Friday, May 05, 2006


Busy, busy week.

The remodeling work continues, with progress being made slowly but surely. If all goes as planned, I'll have a deck when I come home tonight. DBF should also be waiting for me when I get home....and the Mall of America will be plundered tomorrow.

This afternoon, I'm in St. Paul at the ESL Conference, presenting a mini-version of the Spanish Language Outreach program. We're talking to folks about what their public library can do for new immigrants, and why it's important to encourage folks to visit the library. You wouldn't think that would be a necessary message to deliver - isn't it obvious? - but it's not as obvious as it might seem.

One of the "Aha!" moments I had when learning about the program was a language issue that explained a few encounters I had in my library in Nebraska. I'd occasionally have someone come in, look around, and ask me how much the books cost. (Huh?) I never understood where the question came from, really.

Turns out, the Spanish word for library is biblioteca. I didn't find that particularly surprising; I had studied French in high school, and remembered that the French word for library is bibliothèque. The surprise came when our workshop leader explained that the Spanish word for bookstore is librería. Aha! Looks like library, sounds like library. You're new to the country and the language, and you see a building that has a word that leads you to deduce that it's a bookstore. And so you go in and ask the puzzled woman at the desk how much the books cost. Now I get it. It also had me chuckling over the thought of a new immigrant standing in front of the New York Public Library thinking, "This is the biggest bookstore I've ever seen!"

That's just a tiny example of the sorts of things we'll be talking about this afternoon and in the larger workshops. If you have one of these coming your way, I encourage you to attend.


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