Read about the fascinating history of the The Old Library Dubai.
Starting out with just 2 parcels of donated books housed on 3 shelves, the Old Library now has over 25,000 books, 500 shelves and over 60 volunteers!
A potted history of the Old Library Dubai
In 1853 our 7 Arab Emirates were known as The Trucial States and became a British Protectorate. Troops were stationed here to provide protection, and generally keep law and order in relation to any tribal or border unrest.
At the end of this arrangement with a few troops left, stationed in Sharjah at the British Royal Air Force base, a box of yo yos arrived supposedly to relieve the boredom of the soldiers!
They were donated by Lady Verney of Eaton Square, grandma to one of the officers and bought from Harrods!
Lady Verney later donated a collection of books to the Sharjah English Speaking School who of course received the yo yos first!
Unfortunately the books were too advanced for the children so they ended up being housed in a home library owned by Sir Julian Bullard, the then Political Agent appointed by the British in Dubai.
It was his wife Lady Margaret who got the idea of establishing a lending library from this initial collection of books.
The library moves home a few times in Dubai
The first library was housed in Deira at a commercial office not in use by the political agent. Shelves were created using sand bags and planks!
Everyone who visited the libary was offered a cup of Arabic coffee and the collection of books was added to from the UK.
in 1971 the UAE was born and free air transportation of books from the UK halted, so shipments of books continued by sea.
The library moved to first a supermarket above Karama, then Satwa.
Evenutaully it found its way to a portacabin in the compound of the Holy Trinity Church and the name changed to become The Community Centre lending library.
It settled till 1990s at its more formal home of Dubai International Arts Centre on Beach Road and from there progressed to DUCTAC at Mall of Emirates all the way up to 2018. It had been 49 years since it started!
When it was no longer possible for the library to be accommodated at DUCTAC, a band of volunteers managed to sort out a new home!
This time at the Gold and Diamond Park just at Equity station.
Why bother visiting the Old Library Dubai
The people there who work as volunteers are super freindly, helpful and really love books.
They’ll likely be able to talk to you about a genre of book you’re interested in. Moreover they’re all great readers and work as volunteers in their spare time.
For me it was like going back to a local library in London! You’ll also save yourself money on books of course! Great if you’re part of a book club. They will also try and order books for if they can.
Located in the Gold and Diamond park just at Equity station.
There is a great little Portuguese coffee shop called Alma right across form the library. Very convenient if you’re keen to have a snack while you’re doing some reading!
Opening Times and membership details
Telephone: 04 321 3939
Open from Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm
First Friday of the month 10am till 8pm
Click the link for all you need to know about membership of the Old Library Dubai
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