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Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Free Library’

Public Libraries Offer Services to Refugees

Edible Alphabet Students

Students of an English-as-a-Second-Language program called Edible Alphabet, offered by the Philadelphia Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center (photo used with permission by Liz Fitzgerald, Administrator, Culinary Literacy Center)

According to the U.S. State Department, America has accepted more than three million refugees since 1975. Last year, the U.S. welcomed 84,995 refugees from around the world. Currently, there has been a torrent of court filings over President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries. While courts have temporarily blocked Trump’s travel ban, the issue is far from being resolved and may even reach the U.S. Supreme Court. As an editor for SIRS Issues Researcher who works on the Immigration Leading Issue, I am following the multiple angles of this issue closely. Regardless of varying opinions on the current controversy, once refugees enter the United States legally, they often need assistance. I have always been impressed with the amazing services libraries offer the community. So I was curious as to what role libraries play in welcoming refugees who legally enter the United States.

Citizenship Corners

I have learned that libraries across the nation have often been a welcome spot for refugees and immigrants. Through a wealth of immigration services and programming, libraries play an important role in raising awareness about the naturalization process and the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship and in helping refugees and other newcomers to the U.S. participate in the broader society.

Since 2013, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has partnered with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help libraries assist refugees with immigration and citizenship information and resources. As a result of this partnership, hundreds of public libraries have set up areas known as “Citizenship Corners,” which include free brochures and immigration forms.

In addition, in 2015, the American Library Association’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table issued Guidelines for Outreach to Immigrant Populations. These guidelines for library services and programming offer ideas on how to help immigrants adjust to life in their new homeland while preserving their cultural and linguistic heritages.

Free Legal Help, Cooking Classes and More

Two such libraries that are helping immigrants and refugees are the Brooklyn Public Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Brooklyn Public Library offers programs for immigrants in many languages and includes citizenship classes and study groups, bilingual family arts and culture programs and courses to help immigrant businesses succeed. Additionally, the library’s immigration services include free immigration legal help with the Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC). IJC Fellows hold office hours at select branches to help immigrants file applications for citizenship and green cards as well as offer other legal support.

In addition to offering a myriad of immigration and naturalization resources, events and classes, the Free Library of Philadelphia also offers a unique six-week course via their Culinary Literacy Center called Edible Alphabet. The program uses food as a way to unite people from different cultural backgrounds and helps immigrants learn English through cooking lessons. According to Liz Fitzgerald, the Administrator of the Culinary Literacy Center, the meals they prepare include a smoothie, carrot coriander soup, panzanella, pancakes, pasta primavera, and chana masala. The library partners with a non-profit organization called the Nationalities Service Center (NSC), which has been helping immigrants and refugees in the Greater Philadelphia area since the 1920s.

Tell Us Your Story

Does your library offer services to refugees? If so, drop us a line in the comments section below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Libraries on the Go: Trains, Planes… and Camels?

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Photo of a Little Free Library by LisetteBrodey [Public Domain], via Pixabay

When I think of a library, I picture the traditional services of a brick-and-mortar library, such as my neighborhood public library that I am fortunate enough to frequent. However, not all libraries are housed inside buildings. After reading Jennifer Genetti’s Little Free Libraries, which detailed the worldwide movement of miniature curbside libraries, I wondered what other nontraditional ways librarians and other bibliophiles are sharing their books with their communities? More specifically, I was curious as to what types of mobile libraries exist today.

A search on the Internet and via ProQuest (i.e., by conducting a Boolean search using the terms “mobile libraries” and “library outreach” and also by searching types of library outreach, such as bookmobiles) revealed many unique ways libraries and other organizations and institutions reach out to disadvantaged and underserved populations who don’t have easy access to reading materials. Additionally, librarians and others are finding ways to reach out to those who are on the go, such as commuters.

Five Examples of Unconventional Libraries

Books on the L

Person on train platform holding a book from the Books on the L program in Chicago, Illinois (Photo used with permission by Chicago Ideas.)

Riding on a Train

Lucky commuters riding on Chicago’s “L” transit system can take, read, and share books of all genres in an initiative launched in 2015 by Chicago Ideas called Books on the L.  The books can be identified by yellow stickers that include the words “Take it. Read it. Return it.” L train riders are encouraged to take a picture of books they find and enjoy and post them on social media with the hashtag #BooksOnTheL.

Waiting for a Plane 

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Photo of the Free Library of Philadelphia outpost in the Philadelphia International Airport. (Photo used with permission by the Free Library of Philadelphia)

Passengers waiting to board their flight at the Philadelphia International Airport can read and relax in an outpost of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The library outpost, created in 2013, offers comfortable lounge chairs and free Wi-Fi to access to digital content, including podcasts and audiobooks.

Delivered on a Boat

For the past four decades, those living on one of the remote islands around the town of Pargas in Western Finland have been getting their books delivered by the Public Library of Pargas’s book boat service staffed by library volunteers. Books are delivered to patrons of all ages during summer months.

Street Books

Diana Rempe, street librarian, with Street Books’ new bike library. (Photo used with permission by Street Books, Portland, OR).

On a Bicycle 

Street Books, founded in 2011 by Laura Moulton in Portland, Oregon, is a bicycle-powered mobile library that enables the homeless to check out library books. Patrons do not have to provide proof of address or identification to receive a library card.

On a Camel 

The Kenya National Library Service has been using camels to reach nomadic populations in North Eastern Kenya since 1985. In addition to books, the camels carry tents and mats for patrons to use when reading in the field.

Camel

Camel by OpenRoadPR [Public Domain], via Pixabay

Share with Us!

Do you work or volunteer at a mobile library? If so, tell us what type of mobile library and what you like best about it in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!