Best Practices in Libraries – National

A list of best practices of libraries serving refugees and asylum seekers in the United States.


Best Practices – Alphabetical by state then city


  • Every branch of the Los Angeles Public Library has a Citizenship Corner filled with materials and handouts for refugees and asylum seekers. Materials include a Naturalization Test Brochure, vocabulary flash cards, the Citizen’s Almanac, and more.


  • The Hartford Public Library provides a free program, The American Place (TAP), designed to welcome immigrants and ease their transition into their new home city. TAP promotes Hartford’s shared civic values and its vibrant cultural multiplicity. Services include legal advice, education, volunteer training, and computer/Internet access.
  • The West Hartford Library recently hired Pramod Pradhan, a Nepalese immigrant, to work as its first-ever community engagement librarian.


  • Every other week, Lucia Pieri writes poetry and discusses American literature with about 10 other immigrants at the Rochester (Mich.) Hills Public Library. For Pieri, the Newcomer’s Book Club not only builds friendships and perfects her English; it’s an intellectual opportunity that benefits women. View the library’s calendar here.

New York

  • Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. “Immigrants, Refugees and Non-Native Speakers” Subject Guide.  See article on their services to refugees.
  • The Queens Borough Library has one of the most impressive International Relations departments, partnering with libraries in other countries in order to exchange professional knowledge and to facilitate obtaining library materials in other countries in languages other than English. Their entire website is translated into Spanish.
  • Librarian in Residence, a blog of the Goethe-Institut New York Library, started in 2008 when the first Librarian in Residence arrived, whom the Goethe-Institut New York had invited for a fellowship at the Queens Library in the context of ‘Multicultural Library Work’. Since then, both the residency program and the blog have been successfully advanced, with 13 experts representing diverse branches of the German library scene having had the opportunity to exchange professional know-how with their American colleagues and write about it in this blog.


  • The Austin Public Library (APL) provides information and services to Austin’s new, primarily non-English-speaking, immigrant population. All of the branches offer ESL materials and access to online resources to learn English as a Second Language. They provide a guide to becoming a US citizen and several initiatives to promote speaking in English in engaging ways.