Tag Archives: refugees

Libraries supporting social inclusion for refugees and immigrants

Our friends at the American Library Association are inviting proposals for presentations to be made at the next ALA Conference in New Orleans on the topic of Libraries supporting social inclusion for refugees and immigrants. Given all the great work that so many of our members are doing in this space you may be interested in reading the call:

The American Library Association’s International Relations Roundtable Papers and Projects Committee invites proposals for presentations to be made at the next ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Presentations will be delivered at the International Papers Session scheduled in June 2018. The International Papers and Projects Program provides librarians with an opportunity to exchange information about library services, collections and projects throughout the world. The program also serves to stimulate the interest of U.S. librarians in international library matters. We invite presentation proposals based on the International Papers and Projects 2018 theme:

Libraries supporting social inclusion for refugees and immigrants

UNESCO emphasizes the importance of social inclusion for international migrants and encourages cities and local governments to “ensure social rights for migrants to adequate housing, education, health and social care, welfare and decent standard of living according to basic needs such as food, energy and water.” Libraries can play an important role in helping new arrivals acclimate and thrive in a new community.

Do you have a story to share about how your library, on its own or in collaboration with community organizations, is providing social services and support for refugees and immigrants? Do you have advice on creating successful programming to support refugees and immigrants?

Proposals, presentations, and papers must be written and delivered in English, which is the working language of the program.

Proposals should include:
1. Title of the presentation
2. Name, title, institutional affiliation, and full contact information (including a valid e-mail address) for each presenter
3. Abstract (300-500 words)
4. A short biographical profile of each presenter

Proposals should be submitted electronically (as a single Microsoft Word or PDF attachment) to the International Relations Office via email at intl@ala.org with a copy to jsolis@email.unc.edu and paromitabiswas7@gmail.com.
Deadline for submitting proposals is December 31, 2017 .

Four proposals will be selected to present at the ALA Annual Meeting in June 2018. Notification of acceptance will be emailed by February 15, 2018.

The International Papers and Projects Program is 1.5 hours total. Presentations should run about 20 minutes each, followed by a question-and-answer session. Presenters are encouraged to prepare a dynamic and interactive presentation, incorporating visual prompts, technologies, games, questions for the audience, etc. PowerPoints are common, but speakers who want to read a paper or refer to it are welcome to do so.

We would like to invite you to view previous presentation titles listed on IRRT’s International Papers and Projects Session Committee website,



Integration of Refugees in Hässleholm





My name is Anette Mjöberg and I’m working as a Library Director in Hässleholms’ Public Libraries. Hässleholm is a city in the south  of Sweden close to Malmö and Lund. We have one main library and Six branches and 1 mobile bus for our 51,000 inhabitants. I have 25 staff in my organization .

So what do my staff and I focus on? Which fields of work are most interesting and important now and why?  The topics are diverse –  integration of refugees; makerspaces; co-operation; reading projects; and reorganization in teams.

Today I will write about the importance to work with integrations of refugees which  continues to be a huge and very important task for all Libraries in Sweden.

In 2016 29 000 refugees arrived in Sweden compared  to 166 000 in 2015. The rules for getting a residence permit have changed and some refugees choose to return to their home countries when it´s not possible for the relatives to come to Sweden.

Many new methods, arrangement and  cooperative partnership have developed with public libraries to assist new arrivals.  One of the most popular a most usual form are the ‘Language café’

Librarians and volunteers (eg from the Red Cross) help the refugees to learn and to understand the Swedish language.( not an easy language to learn! ). A lot of the refugees are well educated and so are motivated to learn Swedish. They know well that the best way, and sometimes only way is to learn the language to integrate in the Swedish society.

The biggest group of asylum seekers comes from Iraq , Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea . After trying the ordinary way of ‘Language Cafe’, we are trying to find new ways for the  activity.

Participants at a Language Cafe in Hassleholm

One of branches are going to try another type with a ‘Handicraft Café’ instead. The women asked in the Library for help to repair clothes and now the Library has bought a sewing machine! That´s another Way of learning Swedish,  working with hands. My Libraries arranged about 100 cafes last year and that tell us how huge the need is for all newcomers in Sweden even if several of them are studying Swedish in the school for immigrants SFI (Swedish for immigrants).

We are now organizing a mobile library with materials for going the refugee accommodations, inviting unaccompanied young boys to the library through their teachers and some other activities.

The situation has happily resulted in several special donations to the Libraries for buying books, lexicons, and materials for beginners in Swedish. Some of the contributions made it possible for us to buy IPads and hiring a language trainee who speaks Arabic and want to improve her Swedish.

At a meeting around the integration process in my municipality I explained how we work and what we do in the Libraries and we were congratulated on our work. The  advantage and gain for us  is that other organizations, authorities and Municipality administrations have now discovered the important role of the Libraries in the process!


Anette Mjöberg


New in the Netherlands: the library for newcomers







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 participants of New in the Netherlands with the mayor of Oosterhout, who also gave a talk

The participants of New in the Netherlands with the mayor of Oosterhout, who also gave a talk

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.

More information: j.khalaf@theek5.nl


Libraries: a sanctuary in times of need – the Public Libraries response






Libraries throughout the world have a strong history of responding to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, providing a welcoming environment, a place of refuge for body and soul, and a source of information.

An off-site session will be held at the IFLA WLIC in Columbus (a joint project of the Public Libraries Section and the Library services for Multicultural Population Section) -session 103 – August 15th – Columbus Public Library

During the first part of this session, the Pubic Library Section has chosen to highlight the way libraries in Europe have been able to welcome refugees and provide them both a safe space and many services.

Libraries welcoming refugees

Claudia Lux will present an overview of international examples about services to refugees and newcomers…and our colleagues from Hamburg (Germany), Malmö (Sweden) and Paris (France) will discussed various topics on the way libraries welcome refugees and respond to their needs.

Malmö welcomes refugees

In 2015, many European countries were facing a massive arrival of refugees due to the civil war in Syria.  Many libraries were able to open widely their doors to refugees, to create a welcoming, lively and learning atmosphere for refugees and immigrants. The have provided or enhanced services such as language cafés, Internet access and digital workshops, information about asylum seekers’ rights, and various administrative procedures….

To reach refugees, and especially unaccompanied young people, libraries have built partnerships with other municipal public bodies, NGOs, taking part in events outside of the libraries, organizing events in the libraries, proposing workshops in refugees’ homes or shelters.

The staff have been very involved, with working groups on refugees’ projects, intercultural work, on the way to make library spaces and organization understandable. Some libraries now employ dedicated staff, others have integrated and trained volunteers to expand their services to refugees, mainly language cafés. Some volunteers are refugees themselves, sharing their skills, participating actively in workshops and events. Libraries have broadened the intercultural work they already did toward population with migrant background.

Libraries have thus highlighted their role in the city, how they are great contributors to social inclusion and cohesion. in some cases, their involvement has attracted a lot of attention among citizens, public bodies or even companies.

Read more about the actions and services of libraries in  Hamburg , Malmö  and Paris  for refugees.

During the second part of the session, Mary Grace Falherty will give an overview of Libraries response in times of disaster, and there will be presentations and workshops with colleagues from Oslo (Norway), United States and Toronto (Canada).

Looking forward to seeing you in Columbus!

Library Services to Immigrants and Refugees

The Public Libraries Section was delighted to be part of a recent webinar on Library Services to Immigrants and Refugees which took place on 31 March 2016. IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning and the New Professionals SIG partnered with the American Library Association to present this one-hour webinar. An online resource is now  available for everyone to revisit and listen anywhere at any time.
View the webinar recordings:

  • Introduction by Loida Garcia-Febo. Loida is an IFLA Governing Board Member, coordinated the event and shared early findings and initial recommendations about programs, topics, and services based on results of her early research about public libraries serving immigrants and refugees in the U.S.A.
  • Jan Richards, Secretary and Information Coordinator  IFLA Public Libraries Section, and Manager of Central West Libraries in Australia, shared best practices and models from different countries compiled by her Section which you can find on the document titled “Responding! Public Libraries and Refugees”. You can read more about their publications and projects on the IFLA Public Libraries website.
  • Jukka Relander, President of the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA), and President of the Finnish Library Association shared insights from the library community in Europe. EBLIDA has developed a strong campaign to promote services to these populations and you can stay updated by following its website which features libraries from different European countries serving refugees.
  • Jack Hang-tat Leong, Chair of IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section, and Director of University of Toronto Libraries in Canada, spoke about the IFLA/UNESCO Multicultural Library Manifesto Toolkit published by his Section.

Responding! Public Libraries and Refugees


Libraries throughout the world have a strong history of responding to natural disasters and humanitarian crises providing a welcoming environment, a place of refuge for body and soul, and a source of information.

As we have watched the refugee crisis unfold in Europe we have been flooded with examples of how public libraries have responded in practical and heartfelt ways.

Members of IFLA’s Public Libraries Standing Committee and their colleagues have joined together to collect some of these examples and stories. The resulting document is not meant to be exhaustive but is more of a starting point for shared experience and inspiration and demonstrates the power of libraries to make a difference in people’s lives.

If you would like to share your story we would love to hear from you.