Why Gail Borden Library Has a Spanish Collection

Gail Borden Library serves all who live in the library district. Our mission is to serve the district residents in the pursuit of educational, informational, recreational and professional needs by providing a wide range of materials and services. Included in our service population is a significant number of Spanish speakers. To serve them, we must be able to communicate with them, to listen and to respond. We do not have a position on immigration issues.

Historically, the leadership of Gail Borden Library has strived to provide library services to people in the community who speak and/or read languages other than English. This is true of all large libraries in metropolitan Chicago. In fact, we are not aware of any public library in the area that doesn’t include materials in other languages.

In the 1970’s, our Laotian collection grew due to an influx of Laotian immigrants into the community. Much earlier in library history, in the 1890’s, the majority of the foreign language collection was in the German language for the same reason. Presently, the library offers materials in ten foreign languages, including French, German, Polish, Urdu and Italian, reflecting the diverse population groups represented in the community.

Literary Works in Other Languages
Many important literary works are written in languages other than English. Some of the world’s finest works were written in the author’s original language, including those by Neruda, Balzac, Milosz and Cervantes. While translations of works are valuable for many reasons, the ability to read works in the original language is important -- a translation is never a perfect replica of the original.

It is also important to note that there is a strong correlation between literacy in one language and literacy in a second language. Having books in one’s native language allows one to continue reading and thereby improve literacy skills. Having works on health, parenting and home repair in one’s native language makes learning new concepts easier.

Supporting English Education
We believe that learning English is important for those living in this country. The library actively supports English education through several avenues. Programs are presented in English and Spanish to offer learning opportunities. Our collections include audiotapes designed for Spanish speakers who are learning English, bilingual texts and English/other language dictionaries. One of our community partners, The Literacy Connection, has offices in the library. Thousands of people have learned to read English through their tutoring programs.

Gail Borden Library is proud to be a community resource that serves and welcomes all and to be known as the place where people of all backgrounds come together.

If you have any questions, we encourage you to call the Division Chief of Public Relations & Development, Gail Borden Public Library, at 847-429-5981.