Library offers sewing classes to the Somali community

Multnomah County Library’s new mobile sewing lab is on the move! Funded through the library’s staff innovation program Curiosity Kick!, the program is piloting a series of Somali sewing classes at Capitol Hill and Gregory Heights libraries. 

Sewing instructor

The Library Sewing Project began as an idea proposed by Capitol Hill Library Assistant Suad M., Central Library Assistant Lisa T., and Capitol Hill Library Administrator Patti V., after the team heard from the Somali community a desire to find free neighborhood sewing classes. The proposal was selected by staff to receive a $10,000 Curiosity Kick grant in 2017.  

The team purchased ten sewing machines, a bin of sewing supplies, and a cart to transport the equipment and supplies throughout the library system. They also identified Somali speaking sewing instructors who could teach the four new beginning sewing programs.

When the new series of classes launched in March at Capitol Hill, all classes were filled to capacity with eight students each. The demand and interest for the sewing classes remains high.

“This program not only responded to community requests, it created a space for women who usually don't feel safe or comfortable using public institutions due to language barriers. By providing an instructor that shares the same language and culture, we reduced that barrier, and got over 100% attendance, 100% of the time,” said Suad.

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