Are there really libraries in refugee camps?

As librarians, we like to talk about the power of books and libraries to make a difference in the lives of everyday people. But surely when it comes to people living in a refugee camp, they are must be pretty far down on the priority list? You might be surprised to find out that this isn’t the case.

One of the things lost when the Calais refugee camp (called the “Calais Jungle” by outsiders and some occupants ) was cleared just two weeks ago was a functioning library named Jungle Books. Besides being a source of books, it provided equipment like LED lamps and was a community hub, with laptops to access the internet, discussion spaces, and more.

Photo by Katja Ulbert – Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0

“This library can lend a semblance of normality to their lives. It’s a place where people can drop in and have a chat, maybe play a bit of music, not only read books.” Mary Jones, British coordinator of library quoted in The Spectator 

Sounds not so different to libraries you know here, doesn’t it? There are also libraries at Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world, and in the Zaatari camp, which hosts more Syrian refugees than any other.

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