Libraries are welcoming spaces for everyone

King County Library System is committed to inclusion – the idea that public libraries belong to everyone. It is one of our core values and means that all residents, regardless of age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background, are welcome to explore and enjoy all that KCLS has to offer.

The Welcoming Center at Kent Library is a perfect example of KCLS’ commitment to inclusivity. Funded by the KCLS Foundation, the Welcoming Center­ provides immigrants and refugees access to information to help them adjust to living in a new community. An essential component of the Welcoming Center are Welcoming Ambassadors, former immigrants themselves who answer questions and connect new residents to legal, financial, employment, and language-learning resources to get them started on their path to citizenship.

Ambassadors help with things as ordinary as obtaining a driver’s license or navigating school systems to more serious issues, such as providing assistance to someone fleeing domestic abuse or an exploitive situation. Equally important, the Welcoming Center offers a safe and inviting place for newcomers to meet and connect with others through programs such as Family Social Time held monthly.

KCLS also participates in Welcoming Week, a national campaign that aims to create communities of inclusion by fostering a spirit of unity among our country’s newest arrivals and long-time residents. This year, Welcoming Week is Sept. 13-22 and KCLS will offer a variety of programs that affirm one’s sense of belonging. “Becoming American” for instance is a film discussion series that focuses on immigrant experiences through different lenses.

One film entitled “Welcome to Shelbyville” explores how long-time residents of a small Tennessee town have integrated into their community the hundreds of Somali refugees who have been hired by the local Tyson chicken processing plant. “My American Girls” looks at a hardworking immigrant couple living frugally in Brooklyn who dream of retiring to their native Dominican Republic, contrary to what their American-born daughters have in mind.

The screenings are an hour or less in length and are followed by a facilitated discussion.

With more than 20 resident populations in King County that have limited English proficiency, KCLS offers ESL classes and Story Times in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Amharic, and Russian. Throughout the year, KCLS celebrates our country’s diversity with featured programming during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Autism Awareness Month, Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Pride Month to name a few. Our patrons have attended programs ranging from “Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbors” to Christian music sing-alongs. KCLS also hosts programs for veterans, book clubs for home-schoolers, and “Coffee with a Cop” community conversations.

King County Library System serves 1.4 million residents in 34 cities, towns, and unincorporated areas across King County, which continues to grow in both population and diversity. Having recently completed a 15-year capital improvement program, KCLS’ new and renovated libraries are designed to bring communities together, providing a place where people from all walks of life can create meaningful connections.

A place where all are welcome.

Lisa Rosenblum is director of the King County Library System.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Face masks save lives and jobs across Washington

Wearing a mask saves lives and saves jobs. And all across the… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
The police department of the future | Roegner

Based on comments from elected officials and police, the Black Lives Matter… Continue reading

Don Brunell
Seattle faces ‘lights out’ in 2022

Far too few people remember the 1972 Seattle billboard: “Would the last… Continue reading

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Reopen schools in fall, but do it safely

Don’t bully schools into reopening. Protect our students.

Jayendrina Singha Ray is a PhD (ABD) in English, with a research focus on the works of the South African Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee. She teaches English Composition and Research Writing at Highline College, WA, and has previously taught English at colleges in India.
The search for selfhood

What really matters is the desire to find.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Stopping COVID is now up to each of us

With a resurgence threatening, we need to take greater responsibility to keep the virus in check.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Defund the police department? | Roegner

Our country is at a defining moment in our search for true… Continue reading

Why this newspaper is capitalizing Black | Editorial

Moving forward, the Kent Reporter will capitalize Black when referring to the… Continue reading

Doreen Davis, left in mask, waves at parade participants on May 2. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Wear your face-hugging, ever-loving mask | Editorial

“Don’t make me come down there.” — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo,… Continue reading

Jayendrina Singha Ray is a PhD (ABD) in English, with a research focus on the works of the South African Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee. She teaches English Composition and Research Writing at Highline College, WA, and has previously taught English at colleges in India.
The search for selfhood

What really matters is the desire to find.

Valley police chiefs of King County release unified message in response to death of George Floyd

Police chiefs of Des Moines, Tukwila, Renton, Federal Way, Kent, Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Black Diamond and the Port of Seattle pledge to stand with communities.

Season of change for the Kent Reporter

I have always been a firm believer that out of something bad comes something good.