Libraries are welcoming spaces for everyone | Book Nook

A monthly column from the King County Library System.

  • Tuesday, September 17, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

King County Library System (KCLS) is committed to inclusion, the idea that public libraries belong to everyone. It is one of our core values and means that all residents — regardless of age, ethnicity or socioeconomic background — are welcome to explore and enjoy all that KCLS has to offer.

The Welcoming Center at Kent Library is a perfect example of KCLS’ commitment to inclusivity. Funded by the KCLS Foundation, the Welcoming Center­ provides immigrants and refugees access to information to help them adjust to living in a new community. An essential component of the Welcoming Center are welcoming ambassadors, former immigrants themselves who answer questions and connect new residents to legal, financial, employment and language-learning resources to get them started on their path to citizenship. Ambassadors help with things as ordinary as obtaining a driver’s license or navigating school systems to more serious issues, such as providing assistance to someone fleeing domestic abuse or an exploitive situation. Equally important, the Welcoming Center offers a safe and inviting place for newcomers to meet and connect with others through programs such as Family Social Time held monthly.

KCLS also participates in Welcoming Week, a national campaign that aims to create communities of inclusion by fostering a spirit of unity among our country’s newest arrivals and long-time residents. This year, Welcoming Week is Sept. 13-22 and KCLS will offer a variety of programs that affirm one’s sense of belonging. “Becoming American” for instance is a film discussion series that focuses on immigrant experiences through different lenses. One film entitled “Welcome to Shelbyville” explores how long-time residents of a small Tennessee town have integrated into their community the hundreds of Somali refugees who have been hired by the local Tyson chicken processing plant. “My American Girls” looks at a hardworking immigrant couple living frugally in Brooklyn who dream of retiring to their native Dominican Republic, contrary to what their American-born daughters have in mind. The screenings are an hour or less in length and are followed by a facilitated discussion.

With more than 20 resident populations in King County that have limited English proficiency, KCLS offers ESL classes and story times in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Amharic and Russian. Throughout the year, KCLS celebrates our country’s diversity with featured programming during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Autism Awareness Month, Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Pride Month to name a few. Our patrons have attended programs ranging from “Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbors” to Christian music sing-alongs. KCLS also hosts programs for veterans, book clubs for homeschoolers and “Coffee with a Cop” community conversations.

King County Library System serves 1.4 million residents in 34 cities, towns and unincorporated areas across King County, which continues to grow in both population and diversity. Having recently completed a 15-year capital improvement program, KCLS’ new and renovated libraries are designed to bring communities together, providing a place where people from all walks of life can create meaningful connections.

A place where all are welcome.

Lisa Rosenblum is the executive director of the King County Library System.

More in Life

From left: students Riley Retinger, Abby Smith, Mimmi Hubbard and Sadie Rabinowitz. Photo by Calah Webb
‘It’s one of my favorite places to be’: School of Rock Issaquah gears up for January shows

In January, students will be paying homage to the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Chris Cornell and others.

Embrace the struggle for a complete picture | Health column

A monthly column about mindfulness and general wellbeing.

KCLS continuing to build connections in 2020 | Submitted content

A monthly column about library happenings.

Back row, from left: Eric Vaughn, Lisa Dreher and Hope Maltz, Hideo Fujita, Sheri Campbell, Warren Mainard. Front row, from left to right: Jenny Chang, Kendy Sasaki-Ross, Rob Kamihana and Monika Kannadaguli. Photo courtesy Eastgate Expounders
More than a speaking group: Eastgate Expounders look back at 15 years

Eastgate Expounders is one of many clubs under the overarching Toastmasters International nonprofit.

Photo courtesy of Larry Snyder
                                Larry Snyder collected 4,334 pairs of socks during his fourth annual sock drive in Bellevue.
Answering the call to serve those in need

Fourth Annual Sock Drive donates 4,334 socks to CFH, The Sophia Way and Dignity for the Divas.

Photo by Nityia Photography
Three simple rules for the holiday | Health

A monthly column about mindfulness.

Nancy Kartes and Bill Willard were both original event planners of the garden light show that opened in 1994. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Twenty-five years of Garden d’Lights

Garden d’Lights runs through December 31.

Boy Scout Troop 626 kicks off Christmas tree sale

The fundraiser began on Nov. 29 and ends on Dec. 20.

Photo courtesy city of Bellevue
                                Volunteer Rob Polasek at work. The Master Naturalist program currently is accepting applications.
Master Naturalist program connects people to environment, community

The program, which enables community members to work with the parks department, started in 2009.

Photo courtesy of city of Bellevue
                                Photo from evening Cultural Conversations event.
Cultural Conversations program approaching 10th year of bringing women across the Eastside together

For nearly a decade, the program has sought to foster inclusivity and togetherness.

Perfection to depression – Measuring ourselves to death

A monthly column about mindfulness and mental wellbeing.