KCLS celebrates National Welcoming Week and new Welcoming Center at Kent Library

The King County Library System (KCLS) ushers in National Welcoming Week next month, from September 13 to 22, with a variety of events and activities at the new Welcoming Center at Kent Library and other participating libraries.

Presented by Welcoming America, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, National Welcoming Week celebrates diverse communities and the partners who are working to make them more vibrant places for all. Founded in 2009, Welcoming America aims to ease the tension and challenges that can arise with migration and rapid demographic shifts, both for newcomers and long-time residents, and believes that the strongest communities will be ones where all people can take part in economic, civic and social life.

There are a variety of ways to celebrate National Welcoming Week at KCLS, including world music and dance festivities, Meet the Author events and movie screenings with facilitated discussions. Residents may also get involved by taking a photo of themselves with "I’m a Welcomer" signs provided at KCLS libraries to declare that they are “Welcomers.” Participants can then upload their photos to WelcomingAmerica.org, or post on social media with the hashtags, #IWelcome and #WelcomingWeek.

KCLS also supports immigrants, refugees and new arrivals through the new Welcoming Center at Kent Library, a KCLS Foundation-sponsored initiative that connects newcomers to a network of surrounding service providers. Launched in May, the Welcoming Center offers a wealth of resources, encouragement and social connections to help immigrants transition to their new lives, including weekly Ask a Welcoming Ambassador sessions, monthly Immigration Legal Clinic and monthly Family Social Time. New residents can drop in to receive legal, financial and job-search assistance, as well as information about housing, transportation, health services and pathways to citizenship.

“KCLS 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,” said KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “The Welcoming Center at Kent Library is a perfect example of KCLS’ commitment to inclusivity, and a valuable new initiative for KCLS, and our growing and diverse communities.”

KCLS is one of seven primary stakeholders for the Welcoming Center, working with the City of Kent; the Multi-Service Center (MSC); Jewish Family Services; Domestic Abuse Women's Network (DAWN); Project Feast and the University of Washington's Information School (iSchool). KCLS also collaborates with the Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) on this initiative.

About King County Library System:
Founded in 1942, the King County Library System (KCLS) is one of the busiest public library systems in the country. Serving the communities of King County (outside the City of Seattle), KCLS currently has 50 libraries and more than 700,000 cardholders. In 2011, KCLS was named Library of the Year by Gale/Library Journal. In 2018, residents checked out more than 4.8 million digital eBooks and audiobooks through Rakuten OverDrive, making KCLS the #1 digital circulating library in the U.S. and #3 in the world.

King County Library System Media Contact: Sarah Thomas, 425.369.3277, sjthomas@kcls.org