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Library provides opportunities for non-English-speaking people

Friday, March 28, 2008 | 6:01 p.m. CDT; updated 9:40 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — A recent study by the American Library Association shows libraries in the U.S. are working to provide opportunities for non-English-speaking people.

According to the survey, because 21 million people in the U.S. speak limited or no English — 50 percent more than a decade ago — many libraries are working to provide opportunities for people lacking English language literacy.

By the numbers

21 million people in the U.S. speak limited or no English. This is 50 percent more than 10 years ago. 78 percent of libraries reported Spanish as the No. 1 language they develop services and programs for. The Daniel Boone Regional Library provides more than 469 titles in Spanish. These include books, books on tape, books on CD, DVDs and videotapes.


The study found 78 percent of libraries reported Spanish as the No. 1 language for which they develop services and programs and the majority of libraries serving non-English-speaking people are in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents.

The Daniel Boone Regional Library is among these libraries lending their resources to the non-English-speaking community in part through the Spanish Language Outreach Program.

The program, with funding from the Library Services and Technology Act Grant, helps provide transportation for children from the Centro Latino, an organization that helps Latinos acclimate to mid-Missouri, to the library.

“The concept of the grant is so that the kids can see familiar faces,” said Karen Neely, head of the Outreach Services Department at the library.

“Continuity really helps the children; the more and more they see you the better,” said Sherry McBride-Brown, the Outreach Services librarian.

The program will host a workshop for staff at the library, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on April 4, to learn how to develop an outreach plan to bring more people into the library.

“One of the things we want to find out at the workshop is how you reach non-English speaking people,” Neely said.

The workshop will feature a variety of activities and a panel of experts composed of Brandy Sánchez, continuing education consultant at the Missouri State Library in Jefferson City; Eduardo Crespi, executive director of the Centro Latino; Rosa Burmeister, training development coordinator for residential life at MU; and Rossana Vaca, a family support staff member from Door to Health at the Columbia/Boone County Health Department.

The library provides over 469 Spanish language titles, which include books, books on tape, books on CD, DVDs and videotapes. These titles include self-help and graphic novels and provide a wide selection to the Hispanic community. The library also provides an English as a Second Language collection for a variety of different languages.

“When people first come to the United States, they have a really hard time learning in English,” said Svetlana Grobman, the Public Services librarian who moved to the United States from Russia. “The library is where I learned English, so I want to share that as an immigrant.”


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