Public Libraries in Europe Welcome Refugees (archived)

Throughout Europe, public libraries have a proud tradition of welcoming everyone, regardless of ethnic origin.

Libraries welcome refugees arriving into European countries with plenty of activities for both children and adults, as well as access to information and education.


Related activities across Europe

“Free access to education and training, to information and culture is a fundamental right of all people”
(in the Statement by the German Library Association)

Please contact us if you have any update to this list:


Library magazine – focused on a culture of welcome for refugees in libraries

Welcome A1 -poster (in 30 languages)

“Reading without borders” project

•   Pool of best-practice-examples
•   Training courses
•   Book packages for libraries – e.g. Silent books
•   Library Card Terms and Conditions to download in 20 languages


“De danske folkebiblioteker byder flygtningene velkomne”

“Danish public libraries welcome the Syrian refugees”

PIKI Library


Library Guide – in 17 languages

A library is a meeting place for everyone!

Opi suomea: language café for refugees


Opi suomea: language café for refugees

(Learn Finnish: Tapiola library is hosting a weekly language café! You will be introduced to a number of basic Finnish words used in everyday life.)

Médiathèque de Calais


“Migrants in libraries: what do they need, how to welcome them, which services to provide?”

Journée d’étude “Les migrants : un public de bibliothèque? Quels besoins, quels accueils, quels services?”

Welcomegrooves Project


Welcomegrooves is a collaborative effort of more than 70 volunteers from the German creative industries and related sectors. Together, they have developed six lesson units “Learn German with Music”. In cooperation with refugees, these units have been translated into 23 languages. For the sake of user-friendliness, they can be downloaded as MP3-files onto mobile phones/devices as well as used online. For both, libraries provide facilities and support.

The idea of welcomegrooves is to give a warm welcome to the people who found shelter in Germany and to help them to familiarise themselves with their host country.

Bibliotheken heißen Flüchtlinge und Asylsuchende willkommen


“Bibliotheken heißen Flüchtlinge und Asylsuchende willkommen”
Erklärung des Deutschen Bibliotheksverbandes

(Statement of the German Library Association)

“Books say welcome”: German book sector launches initiative for refugees


“Books say welcome”: German book sector launches initiative for refugees

Bibliotheksangebote für Flüchtlinge und Asylbewerber


Bibliotheksangebote für Flüchtlinge und Asylbewerber
(List of German Libraries and related institutions involved in various ways in the work with refugees and asylum seekers and thus contribute to a welcoming culture)

Latvian Librarians Association (LBB)


The Congress of Baltic Librarians adopted the following statement on refugees on 13 October 2015:

Statement of Librarians of Baltic States on Library Services for Refugees



Libraries and refugees in The Netherlands

 Presentation at the Bibliotheks Kongress, Leipzig, March 2016 by Marian Koren, FOBID Netherlands Library Forum



Vluchtelingen in Nederland
(The Dutch Library Journal “Bibliotheekblad” calls for ideas to help refugees)

Bibliotheek Zuid-Kennemerland's Information Flyer - English/Arabic


Library information Handout for refugees created by the Bibliotheek Zuid-Kennemerland in Haarlem, Netherlands.

The creators allow anyone to download and change the flyer – in English & Arabic – to their local situation.

Printed flyers (double sided) can be distributed in refugee housing and other places.

File format: Power Point Presentation

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Zeven ideeën hoe uw bibliotheek vluchtelingen kan helpen


20 ideeën hoe uw bibliotheek vluchtelingen kan helpen
(20 ideas on how your library can help refugees)

Biblionet Groningen


Biblionet Groningen: starts action for structural cooperation
Libraries in this region Groningen, do all kind of activities with and for the people in the AZC’s: reading aloud sessions, donations of (picture) books. Visits of refugees to libraries and Language cafés are organized. Now it is time for regional library service Biblionet to establish a more permanent cooperation structure for these ad hoc activities. To start this a mobile library will tour the region and collect books and materials from libraries and private donors and bring them to AZC’s, including the necessary shelves.

Making connection with the refugees is supported by setting up a volunteer network for reading aloud sessions. Refugees receive symbolically paper and pen to write their stories. A journalist will be asked to write them down. This booklet will be sold as a donation for the refugees.

Library Heusden


Library Heusden: three times a week courses for refugees
The contact of the library with Refugee Work resulted this summer in the set up of a location in the library branch Drunen, where courses are given by Refugee Work. The next step might be to welcome and organize activities for children.

Library Rotterdam


Library Rotterdam: the youth panel collects 836 Euro
Bieb010jong – the young adult department of the Rotterdam library organised a fundraising event: the Heart of Rotterdam. Established former refugees (designer, consultant, performer) told their story, to the public who could buy tasty food, have their nails done or join in games. At the end they formed a living heart on the square in front of the library.

The entrance and game fees resulted in a donation of 836 Euros for Refugee Work Netherlands.

Library Venlo


Library Venlo: donation 250 books for refugee centre
The library has experience with working for refugees. It donated a collection of 250 books for their centre and gave a library card to all refugees, enabling them to use the library facilities. Reading international newspapers was also very favourite. The AZC was closed in July after 15 years of activity; it has quickly been reopened to accommodate the increasing influx of refugees. The library will increase its supportive activities, knowing that most refugees will stay for a longer time.



Mer penger til arabiskspråklig litteratur i bibliotekene
(Norwegian National Library has given a grant of EUR 10 000, to buy more books in Arabic)

Linköpings stadsbibliotek


“Refugees are welcome to Linköpings stadsbibliotek”

Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back


“Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back”
(Since 2012)

Society of Chief Librarians (SCL)

United Kingdom:

Library leaders across England and Wales confirm the welcome offered to refugees and asylum seekers from public libraries
(Statement by the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), along with the Association of Senior, Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) )

Blog by John Vincent on the CILIP website

United Kingdom:

Welcoming Refugees to the UK (and to Libraries)
(Blog by John Vincent on the CILIP website outlines the situation in the UK.)

The Network

United Kingdom:

How can the cultural sector support refugees?

The Network

IFLA – International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

Library Services to Immigrants and Refugees – anouncement to the recording of the online event

The Network

IFLA – Responding! Public Libraries and Refugees

(Examples and stories of the role public libraries are playing in the refugee crisis, particularly in Europe)



Media Monitor

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