...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



This week's efemérides:
After golf great Lee Trevino fell by one stroke to fellow Texan Homero Blancas in a memorable fourth-round duel at the 1970 Colonial Invitational, the witty 'Super Mex' gushed to reporters, "Bring on the champagne!

You've never had a Mexican winner and runner-up!" Blancas, who once carded amazing rounds of 55 and 62 in the same day, will celebrate a happy 63 years on earth come March 7. Link and you'd never had a Hispanic world heavyweight boxing champ--that is, until Saturday night when John Ruiz, son of Puerto Rican parents, won a unanimous decision against Evander Holyfield. Link

Ruiz's victory has triggered celebrations throughout the Americas, which were of course named for March 9 birthday boy Amerigo Vespucci. Link I
Link II

Also born March 9 was popular TV fortune-teller Walter Mercado, in Ponce, Puerto Rico. We don't know his age, but can tell you he is a Pisces. See your future at, his Spanish-language site, or enjoy Lil' Rudy G. & the Chizmosos' comical tribute to Walter at and check out the rest of born-in-East-L.A. Rudy's truly spectacular site.

SOL 54 Contents:

March 5, 2001
1. ALA Presidential Candidates Address SOListas
2. Expands Services
3. Free Magazine Offer
4. Exemplary Online Library Newsletter in Spanish
5. More on the Census Undercount



1. Messrs. Haycock, Freedman, and Sannwald on Spanish-language library service

This year three candidates are running for the presidency of the American Library Association. To help you get a sense of where they stand regarding the issues of importance to librarians serving Spanish speakers, Flaco sent them the query below. Their replies follow.

Esteemed Candidates:
Language barriers present important challenges to library users and service providers. Certainly the ALA could play an active and influential role in helping librarians with their efforts to better serve growing communities of Spanish speakers.  
SOL, which reaches more than 200 working librarians in the US and Canada with its newsletter and discussion list, and many more with its accompanying website, invites all three presidential aspirants to explain your perspectives on this issue and describe any plans you hope to carry out during your term in office.   Your responses will be included in the SOL e-newsletter and posted on the website.  Thank you all for your consideration, and best wishes for a good campaign.

Ken Haycock responds:
ALA needs to make a commitment to providing materials and resources designed for our communities in a variety of languages. When I was a coordinator of 116 libraries for a large system we provided all materials in the fourteen major languages of our clients, encouraged effective programming and as a result developed strong bonds with our communities. ALA needs to do the same. As we move into the @yourlibrary campaign, supported by millions of dollars, we need to ensure that all residents come to know and understand the importance of their local library and the impact that it can have on their personal lives and their communities.
Thank you for the opportunity to address this important question.
For further information please visit the web site

Ken Haycock
Candidate for President of the American Library Association
Professor and Director
School of Library, Archival and Information Studies
The University of British Columbia
854C-1956 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC  V6T 1Z1

voice: 604-822-4991; fax: 604-822-6006

Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman responds:
I am committed to services to Spanish speakers. This commitment will be a strong part of my presidency.

As ALA President

I will advocate for encouraging libraries to recruit and reward bilingual librarians by paying bonuses for that skill. I will also recommend subsidies for language instruction for librarians, library support staff, and patrons. This will be included in a kit I will develop that will provide librarians with tools to lobby for better pay for library staff at the local level. The overall issue of pay equity and better pay for library workers will be one of the most important concerns of my presidency.

I will use the full power of the office of the President to ensure that ALA provides Spanish and other major language translations of all ALA produced materials. Included will be materials in non-print formats, which may be easier for ESL library users to work with. Note that I sponsored a successful resolution in the ALA Council that directed ALA to prepare materials in Spanish that are comparable to the English language materials ALA created for the @your library campaign.

I will establish a Committee on Diversity made up of ALA affiliate group appointed members that I will consult on all major ALA issues, including important committee assignments.

As part of my job I have been committed to services to Spanish speakers

As the director of the Westchester Library System (WLS), I am proud of several accomplishments that were especially important and valuable to the Westchester community of Spanish speakers. Following is a list of some of WLS’s more recent initiatives: 

The latest is a six-week course in rudimentary Spanish for the library staff. It was an idea initiated by the Outreach & Adult Services Department head, Robin Osborne. The goal is to train library staff so they will have some understanding of what Spanish speakers are asking for, as well as give them the skills to be able to give simple answers in Spanish.

One of the reasons I am so deeply committed to this Spanish class for library staff was because of an incident that occurred twenty-five years ago while I was head of technical services at one of the largest public libraries in the world. At a meeting of all of the coordinators and the upper management of the library, someone reported that one of the staff had told a library user to speak in English because that is the language of the U.S. The Spanish speaker left the library, probably never to return again. 

I offered an opinion and a suggestion. I said that the librarian should either be transferred to a branch that does not have Spanish-speaking users, or, be trained in Spanish if she wished to remain at that branch. Either way, no one should be insulted because of the language they speak. My suggestion was for the library to subsidize Spanish instruction for its staff as a way of providing better service to its Spanish speaking users.

WLS also created two literacy centers established with 8 PCs each, and on-site paid instructors. The object of the centers is to help ESOLs develop language and information literacy skills.  

Lastly WLS recently published a bilingual Immigrant Resources Directory listing all of the relevant service agencies in the County. The directory was published both ways—front in Spanish; turn it over and the front is in English. 

As part of my professional outlook I am committed to Spanish speakers

I have always been committed to serving everyone. I believe that the public library’s greatness as a democratic institution is its commitment to serving everyone regardless of his or her language, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical differences, or ability to pay. My career reflects achievements and activities in the library, in the ALA, and in my personal life that embody that commitment. 

Promoting diversity issues will be an absolute priority of my presidency.

Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman, MLS, PhD.
Candidate for A*L*A  P*R*E*S*I*D*E*N*T

Director, Westchester Library System
410 Saw Mill River Road – Suite 1000
Ardsley, NY 10502
914-674-3600  x223
fax: 914-674-4185

William Sannwald responds:
I think it is important to provide materials in the native language of library users if there is a demand for this material.  In my eighteen years as Director of the San Diego Public Library, I have added collections in many languages, and today materials in more than 100 languages are available at the SDPL.  In addition, the library's catalog is available in English or Spanish.

Besides materials, the SDPL attempts to place librarians in branches who speak the language and understand the culture of our users.  Staff receives a 5% salary bonus if they are able to pass a language test for those branches that are determined to be bi- or multilingual.

The SDPL coordinates collection development with libraries in Mexico, and the library has entered into cooperative agreements with Mexican libraries.

If you need more information, please contact me.

Bill Sannwald

2. Terra introduces three new services

The popular Spanish-language portal last week added free instant messaging, 25MB of virtual document storage, and the only free website authoring & publishing service available en español. That last one has been added to 'Tu Bibliotecario Electrónico,' our Web index for Spanish speakers at

Heartfelt thanks from Flaco, by the way, to the many libraries around the country that have linked to TBE.

3. You've gotta like the name, and the price

From: Kezia Scales  

I am writing to you from The Sun Magazine, a monthly English-language literary magazine which publishes essays, interviews, short stories, poetry, and photography.  The magazine is not targeted towards a specific audience, and it generally appeals to a broad demographic of readers.  The content of the magazine comes primarily from unsolicited submissions (there are no staff writers), which allows for a considerable diversity of voices to be represented within the pages of The Sun.  Although the content varies significantly, the general tone of the writing tends to be very personal, interwoven with philosophical, spiritual, and political themes.         

The Sun recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to donate subscriptions to three hundred public libraries across the country.  Approximately one third of the complimentary subscriptions will be sent to libraries which reach out to traditionally underserved populations.  We are appealing for suggestions of specific libraries that are located in traditionally underserved communities (such as economically disadvantaged or predominantly non-white neighborhoods), or that have established strong diversity/outreach programs.  If you are affiliated with a library which you think might fit this description and benefit from a complimentary subscription to The Sun, and/or if you know of other such libraries, please respond by Friday, March 9 to, or call The Sun directly (919-942-5282).

Kezia Scales
Office Assistant at The Sun Magazine

4. Oregon library co-op publishes newsletter in Spanish

The Washington County Cooperative Library System serves NW Oregon's Silicon Forest as well as a rich agricultural region. The WCCLS even let Flaco work at one of their circ desks for a while. The cooperative has done an outstanding job of mounting its entire newletter on the web in Spanish translation:


An in case you haven't heard, WCCLS also recently produced a nice Spanish-language library orientation video they'd be pleased to share with you. See SOL 36 for details:


5. It's official: Three million Americans don't exist

As grumbled about previously in SOL, the Census undercount will not be statistically remedied. For more analysis, and a link to a related story on how this will likely affect multicultural marketing, go to LINK.

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