Library's Spanish outreach criticized

The Washington Times Covers a plan to redesign seven Denver Public Library branches with a Spanish-language focus. At a series of public meetings last week, library officials said the "Language and Learning" branches would feature an increased Spanish-language book and periodical collection, a bilingual staff and classes for Spanish speakers on subjects such as English acquisition, high school equivalency and computers. Although some patrons have praised the library's vision, the Language and Learning idea has met with resistance from those who say that the proposal is another step toward placing Spanish on an equal footing with English as the national language.


I know the minute someone sees this post, the sparks will likely fly from the English only people and others who are anti immigrants, but so be it. I always find it interesting that a nation made of immigrants finds it so easy to discriminate, alienate, and otherwise exploit the newest immigrants coming to the nation. How easy they forget their own history.

What caught my attention about the article is that the library is actually including classes in language acquisition. In other words, they are offering classes for the immigrants to learn English. Usually the opponents of such outreach claim that the immigrants refuse to learn the language. This is not true, and the library by offering such classes is actually helping with that issue. It is also known that immigrants very often are very interested in learning the language if given the opportunity. After all, they realize, like the rest of us, that to function in the U.S. you have to speak English, even in areas where there may be more Spanish.

As for reasons to do such an outreach. I think a look at the recent Census figures would be one reason. Another reason could be economic not only in terms of the labor and contributions that immigrants make to the economy, but also because they spend money they make here like the rest of us. I will even go as far as let some of the critics on a little secret. A lot of the numbers for Latinos are not coming from the illegal immigrants critics tend to fear. They come from the children of those already here who are already American citizens. They have needs to read and access information as well. Again, just a little bit of demographics. The library is just moving to provide another service to its community. Looks like an example of a library looking over its constituency and community make up, then acting accordingly. Anyhow, just some thoughts. Any readers wanting further information on services to these communities may want to look at the efforts of REFORMA. Just one of various resources that may be helpful.

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