Serving Non-English Speakers in U.S. Public Libraries
Program Possibilities: Examples of successful programs across the country
The American Dream Starts @ your library
In April 2008 ALA funded 34 public libraries in 18 states as part of the American Dream Starts @ your library funded by Dollar General. These 34 libraries successfully demonstrated community need, library capacity, project sustainability, and the determination to provide exemplary library literacy services for adult English language learners. American Dream libraries serve urban, rural, and suburban cities and towns ranging in size from 850 to over 1 million.
Right now, the American Dream libraries are expanding their literacy collections, adding literacy and language programs, developing new community partnerships, building mobile computer labs, and training teachers and tutors. In the coming year, their bibliographies, webliographies, training manuals, video commentaries, best practices, and lessoned learned will all be added to the American Dream Toolkit.
Amigos de la Biblioteca
A tutoring program affiliated with the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to provide tutoring aid for ESL (English as a Second Language) children. The program trains high school students to tutor elementary school children once or twice a week in a library setting. They help children in reading, writing, and homework in general. Parents and children also have an opportunity to discover library services and resources available to them.
Conexiones que Cuentan/Connections that Count
A storytime for children from birth to age five that is presented entirely in the Spanish language. By centering the program around the parent’s or caregiver’s native language, it encourages early learning and developmental literacy. A trained volunteer can be passionate about providing this opportunity to help their community. Library staff can help by providing space and program resources, such as musical instruments, flannelboards, art supplies, etc., and by creating displays of library materials of interest.
An open house gathering for adults who are learning to speak English, encouraging them to practice their conversational skills. The library may provide space, light refreshments, name tags, and a facilitator. Truly the library as community space, it also provides opportunities to promote collections, online resources, and programs.
A small informal and multi-language group that organizes events, celebrations, and field trips to help acclimate them to the U.S. They go shopping, visit local orchards, museums, and more. Together they learn about U.S. customs and institutions, idioms and American colloquialisms. The word, “Dunia,” means “world” in Swahili, Hindi, Arabic, Malay, and Indonesian languages.
Training for Research & Academic Careers in Communications Sciences (TRACCS)
An intensive summer research program offered by the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences of Indiana University at Bloomington for international, multicultural, and minority students. Students learn how to conduct library research in their field, particularly using electronic resources.