Qatar National Library (QNL) hosted the 29th Conference of Directors of National Libraries in Asia and Oceania (CDNLAO) from 1 to 2 November 2023, welcoming representatives from 26 countries, including Palestine and Australia, who joined online. The conference, held for the first time in the region, assembled under the theme "Collect and Engage: National Libraries and Their Collections" and saw high-level participation from Arab states.
"Hosting this annual assembly for the first time is a significant milestone for us,” said Qatar National Library Executive Director Tan Huism during the opening remarks. “It highlights Qatar National Library’s commitment to strengthening the collective efforts of libraries, promoting the exchange of information, and fostering cooperation for the development of libraries across Asia and Oceania. Libraries stand as vanguards of culture and knowledge, and in this digital era, our mandate extends beyond guardianship. We are pivotal in amplifying access to the nation’s documentary heritage across multiple platforms."
Hind A. Al-Khulaifi, Director of Strategic Planning & Projects at QNL, said: “We at the Library have embraced a mission to make our heritage collections more readily available and engaging to the public than ever before. Our initiatives are not limited to preservation but extend to revitalization and relevance. In parallel with our efforts to make past heritage accessible, we are deeply invested in contemporary collecting. Capturing the present, be it through current publications, digital media, or various forms of artistic expression, is crucial for future generations.”
During a video call to the conference Vicki McDonald, president of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), highlighted the importance of the organization’s regional offices, and emphasized their role in supporting library associations within their respective regions. This support includes disseminating information and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experience. IFLA regional offices also serve as liaisons for IFLA headquarters, coordinating strategic, outreach, advocacy, and professional activities. Notably, Qatar National Library was designated as the Middle East and North Africa Regional Office in August 2023.
The Library also outlined its role as the IFLA Preservation and Conservation Centre for Arab Countries, which includes producing and publishing materials related to preservation and conservation, assisting Arab libraries on conservation matters, guiding the development of disaster plans, and organizing courses, workshops, and meetings for the other institutions. In addition, the Library highlighted some of its new projects and initiatives and focused on a collaborative project with the Qatar Environment and Energy Institute to study ink and verdigris deterioration.
Over the course of the two-day conference, library directors participated in multiple sessions exploring various strategic themes. These themes included collection practices to better represent communities, improving access to heritage collections, and methods to engage communities with their nation's collection. The conference also served as a platform for libraries to showcase their achievements, programs, and services, and provided an opportunity to discuss challenges faced by several states in the region.