A good starting point is to:

  • Identify who, within your local authority, or external agencies in your area, already has access to relevant statistical and other information
  • Inform them that you are starting to look at this area of work
  • Find out what they are doing and what else is going on in your area
  • Ask what statistical information they may be able to share. Take the opportunity to find out how libraries might be able to work collaboratively with them 
  • Ask key refugee community organisations and/or relevant networks if you can attend one of their meetings. Listen to what is important to them and build trust by delivering on any promises you make 
  • By building trust, people may be more willing to share statistical or other important information with you in an informal way
  • At the same time, you can identify service development opportunities for your library based on what people tell you
  • Talk with colleagues in your service. Ensure everyone appreciates the importance of community profiling.
  • Collect information about service users and non-users to identify what impact you are having and shape management planning. Bear in mind that census information alone can be highly misleading.

Available government statistics will only give you a snapshot of part of the local picture. Precise figures may be difficult to obtain because of high levels of mobility and rapidly changing world politics. The important thing is not to be put off by this. Even if there seem to be enormous research gaps, you should: 

  • make intelligent management use of whatever information is available
  • gather information to find out whether people in other council departments and relevant external agencies find lack of data in this field a problem for planning purposes
  • if so, share this evidence with senior managers in your own service. You may be able to take the lead to set up a local network/use existing networks to explore better ways of collecting and sharing information to underpin service improvement and development.

Some places have carried out detailed research in order to understand better the composition of and issues facing local communities.

Mapping Research on Refugees in the London Borough of Islington
Commissioned by Islington Refugee Integration Service (IRIS). This report provides estimates of numbers, but also seeks to 'examine refugee perceptions of their inclusion in society and the key factors that facilitate that process.'

Key information resources

See our list of key information resources.


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