Project Welcome: Libraries Serving Refugees and Asylum Seekers Summit
Cambria Hotel & Suites Chicago Magnificent Mile
166 East Superior Street, Chicago, IL, 60611
February 6, 2017; 1:00-1:45 pm

Note: Select the title for available PDF of poster.

  1. Laurie Anderson, Grants & Special Projects Coordinator, Allegheny County Library Association.  Digital Storytelling Connects Diverse Communities [Best Practice]

As more refugees have been resettled in the Pittsburgh region, divisions have arisen between old and new residents. Storytelling about shared experiences is being used to bridge the divide. Five recent immigrants/refugees are paired with five long-time residents whose families were immigrants or refugees as participants in four day-long workshop sessions held at Whitehall Public Library. All participants are from nearby communities and represent a variety of countries and ethnic groups. They write and record their stories and then add photos to create brief videos. This project differs from other storytelling projects in that the participants are in control of their own stories; they create them, rather than telling them to someone else who writes them down. This helps recent refugees develop a sense of pride and belonging that will increase their civic engagement. Later, these videos will be used in public programs to spur discussion that leads residents to reflect on their social and civic responsibilities to immigrants and to one another. They will consider whether immigrants of many backgrounds should assimilate as a “melting pot” or be celebrated as a cultural mosaic that enables all in our communities to truly thrive.

  1. Natalia Taylor Bowdoin, Associate Faculty / Library Collections Coordinator / Interdisciplinary Studies Coordinator, University of South Carolina Aiken. [Presented in absentia by Jean S. Kanengoni, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]  If I was a bird I would gather up my children and fly far from here”: The lived experiences, information needs, and information seeking behavior of resettled refugees from the Central African Republic in two communities in the United States [Research]

The Central African Republic (CAR), already one of the poorest countries in the world at the turn of the millennium, has now experienced severe social unrest and human displacement for over a decade. As a result, CAR refugees arriving in the United States are one of the most disadvantaged refugee groups the U.S. has yet seen. The majority arrive speaking only Sango and have little education or work history outside of subsistence farming, have high instances of single parent families, and often present major health concerns. CAR refugees are at such a disadvantage and focused so entirely on basic survival that some resettlement agency personnel predict it will be an entire generation before they are on solid footing. Understanding the exact nature of their information needs and the extent to which these needs are currently being met is vital if we are to ensure they receive a more solid foundation in their new communities. This poster presents the initial results of a phenomenological study examining the information needs and information seeking behavior of 39 resettled CAR refugees living in two communities (Worcester, Massachusetts and Clarkston, Georgia) based on extensive interviews with the participants carried out in March and April, 2015.

  1. Angela Branyon, Doctoral Candidate, Old Dominion University.  Libraries: The Gateway to America [Research]

This study examined the programs offered by public libraries in an urban area which were used by immigrant mothers to aid their children with language acquisition and cultural acclimation. Phenomenology was used to research the viewpoints of the participants and to look at the unique perceptions they had concerning the benefits and drawbacks to their needs. Mothers were first interviewed as a group and then individually to gain a depth of understanding concerning issues brought forth in the group interview. The interviews took place over a period of 18 months. The families came from Kurdistan, Tajikistan, Mexico, and Indonesia.  Each mother had worked outside the home in her native country and was now adjusting to working from home or being a stay-at-home mother. Although the programs’ intent was not originally to help immigrants learn English and acclimate to American culture, a fortuitous blending of an established community with a group looking for a support community in a new country evolved. By examining programs available in the library to help immigrant mothers find a community of support for learning English and acclimating to American culture they began to create a comfortable identity that blends their home country with the new country.

  1. Will Chan, Program Administrator/Director, Denver Public Library.  Expanded Community Networks for Denver’s New Americans [Best Practice]

Denver Public Library’s New Americans Project is a starting point for immigrants, refugees, and asylees who wish to develop strategies to pursue individual goals and engage with their community. This programming provided combines multiple aspects of outreach, communication, information literacy and community engagement to help connect the library with immigrant populations throughout the Denver metropolitan area.

  1. Zina Clark, Program Coordinator, American Dream Project and Samantha Yanity, Continuing Education Assistant, American Library Association.  Public Libraries Support and Empower: The American Dream Literacy Initiative [Best Practice]

Administered by ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services and funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the American Dream Literacy Initiative is an adult literacy program based in public libraries throughout the U.S. Since 2007, more than 150 libraries have initiated or expanded literacy services for adult English language learners. The grants allow libraries to augment their print and digital ESL collections; increase computer access and training; provide job training; hold ELL, GED, and citizenship classes; and raise the visibility of services for immigrant populations. As part of the initiative, American Dream libraries build replicable programs, develop coalition-building strategies, and provide annotated lists of vetted resources for libraries across the country. ALA shares the libraries’ successes and strategies through our website, on webinars, and at state, regional, and national conferences. Through library-delivered services and community partnerships, the program serves thousands of English language learners and their families. This poster highlights some of the exemplary programs our libraries have implemented in the areas of citizenship, digital literacy, and ESL.

  1. Susan Corapi, Assistant Professor, Division of Education, Trinity International University and Megan McCaffrey, Assistant Professor, Governor’s State University.  Seeing themselves in a book: A collection of titles to support refugee children [Best Practice]

Research and anecdotal evidence demonstrate the importance of seeing oneself in a book (Larrick, 1965; Sims, 1982). For children who are refugees or asylum seekers, living in US communities and attending schools, the need is critical. But just as books act as mirrors for those living that experience, they also act as windows, helping those who are not refugees experience through story and illustration the everyday violence and difficult relocation process endured by millions of children. Books allow children to develop empathy and intercultural understanding, important in efforts to create tolerance and acceptance of diversity (Corapi & Short, 2015; Goldsmith, Heras, & Corapi, 2016; Naidoo, 2012).

This collection of 56 titles for children and teens is representative of the diversity in the kinds of trauma children experience in their home countries, on the various journeys they undertake, and in resettling. It also represents refugee experiences from countries located around the world so that readers are not left with the idea that refugees come from few places. The emphasis is on biographical and fictional narratives to facilitate connections between the reader and the characters, ensuring that both mirrors and windows are available.

  1. Chris Hagar, Associate Professor, School of Information, San Jose State University. The European Refugee Crisis: Data Collection Challenges of a Digital Volunteer Humanitarian Aid Organization [Research]

Historically volunteers needed to be in a physical space, to be on the ground at the point of a disaster to help. This is no longer the case – internet access, mobile communication and global interaction give people the tools to mobilize “digital volunteers” to support crisis response and humanitarian efforts. Volunteers situated all over the globe, gather, aggregate, process information to solve real-world crisis problems. These volunteers are part of various organizations that provide data for “collective intelligence” including crisis mapping that is useful on the ground to local responders – this could be, for example, identifying the location of shelters, medical help, food and water, and open transportation routes.

This poster provides a snapshot of the complexities and challenges of collecting data in a transient multi-cultural migrant group crossing borders, by a digital humanitarian aid organization. The study addresses the following key questions:

•        What types of data were collected?
•        How was the data collected?
•        What were the challenges of collecting the data?
•        What was new to collecting data in a migrant community?

  1. Liz Laribee, Carmen Collins, Andrea Castillo and Dolly Martino, Graduate Students, College of Information, University of Maryland. Amira in America [Story and Pathfinder for User Group]

Syrian refugees in particular have dominated headlines this year, both because of the increase of their numbers in the U.S. and as a subject of debate among the presidential candidates in the 2016 election. In addition, all of us had a personal interest in working with people who speak English as a foreign language for a variety of reasons, from experiencing migration to the U.S. firsthand, to having relatives who are refugees, volunteering with refugees in the U.S. and abroad, and having an interest in working with these groups, especially children, in a professional capacity. To provide additional focus for this project, we decided to study the development and potential treatment of mental issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression that might develop from the trauma of the refugee experience, in particular among children and their parents or guardians and how those caregivers can provide help for their children. Through our analysis of the information-seeking behaviors of our selected group, we decided to put together a booklet that includes an illustrated story and coloring pages, along with two pages of local, online and other resources that can be used to assist the refugee children we have targeted.

  1. Jenny Mumah, Doctoral Candidate, University of North Texas.  Welcome Home, Superheroes! [Best Practice]

Graphic novels have been growing in popularity over the years, especially among young readers. Research suggests that graphic novels help children learn literacy skills, math skills, and even learn about difficult topics such as the Holocaust (Maus) or the Iranian Revolution (Persepolis). This study suggests that we harness the power and appeal of graphic novels to help refugees adapt into their new settings. Local libraries, which are the heart of the community could host weekly graphic novel programs to help refugees. These programs will feature a wide range of culturally diverse books.

  1. Musa Osaka, Librarian for African, Global & International Studies, University of Kansas and Charles Agai Yier Resident Librarian, Research and Library Instruction, University of Iowa.  Access to Libraries and Information: A Case of Refugees from Africa Resettled in a Small Mid-Western Town, United States [Research]

How have refugees from the horn of Africa and those from the African Great Lakes Region who have been resettled in a small mid-western town in Missouri go about accessing information they need and how have they made use of libraries to access information? For more than 40 years, a Catholic Diocese in the State of Missouri has resettled refugees in several towns across that state. A significant number of the refugees they resettle have come from Africa and especially from Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Most of these refugees have been victims of torture or other human rights abuse and had been on the run for many years in order to save their lives from armed conflict. Some had had become stateless and could not be allowed back in their home countries even after conflict subsided. People who had taken over land of these refugees dared them with dire consequences in case they returned and tried to lay claim on any property.  All of these refugees had lived in rural settings most of their lives including in refugee camps. Access to published information was very sparse in most of the environments that they lived in before being resettled in the United States and libraries were nonexistent. The poster we will present will explore how refugees from the Horn of Africa and the African Great Lakes Region who have been resettled in a mid-western town of the United States have gone about accessing information and the role libraries have played in the lives of these refugees.

  1. Alyssa Pierce, Master’s Student, University of Michigan School of Information.  An International Look at Public Library Refugee Services [Best Practice]

The poster begins with defining the refugee population, then lists the typical services that libraries can offer to refugees, often overlapping with other multicultural services. It then addresses why normal multicultural services are not enough when it come to serving refugees and discusses what makes the refugee population distinct, discussing the traumatic experiences, high rates of PTSD, and collapse of information landscapes that refugees experience. Then it answers the question “what more can we do?” with best practice cases from around the world where public libraries have gone above and beyond to serve refugees. These include Norway, where a librarian is one of the teachers in a refugee introductory program, the U.S., where in Washington State they have a mobile computer lab they use to teach refugee populations tech literacy skills, various efforts around Germany, including godparents programs and refugee conversation groups, and the work of Libraries without Borders with their partner libraries, whose Ideas Box is sent to refugee camps around the world.

  1. Julie Robinson, Refugee & Immigrant Services and Empowerment Manager, Kansas City Public Library.   A Kansas City Snapshot [Best Practice]

This poster will highlight the past 2 years of Kansas City Public Library’s  Refugee & Immigrant Services & Empowerment division.  As the old saying goes – a picture is worth 1,000 words.  So we will visually showcase the programming and outreach that we have accomplished.  There will be handouts for interested parties to take as well as my contact information on the poster and handouts.

  1. Kate Steger, Deputy Director, CORE.  CORE: Enhancing Refugee Communications [New Initiative]

Refugees, like everyone, live in a world increasingly connected by digital technology. To reach refugees with reliable information about the United States Refugee Admissions Program, the Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (CORE) has launched a Refugee Communications Initiative that will utilize multiple digital platforms—including an SMS campaign, a mobile-first website, and more—to harmonize messaging and share resources that will help refugees navigate the complexities of resettlement and integration. This poster presentation will provide an overview of CORE’s Refugee Communications Initiative.