Due to diminished funding, many of us are scaling back on some programs or services. It’s certainly true that we are serving more people now than ever, but we still have unserved and underserved enclaves in our communities, and in many areas these are heavily comprised of those who speak Spanish as their first language.
So I really appreciated the ideas presented in WebJunction’s webinar on Spanish Language Outreach in Tough Economic Times this week. You don’t need to spend much to reach people, especially as one of the best ways to advertise your services to this population is via word of mouth. Libraries have had success by connecting to student Latino clubs, hospice organizations, priests (who make announcements about the library at mass) and by bringing ESL classes to large employers. Start a Spanish Alzheimer’s support group, or promote ESL with women who want to learn to drive or read their kid’s school papers.
In agricultural areas staff members go to farms to teach migrant workers English. Contact local Spanish language media outlets to be interviewed about services of interest to them, or set up a lunch at a neighborhood gathering. Have a library booth at your local Cinquo de Mayo celebration or fascinate all the Anglos with a Dio de los Muertos exhibit in the library. Attend community meetings or contact unions with heavy Hispanic membership.
Two other sources for ideas are Spanish Language Outreach in MT Libraries and Promising Practices in Colorado Library Diversity. The Colorado page is about diversity in general, not just Spanish Outreach, but it has some winners, especially the car shows put on by the Pueblo City-County and Weld Library Districts. This is a fabulous way of attracting a demographic that wouldn’t dream of going to a library. When I worked at Douglas County Libraries, we had a huge turnout for our Wheels program, which we held in our parking lot. The kids loved the fire engines, the dads drooled over the Corvettes and the twin lures of our auto repair databases and car publications resulted in quite a few new library cards.