Librarians’ Critical Role Serving Immigrant Communities

MLS reached out to William (Ted) Albers, USCIS Northeast Regional Community Relations Officer, to connect our membership with the latest information from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services about how your library can support immigrants and refugees. Ted will present a webinar for MLS members on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at 10:30 AM. We hope you can attend to learn more. Register now! Here’s an interview with Ted to give you a preview of what he will share in more detail on July 25th

Naturalization Ceremony

Tell us about the USCIS.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. We are a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.

  • We process naturalization, which is how a person not born in the U.S. voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen;
  • We grant permanent residence (‘green card’) status;
  • We process refugee applications around the world and grant asylum to people already in the U.S.;
  • We process petitions filed by employers to bring workers to the U.S.;
  • We verify the employment eligibility of new hires in the U.S. (Form I-9);
  • We help American parents adopt foreign-born orphans

What kind of support does the USCIS provide for libraries?

Libraries play a critical role in serving immigrant communities. Through our coordination with libraries we help to educate librarians, and in turn their immigrant patrons, primarily about the citizenship process but also topics such as finding reliable immigration services, and avoiding scams. Whenever possible, we also visit libraries who want to host us for citizenship and immigration-benefits information sessions.

USCIS Toolkit

What is a Citizenship Corner?

This is a dedicated space in you’re a where immigrants can find information about becoming a U.S. citizen. USCIS has developed educational materials to help prepare individuals for naturalization. These materials are ideal for setting up a Citizenship Corner. A typical Corner includes citizenship test preparation materials along with information about the naturalization process. Libraries can also add information about community resources, English teaching materials, and other relevant books and videos from their collections. While there are a number of immigration related topics that may be of interest to libraries and their customers, USCIS recommends displaying only citizenship and naturalization-related resources in the Citizenship Corner. Explore the USCIS/IMLS Library Partnership and learn what you library can do.

Please tell us about a couple libraries with outstanding Citizenship Corners.

The American Place (TAP) is a free program of Hartford Public Library designed to welcome immigrants and ease their transition into their new home city. TAP promotes Hartford’s shared civic values. Continue reading

Save the Date! Talking Social Justice in Massachusetts Libraries: Diversity to Equity

Join us for our spring program on June 13, 2017, at the Devens Conference Center in Devens, MA. We’re pleased to host noted speaker April Hathcock from NYU for our keynote, an Idea Fair with colleagues, and plenty of opportunities … Continue reading

Duxbury Free Library Multi-town/Multi-library Collaboration

This week’s MLS Member Community Engagement Success Story features an interview with Carol Jankowski, Director of the Duxbury Free Library.

Chris Bohjalian

Tell us about your community partnership.

Though we have presented many authors at the Duxbury Free Library, this particular collaborative event involved four communities and libraries, in addition to the oldest independent bookstore on the South Shore, Westwinds Bookshop! Weymouth, Marshfield, Kingston and Duxbury joined forces to present international superstar Chris Bohjalian at our lovely Performing Arts Center. The Friends of the Libraries hosted the event, and raised a little money, though that was not the main intent. The Duxbury Free Library’s goal for this event was to celebrate reading, stimulate interest in books and libraries, and support the creative efforts of all writers. This collaboration was the third such multi-town, multi-library event. Other authors who have participated were Anita Diamant and Alice Hoffman. Our senior center was also a community partner, advertising the event and encouraging folks to discuss the book prior to the event. Dozens of local book groups took part as well!

How did you connect with your community partners?

Every library staff member is encouraged to “take it on the road” wherever and whenever. We have worked hard over the years on establishing excellent working relationships with the schools, senior center, the historical and art organizations and business groups as well. We are often embedded in those groups so we support each other’s missions and goals.

Duxbury Free Library

How did the collaboration benefit your library and your community partners?

By being able to build a very substantial audience, we can entice world class authors to come to our community! These are rock stars to our readers. These experiences support the notion that books change and enhance our lives. This experience also introduces folks to the notion that local community bookstores are great places of business to support.

What impact did the partnership make in your community?

We are a literary destination! Continue reading