Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 February 2020
This chapter offers an overview of the information needs and experiences of Syrian refugees in Scotland, drawing from data collected as part of ‘Lost in Information: Syrian new Scots’ information literacy way-finding practices’, a research project which was funded by the CILIP Information Literacy Group (ILG) in the UK. The aim of the research was to explore the information needs of Syrian refugees, their habitual and adaptive information literacy practices and the barriers and enablers they encountered within their new socio-cultural setting via their interaction with people, tools and processes. The chapter begins by discussing the Scottish government strategy for welcoming Syrian refugees and by exploring the fundamental everyday life needs of Syrian refugees during the first few months after relocating to Scotland. These included learning English, reuniting with family members, securing employment and achieving financial security. In view of this focus and based on the emphasis of this book on the role of information for democracy, civic rights and participation, the chapter discusses Scottish public libraries’ vision of supporting vulnerable communities and helping to build capacity for the active contribution of refugees to their host society, enabling information support and activities that create a sense of belonging for all. The chapter concludes with presenting a number of Scottish public libraries’ case studies from the northeast of Scotland, showcasing how they have responded to the social needs of Syrian refugees, offering information-related services, organising specific integration related activities and programmes and making library space a place for learning. Public libraries in Scotland have developed impactful work to support Syrian refugees in their local communities, which could be further empowered by creating close partnerships with refugee support services and organisations. There is potential for public libraries to make a sustainable difference to the lives of Syrian new Scots and the communities which have welcomed them supporting civic participation and inclusion for all.
Syrian new Scots: Syrian refugees in Scotland
On 7 September 2015 the UK Prime Minister (at that time David Cameron) announced an expansion of the existing ‘Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS)’ to resettle over five years (by 2020) an additional 20,000 Syrians drawn from established refugee camps.