First public library in the GCC to grant visitors digital access to British Library’s titles



Sharjah, 27 August, 2017


For the first time in the GCC, the Sharjah Public Library, a subsidiary of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), will provide digital access to thousands of rare books and periodicals on Arabic and Islamic culture, which are held at the British Library in London.


The British Library, the world’s second largest library, lists 15,000 Arabic books and manuscripts spanning the 15th to 19th centuries, the most important collection of its kind in Europe and North America. The collection includes rare editions of the Holy Quran, poetry and prose and works by great Arab and Muslim scientists such as Ibn al-Haytham, al-Razi, al-Farabi and Ibn al-Nafis, among the millions of digital pages.


The Sharjah Public Library launched the new service in collaboration with ‘Gale’, a leading provider of library resources, and ‘Cengage’, a USA-based company that provides technological and educational services through its various offices around the world. The collaboration will be instrumental in enhancing the Sharjah Library’s digital services available to members and visitors from Sharjah and UAE.

Sara Al Marzouqi, Manager of Sharjah Public Library, said: “We are delighted to offer the new service to our visitors, especially so soon after Sharjah was declared the World Book Capital 2019. This will provide a much wider platform for us to showcase the magnitude of Arabic and Islamic culture through the wealth of books and manuscripts at the British Library that many readers, researchers and students will be able to explore for the first time.”


Al Marzouqi stressed that the initiative will play a pivotal role in enriching scientific research and cultural activities while providing valuable historic insights. “Before this project, those who wanted access to the material needed to travel to London to explore the wealth of books at the British Library. This will save them time, effort and money, and enable them to search and print the books, periodicals and articles in Sharjah,” she added.


Matt Drury, Middle East Sales Director for Gale, comments: “We are delighted that Sharjah Public Library has made this commitment.  Leading institutions from around the world have invested in Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library, however Sharjah Library is the first public library to adopt it. For Sharjah Public Library to make this investment represents an exemplary vision and forward thinking approach to provide the local UAE population with the very latest in academic resources relating to Arabic culture and civilization. The UAE general population will be able to benefit from it for years to come.”


The British Library started providing its service of easy access to digital resources in 2015. Many leading universities, cultural and educational entities from around the world have engaged in the initiative, particularly in North America, China, Lebanon, Turkey, as well as the Specialized Presidential Council for Education and Scientific Research in Egypt (through the Knowledge Bank Initiative) and the National Library of Kuwait.



Photo caption:


  • General photo for Sharjah Public Library.
  • Photo of the rare manuscripts and books.
  • Logo of Sharjah Library.



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Dima Alastal

National Network Communications (NNC)

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