Libraries have always been a gathering point for communities and within that, play a critical role in welcoming immigrants and refugees with open arms. What are some of the ways that libraries can be welcoming?
- Offering services and programs that explore educational, social, and creative pursuits
- Providing materials in native languages for recreational purposes
- Being able to refer visitors to other nonprofits and providers in the community for all asks
- Being a space where one feels comfortable and safe
Public libraries are not the same around the world and for many of our new visitors, it is a first-time experience to be in a building offering many materials and services for free. The latest estimated census data states that 8.6% of Pittsburgh’s population is foreign-born, which roughly averages to about 25,000 individuals. With that, we understand that many may not speak English – for starters, we have a “Welcome” video translated in multiple languages on our website that introduces what one can do in a public library.
For those seeking more information about citizenship, green cards and visas, additional English learning materials, and guides to Pittsburgh, eight of our Library locations offer Library Welcome Centers. We not only offer those materials mentioned, but also tons of information about our partners working with immigrants and refugees and recreational reading and movies in many world languages.
Through our mission of engaging the community in literacy and learning, we have continued to seek ways to improve our services to our community. Did you know we offer many language learning classes including English led by amazing volunteers from around the world all for free? In addition to this, we offer a free app called Mango that our visitors can use to learn a new language, including learning English through one’s native language.
For those up for a challenge, we offer a Let’s Read English monthly book discussion for all English learners to talk about a different book – fiction, nonfiction, graphic novel, YA, essays, children’s, we have read them all! For Spanish speakers, we offer the Círculo de Lectores book discussion group at CLP-Downtown & Business, which focuses on an original Spanish publication and at CLP-Beechview we host a monthly Una Película en Español movie viewing.
For a list of stories and titles related to the immigrant, migrant, and refugee experience available for checkout from your library, check out this list from Library Journal.
Stop by your local CLP location to learn more about what a library can offer for you!