Check It Out/Public libraries helped immigrants to assimilate

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

I love the first of May -- May Day. I keep thinking I'll get around to participating in that old tradition of leaving flowers on doorsteps. For me, May represents renewal. This yes, May Day had a different focus -- A Day Without Immigrants. Marches were held all over our country to bring attention to the role of immigrants in this country.

Historically, public libraries have been a source of education and information for immigrants to our country. In fact, the public library system as we know it, became the cornerstone of our nation between 1875 and 1925, which was one of the periods of mass immigration to the United States. Libraries were on the forefront of providing services to these immigrants. I'm willing to bet that some of the immigrants from that time are related to current residents of Marshall. It's more than likely that many of those immigrants received assistance at their local public library. A commitment to the same access of information offered then is still a vital part of library services today.

There are currently seven immigration reform bills before Congress. Some of the more extreme involve making felons not only out of the 11 million undocumented immigrants but also anyone who helps them. This would have direct effect on many hard-working local immigrants as well as hard-working citizens of Marshall who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of immigrants. While I agree that immigration reform is necessary and requires immediate attention, I'm not convinced that penalizing is an effective approach.

In an editorial printed in the Wall Street Journal, Senators Barrack Obama (D-IL) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) wrote, "If we hope to bring 11 million undocumented immigrants out into the open, we must give them a reason. That means granting them an interim legal status to work with the opportunity to eventually earn citizenship., The interim status should only apply to those already here, so as not to open the door for others. We believe that successful, comprehensive immigration reform can be achieved. Today's immigrants seek to follow in that tradition [of earlier immigrants]. We do ourselves and them a disservice if we do not recognize the contributions of these individuals. And we fail to protect our children if we do not regain control over our immigration system immediately."

New books


-- "Cage of Stars" -- Jacquelyn Mitchard

-- "The Virgin of Small Plain' -- Nancy Pickard

-- "Beaches" -- James Patterson

-- "Vanished" -- Karen Robards


-- "It's Not Me, It's You" -- Anna Jane Grossman

Library events

-- Preschool Story Time each Tuesday, 10 a.m. Games, stories, crafts. Appropriate for children approximately 3 to 7 years.

-- Pajama Story Time each Monday, 7 pm. Everyone is welcome, wear your jammies or come as you are. Games, crafts, stories.

-- Wee Ones Lap Time Story Times for babies up to 24 months, each Wednesday 10 a.m. Interactive finger play and song time for mothers and babies.

-- Travel With Lewis & Clark series every other Tuesday of the month, 6 to 7:30 pm. Moderated by Marvin Wilhite.

How can I support the Marshall Public Library?

-- Bring your receipts from Patricia's into the library when you're returning or checking out books. Each month, Patricia's Foods will donate a portion of the collected receipts to the library.

-- When purchasing items from, use the link to Amazon that appears on the Marshall Public Library's Web site: A portion of your purchase will go to support the library.

-- Consider joining Friends of the Marshall Libraries. Membership forms are available at the library.

-- Honor a mentor. Celebrate a friend. Commemorate an event. A gift to the Marshall Public Library is a unique and enduring way to pay tribute to friends and family. Your generosity will be a lasting source of joy and enrichment for the community. For additional information, please call (660) 886-3391 with any questions.

Column compiled by Cathie Forbes and Priscilla McReynolds