Hartford Public Library - The American Place
Homa Naficy’s service to immigrants and refugees at Hartford Public Library is a powerful example of how libraries promote equity and inclusion.
Through the library’s nationally-recognized “The American Place” program, Homa is dedicated to providing services to assist immigrants and refugees as they transition to their new home. The wide array of resources include English language classes, job seeking assistance, computer skills training, and GED preparation.
After Homa identified a need to support immigrant teens at Hartford high schools with their language skills, she introduced an after-school program in partnership with the city. The program focuses on improving the students’ everyday English as well as fostering community connections and civic awareness. There is an interactive, online curriculum designed to strengthen students’ language and academic development through specific assignments related to the concept of belonging.
To help immigrants with their residency status and efforts to become a naturalized citizen, Homa partnered with Hartford’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office. Through the collaboration, the library was able to receive accreditation by the Bureau of Immigration Affairs to provide legal services to immigrants. Hartford Public Library was the first library in the nation to receive such a designation and has become a model for other libraries.
In addition, Homa developed “Crossroads-to-Connectivity,” an innovative project that offers low-income adults enrolled in educational or training programs access to a laptop and mobile Wi-Fi device. Forty percent of Hartford residents do not have broadband Internet services at home, so the project has been critical in helping participants continue their education and professional development.