Youth service librarians at the Sacramento Public Library are breaking new ground with refugee populations by partnering with local elementary schools and resettlement services to provide access to free library cards; encourage trans-literacy skills by providing access to technology, and providing access to English learning material.

At the heart of this outreach is early literacy for families. Communicating across language and cultural barriers is a struggle libraries often experience. The variety of refugee populations in Sacramento County means that outreach programs in three or four languages are the norm. Translation and interpretation, as well as library materials in different languages (library card applications, “Welcome to the library” brochures, books at all reading levels, etc.), have been crucial.

Meeting this challenge has meant forming new and stronger partnerships with community organizations like RIHLA (Refugee Integration & Health Azimuth) and the San Juan Unified School District and rethinking strategies for outreach to these populations. As a result, staff are learning more about our communities and how to best impart knowledge, particularly with regard to early literacy.

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