Qatar National Library and World Intellectual Property Organization Agreement Facilitates Access to Books for People With Print Disabilities
Qatar National Library recently signed an agreement with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), paving the way for the Library to be part of the cross-border exchange of accessible books among the entities of the Accessible Books Consortium Global (ABC) Book Service and facilitate access to approximately 540,000 accessible titles in 76 languages to its users with print disabilities.
The signing of the agreement gives the Library access to the Accessible Books Consortium’s Global Book Service online catalogue, which allows participating libraries and organizations serving people with print disabilities to easily obtain accessible content.
The agreement allows the Library to request accessible books from other participating authorized entities under the provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty and augment the number of accessible digital books available to its members. Library users with print disabilities or someone acting on their behalf will now be able to access a wider range of accessible digital books in different languages.
Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director of the Library, said: “The agreement signifies our commitment to expand access to information for all. It’s important for national institutions such as the Library to set a leading example by being inclusive and ensuring equal access to persons with disabilities. We will use the opportunities created by this agreement to ensure every one of our patrons is supported with the resources that empower them as equal and active members of our society”
The Accessible Books Consortium Global Book Service initiative supports the goals of the Marrakesh Treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) by allowing authorized entities, such as libraries, to easily obtain accessible titles in more than 76 languages from a global online catalog through international exchange.
“We are very pleased that Qatar National Library has joined the ABC Global Book Service, and that visually impaired persons in Qatar will be able to benefit from ABC’s impressive collection of accessible titles in over 76 languages. We also hope to receive accessible books in Arabic from Qatar National Library, given the interest in the rich literary heritage of the Arab world,” said Monica Halil Lövblad, Head of Accessible Books Consortium.
The Library’s main collection includes large-print books, audiobooks and braille books in English and Arabic. A dedicated assistive technology space is equipped with tools and software to help people with disabilities access information and library materials, including Bookshare, which has more than 500,000 braille and audiobooks in English and Arabic for visually impaired users or anyone who cannot read standard print.
The Library worked closely with the government of Qatar to support the accession of Qatar to the Marrakesh Treaty, which was achieved in January 2019.
“We strive to make our print and digital resources easily accessible to all. This commitment, underpinned by our efforts that include our support for the Marrakesh Treaty, is what makes the Library an important place in the lives of the people of Qatar. Through this agreement, we are pleased to join efforts with the international community to achieve our shared goals,” added Dr. Wastawy.
The Library’s team attended the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights and showcased its achievements at the WIPO Conference 2019, which was held in Geneve, Switzerland on 21 October.
The World Intellectual Property Organization, one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations, created the Accessible Books Consortium in 2014 to give effect to the provisions of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The Marrakesh Treaty makes provisions for accessible books to be produced and transferred across national boundaries on a non-profit basis by setting up exceptions to traditional copyright law.
Qatar National Library
Qatar National Library acts as a steward of Qatar’s national heritage by collecting, preserving and making available the country’s recorded history. In its role as a research library with a preeminent heritage library, the Library fosters and promotes greater global insight into the history and culture of the Gulf region. As a public library, we provide equal access for all of Qatar's residents to an environment that supports creativity, independent decision-making, and cultural development. Through all our functions, we provide leadership to the country’s library and cultural heritage sector.