Access, Opportunity and Connections: Leveraging the Powerful Brand of Public Libraries to support migrant, global populations - The Toronto Public Library’s Support for Syrian Refugees

BOWLES, Vickery and GLASS, Elizabeth and NGAN, Elsa (2016) Access, Opportunity and Connections: Leveraging the Powerful Brand of Public Libraries to support migrant, global populations - The Toronto Public Library’s Support for Syrian Refugees. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session 103 - Public Libraries with Library Services to Multicultural Populations and Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1374
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Access, Opportunity and Connections: Leveraging the Powerful Brand of Public Libraries to support migrant, global populations - The Toronto Public Library’s Support for Syrian Refugees

The 21st century will be defined by global migration as people flee wars and political persecution, are displaced by climate change, or immigrate to seek new economic opportunities and a better quality of life. Mass migration will enable countries to address the seismic demographic shift of the aging population and build their future workforce. Global migration, however, presents opportunities and challenges for both the people migrating, and for the countries they leave, migrate through, and arrive in. The world’s population is increasingly concentrated in large urban centers or megacities, which are the immigrant reception areas. The ability of megacities, the engines of the global economy, to connect and successfully integrate diverse newcomer populations, is a critical driver of creativity, economic competitiveness, and overall social well-being. With a recognized brand and global reach, public libraries provide critical supports to migrant populations, and to the cities who integrate them. Libraries provide barrier-free access to opportunities that support everyone, including newcomers, in reaching their potential. Worldwide, public libraries enhance and foster cross-cultural understanding, build welcoming communities, and create vibrant urban environments where population diversity is leveraged as a strength, and everyone has the opportunity to contribute and experience an enhanced quality of life. In times of crisis, people defend public libraries as powerful symbols of the shared values of intellectual freedom and democracy. This brand empowers public libraries to be strong advocates for newcomers, offering access, opportunities, and connections that enable newcomers, both immigrants and refugees, to create a home, whether their location is by choice or circumstance. Using the Toronto Public Library’s example of successfully supporting Syrian refugees and serving the diverse city of Toronto, the critical role of public libraries integrating newcomers is demonstrated.

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