Saudi Libraries Commission Launches Sector Development Strategy

Riyadh, The Saudi Libraries Commission launched today its new strategy to develop the library sector in the Kingdom.

The strategy comes under a new vision aimed at upgrading libraries and transforming them from mere information containers into comprehensive cultural platforms that embrace attractive activities and events, in addition to their primary role in developing reading habits, enriching knowledge and raising the level of information literacy.

CEO of the Libraries Commission Dr. Abdulrahman Alasem stated in a press conference held today at King Fahad National Library in Riyadh that the commission’s strategy was designed to achieve the main role of libraries besides their expected social and economic impact.

Alasem added that “the strategy included multiple initiatives serving the sector, partners and the general community, believing in the pivotal role of libraries in achieving the Ministry of Culture’s goals based on the objectives of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 as cultural, participatory, and development platforms that strive to develop capacities and businesses, as well as ensure continuous education, innovation, and workforce development, ensuring international cooperation and exchange of knowledge."

The commission has built its strategy on inputs represented in reviewing more than 110 relevant local, regional and international documents, engaging a large number of internal and external stakeholders through interviews, workshops and focus groups, and working with local and international experts and specialists in the library sector.

This is in addition to benchmarking against 27 countries to draw lessons learned, analyzing the challenges of the current situation, defining the sector, and setting the roles and responsibilities of the commission.

Through its strategy, the commission developed an ambitious vision, mission and values, as well as strategic pillars, objectives, initiatives and key performance indicators.

The commission’s vision has been defined as creating “an information society that contributes to building a knowledge economy and achieving sustainable development goals.”

And its mission lies in "empowering the library sector community in Saudi Arabia to contribute to economic, educational, social and cultural growth."

The Libraries Commission also determined five values: Interaction, passion, distinction, confidence and creativity.

The strategy was based on three strategic pillars: the first pillar lies in developing the library sector through planning, developing standards and regulations, conducting studies and statistics, financing and investment, and developing employees.

The second is to enhance community participation to raise information literacy awareness in the Kingdom by facilitating access to library services, besides carrying out awareness and promotion campaigns to generate community interest in library services.

The third pillar tackles developing administrative and operational competency to promote the commission’s capabilities and lead the sector by ensuring a positive work environment, enhancing employee capabilities, and effectively engaging local and international stakeholders.

The strategy has set nine key objectives associated with the three strategic pillars. The first pillar has four objectives: supporting the digital transformation of library services, enhancing sector efficiency, encouraging innovation and investment, and developing funding sources system.

The second pillar has three objectives: improving access to library services, increasing information literacy awareness and promoting reading habits, and revitalizing libraries as centers for education, culture and community development.

Two objectives were allocated to the third pillar: providing an attractive work environment, building advanced internal capabilities, and activating local, regional and international partnerships.

The strategy concluded with 35 diverse initiatives to be implemented at specific time frames, all of which aim to create sustainable growth in the library sector.

The initiatives are: designing a digital public library and a children’s digital library, automation of public libraries, building an electronic platform for private libraries, developing library standards and guidelines, proposing laws and regulations, building databases for the Saudi library sector, contributing to developing national plans, and establishing a research center.

The initiatives also include empowering the third sector, building a digital platform for marketing investment opportunities, establishing business models for public-private partnerships, encouraging innovation in the sector, attracting sponsorships and concessions, developing plans to generate sustainable revenues, creating endowment and waqf models, providing library services in gathering places, providing mobile library services, implementing a unified card system.

This is in addition to implementing interactive presentations for children and young adults, developing interactive reading techniques, developing informational games targeting children and adolescents, organizing national competitions for the youth, designing workshops to raise information literacy, collaboratively organizing and leading development activities with partners, developing public libraries, launching the "National Day for Saudi Libraries," designing a set of participatory shows for youth and children, implementing interactive family shows, enabling library friends, developing social activities for employees and measuring satisfaction, promoting staff capabilities by attracting talent and providing best-in-class training courses, creating partnerships, registering with major regional and international library associations, and hosting regional and international conferences and workshops.

To track the progress in achieving the nine strategic objectives and the 35 initiatives, the strategy developed 25 strategic key performance indicators in line with the strategy’s goals and approved periods.

Designing and implementing the strategy comes within the tasks of the Libraries Commission, established in February 2020 by a decision of the cabinet within 11 cultural commission affiliated with the Ministry of Culture.

Source: Saudi Press Agency