Tim Kambitsch
Executive Director, Dayton Metro Library
January 2013

For well over a decade, the Dayton Metro Library has been at the forefront of welcoming immigrants to the Miami Valley. Executive director, Tim Kambitsch, and assistant director for branch and extension services, Mimi Morris, have been working together since 2001 to make the libraries the primary resource for news and information for new immigrants.

Services to Immigrants 

“Currently, the Library offers free library cards to all residents of Ohio. For Mexican immigrants, we accept the Matricula Consular as identification, and library card applications are available in Spanish. The Library’s collection includes literacy and ESL (English as a Second Language) materials in multiple formats, foreign film collections and books for adults in 13 different languages. We have books for children and teens in Arabic, Spanish, Turkish and Russian, along with bilingual picture books in Spanish and English. We also have some ebooks in Spanish and Russian.”

“On our web site, we offer the Learning Express database, which includes practice testing for the U.S. Citizenship Test. Library card holders can also take advantage of ‘Mango Languages’, a self-paced language instruction database that includes English as a Second Language. Authoritative medical information is available through Medlineplus—a product of the National Institutes of Health. The entire site can be viewed in Spanish, and many articles can be viewed as interactive videos or a simpler ‘easy to read’ English.”

 Branches get Involved

“Because many of our new immigrants often live in close-knit neighborhoods with shared language and tradition, our branch locations host initiatives aimed at each community’s specific needs. One of the projects targeting immigrants includes computer literacy classes offered in Spanish at the main library. We host those classes in collaboration with the College Hill Community Church thanks to a grant they received from the Dayton Foundation. ‘Conversation Tables’ is a program held at the Burkhardt branch where adults can come together and practice English in a non-stress, friendly environment. The E.C. Doren branch in Old North Dayton has taken an active role in serving the Turkish community by providing books, ebooks, and audiobooks in Turkish and Russian. They also offer bilingual story times for the Hispanic community in the neighborhood.”

How to Welcome Immigrants

“Sometimes Americans don’t know what to say to immigrants we encounter in our communities, so we don’t even try to make an effort to interact with them. But, you don’t have to speak their language to make them feel welcome. All you have to do is smile. As our own Mimi Morris says: ‘Remember, a smile is universal.’ Sometimes all it takes is that simple act of kindness to make others feel welcome in our community.”

If you would like to volunteer to help immigrants learn English and get acclimated into our society, reach out to Mimi Morris at MMorris@daytonmetrolibrary.org or call 937.463.2665.