Attracting Spanish-speaking patrons to your library: 25 Best Practices

One of the questions we are often asked by our library customers is what can they do to attract more Spanish-speaking patrons and increase their circulation for books in this population. Many libraries have put forth great efforts in developing their Spanish language collection. In many cases, their local community has responded by increasing their visits and circulation for these titles. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. For many reasons, some of the libraries are not attracting their local Spanish-speaking community as much as other population segments. Since many of the members of this community come from countries with different library rules and customs, they may not be aware of the great things that their community library has to offer.

Over the years we have talked with thousands of librarians and have asked many of them about what works and doesn’t work for them with regards to their Spanish-speaking patrons. Even some of the grants we have issued have focused on programs using their Spanish language collection. Now we have gone back to several of our library friends, and blog followers, to see what relationship building approaches they recommend for their peers. We have narrowed it down to 25 best practices that libraries use to attract and serve patrons for their Spanish language collection. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover some of them in more detail. In the meantime, these are their, and our, recommendations, in no particular order:

  1. Partner with local Hispanic organizations, churches and non-profits
  2. Reach out to local bookstores with Spanish language offerings
  3. Write a column for your local Spanish-speaking newspaper, or appear on radio, TV or internet programs
  4. Have a Spanish-language bulletin available at local businesses catering to Spanish-speakers
  5. Work with local doctors with Spanish-speaking patients to promote reading and visiting the library
  6. Have a presence in fairs and events for the Spanish-speaking community
  7. Work with your Hispanic local literary community (authors, agents, publicists and publishers)
  8. Have events and family-centered programs at your library for Spanish-speaking children, women, and men (in that order)
  9. Showcase your newest titles in Spanish at the front of the library
  10. Have materials available in Spanish-language (especially books, magazines, movies and music)
  11. Have your website and signage adapted (not merely translated) into Spanish
  12. Work with apartment communities with large Spanish-speaking populations to promote reading and events in nearby libraries
  13. Promote the library services and benefits for Spanish-speakers such as computers and job-seeking resources
  14. Have a “Day of the Spanish-language Book” and make it an periodic event (annual or monthly)
  15. Participate in literacy programs such as The Big Read, Día de los Niños or the International Book Day
  16. Partner with your local school libraries to involve Spanish-speaking parents
  17. Establish a mobile library or even home-delivery with Spanish-language titles
  18. Have the newest and best books in Spanish language
  19. Look for “Library Ambassadors” among your best Spanish-speaking patrons to promote your library
  20. Use late-return notices as opportunities to involve patrons.
  21. Promote volunteerism at the library to welcome and serve new patrons
  22. Explain the requisites for obtaining a library card and using the library
  23. Create a Book Club, or several
  24. Explain the differences with libraries in other countries
  25. Select a Spanish-language spokesperson with whom Hispanic patrons can identify

All or a significant combination of these actions have helped libraries to increase the involvement of their local Spanish-speaking community and the circulation of their Spanish-language materials. While a library may not be able to implement all of them, choosing a few may easily increase their visits and circulation. Furthermore, librarians are not ones to squander their budgets, so all of these recommended activities may cost very little or are free. We hope that they work for you as well as for your peers. And if you have any other practice that works for you and is not featured here, please let us know by writing to blog@sbdbooks.com. We’ll be sure to pass it along as a follow up. And if you need a more personalized assistance on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’ll be glad to work with you in reaching out to your Spanish-speaking community.

Muchas gracias,

Your friends @ SBD

Comments or Suggestions / Comentarios o Sugerencias: blog@sbdbooks.com

2 Responses to Attracting Spanish-speaking patrons to your library: 25 Best Practices

  1. […] Libraries all around the nation have been doing things like these for years, uniting the communities they serve during this and other holiday seasons. We hope yours become a beacon of light for the Spanish-speaking patrons of your community. And if you need more ideas or titles for these months, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’ll let you know what your peer librarians are doing to attract and serve Spanish-speaking patrons. […]

  2. […] conversation. In the last few months we have ask our library friends about what they are doing to attract Spanish-speaking patrons to their libraries and serve them during the […]

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