A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
LATINO IMMIGRATION AND THE RURAL LIBRARY
Lisa M. Dezarn's article, "The Challenge of Latino Immigration for the Rural Library," published in the 2008 (vol. 11. no. 1) Bookmobile Outreach Services journal is an extremely comprehensive article. It contains a lit review on the major brains in this debate: Stephen Huntington, Enrique Krauze, and Julia Stephens. And Dezarn's article goes a long way to couching the meat of the argument in a format that is easy to digest. The crux of the article can be found in the abstract; it deals with the "charged national debate" transpiring in many rural communities about the "influx of newly arrived immigrants" due to "active recruitment in Latin America by many rural-based industries" (2008, 25)
Dezarn begins the article talking about two of these nationally charged instances where American were up in arms over libraries in rural communities allotting monies in their operating budgets to acquire Spanish language books. In Lewisburg, Tennessee, "concerning $130 and five shelves allocated for Spanish-language books" (2008, 25) and in Gwinett Country, Georgia there was severe backlash after residents "feared that their tax dollars might be benefiting illegal immigrants, the library board eliminated funding for adult fiction in Spanish [and] fired the library director whose collection policy was favorable towards such acquisitions" (2008, 25).
I don't agree that taxpayer money should go towards the education of people who pay no taxes, however, more often than not Americans assume that Latinos who don't speak the Queen's Standard Englishare automatically illegal, and this is a nuanced form of racism (or indirect, etc.). Illegal immigrants are those who have either overstayed their visas or slipped unnoticed into the country. Once inside the U.S., illegal immigrants often get by with forged papers like social security numbers, and rarely get deported back to their countries if they walk the straight and narrow, meaning don't get arrested or caught up in the courts.
Rural America, I understand your anger, "According to the Casey Institute Report on Rural America, endeavors of local institutions to accommodate recent immigrants anger many other residents who believe that Latino are 'catered' to, thus shortchanging nonminority citizens" (2008, 26). But, what you might not understand is that libraries have been trained to not make the types of distinctions that
many rural denizens are making. For example, the American Library Association has come up with very defined Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Multilingual Collections and Services (2007).
What this means is that, for librarians, acquiring materials has little to do with the language the books use. For example, guideline 2.0 states that "[librarians should] provide an effective, balanced, and substantial collection for each ethnic, cultural, or linguistic group in the community" and "Purchase materials in the languages, dialects, etc. of the group served" (2008, "Guidelines"). Therefore, our job is to get books into the hands of people, not decide what people and what hands based on the language of the book; more importantly, we are hard-wired to perform this service and it would take a librarian listening to her politics more than her professional ethos for her to silence this impulse.