For the love of books

Walking through the doors of the central library at the American University of Sharjah, the endless rows of books on wooden shelves can amaze even the most avid book-lovers.


Muaz Shabandri

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Published: Tue 31 Jan 2012, 10:21 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 4:52 PM

An occasional chatter in one corner breaks the silence as the central dome looks down the large atrium.

Daphne Flanagan, who heads the library at the American University of Sharjah, describes the library experience as one of the most enjoyable experiences during a student’s university life.

“The library is a place where students socialise and work together. There is a lot of interest in reading books for research and students come here when they have time to study or discuss course work,” said Daphne. The library spread over three floors has facilities for issuing books, periodicals and multimedia references spanning across every known subject.

Thousands of students make their way to the library everyday as the media lounges and reading rooms offer students with a peaceful refuge from the hustle-bustle outside classes. Books on arts, architecture and design are the most popular ones as students also look to get their hands on periodicals and online databases.

“A research help desk provides students with assistance on what resources are available for their area of study and how they can use it. A team of librarians are also available to help the students,” Daphne said as she walked through the library’s media lounges.

The library, which has some 130,000 books, is filled with students as they make use of the reading material. “It’s the one building used by students from every campus and there are books for everyone. New resources are added every year and students are also asked for feedback,” said Daphne.

Muna Mahdi Al Marashi, a student from Zayed University visits her university library to read books whenever she has free time. “It’s the best way to utilise free time in the university as I can read books on almost any topic. I enjoy reading fiction and books on arts and crafts,” she said.

“The library has a relaxing, peaceful and quiet ambience which makes the experience enjoyable. I can even study in one of the study rooms without any disturbance.”

Like Muna, other students from federal universities can benefit from a special library project which provides students with more than 900,000 resources available. Known as the Liwa Project, libraries from the federal universities are linked to a central database, as faculty, staff and students in participating institutions may request books not available in their home university’s library. Talking about the project, Rob O’Connell, supervisor of the Higher Colleges of Technology’s library services said: “A student is at the centre of the learning experience and it’s our job as educators to make the best resources available to them. With this vision, the libraries share their resources and make education more inclusive.”

Like any other library, students can search for books in their university catalogue. In case, the book is not available, students can then place a request for the same book from another federal university that may have it. The book is then delivered to the student’s university within two days.

The growing collection on the Liwa Catalogue is a significant contribution to building knowledge in the UAE as each federal university adds more books every year.

“Every university has their own library needs based on the students and the courses they take. Sharing books and resources can help reduce costs and make more books available for students and faculty,” concluded Rob.

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