...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



April 14 marks 70 years since the first Pan American Day in 1931. Read all about the “Día de las Américas” in Spanish at the children's page of the Organization of American States (What? You didn't know the OAS has a children's page?) LINK.

That same day in 1931 when the Americas were partying, Spaniards were running King Alfonso XIII out of the country and establishing the Spanish Republic, for a while.

SOL 57 Contents:

April 11, 2001
1. Have any tips on library staff language training?
2. Reviews of Spanish-language items: Great new index
3. Críticas can help build your collection (for free, if you're lucky)
4. Insult Jeeves en español, just for laughs

5. More low-income & minority users access the Web from home
6. How businesses address a changing clientele in the San Fernando Valley
7. Scary procedures @ your library


1. Done any staff language training? Fresno wants tips

From: Camille Ann Turner, <>

We are looking for the voice of experience.  We are considering offering instruction in a foreign language to library staff as part of the staff training program.  Fresno County Library is located in central California and we are considering having Spanish language instruction.

1) Was your class taught internally or were staff sent out to a community course?
2) How was your class structured? (size, who could attend, duration of class,etc.)
3) How would you evaluate the success of your program?
4) What assessment tools or methods were used to determine success?
5) What was the fee for the training?

Thanks for any assistance provided.

Camille Ann Turner
Training Coordinator
Fresno County Public Library
2420 Mariposa St.
Fresno, CA 93721

2. Hot new compendium of review sources

John Barnett, librarian at University of Texas-San Antonio and all-around good guy, has nearly completed a splendid hyperlinked list of "Traditional and Nontraditional Review Sources for Spanish-Language Materials" at

3. Críticas: Take a look & win free books

At the top of John Barnett's list is Críticas, which debuted last month as a supplement to Library Journal, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. It has more than 100 reviews and previews of all kinds of Spanish-language books, a feature story to help librarians work with distributors of such books, a selection of news briefs about publishing in the Spanish-speaking world, plus lots and lots of ads from people who want to sell you some books.

So, our big giveaway this time works like this: be the first to identify the two titles reviewed by your friend Flaco in the inaugural issue of Críticas. It's that simple. Your library will be the proud winner of the one from Cuba, plus a kids' book in Spanish.

4. Pregúntale a Jeeves--or, better yet, don't

That unctious fellow Jeeves has a brand-new Spanish-language interface at That's the good news. The bad news is that Señor Jeeves is about as useful in Spanish as he is in English--which is to say, not very.

If you want to point your users toward a real search engine they can use in Spanish, you could do a lot worse than

5. Hmm. Maybe we'll need some other reasons to visit the library

Just when you thought you had this whole digital divide thing figured out, here comes a Nielsen study that finds "More Low-Income, Minority Surfers Access Web From Home":

6. Read how businesses serve a growing Spanish-speaking clientele

This from "Retailers cater to buyers" in the March 31 Los Angeles Daily News:

'The census figures released Thursday confirm what local merchants have known for years: The San Fernando Valley is a changing place. The Latino population is rising in sharp numbers, as are the Asian and Armenian communities. And savvy businesses are learning that they can either adapt to the change in demographics or watch their clients disappear.

'Whether it's changing product lineups or shifting advertisements, stores that want to keep their bottom line healthy make sure to be mindful of who's shopping there -- not who used to come in 10 years ago.

'Accordingly, Stanoff hired a fully bilingual staff with a profound knowledge of the culture. So when a customer comes to clerk Jose Maldonado with a special request for the reblocking of a treasured sombrero, he knows exactly what they want.

'"A lot of times, they won't speak a word of English when they come in here," Stanoff said of his customers. "So when someone speaks their language, the tension just vanishes. These guys have an image, and their hats have to look just right."'

7. The library, place of 'procedures'

True story: The other day I was sitting on the steps outside the Hollywood Post Office, making notes for SOL, when along comes a guy from Guatemala with some questions about the words on a job application form. I answered most of his queries, but there was this one word that the more I explained it, the more his eyes glazed over.

He said he'd go to a bookstore and check a dictionary. 'Aw, the nearest bookstore is way down the Boulevard there,' I told him, 'but there's a library just two blocks from here. You been there yet?' His face tightened up.

'Oh, well, if I go to the library to see a dictionary, I think they'll make me go through a lot of procedures.' That sounded scary to me, too, and even though I tried to reassure him and he walked off in that direction, I still wonder whether he dared pass through the high steel gate at the fortress-like Hollywood Library.


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