ABU DHABI // More public libraries will open in beaches and parks in the capital this year, while celebrity storytellers may be visiting the emirate to spread the message of love of reading.
There are two libraries at Khalifa Park and Bahya Park , and one at the Family Beach on the Corniche, which has iPads and stocks e-books, e-journals and provides online access to newspapers.
Emad Abu Eid, head of Abu Dhabi Municipality’s public libraries unit, said a third park library would open by summer at Al Wathba Park.
The municipality also plans to open a second beach library by the end of the year in the freely accessible area of the Corniche.
“Many people visit the public spaces and spend a lot of time there,” said Mr Eid. “So once they have a public library it is easy to access books.
“There is no parking headache and it is an ideal relaxing environment with a wide variety of books suitable for people of all ages regardless of nationalities and gender. And of course it is free.”
Despite the plans, Mr Eid said more libraries were needed. He conducted a study five years ago, the more recent snapshot of Abu Dhabi’s libraries. It found a need for 20 public libraries across Abu Dhabi.
Shaikha Al Mehairi, manager of the cultural research centre at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, said the number of English and Arabic language libraries was still insufficient. “All children need more access to books,” she said.
Mr Eid said having more libraries was a way to encourage people to read. He said the municipality had more novel ideas to make reading a more popular pastime.
One initiative he is trying to realise is having celebrities to take part in storytelling sessions in public.
He has made a proposal to the municipality to invite movie, sports or music celebrities to visit the emirate and tell stories at public venues.
“This is already done in western countries,” he said.
“Even the presidents of some countries get involved in storytelling, and many celebrities have done it.
“I would love to see that for Abu Dhabi. Storytelling is one of the best activities because it engages the children.”
Ms Al Mehairi said children would be encouraged to read by having the chance to watch famous authors speak in public.