Ithra at Sharjah

Ithra presents at Sharjah International Library Conference

Exploring innovative digital library systems in “The Library as a Sustainable and Creative source, the Ithra Library as a Model” presentation.

Ithra presents at Sharjah International Library Conference

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Diamond Sponsor of Sharjah International Library Conference, presented a cultural session in the 10th edition of the library conference titled, “The Library as a Sustainable and Creative Source, the Ithra Library as a Model.”


Speakers included:


  • Tariq Khawaji, cultural consultant at Ithra
  • Ali Al-Saadi, library systems and technical services specialist at the Center
  • Nadine Achkar, MEA Country Manager II of Global Libraries and Education at Overdrive.


Together, and before a regional and international audience of passionate librarians, they introduced Ithra and shared digital knowledge and expertise around important topics in the world of libraries.  


An international model

Ali Al-Saadi started the session by highlighting the early developmental stages of the Ithra Library, how it grew over the past five years to become a library that is competitive worldwide in terms of design and integration of technologies; made evident in its nomination for IFLA’s Public Library of the Year Award in 2022.


“Since the start of 2023, the Ithra Library has had over 600,000 visitors and 37,000 readers. So far it has successfully conducted 88 reading clubs, 80 programs, and around 600 cultural sessions,” says Al-Saadi. “The Ithra Library’s programs stopped being exclusive to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Some of its initiatives now take place in at least seven Arab and international cities.


“The Ithra Library also produces publications of its own, some of which have been translated into many different languages,” he added.


Full digitalization 

“RFID technology is used at the Ithra Library to make the process of borrowing and returning books easier for readers. Smart screens dispersed around the library enable readers to easily scan books and find detailed information on their chosen book, as well as screens that help them locate the books they’re looking for,” he says. 


Al-Saadi also noted the sustainable practices that the Ithra Library diligently applies. 


“Whether it’s waste management, recycling initiatives or cans for plastic, paper, and food, the Ithra Library applies sustainable environmental practices across its four levels,” he adds. 


Youth potential 

The discussion that followed was presented by Tariq Khawaji, who highlighted the crucial role of libraries in enriching the intellect and creativity of youth. The Ithra Library, he says, offers many creative and cultural programs and initiatives especially tailored to fulfill the needs of all young age groups. 


Khawaji pointed to the iRead competition as an example, which is a reading competition that started ten years ago as a program available only to people in the Eastern Province. It has developed over the years to become a regional competition open to all Arab countries. 


The competition is one of many tracks under the Ithra Reading Program (iRead). Others include Kutubiya for exchanging books, iRead Marathon which plants trees as a reward for reading, and iRead Talks that bring together intellectuals, writers and culture lovers in Arab countries as well as Saudi Arabia to discuss books and reading.


The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) participated in Sharjah International Book Fair for the first time in 2023, as a Diamond Sponsor of SILC taking place at book fair Nov. 7-9,  an exhibitor in the book fair, and a participant in its cultural program. 


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