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Library Service to Spanish-Speaking Patrons: A Practical Guide by Sharon Chickering Moller. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. 2001. ISBN 1-56308-719-7. 207pp. index; bibliography $28.00

Orders: 1-800-237-6124
www.lu.com


A concise, tip-filled volume aimed at public librarians and educators. Although Chickering Moller works in an academic library, she serves the general public as well; this and her cooperation over the years with colleagues serves as the basis of the know-how presented in this valuable guide. This is sure to be an indispensable resource for librarians who have little knowledge of Spanish, but Chickering Moller has packed the book with so many case studies and practical ideas that LSSP (the book, not the notorious--oh, never mind...) is sure to be of use even to those with substantial experience. Her perspective as a small-town college librarian in semi-rural Colorado gives the author a familiarity with the issues faced by librarians in small, changing communities all over the U.S.

Chickering Moller has lived in and visited a number Spanish-speaking countries. She touches on her own struggles with the language, and serves up her personal impressions of libraries and school systems in several parts of Latin America: Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico.

The author has assembled some truly impressive resource lists. Selection tools, organizations, and awards are covered here fairly comprehensively. Compilations of Internet-based resources reflect a good deal of effort; it's a pity that the publisher doesn't wake up and offer these rosters in an online format, because many of URLs were of course already obsolete by the time the book was published.

An appendix devoted to library vocabulary, phrases, and translations of forms is reliable and--exceptional for such books--nearly error-free.

Other strengths include 25 reviews of Spanish-language and bilingual magazines complete with distributor information, and numerous examples of outstanding programming work including names of the libraries and service providers involved. Entire chapters devoted to YA and childrens' services reflect the author's apparent longstanding engagement with these elements of library service; she even gives some space to consideration of childhood language use patterns. Chickering Moller truly shines in her discussions of preschool and early childhood education issues and cognitive factors. Her in-depth and thoughtfully documented approach to nearly all her topics, in fact, would make this a good textbook for LIS courses on pluricultural services.

A wealth of pointers drawn from wide-ranging expert interviews and trial-and-error experience enhance the book's practicality. An example: "When possible, hand the future patron a temporary library card on the spot. My experience has been that [it] may act as an admission ticket--one less hurdle to overcome." Chickering Moller advises patience and sensitivity; when communication breaks down with non-English-speaking patrons, "the staff should apologize and make it his or her fault" for not understanding, rather than the other way around.

This is a terrific complement to Alire and Archibeque's Serving Latino Communities: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. In fact, if you're faced with a choice between the two, this newer volume is probably the one to get.


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