Los libros para todo! - at Paxton Carnegie Library
Los libros para todo! – at Paxton Carnegie Library
Anne Newman is the Library Director of Paxton Carnegie Library in Paxton, Illinois. The town has a population of fewer than 5,000 people. MILS student, Rebecca Paul spoke with Anne Newman recently and would like to share this case study of a small community, incorporating cultural acceptance into their everyday routine.
How would you describe the community of Paxton, Illinois?
It is a small, rural community that is currently going through a lot of change. We have a strong school system and a strong downtown. We are a growing population. Families are moving to Paxton from larger communities and many of them continue to work outside of the city.
How does Paxton Carnegie Library partner with the Hispanic community?
We have recently hired a high school student as a clerk. This student is bilingual, a regular library user and very capable of handling the circulation desk. We have greatly benefited from the language knowledge and personal interactions this person can offer. We are also presenting a bilingual story time and we have acquired a Spanish language newspaper, Tejanita. We continue to look for learning opportunities and advice from our surrounding community and regional system.
Would you tell us more about the bilingual story time?
We received a Library services and Technology Act grant from the Illinois State Library. We used this money for Spanish language materials and a big portion was used for children’s books written in both English and Spanish. We called our proposal “Los libros para todo…en la biblioteca” or “Books for all…at the library”. We found out about the grant through our regional system, Lincoln Trail Libraries. Our story times have traditionally been offered to the community every Thursday at ten in the morning for pre-school age kids. We are attempting to gently introduce Spanish language and culture by encouraging inclusiveness in the library and community. We believe this is very important to start doing while children are still so young. A portion of the students are from bilingual families. We also work with a daycare center, Head Start and a nursery school. Paxton is a working class community, so many families are not able to personally bring their kids in and it is necessary at times for me to go outside of the library to read books and talk with the children.
How do families know about these story times?
It is, at times, advertised in the local newspaper and on our website. Word of mouth is probably the most important advertisement. We have in the past had only five children at our story hour but last Thursday we had 23 children attend.
Have you introduced any games or crafts into children’s services?
We have included a family of Hispanic puppets into our already substantial puppet collection. We use all of the puppets to talk with the children about various issues that they can carry into adulthood. We use them to talk about being different, or being teased and how important it is to meet people of all backgrounds. We talk about the fact that we are all people, we all have things in common and we all belong. We are planting the seeds of kindness and tolerance for all beings. Children and adults seem to respond very positively to the “talking” puppets.
Have you noticed an increase in the circulation of bilingual materials?
Yes, we have noticed an increase. As word gets out, more and more materials are being checked out. Some of our borrowers are Spanish speaking and some have friends that speak Spanish. We have items that both groups find interesting and/or helpful.
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