Founded in 1895, with 51 million media, 88 branch libraries and 4 research libraries, the New York Public Library is the largest library system in the US. The most famous library in New York is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue, which focuses on the humanities and social sciences and houses the great Rose Main Reading Room. Across the street is the actual central library, the Mid-Manhattan Library. There I met Outreach Manager Adriana Blancarte-Hayward for a discussion about library services for immigrants.
Rose Main Reading Room
What’s interesting is that the New York Public Library has offered foreign language titles for an ethnically diverse New York public since its founding, adjusting its offerings with different focuses for different neighborhoods. This is evident in an exhibition in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, in which four changes to the library’s shelves are displayed, representing subsequent waves of immigrants settling in the city. Today the library welcomes the newest New Yorkers with literature in 65 different languages.
Exhibition on foreign language collections
What other services are available to New Americans?
Hispanic Heritage Month media display
- English courses and conversation groups
- IT courses
- Presentations on financial topics
- Job search help
- Career coaching
- Help starting a small business
- Online offerings for test preparation, ebooks on American history, eLearning courses in 60 languages, PressDisplay
- New Americans Corners (in every New York library as of 2015)
- NYCitizenship: naturalization and financial counseling with a lawyer, in English and Spanish
- Prep courses for the citizenship test
- Citizen services: registration for IDNYC cards, “single stop” counseling services from diverse city agencies, for example, on unemployment or link lists for former inmates
- Intercultural work: foreign language reading hours, international music and cultural events programming, homework help, exhibitions
This wealth of offerings is supplemented by numerous projects presented in the library, but organized by cooperation partners. This includes, for example, the New Women New Yorkers (NWNY) organization, which offers job preparation workshops for female immigrants ages 18 to 35. Topics that are covered include writing a resume, American workplace culture, networking, public speaking and teamwork. These are things that many of us take for granted, but that are real challenging for women from certain parts of the world.
New Women New Yorkers