In a push to promote a culture of reading in Qatar, Katara Cultural Village has announced plans to create a loaning library of used books that is open on the weekends.
The library will open on Thursday, Oct. 23 and run every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until April 2015 at Katara’s Promenade.
Speaking to Doha News, Khalid Al Sayid, a media expert at Katara and the Editor-in-Chief of the Peninsula, explained the motivations behind the initiative:
“This is the first time that we’re doing something like this in Katara. The main idea is to promote reading. We have books in different languages, and people can just come and take what they like.”
To check out the books, residents will have to provide their name and mobile numbers at a registration desk next to the used books kiosks.
For now, people will be restricted to checking out two books a week. The initiative is entirely free of charge, and there is no overall restriction on how many books one person can check out over the duration of the gallery.
Like many countries in the Middle East, Qatar does not boast a reading culture. According to a report by the Childhood Cultural Center, more than 30 percent of Qatari children say they don’t have time to read, while 26 percent complain about not having access to books of their interest.
And though Qatar has among the highest literacy rates in the region, educators have said a scarcity of libraries make inculcating a reading culture difficult.
Currently, Katara’s used book library consists of some 300 titles, donated by individuals, ministries, and organizations within Katara itself.
The books are in English and Arabic, and cover topics like politics, business, engineering, the arts and management. Novels are also available, though the primary focus is on educational books.
“We have some children’s books, and we’re sure that over the course of the initiative, people will donate much more, and in different languages,” Al Sayid said.
Those interested in donating can call 66644031, or drop off books in person at Building 18 (ground floor).
The news of the gallery comes as other local entities aim to revive reading in Doha.
Last year, a family in Al Wakrah began Umayr’s Little Free Library.
The project, spearheaded by a four-year-old boy, is part of a “take a book, leave a book” movement of some 5,000 mini-libraries in 36 countries, including Ghana, the US and Pakistan, which were created to spread literacy and an appreciation for books.
And recently, a French-Qatari couple opened the Qatar Book Club – a nationwide initiative to foster reading and conversation among locals and expats alike.
Membership to the club costs QR150 and includes access to various sessions and workshops. Non-members can also participate, and pay QR30 for each session, and between QR50 to 70 for each workshop.
The group will host its first book discussion event on Nov. 26 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. The venue has yet to be determined. The featured book, Dohmestics, is by locally-based American author Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar.
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