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First Naturalization Ceremony Hosted at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

by on May 10, 2024

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML) hosted a Naturalization Ceremony on April 6, 2024 in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The event, at which fourteen individuals became Unites States citizens, was a joyous first for CML. Ten countriesphotograph of a woman in a black dress with long black hair smiling and holding a miniature us flag and standing in front of a larger us flag were represented at the ceremony, including Belarus, Cameroon, Canada, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Ukraine, and United Kingdom. Following the ceremony each new American signed up for their first library card, registered to vote with the League of Women Voters, and received a tour of the South County Regional location where the ceremony took place.  Library CEO and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner gave the Keynote Address. Mecklenburg County commissioners Laura Meier and Susan McDowell-Rodriquez, and Charlotte City Council Member LaWana Slack-Mayfield also marked the occasion.

Jenni Gaisbauer, the CML Foundation Executive Director, extended a “heartfelt welcome” to the New Americans in her opening remarks at the ceremony. The Foundation funded this special event. Gaisbauer reflected further after the event, noting that it was one of the most “…rewarding experiences I’ve had working at the library. There were no empty seats and few dry eyes in the room.”

photograph of a man with a beard holding a document shaking another person's handThe goal of hosting the ceremony in the library was to bring international families to the library to show them firsthand just how welcome they are, to expose them to the free programs, materials, and resources the library has available (an unfamiliar concept in many other countries), and of course, hope they will share their experiences at the library with their families and friends, furthering the library’s connection with international populations throughout Charlotte.

As a first for CML, associated print pieces such as the program, copies of speeches, and photos, were archived by Sydney Carroll, Archivist. She shared that “the Archive and Special Collections Department’s mission is to preserve and share the experiences of new and underrepresented communities in the archive. What better way to achieve this than to give these naturalization materials a permanent home in our collection?”

Charlotte is a fast growing and densely populated metropolis, with over 113 people moving to Charlotte every single day. It is also proud to be the only Certified Welcoming city in the state of North Carolina. In response to this, CML supports newcomers to Charlotte through a dedicated onboarding strategy called WelcomeCLT. This strategy is in direct support of the library’s mission to be a welcoming place to all and was also enacted as part of the effort to address Child and Family Stability in Charlotte, NC. Led by a diverse team of library staff, this initiative supports those new to the Queen City (with an emphasis on international newcomers) by providing information and resources about the Charlotte metro area. WelcomeCLT includes dedicated kiosks/citizenship corners, dedicated programming, and an online portal.

As CML moves into the next phase of WelcomeCLT, the team is excited to incorporate this important initiative into the blueprint for our new Main Library, projected to be finished in 2025. The new Main Library will be a major destination in Uptown Charlotte; a free, open, and accessible information hub for Mecklenburg County long timers, newcomers, and those just stopping through.


  1. https://www.cmlibrary.org
  2. https://www.welcomeclt.org
  3. https://www.welcomingamerica.org
  4. https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2023/07/25/clt-alliance-113-daily-movers-population-growth.html

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