Establishing A Creative Writing And Storytelling Community Of Practice At Qatar National Library
“To be one of the world’s preeminent centers of learning, research and culture; a guardian of the region’s heritage; and an institution that promotes imagination, discovery and the nourishment of the human spirit.” That is the vision of Qatar National Library, and this post will shed light on one of the communities that this vision has actualized – developing, nurturing and celebrating creative writing and the art of storytelling.
A fundamental part of the Library’s writing center work is directed toward serving academic and technical writers, who may come to the programs, workshops and individual writing and research consultations we provide as part of our public services for research and learning. Concomitantly, is the work we do with and for creative writers. We’re proud of the achievements, big and small, that our writers and storytellers have shared with us over time, and the places their work has gone.
How does a national Library stimulate, facilitate and foster a culture of learning, creativity and community in creative writing and storytelling? We have an active community of writers who are producing their own stories, fiction and non-fiction, at varying levels of experience, and across all age groups.
Since it opened its doors in November 2017, the Library has offered hundreds of programs on dozens of facets of telling stories, sharing stories and finding the best ways to share them. The Library’s programs are a starting point for many creative writers, a sustained source of inspiration for some and a foundation for others.
Over the last three or so years, the Library has offered programs covering countless topics to pique the interest of its community of writers and storytellers alike: workshopping ideas, writing styles and forms such as short stories, novels, poetry and the personal essay, discovering and using resources to hone the crafts of writing and storytelling, exploring writing processes and histories and contexts. We have hosted poetry slam workshops and events, open mic and improvisation events, and brought in guest speakers and other experts.
The Library has fostered writing and storytelling skills by presenting and delivering these regular workshops and programs (you can view the list on our Events Page). We have gone hand in hand with writers from beginning to end of the writing process, including publishing and all its intricacies both in Qatar and around the world. We have offered pretentions on the history and contributions of Qatar and its authors to the printing and publishing of books in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
These programs are delivered and enjoyed in both Arabic and English. Many members of our creative writing community have seen their poems, novels, short stories and other writing published.
To further preserve the work that develops out of these programs, we have started to share some of it on the website. The Library’s Creative Writing Circle, which is a group of passionate writers – some of whom are new to creative writing, and others more experienced – in a recent open mic event entitled Celebrating Qatar and the Art of Storytelling, shared stories inspired by true events and told on Qatar National Day by expatriates living in Qatar. You can view this under Event Videos. Happily, it has been possible to continue nurturing a community of creative writers, even when the global pandemic meant that online spaces had to replace physical spaces indefinitely.
To serve younger community of creative writers, the children and young adults audience, the Library has organized writing challenges, workshops and presentations, and offered the incentive of having their work published on the Library’s website. One example of this is the annual Ramadan poetry series, open to all age groups, where writers share their perspectives on the holy month of Ramadan through poetry, to recognize and preserve the role of poetry in Islam. You can read a few entries of Ramadan Poetry on the blog, by writers as young as 13 years old.
The writers who join our programs and establish writers’ groups through the Library make use of many books and electronic resources from the Library collection, and elsewhere, to inform, inspire and stimulate their creative writing. These invaluable resources, carefully selected and recommended by the adult writers of our Library community, are collated and presented in the Creative Writing Subject Guide, which is updated regularly.
Creative writing and storytelling in Qatar and Qatar National Library continues to establish itself and develop and mature as a community of practice.
If you’d like to explore some of the services and programs mentioned in this post, please visit these links, and enjoy! We look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to this writers’ community.
Links for Further Information:
Qatar National Library’s Vision, Mission and Values
Qatar National Library’s Writing Support Service
Qatari Book Recommendations:
Lynne M. Fraser
Senior English Writing Specialist
#QatariLitMonth is curated by Abeer S. Al-Kuwari
Abeer works as director of Research and Learning Services at the newly established Qatar National Library (QNL). Abeer’s work focuses on engaging library researchers in the Qatari community to explore archival and libraries as memory institutions and documentary heritage.