Sharjah, November 11, 2023
The 10th annual Sharjah International Library Conference (SILC), organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), in collaboration with the American Libraries Association (ALA), has offered key learning and networking opportunities to 250 participating librarians, academics, thought leaders, and other industry professionals from 14 countries who partook in the milestone decennial edition of the event.
From learning about current trends and beneficial emerging technologies to advance the library sector, to creating innovative spaces and services to engage readers more meaningfully, and exploring the positive impact of libraries in reversing climate change, the two-day conference took place at the 42nd Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).
Mansour Al Hassani, Director of Publisher Services at SBA, reflecting on the well attended 2-day conference said, “Throughout the ten years of this gathering of library professionals, the Sharjah International Libraries Conference has enriched the global discourse on libraries while serving as a catalyst for innovation, collaboration, and the continuous evolution of the library industry. The exchange of insights, the exploration of cutting-edge technologies, and the recognition of excellence within the field reaffirm our commitment to shaping a future where libraries are dynamic hubs of knowledge and inspiration. The success of this conference, and our valued partnership with the American Library Association, proves that great things can be achieved when we come together through a united vision to encourage passion for the realm of libraries and the written word.”
Commenting on the success of the conference and their connection with Sharjah, Michael Dowling, Director of Chapter and International Relations for ALA said, “Celebrating our 10th year here in Sharjah has been an important milestone and has proven the sustainability of the yearly gathering. Thanks to our partnership with SIBF, we’ve not only successfully established the conference, but also made it possible for librarians worldwide to actively participate in the Book Fair, expand their catalogues, and network with the wider publishing community, especially those within the region. As Sharjah is considered a cultural centre of the region, it has been an absolute pleasure to have been welcomed and supported by the emirate over these ten years. This year we had two major focuses, the emerging influence and utility of Artificial Intelligence within the library industry; and the growing concerns around climate change and sustainability, and how libraries can help to provide knowledge, create awareness and do their part to contribute towards the global cause. Other important topics were around professional development within our industry, reading in the school environment and improving global educational standards.”
Equipping libraries with the tools to nurture young minds
The closing day of the conference was marked by a series of eight engaging discussions led by global experts in the library industry. The conference also shed light on the importance of school librarians in nurturing young minds, helping students cope with life’s challenges, and creating businesses, careers, and research centres within libraries.
One particularly illuminating session titled “Libraries Empowering Climate Action: Policy, advocacy, and practice,” explored how libraries, with the support of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), have been actively engaged in climate empowerment. Claire McGuire, a Policy Officer at IFLA, highlighted the organisation’s work in climate action, emphasising the importance of libraries, librarians, and library associations in advocating for climate solutions at various levels while implementing practical initiatives to address global problems.
Virtual reality (VR) technologies were also on the agenda, with unique perspectives shared on the implementation of VR in library settings. Additionally, the conference provided an excellent platform to discuss project-based learning, which aims to transform teaching and learning, foster critical thinking, and build resiliency.
The conference closed with a session dedicated to Library Associations, offering valuable information on the resources and opportunities available to those involved in the library field. Participants had the privilege of hearing from representatives of esteemed library associations, including the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information, the American Library Association, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
To mark the conclusion of the event, a distribution of certificates recognised the contributions and achievements of the conference attendees, ensuring that the knowledge and experiences gained during the two-day event will continue to shape the future of libraries in the United Arab Emirates and around the world.