Inside Oman’s first Children’s Public Library
September 13, 2017 | 6:45 PM
by Shruthi Nair

Oman’s first Children’s Public Library, which has the slogan ‘Access to Knowledge is Our Right’, isn’t just a great initiative towards promoting the habit of reading but also offers a great setting.

Often, I have these lengthy, yet meaningful debates with my colleagues about the decline of print and the gradual rise of the digital media. But when it comes to books and novels, irrespective of all the e-books and online reading apps that we have been innundated with, paperback and hardcovers are here to stay in their full glory.

From something as insignificant as the raw and fresh smell of the paper or the feel that you get on your fingers when you turn the pages while staying fully engrossed in the book, the pleasures of reading a printed book are plenty. And despite all the technological ease I would any day choose a book over an app and would prefer to read and fold the pages to mark where I stopped reading.

My love for books and reading has been a habit that I developed as a child when smartphones, iPads and Xboxes weren’t invented. As clichéd as it may sound, books had actually become my best friend — a different genre in different grades.

It started with the nursery rhymes and colouring books in the kindergarten to the bedtime storybooks with morals and slowly graduated to Enid Blyton books where I would resonate with the characters of Secret Seven and Famous Five and imagine being one of those children solving mysteries and saving the world.

There were also books like Goosebumps and Spooksville that would give me the chills and make me feel the excitement but I wouldn’t dare touch them at night. And then in my early teenage years I was introduced to the world of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, making me realise how my books were growing up along with me.

But times have changed. Now when I see children stuck up with gadgets, including my three-year-old nephew who needs his iPad to even eat peacefully, it saddens me as I know what they are missing out on. A whole world of imagination, knowledge, and literary creativity is what they might be deprived of for no fault of theirs. That’s probably why I appreciate the period I was born in. Although a millennial, I did grow up at that age when technology was just slowly emerging. But at the same time I am also fortunate enough to be a part of the explosive digital era where social media and technology aren’t a mere source of entertainment and information but they have become a basic necessity. So basically I got the best of both worlds while the generation after me are deprived of the wealth that the pre-digital eras simplicity had to offer.

Well, the above rant is actually as a result of the sheer joy that I felt after learning about the Children’s Public Library that recently opened. Reading is a great habit that needs to be inculcated right from the childhood. While electronic tools and gadgets have replaced books, the lack of options for a place to read is also a factor that has made more children distance from books and closer to their phones.

Oman’s first Children’s Public Library, which has the slogan ‘Access to Knowledge is Our Right’, isn’t just a great initiative towards promoting the habit of reading but also offers a pretty great setting to do so. This multi-storeyed building is filled with colours, chatter, giggles, and life throughout the weekdays where children from different schools, age groups, and backgrounds come together to sit on the comfortable and vibrant bean bags and chairs and simply have a great time.

There are multiple books of different genres kept on different shelves stacked spaciously without overcrowding. The variety that the library offers is impressive and the decor is so warm and welcoming that anybody would like to chill there enjoying the view of the greenery and mountains that the french windows offer.

There is a little play area too with kitchen sets and other play tools where the tiny tots are seen playing when they get bored of reading. Although the aim of the library is to promote the habit of reading among the kids, they also have computers for kids that they can access. [email protected]

For more information on Children’s Public Library: Qurum; Sunday-Thursday 10am to 3pm

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