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Lifeline Libraries

By September 14, 2015September 17th, 2015Children's Literature, Guest Blogs, Libraries, Literature

When faced with a global humanitarian crisis many people find ways to try and support those displaced by war or poverty. There have been makeshift libraries created for the refugee camps for not only educational and work-related help, but also as an escape into a fictional world. Libraries Without Borders is a well-established group now but there are smaller movements sprouting up all wherever literary aid is needed. It seems so many of us understand the importance of a library within a community; we love the entertainment and support reading can bring so much that wherever there are people, there are books!

Donated books make their way to camps like ‘The Jungle’ in Calais where teacher Mary Jones set up Jungle Books: a makeshift library, cared for by volunteers, for the people residing at the camp.

Roger Tagholm of Publishing Perspectives, spoke to Mary at the camp about what people are reading, and what genres and titles are needed to flesh out the library’s offerings. From supporting the camp school and assisting those who need help applying for jobs, to giving adults and children access to a range of fiction. Poetry and short stories, particularly books in native languages, and Eritrean, Pashto-French, Pashto-English dictionaries are sought after, however no donated book would be turned away. A library in the midst of what is imaginably not the most stable of situations is a wonderful symbol of hope for many who live there. It promotes a freedom to access knowledge anywhere in the world, no matter what your background, or current financial or residential status.

Since 2007 Libraries Without Borders have provided over 5 million people with access to all the support, education, and literature libraries offer. They say:

“We advocate the idea of the library as a toolbox for communities to disseminate knowledge, promote social harmony, accompany the least fortunate, and ultimately, pursue human and economic development.”

Their humanitarian approach to the venture has seen disadvantaged groups in developing countries, and refugees living in another country, being given opportunities to stay connected with their cultural heritage. The many European countries who are taking in refugees could benefit from this charity by maintaining the refugees’ level of education, keeping them in touch with their roots, and aiding them on building a new life in the new country.

There are ways to get involved if you wish to help others to continue reading novels, educating themselves, and find hope in even the most desperate of situations. Donate books to Jungle Books by contacting Mary Jones at [email protected]. Donate money to Libraries Without Borders HERE. Get involved in person by volunteering HERE. Perhaps set up a book collection/donation scheme to send books to Calais or your nearest refugee site. If we can all do our best no one should go without the basic human love of knowledge!

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