Abu Dhabi Organises Al Ain Retreat for Librarians

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The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has organised a private retreat for librarians and educational specialists to help them improve their skills and expertise. Held under the theme Libraries Without Borders, the first-of-its-kind event saw a number of experts in the field discuss new trends in the industry, how services to the community can be improved, and ways for libraries to better engage with people of determination.

The event, held at Zayed Central Library in Al Ain from October 1-2 as one of the initiatives of the Maktaba Programme, included 10 workshops centred on three main topics: society, technology, and content.

The workshops covered subjects such as increasing and diversifying the impact of libraries on the community, best practices in the industry, and how to broaden cultural horizons of community members. The workshops also looked into the current role of libraries in providing diverse forms of content, and highlighted the significant achievements of DCT Abu Dhabi’s Dar Al Kutub (National Library) Sector.

“The first Librarians’ Retreat was a reflection of our commitment to empowering the importance of libraries in today’s landscape,” said Abdulla Majed Al Ali, Acting Executive Director, Dar Al Kutub Sector. “We want to continually encourage community members to visit their nearest library to explore the latest books and resources. Hence, these workshops supported our mission to explore the best practices and innovations, which ultimately can help us attract readers, including children and people of determination.”

The event saw the participation of a number of distinguished speakers, including Prof. Eman Majed Abu Shalabi, Director of Sharjah Public Libraries Department, who discussed the Role of Public Libraries in the Development of Knowledge Society in Services; Prof. Sharifa Musa Al Mazmi, Acting Director of Learning Resources and Educational Solutions, who discussed the Role of School Libraries in Community Development; and Dr. Mohammed bin Jarsh, President of the Libraries Laureates Union, who discussed the Cultural Development of the UAE.

Highlights from the first day of the retreat included the Innovation Workshop, presented by Dr. Mohammed Mustafa, Executive Director of Tamkeen Academy for Supporting Education in the UAE, which looked at ways to improve the services provided to people of determination and ways in which libraries can help these people become more involved in society.

The first day also included the Social Responsibility of Modern Libraries Workshop, presented by Prof. Imad Abu Eid, who holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the American University in Dubai and author is the of  Library Performance Indicators.

Dr. Mohammed bin Hamdan bin Jarsh also presented the Activation and Cultural Programming Techniques Workshop, which addressed the concepts of creativity and innovation. A workshop titled Reading: Do Not Make it a Habit; Instead Make it a Lifestyle, hosted by media personality and television presenter Safia Al Shehhi, looked at the positive effects of reading, ways to improve cognitive thinking, and how to choose the right books to read.

Dr. Rajab Abdul Hameed Hassanein, Director of Educational Resources Department at Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, presented the Creativity and Innovation Techniques in Library and Information Institutions Workshop, which discussed the concept of innovation and creativity within the library sector.

On the second day, Prof. Iman Ghad, Head of Training Unit at Sedra Centre, hosted a workshop titled A Golden Opportunity: How Libraries Create a Comprehensive Learning Space for Children of Determination. The workshop was designed to teach participants how to develop and deliver comprehensive programmes for children of determination, and how to implement a holistic approach in their work.

Prof. Ahlam Al Lemki, Director of Research at the General Women’s Union and Director of the Emirates Consulting Centre, held a workshop titled Role of the Libraries in the Development of Community Culture. This looked into the theoretical framework of cultural development and its impact on the progress of societies, while also brainstorming ways to nurture creativity to support ideas and innovative solutions that enhance the role of libraries in the development of community culture.

Prof. Mustafa Mahmoud Yousef, Head of Smart Information Services Section, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, presented the Artificial Intelligence and its Applications in Libraries Workshop where he discussed the nature and definition of artificial intelligence, applications of artificial intelligence in public life and in the libraries industry; and how librarians can become “knowledge engineers”.

Prof. Manal Hashad, Head of Indexing Content Processing at Dubai Digital Library, presented the Dubai Digital Library Technology Applications Workshop, where he touched upon the digital solutions provided by Dubai Digital Library, as well as describing its state-of-the-art electronic systems.

Prof. Ahmed El-Ajmay, Project Manager at Knowledge Horizon for Library Services, held a workshop titled Big Data and Internet of Things in Libraries that focused on the concept of the ‘internet of things’ and how it applies to libraries.

The retreat also saw the launch of the Creative Lab, at which key figures and influencers from relevant fields discussed three main themes: challenges and trends facing innovation in libraries; how to build capacity for innovation in libraries; and technological applications and their role in enriching society.

The discussions also covered the best ways best ways to improve the community’s satisfaction with library services, as well as how to develop effective plans keep up with up the pace of global developments in the field.

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