In 2018, the ALA Public Programs Office convened an exploration of public library programs and services that support new American populations. The New Americans Library Project explored the landscape of literature and resources about library services for new Americans, studied how libraries can more effectively serve new Americans, and made recommendations about this topic for the library field.
As the research partner, New Knowledge Organization Ltd. conducted a landscape review of current library practices and offerings across a wide variety of geographic regions, community types, and partnership models. With input from ALA and project advisors, researchers collected information about dozens of library public programs in the US and abroad, as well as information from research and other perspectives that might benefit this initiative.
Following this review, researchers conducted site visits at six public libraries in five cities, where they spoke with new American patrons, as well as library and community partner organization staff. The five cities represented a wide range of characteristics and demographics, including rural, suburban, and urban areas across different regions in the US, with diverse immigrant populations, cultures, and languages.
This white paper provides a synthesis of the project to help library professionals understand opportunities for libraries’ work with new Americans. The paper includes two parts. First, an overview of research and findings summarizes the most salient themes uncovered in the landscape review and site visits. Second, we offer a list of actionable recommendations for libraries.