Guest Blogger: Juan Khalaf, project manager New in the Netherlands, and nominated for Best Librarian of the Netherlands 2016 (an initiative of the Library Journal)
As a former refugee I know how important it is to learn to feel at home in your new country. When I came to the Netherlands from Syria fifteen years ago, the Library for me was a place where I felt safe and, above all, developed myself.
The library as a place for development of newcomers, that is the idea behind the project New in the Netherlands from Bibliotheek Theek 5 . New in the Netherlands is a series of theme meetings for newcomers that focus on both the get-together and the collection of the library. The meetings are intended for the personal development of the newcomers by connecting with the collection and with each other
Every meeting has its own theme, such as Typically the Netherlands, Dutch Art and Culture, and the Dutch Cuisine. The guest speakers at the meetings are often members or customers of the library. They hear about the project and are keen to contribute to New in the Netherlands. The collection is illustrated per theme with a story recommendation. Many newcomers are enthusiastic and now regularly visit the library. They are coupled to (Dutch) members and meet at the library to learn more about the language and about Dutch customs and traditions.
The project corresponds well with the objective of the Theek 5 organisation to let people learn for a lifetime. A lifetime of learning is the common thread in the policy plan of Theek 5.
The essential purpose of the project is to make people feel at home in the Netherlands by getting acquainted with various aspects of the Dutch culture, language and identity. Furthermore, they get to know the library as a place where they are welcome and able to increase their knowledge. I am happy and delighted that, as library, we can contribute in this way to make newcomers feel at home in the Netherlands.
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