In 2017-2018, more than half a million people arrived to live in Australia. While two thirds were temporary visa holders, others were looking for a longer term home, contributing to the 7.3 million people living in Australia but born elsewhere.
When people arrive in Australia, whether through choice or for reasons of hardship, as migrants, international students, refugees or humanitarian entrants, they seek to make a place for themselves and their families in their new communities. They have to set up home, find employment, become familiar with cultural norms that are second nature to Australians but alien to new arrivals, and often their first language is not English.
For library users, coming from a country where there is a good public library network, the local library is an obvious place to find essential information, sign up for English language conversation classes, use the public computers, engage with other children and families at storytime. Joining the library is part of the settling in process. For others, coming from countries where there may not be a library network, libraries are an unknown quantity and it can be hard to build up the courage to step over the threshold.
Australian libraries recognise the needs and the barriers for migrants and refugees and are working to fulfil the first and break down the latter. This report shares just a few examples of the library projects to be found in different states and territories.