Libro Futuro

Open Access, cooperation and smart libraries in smart cities. The situation in Lebanon. Mario Coffa interviews Farah Sbeity

Intervista in italiano

مقابلة باللغة العربية

Farah Sbeity is assistant professor at the Lebanese University. She received his PhD in Communication and Information Sciences in 2022. She has been working as a Librarian and Information Specialist for 12 years. She is an expert in research, cataloging, indexing, classification and computer literacy. Active member of the “Arab Federation for Libraries and Information – AFLI” and of the “Association of Lebanese Libraries – LLA”. She has published numerous articles and participated in conferences (IFLA, AFLI, SLA / AGC and LLA), webinars and workshops in the Arab world.

Farah, to begin with, what does it mean to be a librarian in Lebanon? What is the training path to follow and moreover, is there a legal recognition of the profession?

In my opinion, librarianship is one of the most important disciplines in terms of cultural and academic support for citizens, students and researchers. Based on my studies at the College of Mass Communication, specializing in librarianship, and following the professional trend, I moved on to work in the field of libraries and information centers. For me the importance of application and training is paramount for anyone who wants to be a successful librarian. I think we should not be content with information and decisions and with only study or other compulsory professional training while studying. Everyone must continue to improve their professional experience to keep up with all developments and meet the different needs of users. It is also worth noting that the state recognizes the profession and offers many positions in the profession within government departments.

Can you tell us briefly about the LIS program at the Lebanese University?

Based on the above, it is worth noting that the Master in Library Science is the only certificate available through The Lebanese University (the only public university in Lebanon). The Degree Course in Librarianship is divided into 6 semester courses, in which the academic courses are divided into courses relating to technical operations such as cataloging and classification, and library services, electronic publishing, archival conservation and more. The college also offers a master’s and doctoral program in the professional sector.

Like this project, the Library World Tour, you are also involved in Open Access. What is the situation regarding your country?

I am an advocate of free access to information and I believe it will prevail in the future, both in Lebanon and in the Arab countries. In particular, there is still fear on the part of many researchers for fear of violating their intellectual rights and plagiarism. Regarding your project, the Library World Tour, I find it a successful project and it helps to strengthen relationships with colleagues from all over the world, contributing to the development of experiences between them.

Assistive products for visually impaired users. What can you tell us about it?

In my masters and doctoral studies, I focused on users with visual needs in libraries (public and academic). As a result, I studied the reality of assistive technology for students with visual needs in all institutions, especially in higher education, as it was found that this technology exists in the services of only 13 out of 61 libraries. I support the need to provide technologies to those who still do not have them in Lebanon and also outside the country. It is our social responsibility that these beneficiaries must be supported and trained to encourage them to continue their university studies and achieve integration in deeds and not in words.

In the Arab world, many libraries are consortiumed, thus increasing cooperation and sharing of services. How?

In a research study I published in May 2022, I focused on cooperation and integration between Lebanese university libraries to serve beneficiaries during the spread of the Covid19 pandemic. Based on the results of the study, it was found that there are eight clusters of academic libraries in just seven Arab countries out of a total of 22. As a result, it turns out that the most important goal of these conglomerates is to collaborate and pressure on publishers to obtain better prices also for subscriptions to electronic resources, an advantage that will positively reflect on the satisfaction of the beneficiaries’ needs.

Smart Libraries in Smart Cities. What impact has digital technology had in Lebanon, especially after the pandemic period?

We have recently seen the spread of many “smart” services in Arab libraries that rely on the latest technologies to serve the “smart” community. In Lebanon, especially after the spread of the Covid19 pandemic, some academic libraries have provided some technology-dependent services; in particular, how to provide a library application on smartphones, a digital reference service, a direct assistance relationship with the librarian and the coordination of remote meetings such as through the Zoom platform with which it was possible to request a book or an article electronically and other resources.


Mario Coffa
Mario Coffa
Mario Coffa archivista e bibliotecario, laureato in Conservazione dei Beni Culturali presso l’Università degli Studi di Perugia (2005) e diplomato in Archivistica e Paleografia presso la Scuola di Archivistica dell’Archivio Segreto Vaticano (2010). Dal 2010 Lavora per CAeB (Cooperativa Archivistica e Bibliotecaria) presso le biblioteche dell’Università di Perugia come bibliotecario e come archivista presso l'Archivio Storico del Comune di Gubbio. Si occupa di Biblioteche Digitali e formazione in ambito di biblioteconomia digitale. Nel 2014 membro del Comitato Esecutivo Regionale dell’Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB) sezione Umbria, membro del gruppo AIB sul portfolio professionale e nel triennio 2017-2020 Presidente eletto di AIB Umbria. Dal 2020 membro dell'Osservatorio Formazione dell'Associazione Italiana Biblioteche. Autore di diversi articoli e interviste per Insula Europea sul tema degli archivi, delle biblioteche e del digital lending.