Just over six months ago, Publishing Perspectives reported that the United Arab Emirates’ Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment provided 2,000 Arabic books for presentation during Sweden’s Göteborg Book Fair—a gesture of solidarity with Sweden’s Arab community.
The foundation’s creator, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, had learned that Arabic is the second or third most-spoken language in Sweden today because of the diaspora of Arabic speakers to the Scandinavian nation.
The Arabic-language books from Sharjah,” she told us at the time, “are to be distributed to 25 libraries in various parts of Sweden.”
With the distribution of that donation now complete, Publishing Perspectives has been in touch with Elisabet Risberg, who leads the Internationella biblioteket, the International Library of Stockholm, to find out how the outreach from Sharjah to Sweden’s Arabic-speaking children has gone.
The International Library in central Stockholm feeds the national network of libraries with multilingual content, and its website can be read in Swedish, in Arabic, in English, in French, Chinese, Persian, Russian and Spanish.
All told, the international library is working in more than 100 languages and it can dispatch content in a requested language to the entire library system in Sweden.
We began by asking Risberg about the concept of the Kalimat provision of Arabic books for children in Sweden.
Elisabet Risberg: When I first heard about the donation, I was confused. Why should we in a rich country accept donations of Arabic children’s books?