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In our increasingly diverse population, languages are critical to almost every public service industry.
First responders are learning Spanish in St. Louis and Mandarin in New York City to better serve non-native English speakers in the midst of a crisis. Public schools offer night classes to parents of ESL students to keep them informed and help them integrate. State courts hire legal interpreters for more than one hundred languages each year.
But when it comes to serving non-native English speakers, particularly immigrants and refugees, librarians are at the forefront. Libraries provide free internet access, job hunting assistance, ESL materials, and citizenship services. It would be a shame to let the language barrier stand in the way of these critical services. That’s why many librarians are going above and beyond to learn a few phrases in the major languages of their community.
We want to help. Since the U.S. now has more Spanish speakers than Spain, that seems like a good place to start. We’re thrilled to announce the release of the Survival Spanish for Librarians Course. Four conversation-based lessons will step librarians through common scenarios, including issuing library cards, checking out materials, providing computer services, and answering phone calls.
It’s a free online course, so there’s nothing to lose (and a whole lot of language skills to gain!) Librarians can learn more here.