Library boom brings joy to avid readers

DUBAI - Reading habits of people have not waned despite the onslaught of technological innovations, latest gizmos in the field of entertainment, video games, cable TV and Internet, Khaleej Times has learnt. In fact people are reading more books than ever before. To cater to the tastes of this growing breed, many libraries and bookshops have sprung up all over the UAE in the past few years.

By Asad Iftikhar Shafi

Published: Wed 9 Aug 2006, 10:50 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 6:06 PM

Melvin Raphael of Al Meena Library, Sharjah said: ''I opened a library in Sharjah three years ago. At that time, apart from the Sharjah University's library, there was no other library in the city where readers could go to borrow books on diverse topics. I along with my children used to go to Dubai to borrow books from a library there. That's when I decided to open a library in Sharjah. It has been very successful. People of all ages come to me for books. The trend of reading books is steadily growing.''

''We have got more than 1,200 members and about 80,000 books that they can borrow from our Dubai branch and about 60,000 books that are available to members in the Sharjah branch,'' boasted Ranjit of Archies Library & Bookshop. ''This is a clear indication of the popularity of books in the UAE community,'' he said.

One of the reasons for the popularity of libraries is the high cost of books in UAE. Most books in majority of the bookshops are too expensive for the common man.

''I love reading books. They are my passion. When I was in India, I used to buy about a dozen books each month. But ever since I settled in UAE about five years ago, I can hardly manage to buy more than a couple of books a month despite earning a decent salary. Books here are very expensive and discourage book lovers like me from reading. It's a blessing that so many new libraries have come up in UAE that provide solace to us bookworms,'' explained Sanjeev Acharya, a regular visitor to the libraries of Dubai.

Said B.K. of Book World: ''We not only lend books, we also sell them. We have a huge collection of second-hand books, which we sell to our members and then buy back from them at half the price. This allows readers; especially students to buy books for their studies and sell them back to us when they have finished that particular course. In this way, we are helping the youth of this country to get a good education without putting a huge dent in their pocket. For this reason I have got customers who come not only from the UAE but also from Oman and Qatar.''

The library owners are trying to open more libraries in the country but are prevented from doing so because of the high costs involved.

''I want to open at least three more libraries in UAE and am considering different locations for that,'' added B.K. ''But the huge costs involved are very discouraging. The rent of the premises, utility bills, salaries of employees, etc all add up to a lot of money. Not to mention the high costs of books needed to stock up a library.''

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