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22 October 2019

Pitting writing skills against the clock

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The Book Sprint event, co-organized by a Qatar Foundation partner university, challenged people to create a new book in five days. Aisha Hassan Al-Abdulla was one of them.

Museum, library, and gallery experts from around the world have gathered in Qatar to share their experiences, bring together their knowledge of their sector – and write a book in just five days.

The Book Sprint - organized by UCL Qatar, a Qatar Foundation partner university, and the Qatar University Library – saw participants take on the challenge of pitching, discussing, selecting, and summarizing ideas, at an event that also allowed them to share their experiences. Their ideas are categorized into chapters and compiled into one book, filled with valuable knowledge designed to capture the attention of the reader.

One of the Book Sprint writers was Aisha Hassan Al-Abdulla, who has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences from UCL Qatar. She and her team of writers prepared a book titled ‘Open A GLAM Lab’ - a guidebook for cultural institutions on galleries, libraries, archives, and museums.

The Book Sprint saw museum, library, and gallery experts from different countries combine their knowledge to develop a new book to a tight timescale.

Speaking about her experiences at the against-the-clock writing event, Al-Abdulla – who is Head of the Digital Repository and Archives Section at the Qatar University Library - said: “The Book Sprint offered me the perfect opportunity to dig deeper into the library field, which benefits my role in a library.

“Being part of this event also motivated me to prepare a plan for establishing innovation labs in local university libraries in the future, which would hold workshops and panel discussions for developing ideas and turning them into reality. The aim is to live up to the standard set by leading international library labs, such as those at the British Library, and help create a platform for learning, creativity and intellectual innovation.”

It brought together a group of experts and specialists in a creative space to write and compile a book of about 160 pages, within five days, while working an average of 12-15 hours per day.

Aisha Al-Abdullah

The Book Sprint attracts experts and professionals in various fields to channel their experience and compile their knowledge into a single book that they write and review themselves. And Al-Abdullah says: "It equipped me with many useful skills – it brought together a group of experts and specialists in a creative space to write and compile a book of about 160 pages, within five days, while working an average of 12-15 hours per day.”

The outcome of the Book Sprint team’s work is intended to help guide cultural institutions that are looking to develop innovation labs.

Al-Abdulla said the goal of establishing a library innovation lab is to provide an environment for development and creativity that fosters a culture of innovation among students and the wider community. It also helps provide people with the tools necessary for discovery and creativity.

Explaining the concept of the title of the book developed by her and her team during the event – with “GLAM” being an acronym of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums – she said the idea was inspired by the fact that many institutions are researching how to create innovation labs, and need more guidance on how to prepare, maintain, and preserve labs as well as having the opportunity to learn from the experiences of existing library and innovation labs created by other institutions.

“This book aims to provide inspiration to everyone working in the fields of galleries, libraries, archives, museums, universities, and other cultural heritage institutions.”

Aisha Al-Abdullah

The launch of the book will be announced during Open Access Week, which takes place from October 21-27. It will be published electronically, and made available free of charge in order to bring the widest benefit. A copy of the book will also be placed in the institutional repository at Qatar University.

“This book aims to provide inspiration to everyone working in the fields of galleries, libraries, archives, museums, universities, and other cultural heritage institutions,” said Al-Abdulla. “It is a beneficial book that presents the writers’ truthful experiences and the challenges they have faced during the many years they have spent in building, maintaining, and preserving innovation laboratories."

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