This year I attended Library Camp at RMIT, and it was amazing! The most significant experience from the day was having my research idea, voted in by peoples’ choice, for a session at the “un-conference”. During this 40 minute session titled “Libraries as active spaces for socially excluded people” I asked people to join in, offer insight and offer where to from now on matters that are important for connecting asylum seekers and refugees with public libraries. Significantly, how can we as a community and community educators (The Librarians) offer a safe space for some of the most vulnerable users within our regions.
Below are some of the key points that I pulled out from this session, and will use them to help develop my research question for upcoming projects (and no doubt PhD development):
- Define what libraries stand for
- Hume, Maribrynong, and Wyndham libraries have already looked into this idea and are attacking some of the key issues asylum-seekers face as users in these council libraries.
- Do not compare QLD to VIC, leave QLD libraries behind as VIC is quite different and progressive – this point made by a current Librarian was poignant, and resonated with me quite significantly. It challenged my foundations of thought quite powerfully, and I left after the session feeling both disheartened and inspired to try to see the research in a different way.
- Where can we go from here?
- Having an optimistic outlook – who can we network with?
- Budget and legal restrictions – avoiding duplication of what has already been done and hence creating networks with these hubs via libraries
- Civic locations such as libraries can be overwhelming to newly arrived migrants
- How are libraries perceived by the organisations assisting asylum seekers and refugees
- There can be competition (with other hubs) to gain the audiences’ attention, but it is important to meet at the middle ground
- The key is about providing spaces that accommodate to the specific needs of that demographic regions – the users
- To overcome lack of resources, and budget, provide volunteers and internships with councils (which already takes place)
- Customer (user) demands drive the collection