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Blog Posts by Subject: Immigration and Emigration

A Learning Celebration! Food for Body and Soul at the Centers for Reading and Writing

Tutors receive certificates for hours of service.“Spring Learning Celebration Tonight!” reads a handmade sign in the Tompkins Square Library’s Center for Reading and Writing. Paper flowers decorate the folding tables, and green and yellow streamers festoon windows and bookshelves. The first student arrives two hours early, toting two huge aluminum trays of macaroni salad. “Can I leave this here for the celebration?” she says, depositing the heavy trays on a table.

Twice a year, each of the eight

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Learning English for the Sake of Her Children

Lucy Liu and her two children. Photo: Beowulf SheehanLucy Liu, who emigrated from China to New York City nine years ago, is proud that her two young children speak perfect English.   Now she wants to learn too.

  In order to keep up with her kids, Liu is learning to read and write in English for the first time thanks to the free classes at an NYPL Center for Reading and Writing at Seward Park Library in Chinatown.   “I wanted to 

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The NYPL English Class That Changed Her Life

Rose Covington and her daughter. Photo: Beowulf SheehanWhen Rose Covington moved to Harlem from Brazil in 2005, she felt lost and alone because she couldn’t speak or understand any English.

But now, after nearly one year of free English classes in one of The New York Public Library’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs, she has found her voice and confidence again.

"I was so unhappy when I first came to this country because I could not express myself," said Mrs. 

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April 2011 Programs at New Dorp - Free!

We are very excited to have many great programs for you this April 2011. From puppet shows, to bilingual celebrations; from Irish dancing to Zumba! Meet a NYTimes Best Seller Author, and come to celebrate Staten Island's 350th Anniversary! Sounds intriguing? Keep reading!

Please note there are downloadable calendars with all the events at the end of this post, so you can make a copy for yourself and pass it along to friends!

Here are some highlights from 

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which took place 100 years ago today, was a tragic incident in New York City's history but also a turning point in the early labor movement.

One hundred and forty-six workers died, mostly young women from immigrant families. The fire was deadly because of the height of the building, the amount of fabric and flammable material inside, the lack of proper fire escapes, and exits that were locked to prevent workers from taking breaks. Many fell or jumped to their deaths. The tragedy brought greater awareness to sweatshop conditions, which led to 

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Life After English Class: Yoko's Story

Yoko and Jacqueline reading at a Learning CelebrationYoko, a former student from Japan, stopped by the Tompkins Square Library's Center for Reading and Writing to say hello.  I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions.    

How did you find the Center for Reading and Writing?

It was in 2003, November maybe.  I actually visited other libraries and I was looking for a conversation class.  I think I 

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Field Trip! Adult Literacy Students Visit Three Faiths Exhibit

Students outside the Three Faiths exhibitLast week, students from the Seward Park Library's Center for Reading and Writing, the Library's free adult literacy program, took a field trip to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to see the exhibit, Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

As the group trundled up the library 

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Students at Seward Park Adult Literacy Program Discuss Three Faiths Exhibit

Last week, a group of adult students and volunteer tutors at the Seward Park Library's Center for Reading and Writing, the library's free adult literacy program, gathered for an introduction to the Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam exhibit at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and to gauge interest in a field trip. 

"Who has been to the 42nd Street Library—the 

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The Shared World: Storylines Project Celebrates Writing of Adult Literacy Students and Author Naomi Shihab Nye

Right to left: Naomi Shihab Nye, Neela Vaswani and Storylines Honorable Mention. Photo courtesy NCV FoundationOn October 26, 2010, adult literacy students and their volunteer tutors from the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island gathered at the Bronx Library Center for the second annual Storylines Project celebration. The Storylines Project brings together adult literacy students from the New York Public Library's Centers for Reading and 

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Heist Society: A Review

Katarina Bishop grew up all over Europe, but she isn’t an heiress. She has a Faberge egg, but she isn’t a Romanov. Kat is used to looking at a room and seeing all the angles, but that was before she stole a whole other life at the Colgan School only to walk away from it months later without a trace.

That was before everything went sideways.

While Kat was busy trying to steal a new, legit, life the family business prospered. When a powerful mobster’s priceless art collection goes missing it isn’t all that surprising that 

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"Wow, That's Amazing That You Do That!" Volunteering at the Center for Reading and Writing

Tutoring at the Center for Reading and WritingThe Centers for Reading and Writing are recruiting volunteer tutors for our fall class cycle beginning in September, so I've been thinking about what it means to volunteer here in the library's adult literacy program.    

I decided to speak with Gale, who has been volunteering at the Center for Reading and Writing for over twenty years. When I 

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Changing the Changing City

Seeking further enlightenment into the city we call home, I recently took a class on the literary and cultural history of New York City. Among the many themes common to New York City novels we discussed was the portrayal of the city itself as a character with power to shape the lives of its citizens.

Many of us New Yorkers have felt this pressure in our own lives: we choose where to live based on our budgets, our hobbies, our family situation, and often our ethnic, linguistic or religious 

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CRW Students Share Their Stories for Immigrant Heritage Week

In honor of Immigrant Heritage Week, students at 3 of the Centers for Reading and Writing spent the day at Mid-Manhattan Library recording their personal stories with Storycorps, a national oral history project, started 8 years ago. 

Jahara Drammeh (Aguilar CRW student), John, the Storycorps facilitator, and Steven Kopstein, (Aguilar Tutor) chatting before the interview 

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A Trailblazer in Immigrant Services: The New York Public Library

THEN

The year was 1910 and there was a huge influx of immigrants into New York so much so that the foreign-born population rose to 41 percent. Meanwhile, the New York Public Library, a free public library of New York was being birthed into existence. In 1895, an agreement was signed to consolidate the Tilden Fund and the Lenox and Astor Libraries, two private libraries in New York. The Tilden Fund financed the construction of The Research Library located on the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. Construction was completed and the

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Reader's Den and National Poetry Month: Week Two

The Reader’s Den is NYPL’s online book discussion forum, but during the month of April, we’re all about poetry. This week’s poem, "City Visions," was chosen with a view to celebrating Immigrant Heritage Week, which starts April 17. It was written by the same poet whose words grace the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses…”).

City Visions by Emma Lazarus

I.

As the blind Milton's memory of light, The 

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Beyond Shamrocks: Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

The Big Apple will become the Green Apple very soon. On March 17th, to mark New York City’s 248th consecutive St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the green line will again be painted down the Fifth Avenue parade route. Although a lot of green will be in evidence, did you know that Ireland’s traditional color was 

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Book Discussion of "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri

Tottenville Branch had a book discussion last night on The Namesake. It went very well, but wasn’t quite as lively as last month’s discussion of Running With Scissors! The group liked The Namesake, and were sympathetic to the characters, by and large, and their difficulties in adapting to American culture, and being caught between India and the U.S., especially for the second generation character, Gogol, who is the main character of the 

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New Additions to the Digital Gallery

Additional images from the NYC Tenement House Department collection of photographic negatives have been added to the Digital Gallery recently. This Summer a number of images from the collection were uploaded, most of which showed the outhouses the Tenement Department photographed for their records. With the new images, we get to see some interiors of the buildings. Having these images on the Digital Gallery is especially good news as this collection cannot be fully accessed by the 

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U.S. Passport Applications on Ancestry Library Edition

Ancestry Library Edition is one of the most heavily used subscription databases in the NYPL system. Some of you may already be familiar with this database as it is one of the best for genealogy research. Recently it has added a new collection to their content, U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Prior to the digitization of these records, genealogists and other researchers could only access these applications at the National Archives and Records Administration. The information found on these applications includes birth and marriage dates, names 

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