Qatar National Library (QNL) brought its key role in preserving the region’s heritage to the world stage in June through a series of online events.
Over 300 international delegates subscribed to four online classes throughout the month, showcasing how the state-of-the-art Preservation and Conservation Centre at QNL is working with regional partners to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Middle East and raise awareness about conservation of rare books, manuscripts and documents.
QNL is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Preservation and Conservation Center (PAC) Regional Centre for Arab countries and the Middle East. It aims to assist the development of conservation expertise and create a professional network of collaborative assistance to exchange knowledge toward the preservation of documentary heritage throughout the region.
In one event, 85 delegates from Qatar, the Gulf region and 32 other countries joined the international lecture, “Preservation and Conservation of Manuscripts: Founding Introductions.” Experts from the Manuscript Restoration Centre at the Al-Abbas Holy Shrine Library in Iraq joined QNL to guide participants through the process of restoring and preserving documents of historical value to the Gulf and Arab region, as well as crisis preparedness and first aid to documentary heritage at risk.
Maxim Nasra, book conservation specialist at QNL, said,“Historically, Iraq has played a leading role in the production of manuscripts concerning philosophy and natural science, as well as the development of written Arabic. It was extremely mutually beneficial to be able to share knowledge with the Al-Abbas Holy Shrine Library concerning their recent heritage rehabilitation efforts, as well as with such a wide variety of experts from different backgrounds.”
QNL also took part in an international webinar that explored the risks of reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic. The American Library Association International Relations Round Table Webinar Committee focused on information sharing from libraries around the world, looking at perspectives on sanitisation from the Arab region and reopening strategies at a global level. The IFLA PAC Regional Centre at QNL, along with UCL Qatar, will publish a report later this year about the sanitisation of items and facilities in libraries.
Also in June, QNL’s Preservation and Conservation team ran an online tutorial for libraries and archives in the Middle East to discuss prevention procedures for reopening to the public in the context of the pandemic. Other workshops in June, by experts from QNL and the British Library, focused on the history of and conservation risks associated with various formats of Arab audio recordings, from the 1857 phonautograph to 21st-century digital formats.
QNL has been the IFLA PAC Regional Center since 2015, and the June events were part of its role in leading preservation of the region’s heritage. It works closely with institutions in the region to equip experts with the skills needed to conserve and preserve the rich cultural heritage of Qatar and the region for generations to come.
Stephane Ipert, conservation and preservation manager QNL and director of the IFLA PAC Regional Centre, said, “It is satisfying to see that our PAC Centre is continually recognised at an international level, and being able to respond to questions from a broad range of delegates regarding the conservation of rare books, manuscripts and documents in the Middle East at this unprecedented time is vital to growing our reputation further.”