Athens’ multilingual library dedicated to promoting interculturalism

SIANOU, Margarita (2019) Athens’ multilingual library dedicated to promoting interculturalism. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2019 - Athens, Greece - Libraries: dialogue for change in Session 113c - IFLA Poster Session.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Athens’ multilingual library dedicated to promoting interculturalism

We Need Books pilot library opened its doors to the public in October 2018. Operating in one of the city’s most run down areas and entirely run by volunteers, the library brings together people of all backgrounds, responding to their needs and offering empowerment through the creation of social networks and the cultivation of language skills especially for refugees and migrants. There are more than 20,000 refugees and over 145,000 registered migrants currently in the Attica region. Apart from covering their basic needs and securing their dignity, social exclusion is one of the biggest challenges they face. The discriminations they encounter in their daily lives exacerbate their exclusion while integrating to existing social networks is difficult because of cultural differences, economic restrictions and linguistic limitations. By creating spaces exclusively for foreigners, social segregation is intensified and the local community perpetuates stereotypes and suspicion against the other. We Need Books library is rooted in the community and has been designed to address the needs of a multicultural city. It provides books in the maternal languages of refugees and migrants, free language courses and cultural workshops but it also offers a safe space where one can spend their time productively.

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