Saturday, September 20, 2014

Arab and Islamic Heritage Collection

I came to Qatar to work for the library but I do not currently work at the library because it is still being built. Not seeing patrons or books for weeks on end is a new and strange thing for me.  Last week I was able to visit the Arab and Islamic Heritage Library twice; once for orientation and once with Public Services.  The library will one day be part of the National Library.  I cannot wait for all of us to work together under one roof.  Email and phone calls are my only connection to some staff.  Soon we will be a team. My favorite part of the library?  Hands down the smell.  It has a lovely vanilla tobacco sort of aroma that my office doesn't come close to.
The collection began with H.E. Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Thani at the beginning of the 1980s. He wanted to make available the wealth of historical sources about Qatar, including writings by travellers and explorers who visited the Arabian Gulf region. This vision developed to incorporate all rare and valuable texts and manuscripts related to the Arab-Islamic civilization. Preparations are underway to relocate this collection in its own purpose-built location within the new Qatar National Library at Education City.
The collection comprises of two main parts. The Arab Collection contains over 75,000 works including manuscripts and books on numerous fields of knowledge. The Foreign Collection contains over 25,000 works including books, periodicals and maps that reveal the extent to which European Orientalists, travellers and explorers were fascinated by the Arab-Islamic cultural heritage. The earliest documents date back to the mid 15th century A.D. Work is currently being undertaken to enlarge the collection into a rich resource for research and academic study. (Heritage Collection)
As you can see from my pictures, the collection has a great look and feel. The furniture was exquisite.  You may sit on the fancy furnishing but I couldn't. Along with lush rugs, dark wood and stained glass, the walls in some rooms had beautiful fabric coverings. 

This area of the library with its many levels, spiral staircase and dim lighting is jokingly referred to as the Harry Potter room.

The books are arranged by category.  I found a section dedicated to the writings of T.E. Lawrence. There were books in many languages at the library.  We had a good time finding works that each of us could read and translate for the rest of the group.

I am very excited to see more of this library and I cannot wait for the public to see more of what it contains.  It's like a national family tree. 



  1. That's a hundred times more amazing than the Bexley Library.

    1. Maybe Bexley Library is a different kind of amazing.

  2. What a beautiful you are anxious to get going when the building is is that coming along? Cape Horn (Matter is napping)

  3. I don't know when the library will be complete. It looks great from the outside. I haven't seen the inside yet.