Asylplus: A place to learn for everyone

The public library in Bad Tölz, Bavaria, makes laptops and online access available to help refugees study German.

September 2017. Schools and learning centers in Bad Tölz offer German language and integration classes for refugees. Many refugees want to continue their studies outside the classroom- to deepen what they have learned and fill in knowledge gaps. What kind of place is better suited for this than a library? The public library in Bad Tölz welcomes refugees who live in the small bavarian town or in the surrounding area with a free trial membership. With their membership refugees can borrow books and DVDs - and laptops, so-called Chromebooks, which the library provides in co-operation with Asylplus, an non-profit that supports computer based learning for refugees. 

Demand is great. "We started with five laptops," says Melanie Sappl, the director of the library, "Because they were used so strongly from the start, we asked Asylplus if we could get more." They received a total of 15 laptops, Chromebooks donated through NetHope’s Project Reconnect. Five of these can be borrowed for use at home. "They are almost always on the road," reports Melanie Sappl. The other ten Chromebooks are available to users during the opening hours in the library.


The library is surrounded by schools, including a vocational school and an adult learning center. The teachers of the occupational integration classes for refugees are encouraging their pupils to take part in guided tours through the library so that they can get to know the offers. Refugees can use the Chromebooks and the public WLAN in the library to research online, to practice with online language exercises or to play educational online games. Every Wednesday and Thursday volunteers offer classes are held in a separate room at the upper floor. With their course leader and online offers, refugees learn German there. 

Melanie Sappl is enthusiastic about the Chromebooks: "Open it and get started! Which other laptop is so easy to use?" She is excited that the partnership with Asylplus enabled the library to expand its offer with laptops. The best thing about the cooperation is: "We have hardly any work with the laptops. Asylplus takes care of all technical details. The library practically provides only the rooms." So far the users have taken good care of the laptops and there have been no problems. Melanie Sappl had no concerns about the Chromebooks in the loan program. "You just have to try something in practice," she says. "You have to have the courage to try something that might not work perfectly.. If you do nothing, nothing will work." 


Post by Theresa Ritzer, NetHope - Project Reconnect