Ithra explores cutting-edge digital library systems 

Ithra explores cutting-edge digital library systems 
Ithra explores cutting-edge digital library systems 

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Ithra, held a cultural session on Wednesday as part of the Sharjah International Library Conference. 

The session, titled “The Library as a Sustainable and Creative Source, the Ithra Library as a Model,” introduced Ithra, and shared digital knowledge and expertise around libraries. 

Ithra is a diamond sponsor of the conference.

Speakers at the session included Tariq Khawaji, the cultural consultant at Ithra; Ali Al-Saadi, library systems and technical services specialist at Ithra; and Nadine Achkar, MEA country manager II of Global libraries and education at Overdrive.

The session began by highlighting Ithra’s early stages of development, and how over five years it has grown to become a competitive library worldwide in terms of design and technological integration. 

“Since the start of 2023, the Ithra Library has had over 600,000 visitors and 37,000 readers. So far it has successfully conducted 88 reading clubs, 80 programs, and around 600 cultural sessions,” said Al-Saadi. 

He added: “The Ithra Library’s programs stopped being exclusive to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Some of its initiatives now take place in at least seven Arab and international cities. The library also produces publications of its own, some of which have been translated into many different languages.”

Al-Saadi said that Ithra uses radio frequency identification technology to make borrowing and returning books easier for readers. 

Readers can quickly scan books to obtain comprehensive information on the item they selected, while smart screens located in every corner can help readers in finding books.

Ithra is also applying sustainable practices. “Whether it’s waste management, recycling initiatives, or cans for plastic, paper, and food, the Ithra Library applies sustainable environmental practices across its four levels,” said  Al-Saadi.

The second part of the session presented by Khawaji highlighted the role of libraries in fostering young people’s creativity and intellectual development.

The iRead competition is one of several initiatives under Ithra’s iRead Reading program. Other programs include Kutubiya for exchanging books; iRead Marathon, where trees are planted as a reward for reading; and the iRead Talks, where intellectuals, writers, and culture lovers from Arab nations gather to discuss books.

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