Saturday, September 29, 2018

#JCLC2018 : Reaching Out to Immigrants and De-colonizing the Collection

One of the benefits of being at JCLC is the opportunity to think about libraries and our collections through a different lens. We generally build services in our libraries through the default Euro-centric lens or as we might say the lens of those who colonized the U.S.  How can we de-colonize our libraries and our collections?  What is even meant by the word “de-colonization”?  What would a de-colonized library look like?  How would it better represent or be integrated into the community? How would the de-colonization translate into the libraries catalogue records? How would the staff be different?  These are all questions that have arisen in me while at this conference. I don’t have answers, at least not yet.

Today, the third day of the conference, I attended one session in reaching out to our immigrants and my notes are below.  Again, as I am typing this in Blogger on an iPad, my ability to make all the corrections that likely should be made is limited.  My apologies.  Yes, I attended a session during day two and I’ll twrite about that when I’m ready to write a wrap-up post.


JCLC conference logo

Reaching out to Immigrants: The New American Program at a

Queens Library - Fred Gitner and Xi Chen
In the U.S.
  • 14% foreign born
  • 20.7% speak a language other than English at home
  • 3.5% of the U.S. population are undocumented immigrants
  • Immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses as U.S. citizens
  • The number of undocumented immigrants coming to the U.S. by crossing the Mexican border is decreasing.
Queens County is one of the most diverse urban areas in the world.
  • 48% foreign born
  • 56% speak a language other than English at home 
  • 160 languages are spoken in Queens with people from 190 countries 
  • Their New Americans Program is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Queens Library is for Everyone Campaign 

They have an Outreach Assistant who does Outreach to ethnic community centers and other groups.

The library does Older Adults Day each year, which is well attended.

They purchase materials in 20-25 languages each year. The languages collected are based on census survey data and community input.  The comminityassisted in selecting the materials for their Burmese collections, since no one in the library spoke Burmese. They found comeone in the community who could help in cataloguing the materials.

The library has partnered with a variety of nonprofit and government organizations.  The partnerships help both to meet their mutual goals.  The partnerships help the library increase its services to the immigrants in the community.

They offer Coping Skills Workshops to help immigrants adjust to life in the U.S.  They also offer Cultural Arts Programs.

The top five languages spoken in Queens are Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Bengali, and Russian.  The offer workshops in these languages.

They have citizenship classes, attorneys who help people with naturalization application assistance, and free financial counseling.

They now have a partnership with the Immigrant Justice Corps to assist customers with a variety of immigration legal issues including naturalizations, temporary protected status family based petitions, deportation and asylum or refugee applications, etc.

They have an Immigration Assistancd webpage, http://connect.queenslibrary.org/2022

They promote their services in variou languages and using the social media sites that are used by specific immigrant communities, e.g., WeChat.

Locking Forward:
  • Expand legal access to legal services
  • Increase online learning opportunities
  • Expand lanagusge collections to serve growing cultural communities. Match the lanagues to the community’s preferred formats.
  • Ensure adequate interpretation services

Building a Vietnamese Lanaguage Collection at CSU, Fullerton - Moon C. Kim 


The needs of a diaspora community are different than other immigrant communities.

The collection must be reflective of the community and responsive to the community.

They ran into issues in collecting Vietnamese materials: funding, no language expertise (so materials cannot be catalogued), the Virtnamese government controls all communications, etc.

Q&A:
How do you help immigrantsfeel safe inthe library?  Safe from ICE (Immigrantion and Customs Enforcement)? - Queens has built a level of trust over the news with its immigrant communities.  They do not invite the media to events, as one way of keeping people’s identities safe.  Lawyers have given workshops for staff to help them understand do’s and don’t.  They do not know of instances of ICE coming to libraries.



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