Check out this great article put out by the School Library Journal* about resources for English Language Learners in school and public libraries. In as diverse a country as the U.S., libraries must respond to the varied cultural and linguistic backgrounds of their patron bases.
Something I found particularly interesting about this article was how it addressed the complications inherent in the acquisition of items in other languages. For example, the Minneapolis-St.Paul area has the largest Hmong population in the United States – but actually acquiring material in Hmong is complicated by the fact that the Hmong language has only had a written form since the 1950’s. Even though we can be lulled by our “Google it” culture, some things are really tricky, (bordering on almost impossible!) to find. That makes the role of librarians even more important – we love the search!
*Many thanks to Geek the Library for posting wonderful articles on their Facebook page, including this one (:
New York City is working to address the digital divide with a new NYPL initiative that will provide free, portable, wireless Wi-Fi hubs for check-out.
“At every branch you walk into, every computer is being used all the time,” [NYPL President Anthony] Marx said. “As more and more of what the library offers moves online, it became obvious that there was a problem.”
This initiative seeks to reach out to the 2.5 million NYC residents without their own access to the internet, and will focus on patrons in adult-learning and/or ESL programs, and patrons without home broadband.
This is an exciting time to see how the digital divide is being addressed by public institutions, businesses and governing bodies!
Readers, as we all know, Ferguson, Missouri has been in a continual state of tension and unrest since the August 9th shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. Protests swelled on the 24th of November after Wilson was not indicted for any of the charges brought againts him, charges, according to Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch , which ranged from “first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter.”
Although many public services, including public schools, closed their doors to Ferguson residents after the verdict, the Ferguson Public Library remained open, scheduling impromptu classes for students out of school and providing a space for businesses to meet if their establishments had been hit by looters or arsonists.
More than just providing necessary services, the Ferguson Library, with Director Scott Bonner at the helm, has created a refuge for patrons. Donations have been pouring in, and Bonner hopes that these donations could help support a full-time children’s services staff member. In the meantime, he has been putting together “healing kits” for local children, each containing books about dealing with traumatic events as well as a stuffed animal for the child to keep. As Bonner says,
When there’s a need, we try to find a way to meet it. I have a very broad definition of librarianship.
In times of trial, it is heartening to hear about the very real good that libraries champion, day in and day out.
As outlined in this recent article from Reuters, libraries are becoming true community resources when faced with the homelessness that plagues over 600,000 Americans. When one patron suffering from homelessness was asked how often he frequents the library, he replied “”Always. I have nowhere else to go. When it’s hot, you come here to stay out of the heat. When it’s cold, you come here to stay out of the cold.”
What other public institution offers classes to young mothers and their babies, a selection of local history, tech support groups, book clubs, exercise classes, your favorite crime bestsellers, and programs to help people get back on their feet after hard times? These are obviously just a smattering of what is available in a public library; the list of everything offered there is actually far larger, and changes and adapts based on individual community needs.
I passed by the the public library in Amsterdam, New York today . Above the door the words “Free to all” are carved in stone. When people ask me if I think libraries are still relevant, I always say of course – libraries are public spaces that foster independent thinking and support community members whatever stage or station they occupy . An America in which these spaces are no longer relevant is one that I hope I never see.