I work at a local library and the topic for discussion today revolved around our patrons who are natives from a country other than the United States, but have since moved here. Many of these patrons have a limited English proficiency and have ordered books in their own language about an array of topics. Since our small town population, for years, was mainly just English speaking Americans with a few Spanish speakers here and there, our book collection consists of mainly English books, with a small section of Spanish books. Now, since our town population is becoming more diverse, we are shifting some of the books on the shelves to make room for a new worldly section of books in other languages. There was debate over how the books should be organized: Should there even be a separate section? Should the books be shelved by language? Should the books be shelved by topic, regardless of language? Should the language be posted on the spine of the book for people to see?
All of these questions were taken into consideration and the verdict was presented to us today: The bookstore is to have a separate section for “World Languages”, and organized first by language, then by fiction, nonfiction, biography, then by author/ topic depending on if the book is fiction or non-fiction. Also, the language would be labeled on the spine of the book, and flags for countries that speak those languages would be displayed for those who have difficulty reading English to find the proper language.
Patrons can now order books in their own language as well as a version in English to improve their language skills. The title of my blog this week translates the word “books” into Spanish, Polish, French, and Russian, respectively, as those are the languages we have had patrons request thus far. Although I can speak Spanish, I have always wanted to learn Polish as some of my ancestors are from Poland, so I may even take out some picture books in Polish to start learning. Maybe other native English speaking patrons will do the same!