61st IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 20-25, 1995
LIBRARY SERVICES FOR YOUNG IMMIGRANTS, ESPECIALLY TURKISH IMMIGRANTS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS
Susanne Schneehorst, Nürnberg Public Library
Like many other European countries Germany has experienced numerous movements of immigration and emigration. By the turn of the century more than 100.000 Europeans including Germans, English and Brit
ish had left their homes and emigrated to what was then called the "New World". However during the large immigration movement of today immigrants have been coming to Europe from the former colonies o
f Britain, France, the Netherlands and Portugal. Despite the fact that many of these immigrants are citizens of the countries to which they are immigrating they are often considered as foreigners by
the people who live there.
That's the reason why the European proper use often doesn't do justice to reality. In Europe we often talk also about "ethnic minorities". This idea often only includes hereditary, ethnic minorities,
for example the Bretons in France, the Germans in Belgium, the Danish in Germany. The immigrants who became citizens of the immigrated country accepted its citizenship and therefore had to follow fo
reign law in the European countries. Within the single European countries the number of foreigners differ: at the moment Germany has about 8,5%, Belgium 9,1%., Switzerland 18,4%, Spain 1,2%. In all E
uropean countries people with different mother languages and cultures are living together and the borders in between the countries are opened considerably since the establishment of the union of 15 E
The history of immigration to Germany
After World War II Germany underwent a rapid economical rise. Although more than a thousand families from Poland, the former Czechoslovakia and from Eastern Germany immigrated to Germany in the years
between 1945 and the construction of the Wall in 1951 the German economy had to hire manpower from abroad. In the following years the German government signed hiring contracts with several south Eur
opean countries (Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Morocco and Tunisia). German economy was interested in young and efficient working people. The principle of rotation which intended to exchang
e these "cheap immigrant laborers" after a certain time by new ones could not be carried through. This idea didn't agree to what these people expected from life. In the early seventies these immigran
t workers began to settle down. The foreign workers increasingly decided to stay in Germany, fetched their wives and children or married. Meanwhile the second or even third generation of these foreig
ners are living in Germany. As Germany refused to grant them generous rules of naturalization up to now, the descendents of the first immigrating generation have big problems with being treated as fo
reigners in the country in which they were born. These children and young adults often speak better German than their own mother language; they know their parents' or grandparents' home country only
by what they are told by their families or what they have experienced on holidays there.
- Until the late seventies and in the early eighties fugitives mainly came to Germany from the so called "Third World". The collapse in Eastern Europe initiated an enormous wave of immigration towa
- In 1993 more than 300.000 fugitives came to Germany, 72% of them came from other European states like Rumania, Yugoslavia or Bulgaria.
- Other immigrants came from Russia, Rumania or Poland. In these countries there are still living minorities speaking German. According to German law these people aren't foreigners and after their
destination having been proved they can receive a German passport. Their children however who have attended schools in their countries of birth often have no knowledge of the German language.
- German society wasn't and isn't yet sufficiently prepared for immigration. In public debates all over the country it is discussed whether immigrants may look for a place safe against persecution,
civil war or hunger or just for work. Public debates all over the country discuss whether immigrants may look for a place in Germany where they are safe against persecution, civil war or hunger or j
ust for work. The right of asylum formerly being more liberal has been changed so that now it is much more difficult for fugitives to stay in Germany for a longer time. In the last few years countrie
s all over the world took notice of the strengthening of a racist movement in Germany.
The actual situation in few words
- At the end of the year 1993, 6.878 million foreigners lived in the Federal Republic of Germany, 8,5% of the total population.
- About 25% of these foreigners have already lived here for 20 years or more, more than 50% of them have lived here for more than 10 years.
- In 1993 the foreigners' birth rate amounted to 12,9%, in other words, every 8th child born in Germany is born as a foreigner.
- In German law of nationality the crucial point is not the place of birth but the parents' nationality.
- Therefore at the moment 2/3 of the children and young adults are born with a foreign passport in Germany.
- Foreign young adults, 15 to 18 years old, amount to 14%.
- 10% of the pupils at German schools are holding a foreign passport. In industrial areas this amount is much higher. In Nürnberg, a big city in Southern Germany, 22,2% of all pupils are forei
- Fugitives being sent to municipalities according to a certain distribution key also live in small towns and villages. Small municipalities have big problems in offering adequate cultural services
The German System of Education and Culture
- Until the reunion in 1990 Germany was a federation of 11 states, now it has 16 states. These countries have state legislature in cultural affairs, that means, each state has its own school system
and education policy. The treatment of foreign children in the school system There is no basic instruction in the languages of origin, there is a wide range of additional instruction in the mother l
anguage, i.e. instruction of these children in so called "national classes" by teachers sent from the countries of origin.
- The German schools are monocultural and only German culture is taught. The pupils' home cultures are not a part of the curriculum. However, in 1994 one state began to establish Islamic lessons fo
r Muslim children.
The public libraries
These libraries provide immigrants with information about their home countries in their mother languages, especially through written media like newspapers and magazines; they also provide them with m
edia which help them to learn German. Germans have the opportunity of getting information about the immigrants' countries of origin and to learn their languages. Public libraries let the immigrants f
eel at home up to a certain point by providing them with newspapers and audio visual media in their languages. The collections in public libraries aim at children as well as at young adults from abro
Public libraries and migration
- In the early seventies especially in big cities public libraries began to meet the changing needs of users. The first collections were ordered in Turkish, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Croatian. In
those days, however, it was quite difficult to get hold of publications in foreign languages.
- Book shops selling foreign language literature were rare. Finally in the early eighties "the purchase centre for public libraries" which provides many small German public libraries with publicati
ons offered foreign literature in the already mentioned languages. This was quite helpful for the public libraries by allowing choice, collection building and accessibility. During the last twenty ye
ars libraries in big cities have been able to build up an up to date collection of foreign language media with the help of qualified staff, whereas small libraries even today still have difficulty in
providing their foreign users with reading material. The (poor) financial situation of German municipalities has also affected the budgets of public libraries. Libraries in Germany are not legally o
bliged to offer books to minorities so that in times of difficult financial straits, multicultural library facilities are often discontinuous or not extended.
- In order to give help to public libraries in collection building, some years ago the "German institute....." established a review service of foreign language media called LITFAS (literature for f
oreigners). In the magazine "Libraries For All" foreign language media are regularly reviewed and suppliers' addresses are given. Unfortunately its further financial support isn't guaranteed.
- The "purchase centre for public libraries" again could offer in 1993 and 1994 Turkish, Italian, Russian and Spanish literature.
- In future there will still be great demand for publications in the languages of the new immigrants, especially Russian, Polish, Rumanian and Serbo Croatian. At the moment in the Nürnberg Pub
lic Library literature can be found in 20 languages whereas 120 languages are spoken.
- Public libraries invite authors from immigrant countries to organize soirées and literary meetings. During the last 5 years authors from more than 20 countries have been in Nürnberg a
nd held lectures.
- Libraries provides exposition areas for artists from immigrant countries and organize expositions themselves.
Library services for children and young adults holding foreign passports
- Immigrant children and young adults born in Germany and having attended German schools mostly make use of the German collections at public or school libraries. They read German and international
literature, they hear music cassettes or cassettes with fairy tales and read German youth magazines.
- In most German public libraries in big cities children and young adults without sufficient knowledge in the German language can find age adequate material in their mother language.
- But in smaller cities these offers aren't sufficient.
- Public libraries or the "Reading Foundation" set up programs for reading promotion. These events are mostly prepared for children and young adults with knowledge in the German language. The readi
ng contest every year is held in German. But there are exceptions as well. In Nürnberg we offer special guidings through the public library for children and young people with small knowledge in
the German language. The Youth Department of Frankfurt Public Library has become famous because of its multicultural activities. Also numerous small public libraries offer programs for children and y
oung adults, both Germans and foreigners.
Turkish culture in Germany
- Turkish citizens (about 30%) are the biggest group among the foreign population.
- During the last 40 years a Turkish network has been established in Germany. The Turkish people in Germany benefit from a wide range of cultural services like mail order books, restaurants, theatr
e groups or religious associations.
- 3 Turkish newspapers are printed in Germany.
- 7 Turkish TV programs can be received by satellite, there exists one cable TV program.
- Several associations and institutions seek a dialogue with German people and other foreigners, and their activities are based on the idea of longterm integration without the loss of national iden
tity. Other associations are and will be oriented to Turkey and the Turkish language.
- This Turkish network partly developed within German institutions and with German help. There are meeting facilities for Turkish girls and boys, German language courses or reading/writing courses
for women, etc. as well as the services of the public libraries.
- But nevertheless it was the Turkish people themselves who built up the most important part of this network, for example, several religious associations and mosques didn't get support from German
institutions which is worth mentioning.
- In many of these mosques there can also be found small book shops and libraries where religious literature is sold or lent.
- Germany reflects the political and social conflicts of Turkey. The Kurdish conflict or the strengthening of nationalistic and fundamentalistic movements in Turkey, for example, do exist in the Tu
rkish population in Germany as well. So, in the last few years growing demand for literature in Kurdish language or for literature about Kurds or the Islamic religion in Turkey can be noticed in publ
Library services for Turks
- In the meantime most public libraries have a collection of Turkish publications. There are now some Turkish book shops in Germany. Turkish music cassettes, CDs and video cassettes can be found in
numerous Turkish shops.
- Through the help of the "Purchase Centre for public libraries" and the review service LITFAS, collection building has become much easier.
- German librarians were in fear of ordering foreign literature with fundamentalistic or nationalistic tenor. But above mentioned services could remove this fear.
- Many libraries however offer Islamic literature.
- Numerous Turkish authors living in Germany as well as in Turkey hold lectures at public libraries.
- Libraries organize expositions of Turkish artists. In 1993 and 1994 the exposition "Children's book illustrations", for example, could be seen at 3 public libraries.
Library services for Turkish Children and young adults
- Children and young adults of the third generation use the public library services in order to get information about the culture of their ancestors. More and more they are looking for Turkish lite
rature translated into German. Duisburg Public Library recently made up a useful bibliography of Turkish literature translated into German.
- Turkish girls are under more control in their families than Turkish boys. Turkish girls frequently use the Nürnberg Library they are especially interested in love stories or adventure stor
ies in Turkish language.
- Young adults can get information about the Islamic religion, borrow the Koran without being forced to contact a mosque.
- If they have to cope with difficulties at school, remedial material can be found in public libraries, i.e. German Grammars, literature on cassettes, language courses, training material for all sc
- For many children and young adults a library is a place where they are not disturbed and under parental control and where they can occupy themselves or meet friends.
- Children from Turkey and other countries take part in special activities of the library at Christmas, carnival and in the summer.
- Libraries organize meetings with foreign authors of children's books who live in Germany or abroad.
I am sorry that I only have the time to give some impressions of the multicultural activities in Germany. I hope this short survey gives an idea of the various opportunities public libraries can offe
r to German and foreign children and young adults.
Nürnberg Public Library
90317 Nürnberg, Germany