The Sharjah Prize for Library Literature Forum, organized by Sharjah Public Library (SPL), recently concluded its twenty-third edition, emphasizing the pivotal role of libraries and knowledge institutions in the digital age. The forum, themed ‘Teaching, Learning, and Libraries: Strategies for Integration, Empowerment, and Exemplary Practices,’ brought together academics, researchers, and library enthusiasts from across the Arab world to discuss innovative practices and the future of libraries.
Unlocking the power of artificial intelligence in libraries
One of the primary highlights of the forum was the call to embrace the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in information acquisition. Libraries were encouraged to harness AI technologies to enhance their services and provide more efficient access to knowledge. AI can play a crucial role in organizing and cataloging vast amounts of information, making it easier for users to find relevant resources. This approach aligns with the modernization of libraries to meet the evolving needs of users in the digital era.
Creating eco-friendly knowledge environments
The forum underscored the importance of eco-friendly knowledge environments and sustainable practices within libraries. In an era where environmental concerns are paramount, libraries are urged to reduce energy consumption, minimize paper usage, and optimize resource utilization. These sustainable practices not only contribute to a greener planet but also help libraries operate more efficiently in terms of cost and resource management.
Fostering environmental awareness initiatives
To further promote sustainability, the forum recommended active involvement of library leaders, readers, and researchers in environmental awareness initiatives. Libraries are encouraged to become hubs for eco-consciousness, organizing programs and events that educate their communities about environmental issues and solutions. By engaging with their users on these critical topics, libraries can expand their role beyond knowledge repositories.
Innovative spaces for enriched learning
The forum stressed the importance of creating innovative spaces within libraries through cutting-edge technologies. These innovative spaces can enhance teaching and learning experiences for library patrons. From interactive learning environments to advanced research facilities, libraries are urged to adapt to the digital age by providing access to the latest technologies that enrich the educational journey.
Transition towards green knowledge environments
Looking ahead, the forum announced the theme for the upcoming edition of the Sharjah Prize for Library Literature: ‘Transition Towards the Green Knowledge Environment,’ scheduled for 2024. This theme reflects a commitment to sustainability and aligns with global efforts to promote environmentally responsible practices. It also emphasizes the need for libraries to lead the way in creating greener knowledge ecosystems.
Collaborative frameworks for sustainability
During a session titled ‘Sustainability in the Cognitive Environment,’ speakers emphasized the critical importance of establishing collaborative frameworks between institutions, both globally and locally, with a primary focus on sustainable knowledge practices. This collaborative approach seeks to address sustainability not just within libraries but also within the broader context of educational and research institutions.
Integration of information institutions and education
Dr. Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Sharif Ahmed Zakaria’s award-winning research delved into the integration of concepts related to information institutions and their contribution to education and research within the UAE education policy document, released by the Ministry of Education in 2018. His work highlights the interconnectedness of information institutions with the broader education landscape.
The role of artificial intelligence in education
In another session, Dr. Nahla Mohamed Moussa’s research focused on how students in the UAE perceive and engage with artificial intelligence tools within academic libraries. With AI becoming increasingly prevalent in education, understanding students’ perspectives and experiences with these technologies is crucial for shaping future library services.
Fostering creativity and innovation in libraries
The research of two third-place award winners, Dr. Emad Issa Saleh and Dr. Amani Mohamed El-Sayed, emphasized creativity and innovation in Arab school libraries. Their work underscores the significance of libraries in fostering creativity and innovation, which are essential for educational and societal progress.
Libraries as cornerstones of comprehensive development
Eman Bushulaibi, Director of SPL, encapsulated the forum’s overarching message: “We firmly believe that libraries are not just repositories of knowledge but the very cornerstone of comprehensive development for Arab societies.” Libraries are not static entities; they are dynamic institutions that adapt to meet the evolving needs of their communities.
The Sharjah Prize for Library Literature Forum 2023 highlighted the transformative role of libraries in the digital age. By embracing AI, sustainability, and innovation, libraries can continue to be at the forefront of education, research, and community development in Arab societies and beyond. The forum’s discussions and research contributions are expected to pave the way for a more sustainable and knowledge-rich future.