Bilingual materials in libraries draw Criticism

The Reader's Shop writes "The Seattle
Times reports
that many libraries across the country are trying to
keep up with the growing Spanish-speaking population by adding books, magazines
and movies in languages other than English.

In some places critics are saying that taxpayer money should not be used for
a population that can include illegal immigrants or on proposals that promote
languages other than English.

The growing trend in bilingual collections is seen in rural areas as well as
large cities across the nation.

In Denver, "Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., sent a public letter to Denver Mayor
John Hickenlooper asking if the library was considering Spanish-only branches
or converting to Spanish-language material at the expense of English material."
Mr. Tancredo is an outspoken critic of U.S. immigration policies.

Janet Cox, adult-services supervisor at the Pueblo Library District, stated,
"We provide material to meet the needs of the people in the area, whether that
be in English or Spanish or another language.. . That's important. That's what
libraries do."

Denver
Public Library

Congressman
Tom Tancredo

"

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Major language is English!

It is fine to cater for other languages if there is sufficient population in the area that the library serves. However, English always has to he the major language to be catered for. And all immigrants should eventually learn English so that read English material.

Re:Idiots

Its not a small detail. The premise of the statement is that because there's a large spanish population in the area it makes it easier for him to learn Spanish. So what? So the library should invest more in Spanish materials to keep the Spanish speakers speaking Spanish so that he can learn the language better?

I'm not against foreign language collections. I'm not against Spanish language collections. I do think that libraries who spend an unusual amount on Spanish language materials are probably acting as a crutch for non-English speakers and that's not healthy for the communities they are serving. I also think that the majority of people I'm arguing with here think illegal aliens are just undocumented workers and prefer our borders wide open. So you'll excuse me if I think most of your defenses for Spanish language materials, not to mention your intentions in general, are a little bit suspect.

Idiots

To object to Spanish language materials because some people who are illegally in this country speak Spanish is in my opinion stupid.


Most of the Spanish speaking people who check out the books in my library are older legal residents and citizens. (Not that I ask them but I just guess the 60-80 year old people didn't just swim across the Rio Grande.)


We have a literacy program at the library at which I work, someone who was considering being a tutor asked if we checked their immigration status. How we would or for that matter why we would is beyond me. I told her no. She told me she may reconsider being a tutor. I'm sure it won't be a great loss.


I use libraries in every country I visit -well every country that has them. If they have books in English I certainly appreciate it. Its getting to the end of the budget year and I'm going to order a whole bunch of Spanish language books. If you don't spened all of the money in the budget they think you can get by with less next year.

Re:Idiots

All true, but there is an immigration problem and a library that simply caters to a second language without making an effort to integrate those people into the community is part of the problem, not the solution.

Interesting

We do have a Spanish speaking population, but it's miniscule compared to our Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Brazilian Portugese and Haitian Creole speakers. The only languages we really "stock" are Chinese (mostly on grant money) and Russian (mostly borrowed from HQ).

We try to head off the "why do you spend taxpayer money on this" argument (actually, very little of our library books are funded by taxpayer money) and the "you should be integrating people!" argument (which I happen to agree with) by also purchasing as many ESL materials as we possibly can.

You shouldn't be observing what people check out, but of course, you always do... And what is always checked out by non-native English speakers? Very often children's books, in both English and Chinese... whether or not the patron has children. And very often, beside the movies in Chinese and the Chinese books, citizenship exam materials and Standard Deviants videos on punctuation and grammar.

That's cool in my book.

Re:Idiots

Isn't giving them books about the ASVAB, GED as well as popular fiction in Spanish helping them integrate into the community. Geez, now they can discuss El Codigo DaVinci at Starbucks.


Truthfully I realize there is a problem with illegal immigration, but I doubt any illegal immigrants come to the library, especially Spanish speaking ones. Few Mexicans - what most people think about when they say illegals- see the library as a place for information. Information seeking behvior of Mexicans starts with relatives adn friends, then goes to other members of their community, and then the look to recognized people outside their community such as priests or government officials.


I can't see that having Spanish books is really part of the problem. Sure people should not come here illegally, sure if they come they should fill out the right forms so they can get here legally, but if you really want to stop the problem then stop employers from hiring them. President Fox was right when he said Mexican workers will take jobs Americans don't want. We make it too easy for people to sit on their arse in this country. If people had to pick tomatoes or starve you can bet many - including myself- would be picking tomatoes. However we have so many social programs those that want to can always find a way out of work.

So?

I don't understand what Tancredo is bitching about. In Congress he's never spoken anything that resembles proper English and there's some question as to whether he can read or not.

Re:Idiots

there is an immigration problem

Many illegal immigrants who have slipped over the Mexican border are too busy picking crops in the fields to spend much time at the library. And since they follow the harvest, they have no incentive to apply for a library card in any event. There is a segment of the illegal immigrant population that winds up in schools, but it seems to me that they'd learn enough English to borrow English books, and their first choice would likely be the school library.

Off hand, I'd say that you have a bigger problem with reactionary bigots who won't read.

Re:Idiots

Again mostly true but we're talking about millions of illegals, I don't think we can pigeon hole them all as users or non-users. I don't have a problem with the ASVAB or GED or citizenship documents (some think tank just printed a bi-lingual booklet on the Constitution). But that's not the only thing being bought. I'm sure the recent example of the Spanish graphic novels is only a small reprsentation of what we're dealing with.

Re:Idiots

I am a native-born US citizen, and english has been for most of my life my only language. I've been learning spanish, and have gotten beyond the rudimentary "the pen of my aunt is on the dresser of my uncle" materials. I am blessed to be in a community where there is a reasonable-sized spanish-speaking immigrant population that is well-served by our libraries. Not only can I now try my hand at popular fiction and non-fiction in spanish, but one of the librarians helped be link up with a group of spanish-speaking folks who are learning english. We do several nights a month where we swap helping one another in learning our new languages. Many of them have reflected that (seemingly ironically) having spanish materials at the library makes them feel more at home, so they are getting out more & making more of an effort to get to know the rest of the city. So this "catering to them" seems to make them MORE willing to integrate. And NO, I haven't bothered to ask any of them about their immigration status.

Re:Idiots

But what if someone wants to learn Russian?

Re:Idiots

Many illegal immigrants who have slipped over the Mexican border are too busy picking crops in the fields to spend much time at the library.


Wow, how racist and bigoted; are there other groups you think don't go to the library because of what you think their occupation requires?


And since they follow the harvest, they have no incentive to apply for a library card in any event.


Thank you Cesar Chavez for clearing that up for me. What library is it at which you work that you know people lack the incentive to apply for a library card. Do you have other racial or ethnic groups that you don't think have the incentive to apply for a library card. What about the Chinese population in Toronto, do they have the incentive to go to the library?

There is a segment of the illegal immigrant population that winds up in schools,.

Wow how charitable of you to remember that. You know I think they are letting blacks go to the same schools as whites now too.


Why don't you cite some of the studies you have read about or done on this.


If you want interesting information about the library use habits of Mexican immigrants in Florida you're welcome to read my capstone project. If not stick with your bigoted conjecture.

Re:Idiots

What's that, Greg? Give EVERY language its fair slice of the foreign language collection, not just the very popular ones? Why, hat's downright multi-cultural of you! Linguistic affirmative action!

Once again, you dodge the main points of an argument in favor sniping at a small detail.

The foreign language collections are used by more than just, gasp, foreigners. This is something of a network effect. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a librarian who would consider that to be a bad thing. And then, at least in that anecdote, some foreign language patrons seem to be more likely to explore increased assimilation after having some exposure to one the storehouses of the foreign-to-them culture.

Re:Idiots

Indeed.Though - not eveyone who speaks Spanish originates in Mexico or is an immigrant - as some seem to think. One of my grandfathers was a native spanish speaker who was not an immigrant. He was from Puerto Rico and like all folks from there was a native born US citizen.Ironically -unlike my other grandparents who came from Germany, Ireland & Scotland - he seemed to have his citizenship status questioned.

Re:Idiots

Did your grandparents who came from Germany learn to speak English after they began living in the United States? If so, I think that answers your question.Personally, if I were to move to another country that spoke a different language, I couldn't imagine myself continuing to speak only English, and expecting everyone else to cater to my language. I would learn the language of the new country (whether French, Spanish, or whatever) rather than expecting everyone else to learn mine.

I don't think that was the point

If I moved to a different country of course I would learn the language if I didn't know it.


But it would still be nice if the library had a few books that helped me do it.

Re:Idiots

Many illegal immigrants who have slipped over the Mexican border are too busy picking crops in the fields to spend much time at the library.

Wow, how racist and bigoted; are there other groups you think don't go to the library because of what you think their occupation requires?

Are you so ignorant of American Economics that you don't know how all those fresh fruits and veggies are brought in from the field? Do you really think that Americans with their search after instant gratification and their soft hands, who won't even take an easy job as a taxi driver, are going to do backbreaking labor in the fields? Labor that is generally considered menial and demeaning?

Oh, no. Those jobs are the province of the unlettered and illiterate that can survive the trek up from Mexico. That's why The State doesn't make any too serious effort to curb the flow of "illegal immigrants" across the border. Conventional wisdosm says that without those transient workers to pick the crops the farmers would never find enough spoiled Americans to get them in and they'd be left to rot on the vine. God forbid what that would do to the American economy.

Thank you Cesar Chavez for clearing that up for me.

You're very welcome, Mr. Archie Bunker.

What library is it at which you work that you know people lack the incentive to apply for a library card. Do you have other racial or ethnic groups that you don't think have the incentive to apply for a library card.

It's not about race or ethnicity, it's about basic survival. Being a WASP member of the power structure, holding a regular job with a nice steady flow of revenue, you can't possibly imagine what a real struggle for survival is like, can you? Maybe instead of bragging about all the "good works" you do in the name of compassionate conservatism you should take a summer off and work in the fields for ten or more hours a day, trapped on the farm without any means of transportation, and see how much
time you have to skip off to the library at the end of the day. Mind you, your study will still be flawed. After all, at the end of the harvest you'll have a nice home and regular job to come back to, while those itinerant, illegal-immigrant farmworkers from across the border will only be heading back south to face unemployment until the next harvest.

Aside from which, what good is it to apply for a library card if you're only going to be in the area the library serves for a week or so, and then on to the next farm? And how, pray tell, do you get a library card without any way to show that you are a community member? If you do this study, make sure you don't carry any ID with you if you get off the farm. And do you really think that an itinerant worker who is in the country illegally wants to draw attention to himself and risk losing
income from being deported before the end of the season?

Explain to the class, exactly, if you please, Mr. Bunker, what incentive you think itinerant workers do have to get library cards. I seem to have missed that portion of your expostulation.

There is a segment of the illegal immigrant population that winds up in schools

Wow how charitable of you to remember that. You know I think they are letting blacks go to the same schools as whites now too.

Yes, but "they" do keep trying to stop from attending schools, the illegal immigrants who wetback the border to live in the U.S., rather than to merely seek seasonal employment, don't they? Perhaps I should have better qualified that statement so even you could understand that those children who are attending schools are not transients, but whose families are attempting to live in the U.S. as citizens.

Why don't you cite some of the studies you have read about or done on this.

Sorry; don't have any studies; just news reports. You won't believe those, however, I'm sure, since they don't support your political prejudices. "Damn that liberal media" and all that, right?

If you want interesting information about the library use habits of Mexican immigrants in Florida you're welcome to read my capstone project. If not stick with your bigoted conjecture.

You want bigotry? A prime ingredient in reactionism is to blindly deny that any problem exists; all the better to maintain the status quo, of course.

Racism is not only a matter of what we remember, or think we remember, about the Other. It's also what we say, what we forget, and what we ignore. --Margaret Cannon, The Invisible Empire: racism in canada, pg 142

Moreover, your misrepresentative framing is simply an effort to refute what I said by painting me as a hate monger rather than by addressing or presenting any facts. After all, if you can't attack the argument, then attack the man; right?

How many of those Floridian Mexican immigrants are transient workers, by the way? That is the topic under discussion, right? Not just all illegal Mexican immigrants? You do have a capacity to differentiate, don't you?

Yeah, you just keep on ignoring reality and trying to frame any admission of reality as hate speech. That'll make it really easy for you to continue misconstruing statements; just like reactionary ultra-left wing nut Jews who scream about anti-semiticism when somebody says that it is wrong for Israel to use military munitions to blow up Palestinian children in the marketplace.

You want real racism? Try this:

ACLU Says Stealth Racial Profiling Report Shows Need for Federal Legislation

WASHINGTON - August 30 - The American Civil Liberties Union and several other prominent civil rights groups today called upon Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to investigate the apparent attempt by the Justice Department to bury an unfavorable government report on racial profiling.

"Suppressing this report won't make discriminatory profiling go away: it's a fact of life for millions of Americans," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "If we want
to eliminate discrimination in law enforcement, it is vital that lawmakers and the public have this information. We urge Attorney General Gonzales to look into this matter immediately."

At issue is a survey of police conduct, compiled by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics. Earlier this year, as the report was near completion, Lawrence A. Greenfeld, director of the agency, submitted for review a news release to announce the findings. Greenfeld was told to delete language
that highlighted findings that black and Hispanic drivers were subjected to searches, arrests and use of force more often than white drivers. After Greenfeld refused, no release was issued, and the survey was posted without announcement to the Justice Department's Web site. Greenfield was later removed from his position as director of the agency.

I'll be happy to read this project of yours. Just provide a link to it. Keep in mind, though, that I reserve the right to subject it to a critical review and to post my opinions of it should I choose to do so.

Re:Idiots

Yes - she did - as did my grandfather from Puerto Rico after moving to a part of the US where English was the dominant language. Quite eloquently. Though not immediately.Some would say (especially the English) that they spoke English more properly than my Irish and Scottish forbears. They just didn't do so when they first moved to NY. Indeed - my grandfather from Arecibo still had his nationality questioned after his English language skills surpassed yours.But - thanks for asking.

Re:Idiots

That's why we have Russian at our library. Almost as popular as Spanish and .... wait for it.... Vietnamese.

Re:Idiots

I see that my comment has gotten me branded a "troll." I suppose if I had expressed a more liberal opinion (something more in line with the ALA mindset) then my comments would have been labeled "insightful," right?

Re:Idiots

Man you catch on quick!

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