A Western Sydney council’s efforts to promote its library to culturally and linguistic local communities has earned it an award from the NSW Public Libraries Association.
Blacktown City Libraries was awarded the Multicultural Excellence Award for their Language Ambassadors Project, which aims to promote the library’s collection, events and services to local communities.
Mayor Tony Bleasdale said the project was especially important during the past two years of COVID-19 lockdowns, when Council was forced to close its libraries and shift online.
“Blacktown City is an incredibly diverse city, with residents from more than 180 countries who speak more than 180 different languages,” Mayor Tony Bleasdale said.
“The library project was a marvellous way to ensure everyone in our community, regardless of language, was able to connect with their local library, thanks to the support of our cultural community leaders.”
The project involved a series of videos featuring leaders from Blacktown City’s multicultural communities which were promoted across Blacktown City Libraries’ social media pages to engage with the multicultural community during lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.
“Our language ambassadors are leaders who showed their community how to find support on how to cope with living in a new place when English is not their first language,” Multicultural Services Librarian Joelmon Zungar said.
“It can be daunting for people, so their testimonials about how our libraries meet the needs of Blacktown City’s diverse community is invaluable.”
Four videos, in Chinese, Punjabi, Urdu and Serbian have been completed, with future videos to come in Hindi, Filipino, Tamil, Italian and Sudanese.
Swapping fines for food donations
Meanwhile, in other successful library initiatives the Hills Shire Council is allowing residents with overdue books to donate an item of non-perishable food in lieu of paying a fine.
This year’s annual Mayor’s Library Fine Amnesty has seen more than 800 food items donated and 264 library items returned.
“I’m just blown away by all the donations we’ve received,” Mayor Michelle Byrne said.
“It’s been a particularly challenging time for families and residents, and to see people digging deep to help others in their time of need is truly amazing.”
All donations will be given to Anglicare for their Mobile Community Pantry.
The returned overdue library items will be re-homed in Hills libraries.