Visitors to the Doha International Book Fair can see four podiums among the bboths. Each podium has one or more reading guides assisting visitors. One can easily see how impressed the visitors are with the information provided by reading guides. A reading guide is a new concept introduced by the Ministry of Culture in its pursuit of all that is new and productive.
Dalal Al-Sharafi, Reading Guides Coordinator, explained that the reading guide service has been initiated and supported by His Excellency Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al-Thani, Minister of Culture. She noted that this service is the first of its kind at book fairs, as reading guides offer assistance to beginning readers of all ages as well as those seeking assistance to identify resources for research purposes. Reading guides offer individualized ten-minute sessions. During these sessions, they use a survey to assess the visitor’s background, interests, and needs. The survey also helps determine visitors’ previous experience with reading and motivation in addition to reasons that might have discouraged them from reading in the past.
Al-Sharafi added that the ultimate goal of the reading guides initiative is to change preconceived ideas about reading. She explained that “Everybody reads on a daily basis, but we need guidance as to what to read and how to read. Our objective is for visitors who participate in reading guiding sessions to come out with a better understanding of their purposes for reading, their areas of interest, how to choose the books that best fit their interests, and how to evaluate them. Reading guides also help visitors identify the exhibits that best suit their interests and needs, which is an opportunity to put the knowledge gained during the sessions into practice.”
The book fair offers specialized reading guidance service to different age groups. Reading guides are available every day from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM over four podiums across the fair. In addition to the reading guides, visitors can benefit from the services offered by experts from various partner organizations, such as Science for Qatar, Qatar National Library, and Community Readers. Al-Sharafi concluded her remarks by emphasizing that the Ministry of Culture’s goal is to promote the idea of reading guides to the community beyond the book fair through the state’s educational and cultural organizations, hence the collaboration with the organizations providing volunteers. As for readers, she added that the guidance sessions end with the visitors receiving lists of recommended books and tips for better reading experiences.