SHARJAH, 17th March, 2023 (WAM) — Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), attended the conclusion of the 43rd International Association of University Libraries (IATUL) Annual Conference on the AUS campus.
Held for the first time in the Middle East and co-hosted by the AUS Library and Zayed University Library, the event saw the participation of 87 university libraries from around the world.
After addressing the ceremony, Sheikha Bodour said, “Libraries today face the difficult challenge of staying relevant and useful to the communities they serve without neglecting their core mission – providing access to reading and enlightenment. But when all actors in the book space work together, we can create more opportunities to meet this challenge head-on. Continuing to push boundaries in a spirit of open communication and solidarity is to everyone’s benefit, especially school children and students.”
Kara Jones, AUS University Librarian, stated, “This is an international conference for an organisation that has more than 230 member institutions from around the world. This is tremendous exposure for AUS, and it helps us build networks with other university libraries. One of our strategic priorities at the AUS Library is to ‘actively build local and international networks to enable and inform an efficient and progressive library service,’ and the IATUL conference is a great mechanism for doing this. The event is extraordinary for two reasons: first, we are finally able to meet in person for the first time since 2020; and second, it is the very first time in the history of IATUL for the conference to be hosted in the Middle East.”
Held under the theme “Libraries Pushing Boundaries”, the event took place on March 13-16, with the first two days hosted by Zayed University Library and the concluding two by the AUS Library.
The 43rd IATUL Conference offered an exploration of forward-thinking in academic libraries and information services and a chance to share experiences of transforming and renewing services, spaces, and resources to add value to universities.
The conference covered topics such as vision, leadership and professional growth, highlighting value and quality, strategic partnership and collaboration, leading and transforming and work environments. It also discussed digital and service delivery and impact, with library users becoming co-creators of services, in addition to looking at spaces for discovery, AI and robots in the library, and discovery services and systems.
The conference looked at developing capable citizens through information and digital literacies, student success pathways, employability and career support, and sustainability initiatives. It further highlighted impact and surfacing research through sharing and promoting research, managing openness, future-proofing/preservation, #hashtag social media experiences, and mapping sustainable development goals.
The conference featured keynote speeches, presentations and poster sessions, workshops and panel discussions. Dr. Alanna Ross, Associate University Librarian for Public Services at AUS, presented the paper “Information, Digital and Media Literacy for Active Global Citizenship,” based on a project with colleagues from the UK and South Africa, while AUS Library staff moderated several sessions during the event. Delegates also experienced UAE hospitality and culture through social events and study tours.
IATUL is an influential and inclusive community for leaders of university and research libraries worldwide, bringing together library directors and managers to exchange ideas, expand professional networks, create new collaborations and work together on international projects exploring the current significant challenges.