Improving library services through involving refugees and asylum seekers

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Improving library services through involving refugees and asylum seekers

In the ‘Refugees into Libraries’ project, Leicester library services sought to involve refugees and asylum seekers in a volunteering scheme as a direct means of getting information about the needs of these communities in Leicester. This information was used to plan for and deliver library services in Leicester.

"We’re a library and information service and we have a duty to meet the needs of all sections of the community. Who better to understand these needs than people themselves?"  Senior Community Librarian

The involvement process led the library service to revise their assumptions about what people wanted.  They had expected that migrants and refugees would like to see more books and resources available in their own languages, but what they found following was that people actually wanted resources to help them to learn English.

The refugee volunteer group has been successful in influencing the development of new services in the library to address previously unmet needs. The volunteer group influenced development of study groups for English language practice, citizenship courses and IT skills, and stock and software choices.  The library has increased membership from target communities and provides more services and products that better meet the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

"It’s not about ticking the boxes, I hate that. It’s about the desire to actually involve those communities in the service and the way to do this isn’t just to talk to them about this, but is to actually do it." Senior Community Librarian


* Source: Case studies: Equality Impact Assessments [EHRC: 2013]