Friday, October 31, 2008

A Year into Outreach at the Bozeman Public Library

We have just had our last Outreach to Latinos Committee Meeting at the Bozeman Public Library and sent the Montana State Library our Project Final Report for the SLO Grant. I'll go ahead and share it with you here:

October 29, 2008

Gates Spanish Language Outreach (SLO) Grant Project Final Report

In October of 2007, the Bozeman Public Library (BPL) held an in-service day and staff participated in the first Connecting to Spanish Speakers @ Your Library Workshop put on by State Trainers Kathy Robins and Catherine McMullen, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and in partnership between Web Junction and the Montana State Library. As a direct result of that training an Outreach to Latinos Committee (OLC) was formed by staff at the BPL to set goals, plan, and provide services and outreach directed specifically to Latinos in the Gallatin County. The OLC was to meet regularly for a year.

In that time much work has been done in order to make the BPL a more welcoming place and make information and services more accessible to Spanish speakers. The Welcome brochure and library card application have been translated into Spanish. Staff that speak Spanish have been identified and many wear “Hablo Español” (I speak Spanish) nametags. The adult Spanish language collection has been increased threefold and a practical non-fiction Spanish language collection has been developed. The children’s Spanish language collection and audio language learning materials have also been expanded as well. The self-check machine has a Spanish language option. A special Dia de los Niños, Dia de los Libros/Day of the Children, Day of the Book storytime was held in which guest storyteller Leslie McCleary, owner of Llama Llama Books read fairytales in both Spanish and English and than gave each child a bilingual fairy tale book. A bilingual storytime has also been held once a month with guest storytellers Barbara Komlos from The Language Center and students from the Montana State University geared toward preschoolers and their families. The Friends of the Bozeman Public Library donates a box of children’s books to the Gallatin County Food Bank with bilingual flyers, invitations to the library, and information about children’s programs for families. Two outreach events were held at the Gallatin Community Clinic that has a large number of Spanish speaking patients. We talked to fifty people about resources at the library: signing people up for library cards, registering people to vote, and giving out books. Finally the BPL has established a strong presence in the Coalition of Resource Organizations (CORO) a local group striving to “reduce stigma, facilitate dialogue and bridge better community understanding of the changing ethnic and cultural make-up” of the Gallatin Valley. We have been able to work in partnership with many service organizations within CORO.

The Bozeman Public Library is grateful for the additional funding from the SLO Grant Project to accomplish the goal of reaching out to Spanish speakers in our community. With this funding we have been able to:

Print flyers and postcards promoting our monthly Bilingual Storytime.
Print half sheet “invitations” to the library providing information about resources geared toward Spanish speakers distributed at the Gallatin Community Clinic and Gallatin County Food Bank.
Library’s “Welcome Brochure” was translated into Spanish by The Language Center.
$500 expended toward over $1000 of English language audio CDs from Pimsleur (English for Spanish speakers at Beginning, Intermediate, and High Intermediate levels (six parts)).

We have included a sample of the Bilingual Storytime flyer, library invitation, library card application, and Welcome Brochure.

Today when a Spanish speaker visits the Bozeman Public Library we are able to welcome them and provide resources to them in their native language. Spanish speaking staff is easily identified; the library card application and Welcome Brochure providing important information about the library are available in Spanish. We have materials in Spanish on parenting, health, immigration, religion, and other useful topics in our Foreign Language section labeled “libros en español” and have invested in English language learning tools for Spanish speakers. The BPL also makes an effort, working in partnership with other service organizations to reach out to Spanish speakers in the community and bring new patrons into the library. In part, because of both training and additional funding from the Gates Spanish Language Outreach Project the Bozeman Public Library has materials, resources, and increased staff awareness of the needs of Spanish speakers in our service population. The Bozeman Public Library has built a strong foundation from which to welcome our growing Latino community.

We would be happy to share any of our materials or experiences with other Montana libraries looking to better serve Latinos in their communities. Catherine McMullen can be contacted at or (406)582-2402 with any questions.

Thank you,

Catherine McMullen
Outreach to Latinos Committee Chair
Bozeman Public Library

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