20 June is World Refugee Day, a day to mark the support to the thousands of families who flee their homes every day. Around the world communities, individuals, schools, businesses and institutions such as the libraries are showing solidarity with refugees.
Arriving to a new country is never easy! A different culture and language can be a big challenge for refugees. Libraries can help make their arrival easier by welcoming them to the community.
Libraries opening their doors for refugees
Libraries such as The Multilingual Library in Norway have been actively involved in providing books in different languages. The library is a national centre of expertise for multicultural library services and has put together promo-packages that other libraries in Norway can borrow.
The packages include posters, postcards, bookmarks and balloons. It also includes books in many different languages that the borrowing library can use to make displays and to promote the fact that libraries welcomes people who speak languages other than Norwegian, a fact that many people still don’t know about.
The efforts by the Multilingual Library has been very successful. The materials and books have fed into about 160 promo-packages and are often reserved for months. The package has been strongly promoted on another international day, The International Mother Language Day, to highlight the variety of people that the library serves.
In Germany, Cologne Public Library has created a Sprachraum – literally a language room. The room is a meeting place for intercultural exchange and learning for refugees and people with a diverse background. It dedicated to hosting activities and events, book reading and to practice the German language.
The Sprachraum is run by volunteers, who actively engage with refugees, making sure that they feel welcomed to the community.
Libraries sharing experience and knowledge
Libraries worldwide serve diverse community interests, and function as learning, cultural and information centres.
This work is particular supported by the IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section, that brings together libraries and institutions who are interested in how libraries can take an active role in supporting refugees and library users with a multicultural background.
The Section is striving to share its experience in library services to ensure that every member of our global society has access to a full range of library and information services.
If you are interested in knowing more about how libraries are serving refugees, you can contact the MCULTP Section.