A Qatari Librarian Believes “Librarianship” is about Empowering People

Jooza Al-Marri has many achievements to celebrate. She is a Qatari professional librarian with a master’s degree in librarianship and works at Qatar National Library as collection development manager.

Her mission has always been to make libraries more engaging places, and at the Library, her efforts have fallen on fertile ground: “I am proud of being part of a team changing the library culture here in Qatar,” she says.

“I began working at Education City Central Library (as it was then known) in 2011 after returning from the UK with my master's degree in librarianship from the University of Sheffield. At that time, the Library used to be seen in the traditional mold as a place for shelving books, transacting library patrons by checking out their books and giving basic responses to enquiries with little support or encouragement.”

Even as an undergraduate student, Jooza was not fully satisfied with many of the library services. “We always hear of librarians saying they didn’t plan to become a librarian. However, for me I chose librarianship filled with desire. I always wanted the library to be a more engaging place, and it occurred to me that I would need to be a librarian to make this change in my country,” says Jooza.

Equipped with a master’s degree in librarianship, Jooza joined Qatar National Library at a nascent stage of its development.

“I have worked for the Library for almost eight years now. One of our earliest achievements, even before we had the amazing building we are using today, was to focus our efforts on outreach. We went out to meet different institutions and universities across Qatar to promote the Library’s vision, the collections, services and the Digital Library we were starting to develop at that time. Soon everyone took a deep interest in our work, and asked our team to visit them so they could learn about our plans and how to register to access our digital resources.”

Reflecting on her role as a professional Qatari librarian, Jooza says: “The three aspects of being a librarian that I love most is how the staff here are serving the people. We empower them when we provide accurate information and references. We are not doing this for a profit. It is simply to serve the needs of all the people living in Qatar and enrich their leisure time.”

“Before we opened to the public, I found myself wondering whether these wonderful books we were purchasing were going to meet the users’ expectations. Now I’m proud to share with you that since opening its doors, the Library has checked out more than a million books! Reaching such a high circulation within just over one year is a big achievement and it’s an indication of the impact we are making. This is confirmed by the comments we receive, the emails, and positive feedback,” says Jooza.

“Libraries are not only an environment for learning, but also for social networking; places where you can enhance your skills through different programs or initiatives. Qatar National Library can be considered as a leading example in the country, fully implementing the highest library standards," says Jooza.  

“I would advise anyone from Qatar who is deciding their future career path to look to Qatar National Library. I am very proud to be part of the team changing perceptions about libraries in Qatar, and I encourage our whole community, especially the youth, to be part of this change,” says Jooza.