Children's Public Library – Delivering knowledge to all
On the occasion of Oman's 50th National Day, Rashid al Kiyumi, CEO of the Children's Public Library underlines the role of the library in shaping young minds in its bid to inculcate an insatiable thirst for knowledge
In the heart of Muscat, in the vicinity of popular locales like Shatti al Qurm and Qurum Natural Park, the Oman Children's Museum is nestled in a spot where the beauty of nature interweaves with science to give visiting children a space to revel in observation and imagination.
On November 13, 2017, in conjunction with Oman's National Day celebrations, the library opened its doors to welcome young readers and explorers, to become the sultanate’s first specialised children's library under the slogan 'Knowledge is a right for all' within its spacious 9000sqm building that is built to accommodate more than 1000 visitors. The library had been opened under the auspices of HM Sultan Haitham bin Tarrik, who then had been Minister of Heritage and Culture.
“The Children's Public Library was established to provide an environment suitable for reading, characterised by tranquility and beauty and equipped with modern furniture suitable for different age groups present inside the library to maintain their safety. It also provides all the needs of children, including information sources and services, which meet their demands and preferences while contributing to the development of their mental abilities as well as their linguistic, artistic, scientific and social skills,” says Rashid al Kiyumi, CEO, Children's Public Library.
The Library directs its focus of interest to children of 3-17 years, in addition to parents and those interested in children's literature and childcare. The facilities include reading halls, a Braille Corner, Kid's Area, Programmes Room, and Electronic Information Sources Hall and an Innovation Corner.
As knowledge is a right for all, the library is also equipped to serve people with special needs - those who suffer from hearing, visual, and motor impairments as well as learning difficulties.
To ensure easy access to the library building, it has escalators and elevators, easily accessible shelves, seats and tables designed to suit everyone, tools for people with sensory impairments, and a set of accessible tools, equipment and aids, These include electronic information resources, large printed/picture books for shared reading sessions, books and stories tackling disability issues, and digital stories.
The Library also embraces a treasure of science and knowledge of twenty thousand titles for an informative paper source of interactive books, large-sized books and three-dimensional books. The sources printed in Arabic reach the percentage of 65%, while sources printed in English make up the remaining 35%. In addition, books written in Braille and other foreign languages are available.
The library, with the help of information specialists (mainly Sultan Qaboos University’s graduates) responds to all questions and inquiries of library users, provide them with the required information, direct them easily and smoothly and train them to use devices and services correctly.
The Programmes Room is equipped with all facilities for holding events and activities, the innovation corner encourages children and visitors to create, innovate and learn more about digital solutions programmes developed for children. Workshops are also held in each of these departments regularly.
The Braille Corner is supervised by a professional and specialised team that helps all library visitors and provides introductory tours for visitors, educational institutions or interested groups.
The library is usually open from Sunday to Thursday, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, and on Saturday from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm. However, in compliance with a resolution of the Supreme Committee, due to the current pandemic, the library is currently kept closed. The library’s enriching materials are nevertheless shared electronically (via Zoom). Workshops, such as Hakawati for Children, Yoga Workshop, Scratch programming, Spoon Dolls, Who went to the school), Stop Motion, and others were held during this period after popularising them on social media.
“With all these efforts and more, the Children's Public Library is moving forward to achieve its mission and vision - to deliver knowledge to all because 'knowledge is a right for all',” Kiyumi asserts.