latest software and print your design using the Library’s resources.

There is a music recording studio where you can spend up to 2 hours a session, with various instruments, to record professional quality music audio and video. Another Innovation Station is a media room containing an array of crafts with equipment support like a die cutting machine, sewing machine, media converters, and 3D printer. If you require a green screen space with professional lighting, the Library contains this too!

Please note that Innovation Station sessions should be booked in advance through [email protected] and nominal charges may be applicable based on the resources utilized (3D printer paper for example).

The Heritage Library at Qatar National Library

Pictured: Women in Islam, The Heritage Library inside Qatar National Library

The Heritage Library

The heart of Qatar National Library, the Heritage Library is a unique contribution to Qatar’s cultural landscape. Its growing collection includes rare and valuable archival documents, books and periodicals in various European languages; early Arabic printed materials, such as books, journals, magazines, and newspapers; and Arabic manuscripts, maps, atlases, globes, historical photographs, and instruments and tools related to travel. Several of the printed materials date back to the 15th Century when the printing process had recently been introduced in Europe, and these antiquarian books are among the rarest and most valuable features of the Heritage Library's collection.

A significant number of items in the Heritage Library come from the collection of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani. In 2000, the Heritage Library was transferred to the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Heritage, and in 2006, it became a part of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. In 2012, the Heritage Library became an integral part of Qatar National Library.

The Heritage Library is open to the public, and researchers with an interest in a specific area or subject may apply to study relevant items under the supervision of staff.

Special Events

The Qatar National Library contains an all-purpose theatre that can comfortably host up to 400 attendees and is the venue for a diverse calendar of events. With over 700 programs annually, there is truly something for everyone. Visitors can attend a free monthly Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra concert, participate in a build a robot workshop or join a weekly knitting and crochet circle. For a full list of events, visit https://www.qnl.qa/en/events?page=1 and/or register on the Library’s mailing list to receive event updates.

In addition to scheduled events, the Library is host to a diverse range of temporary exhibitions. For example, currently, at the Library there is a captivating exhibition on the Holy Kaaba which contains 50 carefully selected items that offer insights into the history of the Kaaba, the stages of its construction, its architectural features and adornment, and its religious and spiritual significance. Also on display is an exhibition titled "Qatar, India & the Gulf: History, Culture, and Society,” which examines the fascinating yet sometimes forgotten connections between historical India, Qatar, and the Gulf—from shared cultures to shared empires—over the course of 4,600 years.

The exhibition reveals how this ancient and enduring relationship has influenced their history, culture, and society in profound and surprising ways. For a listing of current events, please visit https://www.qnl.qa/en/exhibitions/current.

Reading and Studying Space

The Qatar National Library contains a variety of areas to read and work. From open table space to comfortable seating, there are many areas to retreat to read or work in small groups. If you require an area to study or work, there are 28 study carols/rooms in order to work in privacy.

In addition, the Library contains 6 study rooms for up to 6 people and 2 fully equipped media lounges. Please note that all rooms cannot be utilized for for-profit activities such as paid training or workshops. To reserve study or meeting space, you can book online at https://www.qnl.qa/en/library-services/reading-spaces or call 3091 8520.

Lastly, there is the Safahat café, the name aptly means “pages” in Arabic, to relax with a coffee or tea and your newly discovered book.

:: So, if you haven’t visited the Qatar National Library, it is a must! It is a gem of a resource. The Library is open to all visitors and any Qatari citizen or Residency Permit (RP) holder is eligible to receive a free membership card.