Welcome TLC is now Housed at the Library
Since 2014, Welcome Toledo-Lucas County (TLC) has been housed in Lucas County in partnership with LISC Toledo. Last year, the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) and the Lucas County Commissioners signed an agreement to transition the initiative’s leadership to the Library. With this agreement, the Library created a full-time Welcome TLC Librarian position that engages with the steering committee’s diverse network of partners to further its mission to build a welcoming and inclusive community for immigrants, refugees, and people of diverse cultures.
A Sustainable Approach
The Welcome TLC initiative was founded in 2014 with resolutions of support from both Lucas County and the City of Toledo. Over the years, Welcome TLC has published a custom data report on the population’s local economic impact titled: New Americans in Toledo and Lucas County; was instrumental in ensuring Lucas County’s “Certified Welcoming” designation as just the fourth municipality nationwide to receive such a distinction; and recently produced an immigrant and refugee hiring guide for local employers. From 2015 to 2018, Welcome TLC also annually partnered with the Ohio Theatre and Events Centre for the Toledo International Film Festival (TIFF), a festival that celebrated art, food, and culture through international films.
The Library has been a member of Welcome TLC’s steering committee since 2015, partnering on many of its projects, including TIFF and the Certified Welcoming designation. In 2018, Welcome TLC members and County staff began discussing a transition to the Library with the hiring of a full-time librarian. Welcome TLC understood the Library’s locations across the county, its messaging distribution, and it’s long-term sustainability as an organization, made for an ideal partner.
New House and New Librarian
Thousands of immigrants, refugees, and people of diverse cultures all call Toledo and Lucas County home. Mely Arribas-Douglas, the first Welcome TLC Librarian, hired in August of 2019, considers herself one of those lucky individuals. Mely arrived in the mid-90’s as a University of Toledo student, and has since built a life for herself and her children in Northwest Ohio.
Welcome TLC’s vision and the Library’s institutional values are similar, and most importantly, enduring; enshrining it in the form of this forward thinking initiative, made the idea of ‘home’ for Mely even more tangible. Since the agreement signing in 2019, the initiative is housed in the Main Library’s Business and Workforce Department, and as a hub for business and workforce information and resources, is a natural fit for Welcome TLC. She previously served on the Welcome TLC multi-sector steering committee, as one of several community members who are immigrants, refugees, and people of diverse cultures.
Since coming on board, Mely and Welcome TLC’s previous co-leads Brittany Ford (Lucas County Program Analyst) and Sarah Allan (LISC Toledo Program Officer) have been busy transitioning the administration and communications to the Library. In February, before the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, Welcome TLC and its partners celebrated the transition to the Library with an open house.
Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, the Welcome TLC team have been busy sending out regular newsletters with multi-lingual and immigrant and refugee-specific information, including translated documents from the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department; writing and submitting grant proposals; and conducting individual and group outreach to Welcome TLC’s network of partners.
Mely and the Library staff look forward to continuing the important work of Welcome TLC, to build a more welcoming and inclusive community for immigrants, refugees, and people of diverse cultures that supports a vibrant civic, economic, and social fabric for all. Welcome TLC and the Library is jointly celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month and we hope that you can join us, stay tuned!
We are displaced [electronic resource] : My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World.
Yousafzai, Malala, 1997-
Stormy seas : stories of young boat refugees / Mary Beth Leatherdale ; Eleanor Shakespeare.
Leatherdale, Mary Beth, author.
Toronto : Annick Press, 
j 305.9069 Lea
The immigrant advantage : what we can learn from newcomers to America about health, happiness, and hope
New York : Free Press, 2011.
Newcomers in the workplace : immigrants and the restructuring of the U.S. economy / edited by Louise
Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] : Temple University Press, c1994.
The Founders and finance : how Hamilton, Gallatin, and other immigrants forged a new economy / Thoma
McCraw, Thomas K.
Cambridge, Massachusetts : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, c2012.
Related Blog Posts
Young Immigrant Stories for Kids
In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month, TLCPL put together a list of vibrant picture books filled with heartfelt and inspiring stories told from the perspective of young immigrants and refugees.
The Immigrant and Refugee Experience in America
A selection of books and resources exploring the immigrant and refugee experience in America.
Immigrant Stories through the Art of Aman Mojadidi’s Once Upon a Place
In 2017 the Main Library hosted the art of Aman Mojadidi, a unique phone booth exhibit. Mojadidi’s art attempts to create safe spaces in which immigrants can share their stories, combining storytelling with physical installations.
Welcoming Week: What It Is, Why It’s Important
Launched in 2009, Welcoming Week is a national initiative aimed at bringing citizens closer together.
How the Library Helped Me Find My Family
How the author reconnected to her Irish immigrant family and heritage with the help of genealogy research at the Library’s local history department. Here’s an excerpt from her blog “For most of my life, I’ve known little about my “Grandma Bootsie,” whom I lost too soon. I’d always wanted to learn more about this woman so many said I reminded them of, and her Irish family. The Library finally helped me find what I’d been searching for!”.