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Outreach Services

Resources for New Americans

The San Diego Public Library serves a very diverse population of adults and their children from countries and cultures outside the United States. This page was created in an effort to assist in understanding and accessing resources that can help them adjust to U.S. culture and achieve permanent citizenship.

Visit the Web Resources companion page for more information.

Free Library Card

The San Diego Public Library offers free library cards to residents that may be used at any of the Library's locations. A library card may be used to borrow materials such as books and videos and the cards also gives access to the resources of the Library's online databases. There is no minimum age to get a card, but children under age 18 will need a parent's signature. The application is online in English or in Spanish. Just print out and complete the application, and bring it with one form of photo identification and address verification to any of the Library's locations.

International Language Collection

The Library's international language collection includes books, periodicals, audiocassettes, videocassettes, CDs, DVDs and CD-ROMs. Materials are offered in Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hmong, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

Bilingual Staff

Library staff fluent in non-English languages, including Hmong, Spanish and Vietnamese is available to assist patrons. Contact your local library for bilingual assistance.

English Learning Materials

The Library has a collection of English as a Second Language (ESL) learning books, videocassettes, audiocassettes, CDs and DVDs. In the Library catalog, search the subject: English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers

The Library also carries the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) workbooks, videocassettes, audiocassettes, CDs and DVDs.

Citizenship Preparation

The Library has books, audiocassettes, videocassettes, DVDs, and CDs about immigration, citizenship, and citizenship test preparation that you may borrow. Search the Library Catalog for these subjects (or Ask the Library for help):

Free citizenship preparation classes are sometimes held at branch libraries. Please check the Calendar of Events for more information. Pre-registration is not required; students may join at any time.

Literacy Services

READ/San Diego is a free literacy and family literacy instruction service for adults 18 years of age and older. It has an in-house computer lab that offers a wide selection of programs aimed at helping learners improve language skills, reading, writing, spelling, math, typing, GED and job preparation skills. The Families for Literacy program promotes literacy using a family approach.

Computer Training

The Library offers classes to help you learn to use computers, including instruction about the Internet, e-mail, the library catalog, a host of online databases, and software programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Classes are free. For information check the Calendar of Events page.

Foreign Language Search Engine

Several web search engines, including Google, which offers a translate tool. Spanish and Punjabi versions of Google are also available. Due to the recent implementation of filters in compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), Library staff assistance is required to use this tool.


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