By: Marcela Saldivia-Berglund, Ph.D., Latino Services Librarian
For: Red Rock News
Date: May 22, 2009
BRIDGING CULTURES AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH: THE ROLE OF LATINO SERVICES AT SEDONA PUBLIC LIBRARY
(PART II of II)
In last week’s column, I presented an overview of the origins of the Spanish-language adult collection at Sedona Public Library and a description of the main tasks of the Latino Services Librarian. I also offered a clarification of some common misleading assumptions about Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. This column continues the discussion of the Latino Services goal to assist Spanish-speaking users and the programs implemented to help them fully incorporate into American life.
Lady Bird Johnson said, “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.” I couldn’t agree more with the former First Lady. Keeping in mind that Sedona Public Library is a democratic space and a non-profit organization, it is our duty to provide free information services to all. And this “all” is neither exclusive nor discriminatory. The Library is a community center where everyone is welcome, can use the facilities available, and can have access to instructive, useful and practical sources of information.
When I came to Sedona Public Library in October 2008, I deeply reflected on the reasons why the Library has a Spanish-language collection and services. First the demographic data speaks for itself: more than 10% of the population in Sedona speaks Spanish (and this figure is from the 2000 Census). Secondly — contrary to false assumptions — Hispanics also pay taxes; therefore they have the right to access services intended for U.S. citizens. Thirdly, there are renowned Spanish-language authors who deserve to be read in their own language.
This leads to the fourth reason which underpins my overall working philosophy: Bridging Cultures. The Library is a learning-teaching arena that reaches out to both Spanish- and English-speaking people and a culturally diverse array of tourists. Our Spanish-language collection brings to the Library non-Hispanics interested in reading Spanish books or finding materials to continue practicing their language skills. This goes both ways, because the greatest circulation in this collection is for materials that teach English.
Shortly after starting to work for the Library I met Sedona resident Marilyn Bernhardt who invited me to attend Hablamos Español. On her own initiative, Marilyn created this program in March 2008 as a means to continue practicing Spanish. She gathers a group of Anglo-Americans in the Library’s Quiet Study Room twice a month for informal conversations in Spanish. This is not a language class but a friendly meeting open to anyone who wants to chat in Spanish, at any level. This kind of community initiative clearly shows how Anglo-Americans are truly interested in and enjoy sharing information about their experiences traveling to Spanish-speaking countries and learning the language.
With this central idea in mind, I envisaged a public event at the Library that would gather Hispanics and Anglos sharing the same purpose: healthy entertainment. With poet and story-teller Gary Every, we coordinated a poetry event celebrating love and the beauty of language in the spirit of Valentine's Day called Multicultural Poetry Night: The Many Languages of Love. This event featured 15 local poets who read or performed poetry works in Spanish and English. The Poetry Night brought together more than 90 Anglos and Hispanics who enjoyed an evening of fun, laughter, languages, poetry and music. The success of this event demonstrated that there are myriad possibilities that both the Hispanic and Anglo public will feel comfortable with, share and enjoy.
In March I began the Latino Cine Forum, a series of films with Hispanic-related content. Latino Cine Forum takes place the first and the third or fourth Tuesdays of every month at 5:00 p.m. We screen nominated or award-winning movies from the Hispanic world. Ideally, an open discussion with Qs & As follows (in English). This is intended to reach out to anyone interested in learning more about Hispanic culture through movies. (For the schedule, see Events at www.sedonalibrary.org).
Also in March, I organized a pilot program in Spanish to teach Hispanics how to use the Internet and other basic computer programs. The three pilot classes immediately were full and very successful. There is an existing demand to continue a program of computer classes for Hispanics.
Another important outreach initiative to Hispanics not familiar with the Sedona Public Library is Open Houses. In conjunction with the Children’s and Youth Services Librarian, Pam Comello, we organized a successful Open House and will continue having them annually. In the Children’s Room I also collaborate with Librarian Daryl Lusher for the Bilingual Story Time and assist Pam Comello in volunteering with the Head Start program of the Sedona School District.
Next week we’re introducing a new program, Charla Series (Talk Series), for anyone interested in learning about the diversity of the Hispanic world. The inauguration of the Charla Series is Friday, May 29 at 5 p.m. in the Si Birch Community Room (conducted in English). The first Charla is Chile: Land of Contrasts — Pablo Neruda’s Presence in the Chilean Reality presented by Dr. Cecilia Ojeda, Chair of the Modern Languages Department at Northern Arizona University. Using multimedia resources, professor Ojeda will offer a panoramic overview of the dramatically diverse geography of Chile with frequent references to Neruda’s poetic imagination focusing on its social and political dimensions expressed in Canto General (Neruda’s 10th book of poems).
Future projects include displays of the culturally diverse Hispanic population in Sedona such as an International Latin American Festival and a Dia de los Muertos Altar built by residents of Mexican origin.
Marcela Saldivia-Berglund, Ph. D., author of this week's article,
is Latino Services Librarian of the Sedona Public Library.
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.