Access for all: Best Practices for Librarians Serving Immigrant Communities


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  • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 brought immigration statuses together under one law for the first time. The definition, under this law, is more complicated than necessary for the purposes of this presentation, but essentially, it defines an immigrant as one who is “not a citizen or a national of the United States” and then provides a multitude of exceptions (such as diplomats, those who are just passing through, etc.).
  • Caribbean includes: Cuba,, Puerto Rico (??) Rep. Dominicana, Haiti, and others. South America includes: Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, others. Others includes: Europe, Africa, and others.
  • Some things to remember when getting to know your library’s population: Use of different terms for different meanings. Study your population: respond to their specific needs.
  • Documents and Resolutions that support libraries that want to offer service for ALL. Use them as tools when people question why we need to offer service for “illegal” immigrants, etc. Have them handy/on display. Accept alternate forms of ID. See examples in next slide.
  • ALA Serving non-English Speakers toolkit ( ), webjunction webinars
  • In many communities with large or new immigrant populations, public libraries and organizations that serve immigrants often face a demand for services that exceeds their resources. Working group participants identified partnerships between libraries and immigrant-serving organizations as a strategy for bridging the resource gap. Partnerships help to leverage resources, provide avenues for sharing information and referrals, and can provide technical assistance to a library’s program. Partnering organizations can distribute library outreach materials, present library information at their events, provide speakers for events at the library, advise on effective ways to reach target audiences, and refer their immigrant clients to the library. These organizations may be willing to underwrite some of the costs of outreach efforts. For example, partnering organizations may pay to print flyers or a newsletter for the immigrant community. Successful partnerships are those in which all members agree on their purpose and goals and cooperate to meet the needs of the community’s immigrant residents. The working group cautioned that partnerships must be compatible with the library’s mission. A first step toward building partnerships is involving the local immigrant community in the life of the library. Libraries should solicit their advice on programs and services and invite immigrants and representatives from community organizations and local agencies to serve on advisory councils or working groups. Working group members advised that businesses, both local enterprises and local branches of large corporations, may also make good partners, especially those businesses that provide services to immigrants, such as banks. Many of these institutions may have developed materials for immigrants in their native language or at a lower level of English and may provide copies to libraries to distribute. Other resources that partners can provide include: • Access to community information—demographics, needs assessments, surveys, etc. • Translation assistance • Teachers for English as a Second Language (ESL) or citizenship classes • Speakers for programs • Donated materials and equipment • Transportation assistance • Childcare • Legal advice • Tutors and storytellers • Assistance with grant applications • Financial support
  • As one working group participant noted, “Once you have found the immigrants living in your community, winning their trust is the next hurdle.” Some immigrants may be wary of public institutions because of personal experiences in their home countries or a lack of knowledge about government services in the United States. It is important to have a plan to let the community at large, and immigrant communities in particular, know about library services. It is worthwhile to take the time to create a clear outreach message and make sure all library staff members know and understand this message. Participants recommended identifying a target audience as specifically as possible, taking into consideration where immigrants live and work, and then listing possible methods of communication into existing library-wide marketing plans.
  • Libraries in other countries, whether they be academic, special, or public do not have the same policies or standards that are common in the U.S., and if your library is to make access to immigrants a priority, policies should be multilingual, and outreach should be done. Is your staff trained to handle different communities – both linguistically and culturally? Do you promote the linguistic diversity of your staff? Do you hire multilingual staff, and are they financially compensated for these abilities? Does your library promote staff development of cultural, ethnic and linguistic awareness? - Multilingual collections are visible, with signage that is clear and multilingual. Are pamphlets, forms, notices printed in targeted languages? Best practices include establishing identity and residency – can include any governmental ID (matricula, passport), post=marked mail, lease agreemtn, utility bill) Does your staff know how to recognize alternative forms of ID?
  • Lean and mean budgets, anti-immigrant sentiment Al Milo history Original available on Reforma website Used strikethroughs , homage to Laurie Halse Anderson ‘s “Wintergirls”,
  • Policy that specific 2010 Census figures, Hispanic pop. of Florida 22% Community where I work is about 70%, our policy strives to have the Spanish language fiction and non fiction on par with English. Scarcity of Haitian Creole materials
  • 3. Speaking Spanish doesn’t mean you don’t pay taxes, later slide shows the level of bilingualism 4.Since Neruda won in 1971, many writers in foreign languages have also won. Most recently Mario Vargas Llosa in 2010 You might want to read “ The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest” Stieg Larsson in the original Swedish. Not all books are translated and may take a year to be published in English.
  • Diversity among Spanish speakers, high interest, low literacy, YA fiction in Spanish—highly literate in Spanish, highly motivated
  • 6 .Picture Books and Juvenile Collections support literacy initiatives. Research shows reading to children in any language…. body of literature highlights the importance of providing at-risk preschoolers opportunities to enrich their emergent literacy skills prior to school entry. Also, simple explanation of concepts ( biology, government, etc.)
  • 7.Learning English when you speak Kreyol , is different when you speak Spanish
  • 8. 2 nd generation CITE research some 3 rd generation bilingualism in areas with many native language newcomers and in populations that visit frequently (ex. Dominicans)
  • 9. Foreign language collections are nothing new 10. small part of the overall collection. Baker County 2% Hispanic pop.
  • Access for all: Best Practices for Librarians Serving Immigrant Communities

    1. 1. Best Practices for Libraries Serving Immigrant Communities Access for All Florida Library Association 2011 Annual Conference Orlando, FL - May 4 th , 2011
    2. 2. Panel <ul><li>Lucía M. González . President </li></ul><ul><ul><li>REFORMA (The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adam S. Davis . Branch Manager. West Boynton Branch Library (Palm Beach County Library System)  </li></ul><ul><li>Isabel Castro . MLIS Graduate Student </li></ul><ul><ul><li>San Jose State University </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Alicia K. Long. MLIS Graduate Student. Spectrum Scholar </li></ul><ul><ul><li>University of South Florida – School of Information </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Serving Immigrants <ul><li>Introduction: Who are Florida’s Immigrants? </li></ul><ul><li>Access to Services </li></ul><ul><li>Collection Development </li></ul><ul><li>Programming </li></ul>
    4. 4. Multicultural Communities <ul><li>All people live in an increasingly heterogeneous society. There are more than 6,000 different languages in the world. The international migration rate is growing every year resulting in an increasing number of people with complex identities. Globalization, increased migration, faster communication, ease of transportation and other 21st century forces have increased cultural diversity in many nations where it might not have previously existed or has augmented the existing multicultural makeup. </li></ul><ul><li>- IFLA Multicultural Library Manifesto, 2009 </li></ul>Multicultural Communities: Guidelines for Library Services. Third Edition. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. P.O. Box 95312, 2509 CH, The Hague, Netherlands. Tel: +31-70-3140-884; Fax: +31-70-3834-827; e-mail:; Web site:, 2009. Print.
    5. 5. <ul><li>What is an immigrant? </li></ul>
    6. 6. The Nation’s Immigrants <ul><li>States with 18.7% or more foreign-born population </li></ul>Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates .
    7. 7. Florida’s Immigrants Florida’s Population Total: 15,058,521 Foreign-Born: 3,479,448 Source: Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of 2009 American Community Survey (1% IPUMS)
    8. 8. Florida’s languages <ul><li>Population speaking language other than English at home: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>4,412,787 people (population 5 years of age and older) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Languages Spoken: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spanish: 3,221,199 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other Indo-European Languages: 870,129 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Asian and Pacific Islander: 230,892 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other Languages: 90,567 </li></ul></ul>Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2005-2009 American Community Survey .
    9. 9. Spanish Speakers French Creole Speakers
    10. 10. Number of speakers per language in Florida
    11. 11. Diversity in diversity <ul><li>Differentiate : Immigrants / Foreign-born / English Language Learners (ELL) / Hispanics-Latino / Asian / ... </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize : Immigrants; First, second or third-generation Americans. </li></ul><ul><li>Be specific : Spanish-speaking: Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Hondurans, Colombians, etc.... and families with members of different nationalities. </li></ul><ul><li>Get to know your community ! </li></ul>
    12. 12. Access for All: Why? <ul><li>ALA Key Action Areas . Diversity. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Diversity is a fundamental value of the association and its members, and is reflected in its commitment to recruiting people of color and people with disabilities to the profession and to the promotion and development of library collections and services for all people” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ALA Policy Manual. Section 60: Diversity . </li></ul><ul><li>Resolution in support of immigrants' rights to free public library access. (ALA – REFORMA, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>“ RESOLVED, that the American Library Association work with REFORMA and other affiliates to develop a public information strategy to inform and educate public libraries and member constituents about alternate forms of identification that will allow free public access to library services for ALL immigrant populations .” </li></ul>
    13. 13. Access for All: How to Build your Case <ul><li>Demographics (based on language, country of origin) </li></ul><ul><li>RUSA RSS Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish-Speaking Library Users </li></ul><ul><li>RUSA RSS Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Multilingual Collections and Services </li></ul><ul><li>Library Bill of Rights / Declaracion de los Derechos de las Bibliotecas </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom to Read </li></ul>
    14. 14. Access to Library Services Partnerships Organizations to seek out as likely partners: • Government agencies • Community-based organizations • Immigrant organizations • Adult education providers • Local universities and community colleges • Faith-based organizations • Local public school systems • Social services agencies • Refugee and resettlement organizations • Local business associations and service clubs Library Services for Immigrants: A Report on Current Practices . Washington, D.C.: Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2006. Internet resource
    15. 15. The staff of The American Place, an immigration program at the Hartford Public Library in Connecticut, took advantage of the proximity of their library to government offices and developed a close working relationship with the local USCIS Hartford Field Office. Library staff members regularly participate in community meetings hosted by the Hartford Field Office to provide input on local immigration matters. The Queens Borough Public Library in New York has a partnership with the Queens Health Network, the largest healthcare provider in the area. They work together to plan monthly “coping skills” workshops addressing the health needs of immigrants and featuring speakers from two local public hospitals. The King County Library System in the state of Washington joined forces with a local literacy organization, a church, and the USCIS Seattle District Office to develop a pilot program called “Centered on Citizenship.” The program’s goal is to involve teen tutors in preparing adult and elderly citizenship applicants for the naturalization process. Tutoring includes question-and-answer practice for the naturalization test as well as English language dictation practice. In addition, applicants get training and practice in techniques to help them handle the stress that may arise during their naturalization interview. Library Services for Immigrants: A Report on Current Practices . Washington, D.C.: Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2006. Internet resource.
    16. 16. Access to Library Services Outreach Strategies for helping immigrant patrons feel welcome and valued in the library: • Serve on the library board. • Library tours • Roundtable discussions • Participate in local public events to publicize the library’s services for immigrants • Print a brief brochure or flyer • Develop public service announcements (PSAs) for local radio stations. Library Services for Immigrants: A Report on Current Practices . Washington, D.C.: Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2006. Internet resource
    17. 17. The Outreach Librarian at the Boulder Public Library considers outreach to be inextricably linked to partnerships. Her first step as an Outreach Librarian was to attend meetings held by community groups and other organizations. In collaboration with other agencies, the library was able to initiate an Immigration and U.S. Citizenship Advocacy Group consisting of representatives of local government agencies, schools, adult education and literacy programs, and other organizations. The Queens Borough Public Library distributes “Help!” booklets and bookmarks to assist immigrant library patrons. Available in English and 12 other languages, the “Help!” materials feature basic library terminology. “ Library Links!,” the multilingual outreach program of the Minneapolis Public Library in Minnesota, has six Bilingual Outreach Liaisons. These library staff members develop partnerships, attend community events, make regular contact with other organizations to inform them about library programs and events, and help introduce immigrants to the library. Bilingual Outreach Liaisons also work regular shifts at the library so that patrons will know when bilingual assistance is available. In addition, they also translate all appropriate library-produced literature and provide training workshops for teachers who work with immigrants. Library Services for Immigrants: A Report on Current Practices . Washington, D.C.: Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2006. Internet resource.
    18. 18. Barriers to Access <ul><li>What a library means to the patron depends on the country of origin </li></ul><ul><li>Staffing </li></ul><ul><li>Physical access to collections and services </li></ul><ul><li>Library policies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library cards </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Access to Library Cards An Example of Alternate ID: Mexico’s “Matrícula Consular” <ul><li>Issuance Requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Proof of Nationality </li></ul><ul><li>Proof of Identity </li></ul><ul><li>Proof of Establishment </li></ul><ul><li>Issuance Fee Payment </li></ul>Matrícula Consular includes local address.
    20. 20. Collection Development <ul><li>Why do we need materials in languages other than English? </li></ul><ul><li>Isabel Castro </li></ul><ul><li>Librarians for Tomorrow </li></ul><ul><li>San Jose State University </li></ul>
    21. 21. 10 Reasons Why We Buy (Insert foreign language here) Materials Adapted from “ 10 reasons Why We Buy Spanish Books” by Al Milo, retrieved from REFORMA’s website ( resources and publications .)
    22. 26. <ul><li>7. The library is helping to provide opportunities for recent immigrants to learn English. We have ESL tapes, bilingual dictionaries and literacy classes. How else are they going to learn! People don't learn English just because you pass a law. They need to be provided with opportunities to learn English. </li></ul>
    23. 29. Programming Multicultural Programming: Sharing Similarities and Differences Lucía M. González
    24. 30. Formula for success <ul><li>Program responsibly to serve the real needs of the families and children in the community while promoting mutual knowledge, respect, and appreciation. </li></ul>
    25. 31. <ul><li>Write a grant so you can bring performers, authors, and renowned special guests </li></ul><ul><li>Include music, dancing, puppetry, and treats in the story hour </li></ul><ul><li>Work with artists and personalities in the community </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrate significant cultural events such as the independence day of the countries of origin of the majority of the groups in your community, Three King’s Day, Dia de los niños, NOCHE DE CUENTOS, etc. </li></ul>First Voice Programming
    26. 32. Recommendations <ul><li>Library programming must first and foremost respond to the needs of customers and potential customers. </li></ul><ul><li>Take the time to introduce the myriad resources available at the library, so that they can find a job, read about what is happening in their home country, and find a good book. </li></ul><ul><li>As part of the program, introduce audience to related library resources and information on how to use the library in their own language. </li></ul><ul><li>A performance by a local folkdance group would be followed by a brief discussion of the books, web links and other resources available on the particular dance tradition, the country and other art forms. </li></ul><ul><li>Always have bilingual handouts that include information on how to sign up for a library card </li></ul>
    27. 33. Offer Wide Selection <ul><li>Family Literacy </li></ul><ul><li>Community/public services informative programs </li></ul><ul><li>Vocational Programs </li></ul><ul><li>English language instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Computer classes (in their language, or bilingual) </li></ul>
    28. 34. Recommended ! <ul><li>Queens Library Newcomers Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Coping Skills: Free lectures and workshops in the most widely spoken immigrant languages of Queens on topics essential to new immigrants' acculturation, such as citizenship and job training information, advice on helping children learn, and information on available social services. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Programs: Free readings, concerts and workshops celebrating the literary, performing and folk arts of immigrants from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. </li></ul>
    29. 35. Recommended! <ul><li>Broward County Library’s Newcomers/New Americans Program  </li></ul><ul><li>Designed to assist residents from other countries, whose primary language is not English, or who are not English proficient, to successfully maneuver life and living in America, offering courses to develop employability skills, computer skills, citizenship orientation, parenting, home buying, cultural programs and young adult forums in Spanish, Haitian Creole and Portuguese.A Multiethnic Resource Online Directory was produced with funding from this program that includes civic and political organizations, cultural groups, educational organizations, gay and lesbian organizations, media organization and religious organizations. It also includes a listing of festivals and other cultural celebrations. </li></ul>
    30. 36. Family Literacy – Noche
    32. 38. Thank You / Gracias / Obrigado / Di ou mèsi / Salamat / Danke / Merci / شكرا / शुक्रिया / 谢谢 / Grazie / 감사합니다 / ...