The Book Shelter


One of my fellow homeschooling mom, Mommy M, had told us about The Book Shelter that is apparently worth a visit. Although it was more than a year ago from the last time she visited, a lot could have changed since then. We still went since it’s only few kilometers away from our home and to keep a promise made to our homeschooler. She even reminded me that this was some sort of a school ‘field trip’, though she went solo 🙂 . The place is located in Maraya Art Centre in Al Qasba, Sharjah, and is a three-storey building comprises of an Art Gallery, the Barjeel Art Foundation, and The Book Shelter. The Art Centre was officially launched in March 2010.

Since our intention was to visit The Book Shelter for the benefit of our homeschooler, we have explored more on this facility. This kind-of-library setting is at the first level of the building and is open and free for public from 10am to 10pm, (except on Fridays – 4pm to 10pm only). I was earlier told by Mommy M that they used to allow kids to hang around the sitting area and read books, but this policy has now been changed. Only 18-yrs old and above are now permitted to use the facility like books and wi-fi, with a minimal fee of AED5/. Not bad huh? Probably for a university student who wishes to study on a quiet, homey-ambience, this place ain’t bad at all. Although my homeschooler was slightly disappointed upon knowing the changed in the policy, she went home still happy, as the nice lady working there gave her a consolation gift of a free book of her choice! Free book? Read on to know why :).


It was such an interesting treat, don’t you think?! The Book Shelter is a reading advocate and striving to create the largest free library in the world by sourcing books from donations from different community groups. This scheme sustains their project to recycle, promotes reading, and to strengthen the reading culture in the U.A.E.


Visitors can actually ‘adopt’ a book for up to four books a month. That means if we borrow a book, we are not required to return it should we wish to keep it. In return, we may want to donate some books as well to keep their project going. For me this is a brilliant idea. It is like exchanging the books you have already read to a book you may like to read without spending money for it. This is a smart deal for expats like us; aside from contributing to a good cause, this can also avoid hoarding and an ease from cargo fees 🙂 .

The Book Shelter has a donation box where the drop-off can be made. On your visit, you may want to first check where the books ‘for adoption’ are placed, as they have separate shelves allotted for library use only. Although we didn’t see wide varieties of books to adopt at the time of our visit, but the lady assured that it’ll be more promising on our next as they’re still reorganizing the place. By the way, they also have themed art courses for children. Fee starts from AED30/session. You may visit their website at for details.


Still thankful to Mommy M for telling us about this place. So there you go. Time to sort out your book shelves and commit to this project of ‘adopt and donate’!

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