Welcome, Stranger: America's Urban Libraries in the Global Village

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The Urban Libraries Council, the leading organization devoted to strengthening the public library as an essential part of urban life, surveyed its member libraries in March 2007 concerning their involvement with the transition of immigrants into American life. Findings of the survey, augmented with data collected in 2003, are summarized. Five main strategies support successful immigrant transitions and help communities deal effectively with effects of rapid worldwide change. The strategies: 1. Understand local immigration dynamics by active data-gathering; 2. Bring cultural and language sensitivity to service delivery through collections, services, outreach; 3. Build English capacity by providing materials, instruction, partnerships with other providers; 4. Create linkages to mainstream institutions by informing immigrants and inviting service-provider agencies into libraries; 5. Encourage civic engagement by functioning as unbiased public spaces for learning and exploration, fostering discussion of challenges faced by newcomers and communities receiving them. These strategies reduce barriers to the workforce, business generation, educational success, and social cohesion. They open opportunities for community vitality and prosperity in the global context.


Keywords: Urban Libraries Council, Libraries, Immigration, United States, Integration Strategies, Making Cities Stronger
Stream: Immigration, Refugees
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Martin Gomez

President and Chief Executive Officer, Urban Libraries Council
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Since August 2004 Martin Gomez has served as President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council, a member organization providing services and programs to 150 major public libraries in the USA and Canada. Earlier he led the Friends and Foundation of the San Francisco (California) Public Library, the Brooklyn (New York) Public Library, and the Oakland (California) Public Library. He is presently on the boards of the Sesame Workshop (New York) and Poets House (New York). Earlier board service: American Library Association, Online Computer Library Center, Friends of Libraries USA, Public Library Association. In 1991 he was President of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library Services for the Spanish Speaking. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (B.A., English)and the University of Arizona, Tucson (M.A., Library Science). He is a recognized expert on library service to underserved populations and the role of the public library in bridging the digital and other divides.

Danielle Milam

Senior Vice President, Programs and Development, Urban Libraries Council
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Before joining the Urban Libraries Council in January 2000, Danielle Milam served in various positions with the San Antonio (Texas) Public Library Foundation, the City of San Antonio, and the Agency for International Development. She is a graduate of American University, Washington, D.C. (B.A., International Relations and Economics) and Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas (M.A., Urban Studies).

Dr. Rick Ashton

Chief Operating Officer, Urban Libraries Council
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Rick Ashton has served as Chief Operating Officer of the Urban Libraries Council since June 2007. For the previous twenty years he worked as City Librarian of the award-winning Denver (Colorado) Public Library. He has also been associated with the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library and the Newberry Library (Chicago, Illinois). He is a graduate of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (A.B. mcl, History), Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (M.A., Ph.D., History), and the University of Chicago, Illinois (M.A., Librarianship).

Ref: D08P0079