The Qatar National Library (QNL) was announced as a project by HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in late 2012. Since then, the public library has become a symbol of Qatar’s shift from a nation reliant to natural resources to a nation bent on modernizing and obtaining an economically diverse and sustainable economy.
The library’s main role is to serve as a steward of Qatar’s national heritage by collecting, preserving, and making available the country’s recorded history. The library, in terms of content, boasts more than 800,000 books. In addition, the library also hosts 500,000 eBooks, periodicals and newspaper, and various other unique collections.
The physical library was designed and constructed by the Dutch firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). OMA was also tasked with designing the headquarters of the Qatar Foundation that stands several hundred feet from QNL.
The building boasts an astounding 485,000 square feet of space located in Qatar’s Education City. The interior of the building, at its highest point, reaches a height of 48.5 feet. The ceiling of the building is covered in white glossy fiberglass that provides a mirror like effect. The ceiling, not only provides a sense of magnitude, but acts a bounce off point to the incoming desert sunlight.
The windows of the building feature double glass panels that insulate the structure from the intense desert temperatures, with some panels reaching an astounding height of 18 feet. QNL also features an 82-foot wide mezzanine providing access to visitors from one side of the building to the other.
The most striking feature of the library is the sunken heritage library that features Qatar’s rarest manuscripts and books. This portion of the library appears as a sunken labyrinth featuring rare works and exhibitions for visitors to view.
QNL also hosts a conservation laboratory, digitization laboratory, and a secured humidity-controlled display cases for rare works. In addition, the building holds a 120-seat auditorium, 2 multimedia rooms, 21 group study rooms, 6 teaching rooms, and a state of the art Radio Frequency Identification book sorter system.
The library, in the 4 months it has been operating, has had nearly 160,000 visitors. Yet, the most impressive aspect of this library is that 25% (200,000 books) of its 800,000-book collection is checked out at any one given time.
A virtual tour of Qatar National Library below.
(Image Source: Architectural Record)