“People may go to the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there.”
— Robert Putnam
Cultural and linguistic diversity is the common heritage of humanity and we have a duty to serve and maintain it for the benefit of all. It is a source of exchange, innovation, creativity, and peaceful coexistence among peoples. We Need Books aims to build an inclusive and stronger Greek community, spark imagination and empower immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to choose their paths in life by providing cultural multipurpose facilities, giving access to knowledge and strengthening social cohesion.
We strongly believe that multicultural spaces and books serve several important functions that can be of great benefit to a marginalized and vulnerable populations such as the refugees and migrants living in Athens. To name a few benefits, reading helps better familiarizing the refugees and migrants with the western way of life and thinking, and creates common cultural reference points and touchstones. Books cultivate empathy and compassion, they give hope that hardships can be overcome, they inspire, they broaden readers’ perspectives. Moreover, educational books such as textbooks offer a chance to the children that were going to school to pick up where they left off and carry on studying the subjects that interest them until they can properly attend school in Greece or in whichever country they are accepted in the future. And of course, educational books are absolutely pivotal in one’s effort to learn languages, fluency being the most useful and urgent tool for social integration. Thusly, We Need Books is committed to creating multipurpose spaces to house books and welcome everyone, regardless of the language that they speak.
Libraries are more than just reading spaces. We believe these libraries can help revitalize struggling or depressed neighborhoods and downtowns. Libraries are places where people come to know themselves and their communities. Libraries serve as catalysts for addressing social problems. Libraries provide immigrants with helpful information about and opportunities to connect within their new communities. Libraries provide opportunities to host and offer free classes, free tutoring, homework help programs, and summer reading programs for kids and teens, to bridge the economic divide that impacts students’ academic performance. Libraries are important partners in child development.
There are approximately about 55,000 refugees in Greece. On top of that, there is also the second generations being born that also need to be considered. We Need Books aims to encourage refugees to get involved in our initiatives either through volunteering and/or with compensation. This work will help them gain skills and experience as to increase their employability in the future and assist in their integration into the community.