Creating a multicultural community of readers in Athens

Athens, Greece

Challenge team: We Need Books and Greek Forum of Migrants

Population of Athens: 3.1 million

Summary: A multilingual library and multicultural centre in Kypseli, Athens is working closely with the community to create a multicultural community of readers.

The Greek Forum of Migrants is working with We Need Books  – a multilingual library and multicultural centre in Kypseli, Athens –  to build a multicultural community of readers. This neighbourhood welcomed people from Eastern Europe in the early 2000s and is now providing a home to people from countries including Syria, Iraq and Somalia.

We Need Books  is helping the local community to grow stronger together through books. Much more than a library, it is continually evolving to make sure it is serving its community in the best way it possibly can. 

With this in mind, the challenge team is using participatory methods so it can develop activities to reach communities that are not yet being served. In particular, it is striving to include migrant representatives in decision making for the library.

The challenge team said: “We believe that, if more and more diverse people are involved in the ‘shaping’ of our library, more and more diverse people will benefit from it.”

The challenge team uses channels that are as direct as possible to reach out to new communities, delivering information in person and giving out flyers for people to share with their friends. They also share information via email and phone calls to promote events to specific people and organisations, as well as via social media. 

Their work has been met with enthusiasm from users so far, with more visitors to the library, more members joining and more participants at events – and they are hoping the initiative will be replicated in other contexts in future too, in Greece and across Europe.

They said: “Being part of a European project with like-minded libraries and communities gives us hope for the future of libraries!”

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