By Christopher Reich
Office of Museum Services Senior Administrator

In 2013, IMLS signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “to support libraries through public information and engagement opportunities and through the distribution of educational material and training resources on immigration and citizenship.” Established in 2001 as part of the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. Just a few months ago, the IMLS-USCIS MOU was renewed and expanded to include similar opportunities for museums.

On Thursday, November 3, at 2:00PM EST, IMLS will host a webinar with USCIS to share ideas for museums to engage with the resources of this government agency. This introductory webinar will provide information about the history and services of USCIS, the engagement of libraries in partnership with these efforts, and the opportunities for museums to consider their possible participation in citizenship education activities.

As museums and libraries continue to expand their roles as critical components of sustainable communities, they can often provide accessible venues for citizenship education programs. The mission of USCIS to promote instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities and to raise awareness of the importance of citizenship aligns nicely with the efforts of IMLS to support the work of museums and libraries in fostering an atmosphere of cross-cultural understanding and learning opportunities in trusted environments.

There are lots of ways that museums may be able to work together with USCIS to promote an awareness and understanding of citizenship—by hosting naturalization information sessions; offering programs or exhibits on civics education; hosting tours for local citizenship classes; or possibly hosting naturalization ceremonies. These opportunities and other ideas will be discussed in the webinar along with other information about how to access the information and services available from USCIS.

We encourage museums whose missions and programming support this kind of work to join us next month for the first in what we hope will be a series of webinars to explore these opportunities. Many museums are already engaged in this work through programming for school groups, dialogue programs, and hosting special events to support new Americans. Register for the webinar by visiting the registration page on the USCIS website. For more details, email or see the IMLS webinar page.

Christopher Reich can be reached at