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BOOKENDS January 2024, Volume 7, Issue 2


From time to time it's healthy to take a step back and evaluate how things going on and where we are heading. This is true for people and for organizations too. So we have decided it's a good time to sum up the state of KU Library.

Collections: The library has just over 100,000 physical items in its collection, as well as more than 670,000 electronic books. We have over 61,000 full-text journals, with millions of articles. We also conducted a full inventory of our physical items and found that we are exceeding expected standards for material preservation. You can search all of our resources on our catalog page here.

Information Literacy Program & Workshops: The library is committed to providing not only resources to our community but also information on how best to use those resources. To further this goal, we hold sessions every week during the Spring and Fall semesters on Information Literacy as well as workshops on all our electronic resources. In 2023, library staff led 87 Information Literacy sessions, to everyone from the newest freshmen to Phd students, and 77 workshops on topics ranging from Open Access, ORCiDs, patents, artificial intelligence and more. We always list the upcoming events on our events calendar page here.

Open Access for Authors: The library administers OA program for the university. This project encourages and supports the publication of OA articles by KU researchers. In 2023, the university paid for 153 OA articles by its authors, an increase of 10% over 2022, and the library held 8 workshops and Q&A sessions for our authors. You can learn more about the OA project here:

Inter-Library Loan and Document Delivery: As hard as we work to provide the resources that our community needs within our collection, it is inevitable that researchers will need material that we do not own. This is where our excellent Document Delivery service comes into play. Our staff got copies of 1,662 articles, book chapters, conference papers, patents, and other materials from other libraries for our users. You can always make a request for these services via this form.

E-resources: A vital part of our role is providing access to resources that our researchers need. To do this, we subscribe to more than 60 electronic databases, covering topics from Business, Mathematics, Chemistry, Optics, Medicine, Physics, and many, many more. You see the detailed list of all our databases on our e-resources page here:


‘The thing that doesn’t fit in is the most interesting’, according to Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize winner. In addition to creating new graphic representations of interactions between particles, his career in the physics of quantum electrodynamics was characterized by an exceptional enthusiasm for challenging conventional approaches to the lecture hall.

His commitment to motivating learners sparkled with energy and irreverent humour: No dull condescending narrow dogmatic methodologies; instead, as in everywhere in the best teaching, intellectual courage: championing the merits of a willingness to challenge the status quo, to contest assumptions and probe consequences. Vaulting beyond the rule-governed base-camp propositional statements of facts and information (knowing ‘that’) and of procedural methodology (knowing ‘how’), the best classrooms advance a sense of situational awareness. Not merely problem solving, but more: participating in predicaments.

The best teachers lean towards orientations that empower learners to select what option or application is best-fit, to co-ordinate, organize, judge as most appropriate. Sizing up the situation, to become active agents in the arena, to become participants, well beyond the tyranny of propositional fixation.
Science over the centuries has grown via disruptive challenges to prevailing theories (see Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyerabend, Popper). If fear of failure discourages adventure and innovation, we do a disservice to our learners when we prioritise and reward only certainty, alignment and convergence to ‘solving the problem’ and ‘finding x’.  

Hear Homer in his Odyssey: ‘How prone to doubt, how cautious are the wise’. Beware confirmation bias, the Dunning-Kruger effect, the arrogance of too little learning, and remember Epictetus’ apopthegm that it’s impossible for a man to learn that which he thinks he already knows.

How grateful am I to reside and teach in a land whose audacious leadership courageously champion bold questions, such as those already asked by the Emirates Mars Mission Hope Probe. What too, will be learnt from the comprehensive Emirati Genome Program? Already we live and work among well-established sustainability renewable energy initiatives, a commercial nuclear power presence, a commitment to Artificial Intelligence, supercomputing, and stem cell research. Each promises progressive platforms for recruitment providing unique opportunities for future employment. More valuable though, is the promise of opportunities to commit to the most exciting industries of our age. Asking questions all the way.

We can best play our part by exciting versatile visions in the classroom; in readiness to explore alternative engineering explanations, to venture into uncharted territories. To, in future, fit and interact with complex vibrant arenas and predicaments our graduates will need to navigate with the courage of pioneers. This demands their being bold and brave enough to emerge from the mere propositional or procedural circles or layers of ‘knowledge’ (knowing only ‘what’ or ‘how’, with the certainty of facts and skills). 

Beyond the formulae, rules, laws and principles of our syllabus lie myriad arena in which the best of our students will surely thrive through taking stock of the actual challenge and situation there and then – attaining perspectival powers. Seeing what to do in context as the most impactful active participants. 

Where past paths were certain beneath our feet, the pursuit of today’s engineering prizes calls upon a readiness to exercise judgement among less well-defined more complex domains. Now the sands of science shift beneath our feet, and we lay down a path in walking.

Today’s unlikely miracles are tomorrow’s reality. We are participants in unending adventures at the edge of uncertainty. Or we are not teachers, learners or modern engineers. 

Heisenberg’s uncertainty, today’s puzzling atomic realities, have revised the language we use. Quantum science tells how in the very act of observation we disturb the observed. Directing a stream of photons to ‘see’ position or velocity we find no classic solid positivist mechanistic machine. Where once were forces and elements we might now speak of fields, of patterns of networks, relationships, entanglement, systems and ecosystems. Newton long ago demonstrated Kepler’s imperfect plantary orbits, putting paid to any Cartesian science of ‘clear and simple ideas’.

How grateful am I, and should we all be, to be in Khalifa University so much a part of the United Arab Emirates’ courageous research environment. Looking for Feynman’s ‘thing that doesn’t fit in’. 

Especially in the classroom. 

Just a thought. 


Kevin Garvey teaches in the General Education Unit at Khalifa University. He holds degrees in Modern and Renaissance and Medieval English Literature, in Applied Linguistics and in Online Learning, Testing and Assessment; from Trinity College, Dublin and University of Surrey, and University of London Institute of Education respectively.


Institutional Repository Khazna (IR)

Recently the Library, in cooperation with various departments, has launched a new Institutional Repository platform that contains the academic and research output of the university's scholars. You can discover the research work, research projects, access our graduated students' theses, faculty publications, and peer-reviewed articles including books and chapters. 

The site can be viewed at

The site is broken down into sections that contain information about the academic and research production of the university, as well as information about our researchers. 

Profiles: The profiles section contains information about all of KU's faculty and researchers, including information about their departments, their research interests, statistical information about their research output, and links to all their works. 

Student Theses: We currently have 1795 masters and PhD theses in the repository, all of which have metadata, such as the department, date, abstract, and keywords, and the vast majority of which have the fulltext of the thesis.

Research Output: This section lists all the known research work of our authors, with links to allow access to the full-text at the copyright holder's location, and information about the metrics for each article, such as number of citations.

Others: There are other sections as well, such as Equipment and Labs, Projects, Courses, and we will be adding Patents as well over the course of the semester.

All of these items are completely searchable, and the system is updated nearly daily as new information is created.



The book “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig tells the story of Nora Seed, a young Englishwoman who is struggling in life. It gives us a very important life lesson about the value of our existence through the emotions of Nora, as she contemplates giving up, through examining her regrets, unfulfilled plans, depression, mistakes, self-harm, insecurities, loves, passions, and hate.

At her darkest moment, Nora awakens in a vast library adorned with books. She is told by the librarian that each book contains diverse renditions of her life's tale. The librarian also informed her that she could choose any book in the library and live that life. Her salvation lies in discovering the precise book portraying a life in which she feels fulfilled and happy.

Nora possesses the potential to embody various roles and identities. One may witness her as a swimmer, a rock star, a philosopher, a spouse, a globetrotter, a glaciologist, a parent, or a recipient of Olympic accolades. Through these varied scenarios and life narratives, she comes to recognize the inherent value of her own existence.

The Midnight Library introduces the idea that dwelling on regrets is futile, as we cannot undo our choices. Instead, it encourages us to acknowledge and embrace our decisions as an integral part of our journey.

It’s a beautiful novel that offers many life lessons that anyone would learn from. I am sure many will love it as much as me. In few words, this book is meaningful, emotional, poetic and realistic. It’s highly recommended. 


Proxy Servers

For many years now, libraries have become less focused on the provision of physical materials and instead focus primarily on electronic resources, be it books, journals, or other material. Electronic versions of scholarly material have many advantages over physical copies, but perhaps the biggest is that ability to instantly access information. Instead of having to go to a library, during business hours, users can now access material 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from anywhere in the world. But perhaps you aren't aware of the technology that makes this possible, the proxy server.

A proxy is a representative or agent (synonyms include "go-between" or "stand in") who acts on behalf of another individual. A proxy server is literally a "go-between" between a user and a website that they would like to access. 

Proxy Server Diagram

As this diagram shows, the user requests information from the proxy server, which then retrieves it from the internet and returns it to the end user. The reason why the university uses a proxy server is that it is the easiest method to provide access to our electronic resources. We pay hundreds of thousands of dirhams to the resource vendors to allow our users to access the information that they provide. And the way that they verify that a user is allowed to access this material is by verifying that they are accessing the material via an approved IP address. So we provide the proxy server's IP address to the vendor, so that it can always retrieve this data. Then, you when you request the data, the vendor sees that you have an IP address associated with Khalifa University. And then, if you are accessing the data from off-campus, the proxy server will authenticate you via the university's Single Sign On system, and then allow you unlimited access.

To use the proxy server, all you need to do is to always access our electronic resources via the links on the Electronic Resources page, which will always route you through the proxy server.


The Guinness World Record for the largest book is titled “This the Prophet Mohammed”.
It is a book commissioned by the Mshahed International Group in Dubai, UAE in 2012. A volume of approximately 16,40 by 26,44 feet, weighing approximately 3,266,000 pounds and containing 439 pages. The book is officially recognized as the largest, longest, widest, heaviest and the most expensive in the world.

Norway supports writers by buying copies of their works.
If you publish a book in Norway, the Norwegian government will buy 1000 copies to be distributed within various libraries throughout the country.

The most overdue book was returned after 288 years.
A book in German on the Archbishop of Bremen was borrowed from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge some time in 1667–68 by Colonel Robert Walpole (England). A biographer, Prof. Sir John Plumb (UK) found the book 288 years later in the library of the then Marquess of Cholmondeley at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, and returned it.

The Library of Congress collects sheet music.
The Library of Congress (USA) has approximately 6.5 million pieces of sheet music! 

The largest library in the Middle East is in the UAE.
The largest library in the Middle East is currently the Mohamed Bin Rashid Library in Dubai. The library whose design is based on an open book on a lectern homes over 4.5 million print, electronic and audio books contained in seven stories covering 650,000 square feet of space. It has dedicated quiet reading spaces, bookable conference rooms, study rooms and an exhibition area.

The first public Library was opened in Dubai.
The first public library in the UAE is Dubai’s Al Ras Public Library. It opened in 1963, serving as a hub of global information for the public. Upon its inauguration, it contained over 100,000 books from all over the world and at least 170 periodicals.