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January 30, 2007 > Community languages at your library

Community languages at your library

By Nirmala Guliani and Sallie Pine, Fremont Main Library

Did you know your local library has books, DVDs and other material in many languages? The main function of public libraries is to serve the information needs of the communities they serve, and the collection of a good public library should reflect its community. The Tri-City area is very diverse; many of our neighbors speak languages such as Chinese, Farsi, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog and several Asian Indian languages.

To collect and organize library materials to meet the language needs of our changing community, Alameda County Library set up a Community Languages Committee. In order to make recommendations to Library Administration on what languages should be collected, the committee looked at the population statistics of the areas served by each branch, languages being taught in the school districts, requests made by library users and statistics on what language materials were being checked out in what branches. Per the recommendations of the Community Languages Committee, the library system currently actively supports seven languages: Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. The committee has also recommended consolidation of eight languages: Arabic, Gujarati, Japanese, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Russian and Urdu at the locations where they circulate better. The Fremont Main Library has all 15 of these languages. At Union City, you can find material in Chinese, Farsi, Gujarati, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. The Newark library has material in Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil and Vietnamese.

Other goals recommended by the committee include: a user-friendly website translated at least into Chinese and Spanish language, instructions in main Community Languages on how to use the library's English language website, strengthening of community languages collections by adding more print and non-print (DVD, etc.) materials, and marketing of the Community Languages collections through development of closer ties with the communities they serve.

Due to limited space and the recommended guidelines, donations of books are accepted only in the seven languages we currently support. Cash donations specific to develop languages collections are welcome and appreciated. To accommodate the future population shifts and other needs, the above groups of languages will be reevaluated every few years.

Visit the Community Languages page of our website at:

You will find links to new materials in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish and Korean, and instructions for finding materials in languages other than English.

The Library will make every effort to fill specific suggestions. Contact your local branch or use the link on the Community Languages page on our website.

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