On Their Turf: Serving Refugees as an Off-Site Outreach Program

Heather Lea Jackson, Meisywe M. Cavanaugh, Gianna Schwatka, Giovanna Sandoval, Claudia E. Parra Acevedo


Prince George’s County (PGC), Maryland, has been a place of resettlement for more than two thousand refugees, asylees, and those with special immigrant visas (SIVs) since 2012. The PGC Memorial Library System was recently awarded a $3,000 ALSC Light the Way Grant to expand its programming to the refugees in the community.

Developing robust library programming with a refugee community can be challenging—even beyond the obvious challenge presented by language barriers. Cultural differences can be huge barriers. For example, for many Afghani refugees, it is culturally unacceptable for women to leave the apartment complex unless accompanied by a male relative. These male relatives are frequently at work or engaged in work readiness programs, so they are not available to serve as escorts to the library. This means the library must go into the refugee communities rather than expecting them to come to the library.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5860/cal.17.1.23


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