New American Initiative

After conversations with our library leadership, we’ve learned of a great need in our library system that would support our immigrant neighbors. We are at the very beginning of developing this funding program, and we are calling it the “New American Initiative.” We believe the mission of the library is to serve all in the community, especially those who are underserved in some way. Fairfax County Public Library already provides service to English Language Learners. Immigrants to Fairfax County can find many resources in the library, from English Language Learning materials to English conversation groups. We’ve learned that with additional funding from Fairfax Library Foundation supporters, the resources available to immigrants in Fairfax County could be greatly improved.

Where is the Need Greatest for English Language Learners in our Libraries?

The greatest need for our library system’s English Language Learners is the English as Second Language (ESL) sub-collection. Our Deputy Director shared with us:

“The ESL collection is one of the hardest working sub-collections in FCPL, with some items still in circulation after well over 100 check outs.  The collection is badly in need of updating, as some items are over 20 years old but still circulate regularly.  The fact that people still use 20+ year old materials illustrates the need for these life-changing resources and the care with which people use them.

Unlike picture books, another hard-working sub-collection, ESL materials are not checked out by the armload and chewed on or colored in.  They are very carefully selected by the borrowers and used with gratitude.  We would love to be able to offer updated, fresh versions of these well-used resources.

Many ESL resources are book/audio combinations to enable the user to see and hear the language.  Some are even designed for speakers of a particular language (i.e. English for Cantonese speakers).  These resources are quite expensive but are much appreciated by their target audience.”

ESL materials are often used by the ESL volunteers in the group meetings, or as an enhancement after meetings. A refreshed ESL collection would help ESL volunteers to do their great work for the English Language Learners in our community.

County budget constraints have recently limited the library’s ability to fully fund these materials. We are looking for sponsors—companies, individuals or foundations—who would like to fund these vital resources for our Fairfax County immigrants. It is more important now than ever before to give everyone in the community a fair chance to succeed in Fairfax County.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the New American Initiative, please contact us at or 703-324-8300. To make a donation to Fairfax Library Foundation to enhance the library, please click here.

The English Language Learning materials your sponsorship will provide

With funding support for the New American Initiative, the library plans to purchase the following:

$5,000 would enable FCPL to purchase:

  • each branch a set of the DVD set Persuasive English for Job Seekers in 7 different languages:  Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese/Mandarin, Urdu, and Hindi.

$10,000 would enable FCPL to purchase:

  • the above plus
  • each branch a set of the CD sets Learning to Speak English, Programs 1 & 2 in Spanish and
  • 4 copies of the CD sets Learning to Speak English, Programs 1 & 2 in each of the following: Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese/Mandarin, Urdu, and Hindi, and
  • 15 copies of Citizenship 2.0 Interactive DVD.

$15,000 would enable FCPL to purchase:

  • the above plus
  • each branch a copy of the CD/print set of Living Language Spanish Complete Edition
  • 6 copies of the CD/print set of Living Language [language] Complete Edition in each of the following:  Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese/Mandarin, Urdu, and Hindi
  • each branch 2 copies of a print English Illustrated Dictionary, and
  • one copy of Pimsleur English for Spanish Speakers, levels 1-3

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