ALA Annual Conference programming to highlight library services for immigrants

For Immediate Release
Mon, 06/22/2015


John Amundsen

Program Officer, Outreach and Communications

Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services

CHICAGO — Every day, libraries provide immigrants in their communities with access to essential programs and resources that help them to navigate society.  During the 2015 American Library Association Annual Conference (June 25-30), attendees will have many opportunities to learn about resources, programming ideas, model practices and innovative approaches that libraries can employ as they connect immigrants with critical information they need to build better lives for themselves and their families, from library collections, English language learner services, citizenship tools and legal services.      

From 8:30 - 10 a.m. on Saturday in room 3001 in Moscone West, the Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC) will host “New Immigrants, New Approaches: Serving Your Community's Deep Diversity with Programming and Acquisition.”  With continuous news stories and rhetoric about “illegal” immigrants and “Islamification” of the Western world, this session will explore how libraries can change the conversation about “new arrivals” and welcome diverse neighbors into the library community. Additionally, the session will demonstrate the power of diverse books to reduce prejudice, guidelines and programming models for sharing diverse immigrant stories with communities, book lists and other resources.

From 1 - 2:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon  in room 2006 in Moscone West, attendees will learn about the opportunities and challenges libraries encounter as they provide innovative literacy services in their communities during “The American Dream Starts @ your library®: Stories from the Field.” Since 2008, The American Dream Starts @ your library® grant initiative has supported English language learner programming in over 100 libraries in 24 states. Funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the American Dream Starts @ your library® grants help libraries build ESL collections, increase computer access and provide GED and literacy courses. American Dream libraries create replicable programs, sustainable community coalitions and annotated lists of proven resources for use by libraries across the country. This session will include representatives from the current cohort of American Dream libraries and the Office of Citizenship at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, highlighting stories, strategies and services.

Also from 1 - 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, will highlight its Children in Crisis Book/Backpack/Mochila Project during the its President’s Program, “Books for Unaccompanied Minors: REFORMA Responds to the Humanitarian Crisis at the Border.” Held in room 3002 in Moscone West, this program will discuss how many librarians involved in the project working across the country worked together to determine how best to serve children who were being detained in inhumane facilities. The program will discuss the challenges and strategies involved in organizing the book and library community to donate books and funds in order to give these children the comfort of a book and the use of their imagination to continue their learning in the midst of great odds.

Later, from 3 - 4 p.m. Saturday in room 236-238 in Moscone South, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) will explore how libraries can provide a variety of learning opportunities for refugee, immigrant and low income young adults and teens as they prepare for college and/or jobs during “Create Possibilities for Refugee, Immigrant and Low Income Students.” Drawing upon the experiences of three different institutions in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley with the common goal of supporting young adults and teens, this session will show how libraries can involve teens in the opportunity to build their own experience and learn about the possibilities ahead of them and gain research skills for test prep, college applications, job training to life skills.

From 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, in room 2012 in Moscone West, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Citizenship will highlight how libraries can help new Americans in their communities successfully navigate the process to becoming U.S. citizens during “Civics and Citizenship Resources from USCIS.” Sponsored by the American Library Association Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services, this hour-long session will highlight successful stories or best practices from library systems that provide the support and services permanent residents need to become successful on their journey toward citizenship. Online and printed resources available to libraries free of charge from USCIS will also be reviewed, including the Civics and Citizenship Toolkit and the Citizenship Resource Center, with its page created specifically for libraries. During the Conference, USCIS will also be on the exhibits floor at booth #3902.

From 1 - 2 p.m. Sunday in room 131 in Moscone North, attorney Jack Holmgren with Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) and Pete Villaseñor, branch manager and adult services librarian of the Oakland Public Library - César E. Chávez Branch will discuss how librarians can serve their community in the same way an immigration attorney would help newcomers acquire immigration status or United States citizenship. The session, titled “Lady Liberty at the Library: Immigrant Integration and a New Role for Librarians” will explore how a unique Federal provision permits non-attorneys with sufficient knowledge, experience and good moral character to practice immigration law. Libraries in Colorado and Connecticut have this and are already providing these services and others are not far behind. Holmgren will discuss how librarians can attain these credentials through CLINIC’s free on-line training. CLINIC will also be exhibiting throughout Annual Conference in booth #3338.

All of these programs are free for all attendees of ALA’s 2015 Annual Conference. To learn more, please visit

The Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services drives activities around three professional issues which collectively support equity and inclusion as fundamental values of the association.  Relationships and major initiatives undertaken by the Office across these three issues help ensure the inclusion of diverse perspectives within our profession and association to best position ALA as a trusted, leading advocate for equitable access to library services for all.