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61st IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 20-25, 1995


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 uropean states.

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.

The actual situation in few words

The German System of Education and Culture

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 ad.

Public libraries and migration

Library services for children and young adults holding foreign passports

Turkish culture in Germany

Library services for Turks

Library services for Turkish Children and young adults

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.

Susanne Schneehorst
Nürnberg Public Library
Egidienplatz 23
90317 Nürnberg, Germany