Director of SIBF Ahmed Amri with ALA President Barbara Strebeling A number of American librarians have praised the great efforts of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in supporting public libraries in the Arab World, and enriching
them with valuable books and manuscripts. Speakers especially praised His Highness's gesture in reopening the Egyptian Scientific Institute in October 2012, and providing it with over 4000 original manuscripts, books, and rare encyclopaedias from His Highness's private collection, thus affirming that culture is the public property of human kind. This step, speakers affirmed, also represents great value for researchers, academics, and readers from all over the world.
This praise followed the successful participation of Sharjah International Book Fair in the Annual Conference and Exhibition of the American Library Association (ALA), which took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event attracted hundreds of librarians from public and private libraries, as well as commercial libraries, publishers, and authors from the United States of America and all over the world.
In a private session, SIBF Director, Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri and Salim Omar Salim, Head of Sales and Marketing at SIBF, met with ALA President Barbara Stripling, Courtney Louise Young, President-Elect of the American Library Association, and ALA Treasurer Mario Gonzalez, where they discussed means of sharing experience between Sharjah and the American Library Association.
During the meeting, Al Ameri gave an overview of some of the initiatives mobilised by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi in support of libraries in the UAE and the Arab World, highlighting His Highness's support to the Sharjah International Book Fair and Arabic publishers, which has elevated SIBF to a position of international prominence amongst the most prestigious book fairs of world. Al Ameri also highlighted some of the initiatives taken by Sharjah to promote reading among children, as well as to develop knowledge and public culture in the Emirate and the entire UAE. Attendees further discussed the possibility of holding events and activities by the American Library Association in Sharjah, in parallel to Sharjah International Book Fair.
ALA President Barbara Stripling expressed her satisfaction at hearing about all the support extended by His Highness Ruler of Sharjah to libraries in the UAE and beyond, commenting specifically on His Highness's initiative to finance the reopening of the Egyptian Scientific Academy, and providing it with 4000 valuable books and rare manuscripts from his private collection. Stripling highlighted that this honourable initiative represents a remarkable support to libraries worldwide, and their role as arsenals of human culture, not to mention the advantages researchers and historians would gain from this monumental step. Stripling also affirmed that the American Library Association is keen on promoting these valuable initiatives among its members, as a token of gratitude for the role they
play in achieving cultural development and promoting reading. Stripling furthermore praised the role played by the Sharjah International Book Fair in promoting reading and supporting publishers, as well as developing publishers' capabilities via the professional development programme held annually before the Fair.
Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri also met with a number of American librarians, members of the American Library Association, to discuss the possibility of SIBF participating in ALA's activities, and its Annual Conference in particular, in order to take advantage of the great facilities provided by the Association, and to encourage Arabic publishers to take part in these events, especially with American Libraries interested in distributing Arabic publications, particularly children’s books.
Al Ameri conveyed that American Library Association officials and other participants in the fair and conference, with whom he met, all praised Sharjah's cultural initiatives, as well as the exhibitions, book fairs, festivals, and awards the Emirate organises and hosts. They also praised the experience Sharjah has in hosting events and programmes dedicated to promoting reading, expressing interest in taking part in the next Sharjah International Book Fair and its publishers’ professional development programme, as well as collaborating with UAE publishers and cultural institutions.
He added: "The meetings that we attended during the Annual Conference and Exhibition of American Library Association have proven that His Highness's initiatives in support of libraries, as well as the events and activities held by Sharjah in this domain are well observed by American librarians and other stakeholders, which is a great boost to Sharjah's name and reputation all over the world. This also facilitates our communication and collaboration with all stakeholders whom we wish to see at SIBF and other cultural events in Sharjah.”
Sharjah International Book Fair's participation at the Annual Conference and Exhibition of the American Library Association came as a part of the Fair's external participation plans, aimed at exploring the world’s best practices in book fairs and other book and publishing related events, in line with the directions of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, which emphasise the importance of communicating with world leaders in the publishing industry, and learn from their experience and innovations. The Philadelphia Fair is one of the leading platforms for the world’s leading stakeholders in the library sector.
The 33rd Sharjah International Book Fair is set to be held in November from 5 to 15, 2014, where they will be organizing several activities during the 11-day, which include seminars, intellectual, cultural, and poetry readings, children's programs, and activities of the corner of cooking, along with book signing and many other activities.