The functionaries of Dar al Kitab Library in Salalah are humbled with the first prize honour of 2017 edition of Sultan Qaboos Award for Voluntary Work and call it a responsibility to do more for the society and the community. The library, which was opened on February 23, 2015, got appreciation and recognition from book lovers, researchers and even from college and school students.
The award has two categories – Personal and Organisational. Dar al Kitab Library’s honour comes under Organisational category. The library currently has more than 15,000 books, while it had started with some 12,000 books. All the 12,000 books were the collections of Abdul Qader Salem Ahmed al Ghassany, who not only converted his book collections into a public library but also dedicated the four-floor building that houses the library for the noble cause. All the income that comes out of RO 500,000 four-storied building goes against the upkeep of the library.
Late Al Ghassany’s son Mustafa Abdul Qadir is running the show with the help of a Board of Directors and keeping alive the dream of his father. Al Ghassany, according to Mustafa, was an avid reader, collector of books and was quite active in terms of reading something daily even at 95 years of age and at the time when the library got opened.
The library injects some 1,000 books every year and it offers free services like a big reading hall, internet and scanner for those who want something scanned from the books kept in the library. It also has a children section with books of their level and a hall where literary events keep on happening around the year.
The library is housed in the renovated ancestral house of Al Ghassany just behind Al Salam Street. “The library has three sections – one each for men, women and children. To ensure the safety of the books, a high quality scanner has been kept in one corner of the library for those who want some chapters or pages scanned,” said Mustafa.
“We have decided not to allow anyone to take books out of the library. This we have done to ensure total safety of the books, at the same time we have kept the scanner to serve those want to keep some important chapters or pages scanned for future reference,” he said.
The Library has a vast range that include Islamic, holy Quran, Arabic language, books on Oman, geography, history and annual subscriptions of several titles. “Our English collection is not that big and we are working on it to have more and more titles in English,” said Mustafa.
A book published in 1932 is the library’s oldest title. The library has been dedicated to Al Ghassany and an award for Arabic writers has also been started.
Al Ghassany’s love for books could be understood from the fact he not only he collected these books, but most of them were read by him.
The library has plans to come out with many new initiatives next year and introduce new titles for all the categories.