Immigrants flock to libraries


Cabot writes "The Toronto Star reports that large immigrant communities, like the local Chinese population, have also fuelled the increased usage of the city's libraries in recent years, according to City Councillor Olivia Chow.

The Toronto Star" has the story.


History certainly repeats itself. Immigration waves of the past used the public library and night school as ways of educating themselves about their new home. Doesn't this fact tell us something? The library still serves as a place for self-education and intellectual growth. the immigrants educate themselves to be Americans. American born citizens are also intrested in educating themselves. Not all Americans are computer literate, in fact some fear the computer. The reading piece of libraries is still a very important component. If you don't believe this, just look at how quickly non-English speaking immigrants master the language and excel. The written word has always been one of the best ways to learn a language. The written word has lasted centuries and has educated and continues to educate in ways that computers do not. The immigrant from India, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. and the the American born citizen share one thing, the thirst for knowldege, and the best medium is the written word.

Any given evening, 50-80% of the people using the library where I work are of East Indian descent. I live in a Very White, fairly affluent community, that is largely defined by the headquarters of a very large, very "good neighborly" (that was a hint) insurance company. This company hires lots of Indian programmers who come and live for several months to several years. The library is often one of their first stops in the community. It's amazing to see how much this community values the library. We see whole families who use the library for music, videos, recreational reading, story hours, internet access, ESL classes and TONS of computer and project management books. While other users would go out and buy a book on JAVA for $80, rather than wait several weeks, many people in this community will wait their turn for a library copy. What's really cool is when they have parents or siblings visit, and bring them in to the library to meet staff or show off our services. We've even heard back from people who have returned home, thanking us for our service and collections. If only we could get other community members to see the value of the library! It's made me curious about where this value comes from---I don't know if it's frugality or if there are excellent, highly used library systems in India. I've never quite figured out how to ask. Bottom line: these folks are ideal patrons!

Subscribe to Comments for "Immigrants flock to libraries"