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Celebrating 40 Years of the New Americans Program!

Posted by Yves Etheart

Since 1977, Queens Library's New Americans Program (NAP) has helped thousands of immigrants, new Americans, and prospective citizens integrate into American society and share their cultures with the greater community of Queens. Queens Library was the first public library in the country to launch this kind of initiative to help immigrants relocating to our borough build a new life for themselves, and a new home.

NAP’s comprehensive programs and services include English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes; referral lists of free or low-cost immigration services; citizenship-preparation classes; New Americans Corners, which are dedicated spaces in our libraries where immigrants can find information and resources to become U.S. citizens; coping skills workshops; International Collections of books, periodicals, music CDs, and DVDs in more than 25 languages; and much more.

To celebrate 40 years of providing programs and services to Queens’ diverse ethnic communities, Queens Library will host a day of festivities on Sunday, November 19 at 12:30 p.m. at Flushing Community Library, including a resource fair, food and craft demonstrations, music and dance performances, games, and more. Plus, participants will be able to contribute to the Queens Memory Project by sharing their stories of immigration.

As we celebrate NAP's 40th anniversary, we keep in mind that in the current climate, welcoming and including our customers regardless of their country of origin or their status, and providing assistance to the diverse communities of Queens, is perhaps even important now than it was four decades ago.

As Queens Library’s President and CEO, Dennis M. Walcott, wrote in a recent blog post for the Aspen Institute's Dialogue on Public Libraries, “A few days before the release of her latest book this summer, the Indian-born young adult writer Mitali Perkins tweeted about the impact Queens Library had on her when she first came to this country, saying it ‘meant everything to this little immigrant years ago.’ Through Sonia, one of the main characters in You Bring the Distant Near, Ms. Perkins hints at why it did. In an early scene in the novel, which tells the story of the experiences of an Indian family that emigrates to the U.S. and settles in Queens, Sonia’s father takes her on a tour of their new neighborhood. The first place he shows her is her school. The second is Flushing Library, the busiest library in the Queens Library system, drawing 1.2 million visitors each year. ‘This is for you,’ he says.”

You can learn more about NAP's 40th Anniversary Celebration by visiting http://connect.queenslibrary.org/2146.