...una biblioteca es un gabinete mágico en el cual hay muchos espíritus hechizados. Despiertan cuando los llamamos; mientras no abrimos un libro, ese libro, literalmente, es un volumen, es una cosa entre las cosas.      - Emerson

Public Libraries Using Spanish


SOL 1   January 31, 2000


SOL 1 Contents:


1. Christina Nypaver points us toward the IRS's Spanish-language IRS site

3. Meet Teresa Pacheco
2. Meet Sarah Denney-Garcia

   Greetings.  This is the first mailing for the Spanish in Our Libraries list.   Thanks once again for your words and your interest in improving library service.   Following this brief introductory section are your first postings, preceded by brief synopses together with some of the questions the postings raised for me.  You’re welcome to respond to those questions, or to bring up other concerns that are on your mind right now.  Later this week we’ll know what direction(s) our initial discussions will be taking.   Several of you commented on how time-consuming e-lists can be.  We know.  Please, never hesitate to throw me suggestions about how to make this list as useful and efficient as possible.   So far there are 35 of you signed up, from all four quadrants of the US and a couple border sites in Mexico! Three participants have sent formal introductions, and the rest of you are invited to do the same.  As always, if your message contains anything you don’t want broadcast, make that clear and I’ll withhold it from the list.   By the same token if we are overwhelmed with postings it may be necessary now and then, brevity being the SOL of wit, to edit.  If it happens to you, and you feel I cut out something important, do let me know.  




Three Postings

  Christina Nypaver from Half Moon Bay points out the need for Spanish-language tax advice, directing us toward a section of the IRS website and a California newspaper offering same.  She also mentions that REFORMAnet has been a good source of help in developing services for Spanish speakers.   Sarah Denney-Garcia of Oregon and Teresa Pacheco from Georgia brings up the issue of bilingual staffing; Sarah notes that many patrons “never make it to the reference desk.”  It would be interesting to hear how other libraries with no or very few Spanish speaking staff members have dealt with such service concerns.  There are libraries where the circ desk sends patrons to the Spanish speaker at the reference desk to discuss fines, and in others the Monolingual reference librarian may have to rely on clerks.  Does language ability blur the line that some libraries so carefully draw between ‘professional’ and ‘support’ work?   Teresa’s message reflects her effort to understand the composition and serve the needs of the local community.  Tantalizingly, she suggests that the precise composition of the patron population is a matter of some debate.  How successful have other libraries been in getting a fix on who the local users (and non-users) are?    She stresses that her library is always eager to “hear ideas that will help to improve our collections and community relationships.”


  Reply-to: Christina Nypaver

 Thanks for your message and for getting me started with SOL.   In terms of a brief introduction, I work for the San Mateo County Library System (located just south of San Francisco).  Our system has twelve branch locations and a bookmobile, and most, if not all, of our communities are home to large numbers of Spanish speakers.

We belong to the Peninsula Library System (PLS), a consortium of city and county public libraries and local colleges.   My position is a new one (less than a year); half of my time is spent in services to Spanish speakers in the coastal community of Half Moon Bay  and in the other half I'm responsible for services to Spanish speakers for all the county libraries (collection development, outreach, children's and adult services). 

I have enjoyed and gotten a lot of good information from Reforma's list serve, and I feel certain to have a similar experience with SOL.    

One bit of information that may be interesting to share with other SOL subscribers:   In an effort to provide information to Spanish speakers concerning income tax filing, I found a useful section of the IRS website:,,i1=48&genericId=23102,00.html  This website offers general information on filing federal income tax and it's in Spanish.  Also on page 8 of the Jan. 15, 2000 issue of La Nueva Prensa de California (tel:925-210-1107) Teresa Foster's column offers tax advice.   I am still looking for more information in Spanish on the topic of income tax filing, and if I find more, I will be sure to write you again.     Thanks for your work with SOL,  

Christina Nypaver


  From: Sarah Denney-Garcia

I'm a reference librarian in a public library.  Native Spanish speakers comprise 15-20% of our service population.   In the early 80's our library began receiving a rotating Spanish collection through the Oregon State Library.  About that same time our administration included funding for Spanish language mat'ls in its book budget. 

We now have an annual budget of $16,000 for Spanish books, periodicals & A.V.  Last year I attended the Feria Internacional del Libro in Guadalajara & was able to purchase some great things for our collection. Personally, I have lived/traveled in Spanish speaking countries & have worked as a vol. tutor in farm camps & as an ENNL  teacher in our community. [Note: ESL is known in much of Oregon as ‘English as a Non-Native Language’--Bruce]

Right now our library's biggest problem is the lack of Spanish speaking employees. I am at the location with the largest number of Spanish speaking patrons only 2 or 3 days per week.  We really need employees in circulation who can effectively communicate with these library users- many never make it to the ref desk.  No matter how much is spent on matl's, lack of communication can make access difficult & problematic for these patrons.  In a nutshell that's the situation at our library.  

Sarah Denney-Garcia
Hillsboro Pub. Libraries; Hillsboro,OR


From: Teresa Pacheco

   I work at Hall County Library in Gainesville, Georgia. We serve between 5% and 20% Hispanic patrons, depending on whose count you believe.

Most of the Hispanic patrons we serve are recent immigrants from Mexico, who speak little or no English. A small percentage of the Hispanic patrons in this area are college-educated and hold professional positions.   Literacy in either language is a great problem in our area, and while we are one of the wealthiest counties in Georgia, only 15.4% of our population have a college degree.   

We want to make our library responsive and welcoming to all members of the citizenry. To this end, we translate as many materials as possible (in-house), have a small but growing Spanish/bilingual books collection, and we participate in regional infofairs.   

Time constraints and limited bilingual personnel (actually, I'm the only one) make it difficult to provide the quality services that the Hispanic residents of this area deserve. I hope by participating in this discussion list to hear ideas that will help to improve our collections and community relationships with Hispanic people of this area.


Teresa Pacheco
Computer Services Asst.

Bruce Jensen 

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