Resolution in Support of Library Services for Undocumented Residents, Immigrants and Dreamers

Contact: Elliot Warren
Acting Director of Library Services
Berkeley Public Library

Resolution in Support of Library Services for Undocumented Residents, Immigrants and Dreamers

Reaffirms Berkeley Public Library’s commitment to serving all residents regardless of immigration status

Berkeley, July 23rd, 2018 – Berkeley Public Library has declared its support of some of Berkeley’s most vulnerable residents in a Resolution in Support of Undocumented Residents, Immigrants, and Dreamers, passed unanimously by the Board of Library Trustees on July 18, 2018.

"Public libraries represent a crucial public service for immigrant families. They provide a place for lifelong education, and opportunities to participate in their communities and civic life,” said Councilmember and BOLT Trustee Sophie Hahn. “Berkeley Public Library’s commitment to provide opportunities for all of its community members, regardless of residency status, furthers the inclusivity and diversity of Berkeley."

In the resolution, Berkeley Public Library:

  • Reaffirms its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice;
  • Commits to enacting policies and programs recognizing the diversity of the Berkeley community and furthering the inclusion of all residents;
  • Reaffirms the Privacy Policy of the Berkeley Public Library and the City of Berkeley’s restrictions on the use of City funds and resources relating to enforcement of federal immigration law;
  • Supports DACA Dreamers and the immigrant community, providing services to all regardless of residency status;
  • Resolves to provide information on legal assistance and guidance to undocumented students, immigrants, and their families; and
  • Encourages all residents to use the Library regardless of immigration status.

Berkeley Public Library has recently introduced a number of service changes intended to reduce barriers to library access and to make the library a more welcoming place for the entire community, said Acting Director of Library Services Elliot Warren. “We’ve eliminated late fees on most library materials and our librarians are working on a new initiative to refresh and update our book collections to better reflect the diversity of interests, experiences, and perspectives of Berkeley residents.” In addition, he said, “Library staff strive to offer dynamic programs that highlight the city’s cultural diversity and that bring new community members into our civic life.”

One program popular with recent immigrants to Berkeley is the Library’s ESL Conversation Club, in which new English language speakers practice discussing relevant topics with each other and native English speakers in a safe, fun, non-judgmental environment. Originally held only at the West Branch, the Club has proved so popular that the Central Library is now offering it weekly as well. The Library provides numerous ongoing free programs for the entire community, from story-times for toddlers and young children to teen and adult programs. All are free of charge.

BPL Librarians regularly provide referral to legal services for community members. “Our team of Librarians is committed to answering everyone’s information questions,” says Library Services Manager Anna Gonzalez. “And we actively seek out partnerships with organizations who serve the information needs of immigrants. For example, we are currently holding a series of Lawyers in the Library programs.” Furthermore, the Library’s Berkeley Information Network includes numerous services of interest to immigrant community members.

“Over the past year, Library staff have worked hard to improve services in an equitable way for everyone, including for Berkeley’s immigrant residents,” said Warren. “This resolution is our public commitment to continue that work.”

The full text of the “Resolution in Support of Library services for Undocumented Residents, Immigrants, and Dreamers” is included as Item D of the Berkeley Public Library Board of Trustees Agenda Packet for the July 18, 2018 meeting (https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/sites/default/files/files/inline/2018_07_018_bolt_regular_meeting_agenda_packet.pdf).

The ESL Conversation Club meets at the Central Library every Wednesday at 4:00 pm, and at the West Branch every Thursday at 3:00 pm. All are welcome. This is a free program.

For more information on Library hours, services, and policies, please visit the Library’s website: www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org.