Who’s doing it? Helen Carpenter.
Where? London Libraries Development Agency.
Job description: To expand nationally an
initiative to help public libraries develop and improve services
for refugees and asylum seekers.
Skills/qualifications needed: Knowledge of public
libraries, voluntary sector and refugee communities and of local
and national government. Excellent networking, communication and
advocacy skills required.
What’s the job like? I support libraries, and try
to encourage more refugees to use them. We want public libraries to
help refugees participate more in society. For example, library
space could be used for events to bring different types of
communities together, or refugees could use library computers to
find housing. Refugees could be encouraged to apply for jobs in
libraries, via the creation of work placements.
My job also involves demonstrating to government and refugees
themselves how valuable the project is.
We need the active involvement of refugees to help change library
culture, which can lack awareness of the needs of refugees and
often disadvantages them. For example, libraries require more than
one proof of identity, which refugees often don’t have.
I am currently setting up an advisory group, including members from
refugee organisations, as well as health, education, housing and
One of our first tasks is to select libraries to take part in the
project over the next two years.
After this is done, my role is certain to become a delicate
balancing act between getting things to happen at a strategic and a
practical level, locally, regionally and nationally, and in
developing partnerships and resources to share experiences and