Immigration is driving changes at the library

Loida Garcia-Ceba ask on her new blog how librarians are serving the Latino population. She points out that libraries should continue “trying to figure out how to address topics such as immigration, health and education to mention a few” through their services. This should be done in an inclusive way to “involve publishers, distributors, scholars and professional associations.”

We could not agree more. That is one of the reasons we started this blog, to further this type of 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 holidays.

At the same time that we were reading Loida’s article we saw this week’s poll by Library Journal that showcases how immigration is driving changes in the collections and services of the library. Furthermore, according to the previous poll, immigration is also a divisive issue in the community. These are some of the finding from past polls (from newest to oldest):

  • 56% of librarians polled believed that immigration is driving changes in the collections and services of the library.
  • 78% believe that immigration is a divisive issue in their community.
  • 71% believe that their library board is getting more political.
  • 60% believe that the library understands the community agenda although only 26% of libraries have an active role on it.
  • 78% believe that their library does not work to solve community issues.
  • 52% measure its impact in the community.
  • 91% believe that their library is more concerned with outreach to the community as opposed to stewardship of the collection/
  • 57% consistently reach out to new groups of patrons.
  • 55% does not believe that their library’s leaders are visible in the community.
  • 55% believe that their library’s mission is tightly woven to the needs of the community.

There are many things that can be discerned from these, unscientific – yet valid, polls. One thing seems certain, librarians care about their communities and immigration is slowly making its way into the conversation. Still, according the latest Pew poll only 13% of respondents use the library to find information about solving their problems. True that poll dealt mostly with issues that are connected to government agencies, did not focus specifically in the immigrant or Latino population, and did not include other reasons why people use the library. Yet, it shows that libraries have a great way to go to regain their place as information sources and helping their community solve their problems.

Libraries continue to provide a great service and are wonderful resources to immigrants and other populations. All the librarians with whom we have talked agree that they should continue to provide – or start providing – the tools to address the issues immigrants care about (citizenship, health, education, parenting, businesses development, and many other). And, what better way to do this than by sharing their work with other librarians through Loida’s blog (or blogs). We are looking forward to her next articles to see what libraries are doing in this area and others. Loida, we are glad to join the conversation.

Muchas gracias,

Sus amigos @ SBD

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