Open your arms (and mind) – Mojgan Sadhigi #open17

Open your arms (and mind): A practical approach to connecting libraries with their CALD communities – Best practice for creating programmes with not for communities.
CALD = culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  1. Gather information
    Collect demographics, develop profiles, select who you’d like to work with, identify leaders and the best communication method (eg group meetings – a good idea to go to their meetings, but also invite to ours; community reps, focus groups, advisory team, volunteer programmes).
  2. Connect with partners (and back to #1)
    Approach partners, exchange stories, explore interests – respect the autonomy of their organisation, take time developing trust.
  3. Decide shared goals
    Work out what you each want; define success.
  4. Plan project together
    Choose plan, consult, outline roles, assess risks, be flexible – teamwork is key.
  5. Promote partnership
    If you don’t let communities know what you’re offering it’s all gone to waste. Use your connections to publicise (they might have radio, newsletters, TV station) but also put things in writing; use other events to distribute info, have a stand and staff there. Make sure you use plain English and suitable translation. Visit migration centres, daycares, language schools.
  6. Evaluate your project and what to do next (and back to #1/2)
    Capture stories as well as number who attended. What worked with the partnership as well as the project.

Examples: exhibitions and displays, celebration of key events, bilingual story telling, conversation classes, movie night, baking

How hard to find volunteers?
Always found one. Often worth asking the people who are busiest! Sometimes daunting to say “We need volunteers”, so can have morning tea to chat, and then can identify the keenest and say “I need your advice” and go from there.

How to get people from specific groups to the library when they’re working every day?
Some groups see library as ‘government’ building and wary of it; so started developing in shopping centres. Also tried a different language. Deliver in their space, gain trust, then can slowly move to the library. Also food usually helps.


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