2017 ALA Annual Conference

Please view our Project Welcome Guide draft, which we are presenting at the conference [*see below] to seek feedback. Please e-mail us at projectwelcome01@gmail.com if you have comments or suggestions.

Sessions related to refugees at ALA Annual

Auditorium Speaker Series featuring Sandra Uwiringiyimana
Saturday, June 24; 10:30-11:30am.  Location: McCormick Place W375b/Skyline

Sandra Uwiringiyimana, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. She had watched as rebels gunned down her mother and six-year-old sister in a refugee camp. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and she escaped. Uwiringiyimana tells her remarkable story in the memoir How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child. She joins us to share the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, of her hope for the future, and how she found a way to give voice to her people.

Since her family’s resettlement to the United States in 2007 through a United Nations refugee program, Uwiringiyimana has fought hard to raise awareness and calls for justice for the Gatumba massacre and other human rights abuses in the region. She is passionate about girls’ education and ending child marriage, and has become a voice for women and girls, refugees and immigrants, and forgotten people like the Banyamulenge Tribe. Now a student at Mercy College in New York City, she is the co-founder and Director of Partnerships & Communications at Jimbere Fund (jimberefund.org). In telling her story, she has shared the world stage with Charlie Rose, Angelina Jolie, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Tina Brown at the Women in the World Summit. She addressed the United Nations Security Council to plead with world leaders to act on the pressing issue of children in armed conflict.

Refugee Scholars and Academic Libraries in the Twentieth Century and Today Forum (ACRL WESS)
Saturday, June 24; 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM. Location: Hilton Chicago, Williford C

“The term “refugee scholars” originally describes those who left fascist Europe for the United States to escape persecution beginning in the 1930s. These émigrés subsequently played significant roles in shaping American higher education. Since cultural exchange works both ways, their experiences form a useful background for discussions about the needs of contemporary émigré scholars from Syria, Afghanistan, and other countries, particularly in how academic libraries in the US and Germany are adapting in response.

  • Sem C. Sutter, Interim Rare Books Selector, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago

Serving Refugees: Experiences from German Libraries
Sunday, June 25; 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM.  Location: McCormick Place, W181b

In 2015 there were more than 1 million refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany. The influx of refugees from various cultures, especially from Syria, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and various African countries, is abating. Yet families, young men, and unaccompanied minors are still seeking refuge in Germany. Libraries in Germany have a long tradition of providing multicultural services and resources. Since 2006 an expert panel of the German Library Association has been addressing this topic. The lessons learned from the panel can be used to improve the resources for these user groups in public and academic libraries. There are many challenges, including overcoming language and cultural barriers, and integrating refugees into schools and colleges. Another consideration is staff training and information exchange on the topic using webinars and other channels. A variety of positive and hopeful responses to these challenges will be presented using real-world examples.

Project Welcome: Libraries Serving Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Saturday, June 24; 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM.  Location: McCormick Place, W181a

“How can libraries better serve refugees and asylum seekers?” In the past year the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs in partnership with ALA has been working on the IMLS-funded “Project Welcome” planning grant. We have been learning how libraries are and can address the information needs of refugees and asylum seekers in order to support and empower them in their resettlement and integration process. This session will present the work of the project and engage audience feedback on the library services continuum that is in development.

Project Welcome: Libraries Serving Refugees and Asylum Seekers [presented at ALA Diversity Fair & Outreach Fair]
Saturday, June 24; 3:00 PM – 4=5:00 PM.  Location: Special Events area in the Exhibits Hall at McCormick Place.

“How can libraries better serve refugees and asylum seekers?” Learn about the work the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs in partnership with ALA has done on the IMLS-funded “Project Welcome” planning grant to address the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

The Other (Invisible) Refugees – Supporting Central American Children in Crisis
Saturday, June 24; 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM.  Location: McCormick Place, W178a

Since 2014, over 100,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived as refugees from Central America. They are held in detention centers across the country while they await time in court to plead their case for being granted asylum. View a film from IBBY & REFORMA, and learn about their Children in Crisis Project, which seeks to raise awareness about these vulnerable youth and to provide resources to them. Donations accepted at the door.

Solidarity in Action: Combating Xenophobia and Islamaphobia
Sunday, June 25; 8:30-10:00am.  Location: McCormick Place W183b

Current politics include a call for an Executive Order blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States. While this nativism is not new, dating back to 9/11 and before, examples like this show how crucial xenophobia remains for American nationalism. Come hear award winning author/attorney/activist Deepa Iyer discuss the targeting of South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Americans and the tools we can use to dismantle Islamaphoba and Xenophobia, while supporting the communities that we serve.

Author/Speaker Bio: A leading social justice advocate, Deepa Iyer is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion and the former Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). She also served as a civil rights lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice in the wake of 9/11, and was the Activist in Residence at the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland. Her recent book award-winning We Too Sing America: South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh Communities Shape Our Multiracial Future was selected by the American Librarians Association’s Booklist magazine as one of the top 10 multicultural non-fiction books of the year and also received a 2016 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Library Journal described it as “[A] riveting book …A welcome addition to the growing literature of race, ethnicity, and religion from the perspectives of immigrant groups within the United States. Both the general public and policymakers will benefit.”

Immigration Services 101: Naturalization Assistance and More in Your Public Library
Sunday, June 25; 10:30-11:30am.  Location: McCormick Place S103

Libraries and librarians are obtaining a special credential that allows librarians to provide immigration services outreach, screenings and referrals in the library. Several use the credential to provide assistance applying for immigration benefits. Join us for a discussion of how the libraries in California are leading the way with this new tool in branches that serve a high number of immigrant families.