4th Sharjah International Book Fair/American Library
Association Library Conference set for November 7-9
by Michael Dowling
Now in its 4th year, the Sharjah International Book Fair(SIBF)/
American Library Association (ALA) Library Conference has
established itself as a major yearly event in the Middle East,
attracting hundreds of librarians from across the region, and
beyond, to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This
year, ALA President James Neal will be the opening keynote, as
the conference continues to focus on the “Libraries Transform”
theme. The conference offers librarians from all types of
libraries (academic, school, public, and special libraries) the
chance to learn from international experts from within and
outside the region.
And with the announcement by UNESCO that Sharjah
will be the World Book Capital in 2019, the conference
promises to energize and inspire attendees with new ideas
and new connections that will help further the transformation
of their libraries. The conference sessions are bi-lingual, with
simultaneous translation in Arabic and English.
On November 7th, librarians will have the opportunity
of full-day preconferences, including the in-demand
“Assessment in Action: Demonstrating and Communicating
Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success”
workshop of the Association of College & Research Libraries
The full two-day conference, November 8-9, features
concurrent interactive programs of wide interest, with topics
such as top trends, open resources, and innovative thinking
models, but also specific tracks by type of library. For academic
librarians, Dr. Mustafa Abdelwahid, Director of Library, Al-Faisal
University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will focus on the integration
of library services into the curriculum. ACRL’s new information
literacy framework will be a hot topic as will be the concept of
“personal librarians” on campus.
Public librarians will be able to learn from their regional
colleagues in Tunisia, Egypt, and the UAE about transformative
services like online book clubs. Rivkah Sass, Director of the
Sacramento Public Library in California, will provide salient
approaches to empowering and directing staff; Melanie
Huggins, Executive Director of the Richland Library, Columbia,
South Carolina, re-envisions the library as a catalyst for solving
community problems and creating opportunities for the
community to learn, create, and share.
Library Journal “School Librarian of the Year” Todd
Burelson, Media Specialist at the Hubbard Woods Library
in Winnetka, Illinois, and Wendy Garland, Avery Elementary
School, Dedham, Massachusetts, will join three winners of
United Arab Emirates, to present a series of programs on
transformative initiatives taking place in their libraries.
Attendees have access to a Librarians’ Lounge, sponsored
by SIBF and library-related companies, for informal networking
and information about new products and services. This year’s
conference Platinum sponsors are Ingram Content Group and
NexusLib; Gold sponsors are GOBI-EBSCO and Overdrive.
Exhibitors include Alzad; Association for Supervision &
Curriculum Development Publishers; Books Kinokuniya;
Gresswell/Demco Interiors; Human Kinetics Publishers;
Knowledge E; and National Science Teachers Assn Publishers.
In addition to the enlightening programs, attendees will
learn from each other during the poster sessions featuring
20 case studies across the library spectrum. The 2017 Library
conference will be held in conjunction with the 36th SIBF at
the Sharjah Expo Centre, which runs from November 1-11. The
librarians will be able to combine the conference’s professional
development with discovering and acquiring materials for their
libraries. SIBF is one of the largest book fairs in the world. In
2016, there were 1420 publishing houses from 60 countries
exhibiting at SIBF and over 1. 5 million books in 210 languages
on display. Attendance at the Fair exceeds 2 million visitors.
The conference is managed by SIBF, ALA’s International
Relations Office, and Combined Book Exhibit (sponsor liaison).
SIBF representatives, including the Sharjah Book Authority
Chairman Ahmed Al Ameri, have fostered the partnership by
attending and exhibiting at recent ALA conferences to offer
information and resources to U.S. libraries that showcase
UAE culture and libraries and help the libraries build related
collections of materials.
Serving librarians and libraries for over 140 years, the
ALA provides leadership for the development, promotion,
and improvement of library and information services and the
profession of librarianship to enhance learning and ensure
access to information for all. ALA currently has 1,700 members
from 93 countries outside of the United States. The content of
the SIBF/ALA conference reflects ALA’s key action areas and
core values, including literacy, education and lifelong learning,
advocacy for libraries and the profession, diversity, equitable
access to information and library services, transforming
libraries, excellence and innovation, and expanding library
services. For additional information, please contact the ALA
International Relations Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Dowling is Director of ALA’s International