As the oldest English Language Library in the UAE, predating even the establishment of the UAE, the Old Library has a significent place in Dubai’s History. It was founded in 1969 during the Trucial State times with a gift of books from Lady Verney of Eaton Square in London. Lady Verney sent the contents of her library to the British Political Agent in Dubai for the use of those stationed there, including her grandson. Originally operating under the name, the Dubai Lending Library, donations of books from commercial companies and members of the expatriate community enabled the library to flourish. As it became larger, a borrowing fee of 50 fils per book was instituted which allowed the Library to purchase new books and expand its services to the expatriate community. The books were originally flown in from the U.K. courtesy of the RAF and later purchased through Magrudy’s Bookstore, one of the earliest and most well known English bookstores in Dubai.
The Library has had many homes and a number of name changes over the years but has continued to exist as a single entity. As a non-profit organisation, the Library has always depended on the generous support of other groups within the community in order to be able to find affordable accommodation. As the Library expanded from its humble beginnings it was moved from the home of the British Political Agent to unused offices belonging to the British Agency Commercial Department in the center of Dubai. With Dubai Municipality permission to function as a Lending Library it outgrew successive premises. When the Library shifted to premises near the Holy Trinity Church for several years, under the patronage of the Dubai-Sharjah Chaplaincy, it was re-named the Community Lending Library but later reverted to its original name when it moved to Jumeirah. In 2003, the Library was renamed ‘The Old Library’ to reflect its status as the oldest English Language Library in Dubai.
History of the Library in Pictures