A Multicultural Library

The Reutlingen municipal library (Stadtbibliothek) is one of the important institutions of cultural life in the city of Reutlingen.

It was newly built in 1985. Beside the main building in the city cntre, there are 10 local branches in the districts. The municipal library is part of the city council department „Kulturamt“. The library is funded by the city of Reutlingen with an estimated amount of 4.5 million euros per annum.
The library owns more than 300,000 media, approximately 1000,000 of which are in the library for adults. It has 20,000 users, of which approx. 1,525 are migrants or refugees from 104 different countries. Turkish-speaking people are the largest group, second are Greek-speaking people, followed by those speaking Italian. Next largest group are users from Syria.
A user card for the library costs 3 Euros per month or 18 Euros per year. Persons under the age of 18 may use the library free of charge.

We interviewed Tanja Schleyerbach, librarian at the municipal library for 23 years. She is in charge of buying books, DVD and audio books and other electronic media. She is also responsible for intercultural library work. Moreover, she helps users to find books, learning aids and music media. She is responsible for the field of philosophy, religion and languages. She also guides visitors through the library.
Tanja Schleyerbach introduced us to the different departments, also those that may be interesting for refugees, in order to learn German and to learn more about German culture and language.

What surprised me is how much material, books and media I found concerning language:

  • Books for alphabetisation
  • Language course media
  • A welcome conversation book with 2,000 phrases for daily life
  • German dictionaries, pictorial dictionaries
  • Books with graphic elements for language learning in simplified language
  • German films with English, French or Arabic subtitles
  • Eritrean language was recently added to the usual foreign laguages
  • Multi-language books , i.e. novels, specialised books, audio books and digital newspapers from 100 countries in 60 languages
  • There is a number of books and langage courses for the media boxes in the refugees’ accommodations, for easier learning of German

Use of the media on the premises of the library is free of charge.

If you have a user card, you may log in with your smart phone or PC, enabling you to use electronic media.

Use of a computer, printer and scanner: A user card entitles you to use this equipment for one hour a day or five hours a week. You can also access the internet and use the Microsoft office programmes, as well as save books scanned on USB stick. Printing in black and white costs 10 cents per page, colour printing costs 60 cents per page. WiFi (WLAN) is also provided in the main building and in the Orschel-Hagen branch.

The library offers several events and activities:

  • Readings for different age groups (children, youths, adults), sometimes even in two languages
  • The „Blue hour“; an actor reads every Friday.
  • Concerts
  • Guided tours of the library
  • Reading Club: reading together in easy language
  • “Lerntreff”: Pupils meeting starting in November, this year. Once a week, questions and enquiries will be answered and help with homework will be offered

Special activites for children:

  • „Picture book cinema“
  • „Light blue hour“: readings every Saturday at 11 o’clock
  • Reading tutors in the local branches of the library
Tanja Schleyerbach, Municipal library Reutlingen (rechts), talking with Mohammad Majuno, “Flüchtlinge helfen Flüchtlingen”

A personal remark: The library not only stores many important books and useful media that every refugee or immigrant needs, in order to learn German or learn more about this country. It also provides media for students looking for literature in their specialised field.

I thank the library staff very much, especially Tanja Schleyerbach, for their commitment to refugees and immigrants. She knows my home town, Aleppo from before the war, calling it „the most beautiful town I ever visited.“

Translated by Sibylle Höf

More information (German) on the website of “Stadtbibliothek Reutlingen”:
“Bibliothek interkulturell”

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