One of the awards began with seed funding supported by the Data Institute for Societal Challenges in 2021 for their project, “Creation of a Sustainable and Holistic Refugee Resettlement Model,” to investigate the issues faced by refugees and the ways the community assists their transition.
The research team interviewed business owners and members of nonprofit organizations, church organizations, schools and libraries in or near the Vickery Meadow refugee community in Dallas, TX.
“The data we gathered from the libraries, which showed us that libraries can and do play an important role in this refugee community, also illustrated that there is no comprehensive view of the services and programs libraries provide to refugees in the United States,” Abbas said.
As a result of this preliminary work, the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grants for Libraries program has awarded Abbas, along with coinvestigators Chie Noyori-Corbett, Ph.D., associate director of research in the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, and Jiening Ruan, Ph.D., professor from the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, a two-year planning grant for $149,994 that will help the team identify the library services most needed by refugee communities.
The researchers hope to provide a deeper understanding of the status of refugee programs and services in public libraries, establish partnerships with libraries in refugee communities, and develop a nationally shared prototype of trauma-informed care programming for refugees at public libraries.
Abbas, Noyori-Corbett and Ruan are also members of OU’s Humanitarian Innovation Research Group, an interdisciplinary research team founded by Noyori-Corbett in 2020 to bring awareness to refugee integration issues in the United States. The Humanitarian Innovation Research Group is an affiliate of OU’s Institute for Community and Society Transformation.