Libraries without borders

Warsaw, Poland

Challenge team: Biblioteki bez granic (Libraries Without Borders) and the Readers’ community

Population of Warsaw: 1.7 million

Summary: Biblioteki bez granic (Libraries Without Borders) provides books and educational materials to asylum seekers and refugees at detention centres in Poland, including many Ukrainian refugees. 

Libraries Without Borders grew out of Grupa Granica, a conglomerate of grassroots activists and humanitarian organisations helping refugees at the Polish-Belarusian border. The initiative stemmed from a shared effort of many people coming together to collect book donations and distribute them to the detention centres for refugees coming into Poland.

Refugee facilities in Poland are overcrowded and depressing environments with limited access to cultural materials in different languages. Books provide a lifeline to many refugees, who may be facing a range of mental health challenges. Working closely with the community, the Libraries Without Borders challenge team plan to broaden the scope of their work: addressing specific needs of people in the centres and those already living outside, as well as providing books and educational materials in the Ukrainian language.

The challenge team wants to make sure that everyone has access to books in their native language, as well as improving the opportunities for migrants and refugees living in Warsaw to order books for their communities. Working hand in hand with the community, Libraries Without Borders  team is also determined to offer a place for cultural and language exchange in Warsaw, as well as promoting the culture and literature of the countries of origin of people finding refuge in Poland. 

Drawing on their local connections, they offer events that provide spaces for integration between the established local community in Warsaw and new residents arriving from different countries. 

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