Dear Amman Library: Why Not Start with Youngest Readers?

A piece in today’s Jordan Times complains about how libraries have grown irrelevant to Jordanians—particularly “young people”—and discusses ways of making the venue more attractive.

From the Times:

[Library Director Hatem] Hamlan said the library is aware that it is out of step with 21st century readers, and is working to catch up by launching several initiatives to bring Ammanis back to the library.

The library is preparing a city-wide promotional campaign to remind Jordanians of the library’s services and vast number of titles.

In a bid to attract younger readers, the library is slated to undergo its largest overhaul in a half-century: providing computers and Internet access to visitors and digitising its archives to make its millions of titles more accessible.

These sound like good ideas. But to instill a library culture, perhaps beginning with young adults is not enough. How many Arabic children’s books grace the shelves? Are there story times? Events for children? Children’s book clubs? Writing workshops? Meet-the-author events?

Yes, young adults have many distractions, and can download books from the Internet. Perhaps the best way to entice people to the library is to start when they’re young.

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