30 Apr 2018
ALKHOBAR: With its huge area, white panoramic design, prominent technology and vibrant atmosphere, the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) library located in Dhahran, Eastern Province is the first and the only one of its kind in the Arab World that represents itself as the 21-century library.
Ithra Library is by no means an ordinary public library. “You get to exchange knowledge, experience the latest technologies and discover more than a million books, both paper and electronic, including special collections of rare books from all around the world,” library head Tariq Alkhawaji told Arab News.
“What makes Ithra Library unique is not only its interior design but also the modern technology used within its walls.”
The library features digital exhibitions that display the library programs, the books recommended by the library staff, and a number of interactive screens that let visitors scan any book in the library to find out more about it. Such technologies are considered quality services in the Arab world, Alkhawaji said.
“By stimulating discussions about books and with face-to-face encounters with authors and literary thinkers, the library becomes a place to diffuse knowledge and not only to consume it, and that is the main reason why we have the café on the second floor, in the middle of the library,” or on the social floor, as he likes to call it.
A complete floor is designated for children where they can enjoy the wide collection of books in both Arabic and English, and can join the interactive workshops which focus on learning and gaining knowledge through entertainment.
The library was designed on four levels with an area of more than 6,000 square meters in a modern design. “Whenever you go up a level it becomes more conducive and suitable for learning and researching,” Alkhawaji explained. The library starts with the children’s and multimedia floor, then you reach the social floor with the café where different programs take place, after that the non-fiction books level, and lastly the research floor which was designed especially for researchers and students.
It contains 51 columns, each one with a lit marble panel engraved with the verses of 51 Arab poets of different ages and eras, and in different types of Arabic calligraphy.
Ithra library provides not only books but also digital resources through its e-library which will focus on improving the quality of Arabic digital content and will be a major step forward in digital publishing in the language.
The library, along with its mother organization the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture, is to be a huge contribution by Saudi Aramco to the knowledge-based society transition Saudi Arabia is heading toward. While the Ithra Library had its soft opening in September 2017, it is expected to have its official opening for the public in the third quarter of this year.