Saturday, September 09, 2006

Successful Saturdays: Spanish Language Outreach or Ingles Sin Barreras

This Successful Saturday Post will focus on our Spanish Language Needs Assessment and how we rolled that assessment into our strategic plan.

In the spring of last year, I attended a conference sponsored by the Arizona State Library. The program was on Spanish Language outreach. My library had just completed our five year strategic plan; I was struck by how similar and easy the program is to that process. It simply involved knowing community leaders and talking to them. I already had a list from the strategic plan, but that was not enough to get a group together for a full blown planning process. I first sat down with key leaders in one- on-one interviews. I was not sure how much participation I would get, but after interviewing the first leader, I had a list of over 20 people to contact.

Not everyone had the time to interview with me, and some did not believe I would follow through on the promise of services to Spanish Speakers. Certainly there were politics involved as well. When I began my research, it was in the midst of the rallies against immigration legislation. I have read news stories of fotonovellas being challenged in Colorado, and stories of prop 200 requiring I.D. to vote and for government services. To combat this, we were very careful in how we described this population. We wrapped these services into our adult literacy movement. We stated that if businesses wanted good and productive employees, then learners needed to have opportunities to learn in their own language, as well as have the opportunity to learn English. Both would provide a more productive workforce, which is always good for business.

When the surveys were completed, we worked on incorporating the following actions in our strategic plan:

Strategic Plan for Spanish Speakers

Goal: To reduce barriers to literacy, language and obstacles to increased quality of life.
Objective: To increase literacy resources available in the library.
1. The Library will dedicate 3% of its collection towards literacy resources. Half of which will include resources for Spanish speakers wanting to improve their English Language skills.
2. The Library will dedicate 3% of its collection development budget towards purchasing materials in Spanish for adults and youth in all formats.
3. The library to develop a core group of tutors that will assist in teaching and preparing English Language Acquisition Courses and develop outlets in which to practice the English Language.
4 .Identify, apply for, and secure at least one grant dedicated to establishing an Adult Literacy Program that focuses on English Language Learners.
5. To develop bi-lingual signage and information on the library’s website, pamphlets, signage, and to provide other community information in Spanish.

Goal: Increase lifelong learning opportunities that enhance the quality of life for our growing community.
1. Provide workforce development, educational, and financial programs in Spanish. Programs need to have the following topics
     a. Financial, Home buying
     b. Tenant rights, better housing opportunities
     c.Provide knowledge about available resources in key areas
     d. Know your rights/legal services
     e.Workforce Development (how to get a better job, develop skills)
     f. School based, filling out FAFSA, educational opportunities, scholarships
     g.Translation services (come into the library and provide assistance with forms,
        requirements, simple translation of what they need)
     h. Adaptation to American Culture (to help parents mostly)

Goal: Provide a community space that meets the interests of the citizens of the City
Objective: Continue to develop, hold programs, and provide space that highlights cultural diversity.
1. Have cultural programs celebrating holidays important to Spanish Speakers
2. Mexican Independence Day/El Grito de Independcia (Sept. 16)
3. Annual Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros (last Saturday in April)
4. Cinco de Mayo (May 5)
5. Los Dias de Los Muertos (Nov.1)
6. Las Posadas (Dec. 16)
7. Dia de Reyes (Jan. 6)

Group Priorities:
1. Provide space to service Spanish speakers whether in the library or throughout the community.
2. Bi-lingual services
3. Information Kiosk for Spanish services
4. Provide programs and information for Spanish Speakers throughout the community
5. Bookmobile to promote services
6. Informed about what Spanish Language Services are available in town
7. Need English Learning kits like Ingles Sin Barreras, other kits
8. Citizenship kits
9. Work with successful organizations to provide resources

We plan to roll out the plan this week with bi-lingual library brochures and website at the city's first Mexican Independence Day Celebration, followed by a Home Buying seminar in Spanish. The following week, we plan to advertise the same resources to the elementary school and the high school English Language Learners/Migrant student programs.

The best part is that even before we have rolled out this program, Spanish language material circulation has shot up. We plan to roll out Rosetta Stone for our public access computers in October (web-based). The biggest sign that we have already demonstrated progress? We recently purchased multiple sets of Ingles Sin Barreras for English acquisition, citizenship, and computer education. Everything was checked out and it continues to circulate again and again, along with the general Spanish language collection. The word was already out that we were a resource for the community. It didn't happen with a massive marketing campaign, but by word of mouth and connecting with the right people.

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