Public libraries are hard at work supporting new Americans. This research has uncovered just a fraction of the vibrant library programs and services that help new Americans achieve their aspirations in this country. These services are the products of library professionals and volunteers’ thoughtful, creative, and resourceful approaches to working with immigrants, refugees, displaced persons, and other members of their communities.

The ALA Public Programs Office is committed to supporting this critical work and maintaining the rich tapestry of library programs and the opportunities they open for new Americans. To that end, we have created a website that, in addition to providing the content described in this report, gathers and consolidates trusted resources for easy access by library professionals. These include resources created by ALA — such as ALA’s Reference and User Services Association’s guide for developing multilingual collections and the Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services’ training on cultural humility, cultural intelligence, and implicit bias — as well as numerous resources from the field at large.

This exploratory phase of the New Americans Library Project has given us tremendous insight into the current offerings in the library field, but much work remains to be done. PPO will seek additional funding to pursue efforts to strengthen library offerings for new Americans and prepare library professionals for work with these populations. With added support, we envision everything from training opportunities for library professionals, to best practices for programs to serve new Americans of all ages, to print-ready signs and templates in multiple languages to help libraries be more user-friendly to non-English speakers. We look forward to exploring these exciting possibilities.

Additional References

In addition to the sources cited throughout the white paper, this work draws extensively from two sources:

  • Barchas-Lichtenstein, J., Nock, K., Norlander, R. & Brucker, J.L. (2018). New Americans Library Project: Evaluation Report. NewKnowledge Publication #NPO.074.518.02. New York: New Knowledge Organization Ltd.
  • Laursen Brucker, J., Nock, K., Norlander, R., Dixon, J. & Flinner, K. (2018). Libraries & New Americans: Landscape Review. NewKnowledge Publication #NPO.074.518.01. New York: New Knowledge Organization Ltd.


The ALA Public Programs Office is grateful for the contributions of the following individuals to this report: Adriana Blancarte-Hayward, New York Public Library, New York, N.Y.; Krista Conrick, WashingtonSaratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Glens Falls, N.Y.; Tom Cytron-Hysom, Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium, Saint Paul, Minn.; Nathaniel Eddy, Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.; Erica Freudenberger, Southern Adirondack Library System, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Lucia Gonzalez, North Miami Public Library, North Miami, Fla.; Karen Green, El Buen Samaritano, Austin, Tex.; Madeleine Ildefonso, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, Calif.; Symbol Lai, Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs, Philadelphia, Pa.; Diana Miranda-Murillo, Austin Public Library, Austin, Tex.; Martin Okpareke, Jewish Vocational Services, Kansas City, Mo.; Jonathan Fein Proaño, International Rescue Committee, Los Angeles, Calif.; Julie Robinson, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Mo.; Rebecca Ryan, Saint Paul Public Library, Saint Paul, Minn.; Touger Vang, Catawba County Library System, Troy, N.C.; and Nadege Vilsaint, Prosperity Social and Community Development Group, North Miami, Fla. We would also like to recognize Larra Clark and Emily Plagman (Public Library Association) and Amber Hayes, Gwendolyn Prellwitz, and Kristin Lahurd (ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services) for their invaluable feedback. Finally, we’d like to thank the staff at the ALA Public Programs Office, including Colleen Barbus, Samantha Oakley, and Sarah Ostman, and the researchers at New Knowledge Organization Ltd. who conducted the New Americans Library Project study: Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein, Joanna Laursen Brucker, Jennifer Dixon, Kate Flinner, Nicole LaMarca, Kathryn Nock, Rebecca Joy Norlander, Christina Shane-Simpson, and Uduak Thomas.