From Saigon to Baton Rouge: East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Vietnamese Refugees, 1975-1985

STAUFFER, Suzanne M. (2016) From Saigon to Baton Rouge: East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Vietnamese Refugees, 1975-1985. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session 192 - Library History with Library Services to Multicultural Populations.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1346
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

From Saigon to Baton Rouge: East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Vietnamese Refugees, 1975-1985

In 1975, following the fall of Saigon (now Ho Chi Min City), a group of approximately 500 Vietnamese refugees were resettled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana under the auspices of the Catholic Refugee and Migration Services. The response of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library to the Vietnamese refugees was one of missed opportunities. The goal was to assist with assimilation and Americanization, and the attitude continues as one of unacknowledged whiteness views immigrants as Other and requires that they have accommodate themselves to the white American middle-class library, rather than accommodating the library to their needs. There is no evidence that the library made any attempt to determine the informational, educational, or recreational needs of the community in order to provide for them or to learn about the community. There is no evidence that the library provided any programs for the refugees nor does it offer reference services in Vietnamese. The library employs the antiquated “melting pot” metaphor that continues to privilege assimilation into the dominant culture, and is celebratory rather than critical or revolutional multiculturalism.

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