#QATARILITMONTH: How Libraries Can Support the SDGs by Engaging Youth

The Case of Qatar National Library In Engaging Youth

In 2011, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, visited Northwestern University in Qatar to speak to the first cohorts of the new Qatar Foundation partner university. After her inspiring speech, Her Highness left us with three words that resonate with me to this day. “Make a difference,” she said.  So I asked myself how I, as a simple person without power or authority, can make a difference in this world.

As a global citizen, I want to be a dedicated and proactive member of society to make our planet more equal, fair, and sustainable. In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which comprise 17 goals that aim to tackle global issues to end poverty and promote prosperity while protecting the environment.

After receiving a journalism degree from Northwestern University in Qatar, followed by a Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from UCL Qatar, I joined Qatar National Library (QNL) in 2016.

As a Senior Information Services Librarian at the Children and Young Adults Department at QNL, at the beginning of 2020 I approached the Head of Young Adults, Ahmed Al-Malki, and advocated that we should set an objective, focusing on the development of SDGs among the young community in Qatar. Libraries are key institutions for achieving the SDGs. Libraries around the world offer a wide range of services and programs that promote the achievement of every goal.

In recent years, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has been actively involved with the creation of the UN 2030 Agenda, advocating for the inclusion of access to information, safeguarding of cultural heritage, universal literacy, and access to information and communication technologies (ICT) in the framework. As a result, in the UN 2030 Agenda, access to information has been recognized as a target under Sustainable Development Goal 16.

In March of 2021, Global Literature in Libraries Initiative presented numerous titles to help libraries around the world find resources that would inspire young people to be interested in achieving the UN SDGs by 2030. Links to those titles can be found here.

Promoting literacy programs and offering free access to information to all members of the community, the SDG programs at QNL encourage young adults to become global citizens. QNL has been conducting a series of programs in collaboration with different local initiatives to introduce SDGs, their significance and how to achieve them.

To achieve its SDGs objective, QNL sheds light on local initiatives such as the SDGeneration Network, Greener Future, and Doha Environmental Actions Project (DEAP) to educate young people about existing local projects focused on promoting sustainability, and how they as youth can contribute to and be agents of change in Qatar and throughout the rest of the world. Through these initiatives, young people learned about reducing plastic waste, recycling food waste into soil nutrients, and the effect of pollution on Earth and its living things.

Since 2018, with my direction, QNL and THIMUN Qatar – a non-profit organization that supports dialogue between global youth and formulates solutions to the world’s most pressing issues – have been working together to conduct several interactive sessions to educate young adults about the SDGs. Through knowledge of these goals, we work toward fixing common global problems and contribute to a better future. 

Working in QNL as a librarian entails a big commitment and responsibility, by which we provide a rich collection of library resources and a quality of programs that enrich the community socially, culturally, and intellectually. I work with a very critical target group – the young people of Qatar and the world – whose values and purpose I want to cultivate. We try to design and choose programs that contribute to the growth and development of youth

Additionally, in August 2020, I enrolled in the 26th Youth Assembly by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation as a Youth Delegate with the Qatari delegation, to engage with other young leaders to exchange perspectives and find innovative ways to tackle world issues. This exciting opportunity allowed me to connect with others and see how we can take proactive actions to promote SDGs among members of our communities. As a Youth Delegate, I uphold the values of making a positive change, and creating a peaceful and sustainable world for all.

By promoting the SDGs, we hope the youth change their daily habits and decision-making, and inspire them to establish sustainable initiatives in Qatar and around the world. Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow. With youth-focused educational and awareness programs on SDGs, the youth will become more responsible for their actions and become better decision makers that would make a better impact on the world and its future.

At QNL, we hope that, through our programs, we educate the youth to be global citizens who are aware of the world’s afflictions, such as poverty, climate change, and lack of education.

Further Readings Selected by the Author:

The Gulf Monarchies and Climate Change: Abu Dhabi and Qatar in an Era of Natural Unsustainability
Author: Mari Luomi
(2016)  Oxford University Press ISBN: 9780199387526

Written by:

Muneera Ahmad Al-Buainain

Originally written to be published on Qatar Foundation Website

Senior Information Services Librarian from the Children and Young Adults department at Qatar National Library. Dedicated to serving the community through providing reference services, developing the collection, and organizing programs aimed at enhancing young adults’ information literacy as well as their intellectual skills. Committed to promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

#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.

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