6th SIBF/ALA opens with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality

400 librarians from across the globe in Sharjah to discuss new trends and new services to serve their communities and societies

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The sixth annual Sharjah Library Conference opened today (Wednesday), and is being held in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA), on the side-lines of the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2019).

 

Welcoming participating delegates and visitors to the conference, HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), “We are gathered here today in Sharjah as the Emirate celebrates two occasions. Firstly, Sharjah has attained the highest recognition of culture world-wide having been named the UNESCO World Book Capital 2019. This follows decades of promoting books and culture by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah”.

 

“Secondly, we are happy to be celebrating the 38th edition of the globally recognised Sharjah International Book Fair,” he added. “Each and every year of the Sharjah International Book Fair reinforces our connection to literature, and this is strengthened by our collaboration with the American Library Association. We believe the book to be the greatest tool to reinforce the connections and the relationship between countries and people, and therefore, we want to stand together to promote the extremely important role of librarians.”

 

Addressing a gathering of 400 librarians, archivists, and industry professionals from across the globe, Al Ameri emphasised on the role libraries play in bringing people together who connect over a love of reading. Books, he said, bridge the divided between cultures and countries, making societies and communities happier and more peaceful.

 

Following Al Ameri’s address, the 2019-20 ALA President, Wanda Kay Brown, Dean of Libraries, Winston Salem State University, North Carolina, took to the stage to gave a keynote under the theme ‘Taking the Lead: Indispensable Librarians’.

Brown opened her speech by commenting that this was the most diverse crowd she had ever had the pleasure of addressing. “I am truly grateful to have you all here this morning. This is where it begins, it begins when you see the need to invest in ‘you’. It is an intention you have to invest in the work you do. ‘Taking the Lead: Indispensable Librarians’ begs us to ask: how we move forward in these rapidly changing times? You either sit by and let change run you over or you step up and step out to change with the times.”

 

Brown added that librarians are in public service and need to connect to the people they serve. “Human service is a vocation we are best prepared for if it is a vocation of the heart. When we are passionate about what we do we move an organisation forward. We know that education is the number one social mobility tool. A child that is born into poverty is likely to die in poverty. But we have a role as educators, connecting people to what they need to be successful. I am asking you to strike partnerships in your own community because partnerships are essential to the work that we do. I believe librarians can help drive the movement to bring about change.”

 

Following the opening addresses, the first session witnessed concurrent programmes that included: ‘Beyond Reality: Expanding your Library’s services to the virtual’; ‘How to get people to use the library’; and Transforming your school library. These were followed by a second simultaneous sessions, ‘The value of measuring outcomes’; ‘Libraries and information freedom’, and ‘School librarians of the year’. In the latter half of the day, sessions shifted focus to explore the civic and educational roles of libraries with sessions like, ‘Librarians fostering tolerance in their community’; ‘Helping teachers to teach’ and ‘Transforming library science educations for a global market place’.

 

The conference was preceded by pre-conference workshops for participants on November 5 with three, full-day sessions held on a range of topics useful for libraries, like, Planning, assessing and communicating library impact; New concepts and applications for cataloguing; and Building empathy, understanding and tolerance through collections, curriculum and virtual reality.

 

The sixth Sharjah Library Conference has its focus on the rapid technology disruptions in the library space, and will discusses the use of AI, AR and other digital innovations, addressing challenges and paving a way forward for securing the future of libraries and their role in education and development. The conference also offers excellent education and networking opportunities, alongside a chance to interact with the 2,000 publishers from 81 nations participating in SIBF 2019.

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