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Welcome: Library Services to Multi-Lingual Communities in Connecticut

Introduction

The CT State Library, Division of Library Development has formed a CT Public Library Task Force consisting of libraries in communities receiving Afghan refugees. These libraries are Bridgeport Public Library, Ferguson Library, Stamford, New Haven Free Public Library, Public Library of New London, Phoebe Griffin Knowles Library, Old Lyme and Russell Library, Middletown. New Haven Free and Ferguson have existing relationships with IRIS and CIRI. The intent of this sub task force is to identify ways that the CT library community can support the organizations welcoming the refugees and to offer direct services. The Task Force created a draft list of items we can begin working on immediately:

  1. CT State Library will purchase Welcoming Library Kits for CT libraries serving communities receiving refugees. The Welcoming Library is a traveling library of 30 picture books that center around new arrival and new American experiences. The kits will be customized to meet the needs of resettled Afghan refugees.
  2. Task Force member Maisam Nouh, Ferguson Library has been working with refugees and identified the need for picture books, audiobooks and DVDs to help children with English. CT libraries are contacting our publishers to request donations of books and other materials that can be distributed via library welcome kits to families.
  3. Task Force member Yelena Klompus, Ferguson Library works with ESL and ESOL programs and has identified the need for conversation groups in libraries and basic English books for subjects such as banking, jobs, grocery shopping, going to the doctor. CT libraries will request donations of these materials to provide to organizations serving and supporting the refugee families.
  4. CSL will create a resource LibGuide for organizations to identify programs for refugees in their service area for job skills; digital literacy skills; ESL; bilingual story time, and other activities for Afghan families to take part in at their libraries. Safe meeting spaces: telehealth and tele legal pods are also available.
  5. Statewide programs for refugees to attend. As part of the All CT Reads statewide reading program, Task Force members recommended that the invitation be open to refugees to participate in to experience a shared statewide gathering.
  6. Task Force will work on programming such as community conversations and cultural experiences that will welcome the Afghan refugees to participate along with the entire community.

This is just an initial list. As we gather more information from libraries and develop programming and resources, we will share with the EAE Task Force.

Donation Request

We are looking to our library community for donations or any of the following items to share with our Afghan newcomers:

  • Children’s books and materials including picture books, audiobooks, and DVDs, especially those that can help children with learning English
  • Young adult books and materials including those that can support learning English
  • Educational learning toys
  • ESL and ESOL materials to support conversation groups in libraries
  • Basic adult education materials on subjects such as banking, job skills, grocery shopping, going to the doctor, and other basic needs

We at DLD are also reaching out to publishers for donations.  If your library has a strong relationship with a particular publisher, please reach out as well to see if additional donations are possible.

Please contact Dawn La Valle at dawn.lavalle@ct.gov to assist in making arrangements for distribution, or if you have further inquiries or donation ideas.

Many thanks in advance for your efforts and contributions!

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