Since 1945 Australia has welcomed almost seven million migrants to the country, with the largest proportion of people settling into NSW communities and adding to our diverse population.
People born overseas now represent nearly one third of Australia’s population and this is reflected in the diversity of languages spoken, with over 300 separately identified languages other than English spoken in Australian homes.
Moving to a new country can be a daunting experience for many people as they learn a new language and adapt to a different culture. Libraries play a key role in assisting newly arrived communities as well as the more established communities with this transition by providing a place to learn, to seek assistance and to participate in the community.
By providing books in different community languages libraries help people to connect to their home language. The State Library of NSW has a large collection of books in over 40 different community languages including adult fiction across a range of genres, adult non-fiction such as cookbooks, health information and history and children’s books such as picture books, bilingual books and nursery rhymes. These books are available for loan to everyone in NSW, through your local public library free of charge. Check with your local public library for information about how to access these books.
Many public libraries also have their own collections of books in community languages. Use the Community Language Collection Directory to help you locate community language materials held in NSW public libraries.
Libraries also offer services that reach beyond traditional book collections. English classes and groups activities for children and adults such as multilingual storytime and adult computer education classes assist learning and understanding and provide opportunities for people to meet with other people in their community.
People also have opportunities to share their culture and experiences and engage with the broader community through events such as festivals hosted by local councils and library programs. A program of events is celebrated throughout New South Wales during Multicultural March, a time to celebrate the rich and diverse communities in New South Wales. Check the calendar on the Multicultural NSW website for events in your area or contact your local council.
Multicultural library services in NSW
The State Library of NSW and public libraries across NSW provide a range of multicultural services and resources for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
At the State Library of NSW
The State Library offers a range of services including online resources and newspapers in community languages to NSW residents and visitors.
You can catch up on the latest news or browse magazines in different languages on topics such as business and finance, fashion, history, science and more using PressReader. PressReader gives you unlimited access to thousands of magazines and newspapers from over 100 countries across the globe.
You can also find newspapers in languages other than English which are published in NSW at the library. Many of these newspapers are available on microfilm and can be accessed at the library. Use the library catalogue to find newspapers.
The library also has resources to assist people to learn or improve their English. Online resources include language dictionaries and modules for IELTS (International English Language Testing System). You can also find books about learning English in the library catalogue.
In your public library
Whether you want to read the latest news from overseas, join a class to learn or improve your English, or read a book in your language you can use your local public library to find access to resources in community languages. Check with your local NSW public library for information about resources and programs available in your local community.
Free and fun technology training sessions for seniors
The Tech Savvy Seniors program offers free technology training for older people with little or no technology skills, to help them get connected and stay in touch with family and friends or connect with people and services in their local community. Training sessions are delivered in English and Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish and Vietnamese. Find a training session near you.