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Abdul Hameed Shoman Library breaks stereotypes, invites visitors to stay the night

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Aug 07,2022 - Last updated at Aug 07,2022

Participants during the ‘Night at the Library’ event, organised by the Abdul Hameed Shoman Library on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Abdul Hameed Shoman Library)

AMMAN — The Abdul Hameed Shoman Library turned over a new leaf on Thursday, inviting some of its usual visitors for an overnight stay. 

The event was organised in an attempt to break the stereotypical image of the library as a place where the only heard sounds are those of “shushing”, according to organisers. 

After the 21 participants gathered and got to know each other in what is called “The Free Space”, the library closed its doors and a group treasure hunt began. 

It aimed to introduce participants to the different sections of the library and show them the importance of categorising books, said Nizar Al Hmoud, one of the organisers of the event

This was followed by a pictionary game in which a person attempts to draw a picture expressing the title of a book, which is then awarded to whoever makes the right guess. 

Hmoud noted that the goal of this “Night at the Library” event is to show the library in a new light. 

“Shoman is not just a place where you can read and borrow books, it’s a dynamic community centre that embraces its members,” Hmoud told the Jordan Times. 

Hmoud also said that knowledge and learning have no fixed shape.

“The night provided an unrestricted setting, involving discussions about films, books and philosophical questions, while also leaving room for games, music and laughing,” he continued. 

Abdul Hameed Shoman Library aims to create more programmes that link culture and learning with fun and enjoyment, according to Hmoud. 

He also expressed hope that the experience has “deepened” participants relationship with the library and allowed them to feel closer to it. 

The night also involved screening the 1956 short feature film “The Red Balloon” and a quiz about various classic films, testing participants’ cinematic knowledge and stirring up a friendly competition. 

Huda Qamhiyeh, a cinema specialist at Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, noted that cinema is a very important medium of learning.

“Films are not just for entertainment and escapism, they allow you to unravel your soul and get to know yourself better,” she said, adding that cinema can be as “deep” and as “fascinating” as literature.

Qamhiyeh also noted that the comparison between the two mediums is “unfair”.

“Both books and films have valuable ideas but the former relies on written words while the later relies on visuals to deliver them,” she explained, adding that films screened at the library are chosen very carefully. 

“We want to help people acquire the necessary skills to be able to read films and recognise the values and lessons they carry,” Qamhiyeh continued. 

Some of the participants spoke with The Jordan Times, reflecting on their experience.

Abdallah Abu Hadhood felt that the best thing about spending a night at the library is “having the chance to disconnect from the rest of the world”.

Uruk Shaheen, a medical student who had spent many hours studying at the library, noted that this experience gave her the chance to see it from a whole new perceptive. 

“I have never thought of the library as a place where I can play and laugh out loud as well as learn,” she said. 

For Rawan Kayyli, meeting new people from diverse backgrounds has allowed her to overcome her shyness. 

Muthanna Al Dabbas pointed out that breaking the barrier of silence often associated with libraries has made this experience “unique”. 

“I have always loved Shoman Library but I think I’ll be seeing it in a whole new light the next time I visit it,” said Mohammad Al Ameen. 

He added that this night has brought “a more personal touch” to his relationship with the library, which is usually more practical. 

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