Posted by: bluesyemre | October 5, 2015

Welcoming #Refugees to the UK (and to #Libraries)


As part of its response to the international refugee situation, the UK Government has recently announced that 20,000 refugees will be arriving in the country over the next five years. Libraries have a major role to play in welcoming new arrivals to the UK. Most obviously, public libraries are an important source of information and are key to signposting refugees to other local services. Many are open outside ‘office hours’ and are therefore somewhere that can be welcoming to people searching for help – often basic information is needed, such as how to find somewhere to stay, how to access health provision, and so on. School libraries also play a major role in supporting refugee children as they find their way around their new country.

However, in addition, all kinds of libraries have a role to play in providing access to information about refugees and why they have fled their home countries, helping to inform their users about the realities and the myths. The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) have just issued a welcome Statement, outlining in broad terms what all public libraries can offer, and it’s worth reiterating this offer here:

  • Free access to computers and wifi
  • Free access to materials to learn English, and access to physical and online resources in other languages (Including Welsh in Wales)
  • Free activities and reading resources for children and families
  • Trained workforce who can help with access to information and resources
  • Community space to use for learning and networking
  • Signposting to local education, health and wellbeing services
  • Signposting to other Council services
  • Signposting to community organisations and resources
  • Tours of the library and all services offered

The Statement also includes some brief library case-studies. The Statement echoes those being issued elsewhere, for example by EBLIDA (the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations).

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