SOAS University of London

SOAS works with N4 Library Islington to expand multilingual book collection

19 November 2018

MULOSIGE, a SOAS University of London project exploring multilingualism is working with N4 library in Islington to expand their book collection in languages chosen by the local community.

Dr Itzea Goikolea of the MULOSIGE project has worked with Islington Libraries to source Arabic books from countries including from Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria,  books for learning English directed to Arabophone people and bilingual (Arabic-English) children's books. The books were selected following feedback from Arabic-speaking people in the borough who filled in a survey about their literary taste and interests.

The acquisition of the books stems from the will, shared by Islington Council and the members of the MULOSIGE research project at SOAS to improve services provided, especially with regard to the variety of languages, cultures and literatures that coexist in London.

Over 100 different languages are spoken in each London borough and compared to London, a larger proportion of Islington residents speak African languages, East Asian languages, Spanish, French and other European languages.

On 6 December from 2.00-3.30pm the team will present the list of the Arabic books available at N4 Library. The launch event is an opportunity for members of different communities in Islington (and elsewhere) to discuss what they would like to have in the library and share ideas on how they would like this project to continue further.

Dr Goikolea said: “The first step in our general aim to make London libraries more multilingual focused on N4 library in Islington and on Arabic books. Finsbury Park is a very multicultural and multilingual area which moreover attracts people from across London, so focusing on N4 also allows us to reach people beyond those residing in the locale. Besides, the people who go to N4 are also very different, as the surveys we used to investigate the literary tastes and interests of the Arabic-speaking people in the borough showed, so the books also reflect that heterogeneity, and they include different genres, language registers, themes and authors from across the large Arabic-speaking region!”

In addition, the team hosted a one-day event as part of the Being Human Festival with author Vayu Naiduexploring to explore the many sides of multilingualism on 17 November. This workshop brought together storytellers and performers to tell stories of multilingualism and multilingual stories from across the globe.

MULOSIGE is led by Francesca Orsini, Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature at SOAS. To find out more, visit the project webpage.