Promoting Citizenship at the Public Library
By Jack Holmgren
The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) has created Citizenship Corners in all of its 70+ branches. These are special display areas in the library packed with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services handouts and information on the citizenship process as well as other material to help people apply. Responding to the success of this initiative, LAPL staff are taking a serious look at offering assistance with orientation and screening for citizenship. After participating in a statewide conference for non-traditional immigration legal service partners in Fresno this July, LAPL staff met with Martin Gauto, Field Support Coordinator for Southern California and Jack Holmgren, California Legalization Director, to begin planning this next step. LAPL is inspired by other libraries such as the Hartford, CT library that have received Board of Immigration Appeals Recognition and Accreditation. CLINIC is working hard to bring new players into the immigration and naturalization service mix to supplement the substantial but inadequate resources that exist now. Current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and naturalization demand require additional trusted actors in the community to provide services and the local library is an obvious example.
*Pictured above (left to right): Cheryl Collins, Director, Branch Library Services, Joyce Cooper, Senior Librarian, Martin Gauto, CLINIC Field Support Coordinator, and Melissa Potter, Director of Adult Services
*Jack Holmgren is California Legalization Director at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)