How to Serve the World @ your library

Serve the World

Serving Non-English Speakers in U.S. Public Libraries

Sensing Success

Bridging the Gap Family to Family:  Athenian-Mexican Cultural Exchange and Learning
The Athens Regional Library was awarded PLA’s 2007 Highsmith Library Innovation Award for their Pinewoods Library and Learning Center’s project:  Bridging the Gap Family to Family:  Athenian-Mexican Cultural Exchange and Learning.  Library Director Kathryn Ames says, “I’m firmly convinced we’ve saved at least one life,” in an instance where a Mexican diabetic was shown how to use a test kit by a health educator and a nutritionist talked to her about her diet.

Families Growing Together
The East Chicago Public Library implemented a program called “Families Growing Together,” that targeted immigrant families with children in high school.  Through a grant, the title Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan was provided to families in both English and Spanish.  At the end of the program, one of the mothers said this was the first time she had read a book all the way through.

WorldLinks Virtual Library
From Hennepin County’s WorldLinks virtual library branch, users can access library materials, activities, and policies in Hmong, Somali, and Spanish.  Also, at Hennepin’s extranet, service providers can find articles on best practices and components for successful World Language Storytimes.

ESL—Nationality Night
The Mt. Lebanon Public Library won the Best Practices in Early Learning Award in 2008 from the Pennsylvania Library Association for their ESL—Nationality Night:  a community welcome and orientation program held in the fall.  Collaborating with the schools, ESL teachers sent invitations to new families.  Librarians prepared an introductory program; Russian and Chinese translators were available; foreign language materials were highlighted, as well as those used to learn English.  The children received a special story program and a free book.

English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
The New York Public Library offers English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at 21 library sites and piloted a successful project of Technology Assisted ESOL Instruction.  There are also conversation programs run by volunteers, computer classes in Spanish, citizenship help, world language collections, and staff training in customer service for multicultural environments.

20 years of ESOL/Literacy Instruction
The Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts celebrated 20 years of ESOL/Literacy instruction last year and published a booklet of student writings commemorating the event.

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