Multilingual Collections a must in American Libraries

(2007). Guidelines for the Development and Promotion Of Multilingual Collections and Services. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 47(2), 198-200. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.

It seems it would be natural that American libraries would provide multilingual collections policies for libraries, however there seems to be a lack of awareness of what must go into collection development procedures in order to provide an adequate collection to serve the needs of all ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds of patrons.

This article describes specific guidelines for the development and promotion of multilingual collections and services for all library patrons.  The authors describe that it is primarily important to “provide an effective, balanced, and substantial collection for each ethnic, cultural or linguistic group in the community.”  They suggest purchasing library materials related primarily to the population of the library’s community according to the census.  Then, provide many different subjects, genres, and geographic materials appropriate to the patrons’ interests and user needs.

The article goes on to further explain different policies and procedures libraries can implement in order to promote the materials to the multilingual group.  For example, in order to adequately promote physical access, signage in the predominant language must be created.  It can also be noted that physical access can be gained by promoting the library through social and cultural community activities targeted toward these specific ethnic groups and can best be promoted through the library’s Outreach Services.

Overall, the importance of including different cultural groups into collection development can make for a more inviting environment for all library patrons.  Libraries must provide access to materials to all of the surrounding public and community regardless of the “preferred language” of the library.  It is also important to provide many different kinds of media and language acquisition programs so patrons can fully utilize the materials that are presented in the library.  It does not hurt to also have a well knowledgeable staff and perhaps one librarian that is bilingual to the other language predominantly spoken in the community.  It is absolutely essential to include the entire population of a library community in order to uphold the ethics of the American Library system.


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