[lit-ideas] speaking of libraries in the United States of Earth

  • From: eternitytime1@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 06 Aug 2005 15:10:06 -0400

This is an intriguing development.  (In the KC area, the 'old-time' Hispanics 
are NOT happy about such moves...there is an interesting tension between the 
newer group which is either newly made legal but used to be illegal group or 
the illegal and hiding it with the old-timers who went through immigration the 
'hard way', etc.  But, even so, there is not quite the same 'push' towards 
this...though my library system, for the first time, is offering a bilingual 
In Houston, there is quite an interesting tension that is somewhat 
similar--though the tendency is to pay lip service towards teaching English, 
but even in the schools, it does not seem to be happening...there is more of a 
concession towards making the English speaking set learn Spanish (I met with a 
couple of people from a different list that I'm on and one of them is a teacher 
and another attended various graduations of kids she knows...interesting to 
have some of the graduations done in Spanish even though it was an 
English-speaking school [my friend and her family do not speak Spanish and were 
a bit dismayed at this...the teacher said she was not surprised...]
Following this article are the stats on Denver (reported by the Rocky Mountain 
News per the DPL)
Marlena, thinking about the United States of the World (though with all the 
Texas flags flying around here in Houston, you'd think it was an independent 
state, still...<g>)
 Spanish Set to Become Official Language of Seven Denver Public Library 
Wed Aug 3,12:24 PM ET 
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In a sharp break from American tradition, 
the Denver Public Library is promoting a plan that would make seven of its 
branches "Spanish focused," banishing English language books to the backroom. 
The "Languages and Learning" plan would dramatically increase Spanish language 
offerings and staff, designating some locations as Spanish dominant. The 
proposal is currently under review by the Library Commission and an advisory 
"Denver's action is a dubious first in American history: a major U.S. city is 
creating a public institution that intentionally excludes native-born 
Americans," explained Mauro E. Mujica, chairman of the board of U.S. English, 
Inc. "This action goes against the model of assimilation that has successfully 
served the United States for centuries."
"In a nation of immigrants, focusing on a single non-English language is the 
type of favoritism that we should have abandoned years ago. The taxpayers of 
Denver -- residents who speak 68 languages -- should not stand idly by while 
their money goes to support immigrants from El Salvador or Colombia over 
immigrants from Vietnam or Egypt."
Library officials counter that the switch to Spanish dominant libraries is an 
extension of the institution's purpose. They claim that the Languages and 
Learning plan will assist Spanish speaking residents in becoming members of 
their community. Proponents call the plan "cutting edge" and "revolutionary."
"I fail to see how an 'Official Spanish' Library will aid immigrants in 
learning English and becoming Americans," Mujica continued. "If anything, it 
will further the notion that Spanish-speaking immigrants can live in relative 
comfort without needing to learn our common language. If we are to successfully 
continue as a nation of immigrants, we cannot send an 'English Optional' 
message to any immigrant group."
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
From the Rocky Mountain News, here are the statistics on who lives in Denver:
"According to statistics compiled by the Denver Public Library, 34.8 percent of 
Denver's population is Hispanic, 21 percent of Denver residents speak Spanish 
at home, and children from Hispanic families account for 54.1 percent of Denver 
Public Schools enrollment. 
The research also showed that the use of Spanish language materials is 
increasing, with Spanish magazines already accounting for the most heavily 
circulated magazines at seven library locations. 
The research on demographics and customer trends backdrop the proposal for a 
new service styles plan."

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