Denver Public Library Plaza

When Books Collide with Real Life – Immigrant & Refugee Services

Frank Wilmot, senior librarian in the Reference Department at Central Library, was born and raised in Pakistan before moving to the United States at age 10. He has his own experience of making a new country his home.

He thought about his memories when he watched the naturalization ceremonies taking place at Central Library. The library would close to the public and library staff would line the three balconies around Schlessman Hall to witness the ceremonies. He remembers watching as about 50 people shuffled into the hall under a large American flag to take their oath as new citizens, surrounded by hundreds of their friends and family. 

In 2013, the daughters of Bear Valley Senior Librarian James Davis kicked off the program with the singing of the national anthem, the Color Guard made up of students from Auraria Campus presented the flag, and City Librarian Michelle Jeske gave remarks. 

Wilmot, who walked back into the Reference Room on the third floor, listened as the program progressed, wandering through the stacks. As people took their oaths, Wilmot found himself in the social sciences section, scanning the titles around him: “Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America,” “The Encyclopedia of Peoples of the World,” “American Immigrant Cultures: Builders of a Nation,” and more.   

“I was in this world of my own, looking at books that were about what was happening downstairs,” Wilmot said. “It was this interesting, unique experience that I’m having all to myself.”

In that moment, the power of the library hit home – a welcoming space where all are free to explore and connect free of charge. 

These are the moments that happen every day at Denver Public Library. The library’s Plaza programs create inclusive spaces for people from all over the world to connect with resources and meet new people. They come to practice a language, prepare for citizenship, pursue new goals, and create a future in Denver. The name Plaza comes from the plazas that are the center of many Latin American cities.

Services include legal workshops with immigration lawyers and citizen help sessions, a “Denver Resource Guide for New Americans” that includes reliable resources for immigrants, refugees, and asylees in the Denver area, and English support.

In 2021, more than 2,500 people took part in over 4,300 Plaza virtual and in-person programs.

Learn more about the library’s services for immigrants and refugees.