Written by Joe Armstrong, Content Specialist, Marketing, Downtown Main Library
We insist on being a library for all. All minds. All modes. All needs. More than 2.4 million visits are made to the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library each year from customers living in and working in our diverse, vibrant, and unique neighborhoods. Our series “Meet a Library Customer” shares the stories that minds of all kinds have each day at CHPL.
Becoming a U.S. citizen is a daunting path that takes years to complete if all goes smoothly. Janne Rydinki was in the midst of this process, facing mountains of paperwork, tests, and interviews, all in hopes to join his family as a citizen of the United States. Janne has been working full-time and living with his family in the United States for years and often visits the Symmes Township Branch Library with his children. He enrolled in CHPL's Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Exam series, where Library staff guided him through the naturalization process. Janne is now an American citizen, passing the exam with flying colors!
Navigating the Naturalization Process
The median years spent as a lawful permanent resident until obtaining citizenship is 7.3 years. During this time there are forms, biometrics appointments, tests, and more. Through the Library's Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Exam series, Janne received accurate and trusted information each week in each of the 10 courses, gaining clarity on each step to naturalization.
“I gained a deeper perspective," Janne says, "It prepared me for what I needed to know throughout the citizenship process."
The free course also serves another purpose, breaking down confusing language barriers which may occur during paperwork or while taking the U.S. Citizenship Test.
"This class is especially useful when you’re starting the citizenship process. If you struggle more with English, the Library can give you better explanations of things that aren’t making sense to you," Janne says.
The Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Exam series is available virtually through online video calls each week - another draw for Janne who works full-time along with caring for his family. "The courses were online, accessible from home," Janne says, "and they were offered for free – the only cost for me was time." This is what Keith Armour, the Library's Adult Learning and Literacies Manager, makes sure is shared with anyone interested in the course. “It’s all free," says Keith, whose team at the Adult Learning Center provides dozens of learning, employment, and other services for adults.
Passing the U.S. Citizenship Test
Under the Constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states?
What is the “rule of law”?
How many amendments does the Constitution have?
If you want to obtain citizenship, you'd better know the answer to these and dozens of other civics questions. The Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Exam series is focused on the Naturalization Test, sharing sample questions, test preparation books, online databases, practice tests, and other resources.
"We help our customers along the way but they’re the ones who are doing the work themselves, doing the paperwork, doing the homework. It’s a challenging process," says Keith, "It does make me proud that we’re part of this process for them."
We're thrilled to report that Janne is now an American citizen, passing the exam with flying colors. He credits the Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Exam series for empowering him with the knowledge and confidence he needed to succeed.
Resources for New Americans
For Janne and other new citizens of the United States, the Library offers services, resources, and materials all in one convenient online location. CHPL's New Americans webpage shares upcoming events just for New Americans, information about their newly-gained right to vote, books and materials in dozens of languages, resources to learn English, and much more.
The New Americans webpage includes materials and videos so even our youngest customers can learn without limits – or language barriers. Learn how to get to Sesame Street in Arabic, or take a journey in French to “dis bonjour!” to new friends with virtual storytimes.
Visit our Adult Education Center webpage for information on upcoming Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Exam series, and visit the New Americans webpage, opens a new window for services, resources, materials, and more.