Wednesday, May 28, 2008

SLO in Montana

In 2007, Montana State Library partnered with the Gates Foundation and OCLC in the Spanish Language Outreach (SLO) project. Three Montana librarians -- Molly Kliss (Missoula), Catherine McMullen (Bozeman) and Kathy Robins (Billings) -- volunteered to present "Connecting to Spanish Speakers @ Your Library" workshops in seven Montana communities to help librarians learn more about the needs of local Spanish speakers and to plan and implement outreach activities for this special population. The workshops were scheduled during October 2007 - April 2008.

The MTSLO blog is a great place for all Montana librarians to share SLO ideas and experiences. If your library is currently offering outreach services to Spanish language patrons, or if there are outreach activities in the planning stages, please post these on the blog for others to learn about. This blog can also be used to ask questions and to talk about books, web sites, organizations, and other resources for serving Spanish speakers. Molly, Catherine and Kathy will also be sharing activities from their libraries, as well as presenting special features and tips for successful SLO efforts.

Currently, there is a small amount of SLO grant funds available that will be shared with public libraries currently planning or implementing outreach activities in their communities. In order for your library to be considered for a SLO mini-grant ($200-$400), post a description of upcoming activities or programming on the blog by June 25th. The mini-grants are for outreach activities that will be completed by October 1, 2008 – perfect for Hispanic Heritage Month. Libraries whose staff attended one of the “Connecting to Spanish Speakers @ Your Library“ workshops will be given first consideration for the SLO mini-grants. If you have questions about the grants, please contact me.

The ALA report cited in the welcome above is entitled "Serving Non-English Speakers in U.S. Public Libraries," and is available at The report is the first national survey to examine the range of specialized library services for this population, which numbers 21 million people (50% more than a decade ago). According to the report, the most successful programs and services were English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, language-specific materials and collections, computer use and computer classes, story time, and special programs. So, what programs and services are proving successful in Montana? Let's start sharing!

Sue Jackson
Montana State Library or 1-800-338-5087

p.s. If you are headed to the ALA Annual Conference in June, several programs on services for non-English speakers are being offered.