National Library Week: Libraries in Diverse Communities

The second full week of April is National Library Week in the US. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our wonderful school and community libraries and their hardworking librarians. One purpose of National Library Week is to make the public aware of the many services libraries offer, and the impact of those services in our communities. Use #NationalLibraryWeek on social media to spread the word, and tell us what you love about your local library.

National Library Week: Libraries in Diverse Communities | Multicultural Kid Blogs

National Library Week: Libraries in Diverse Communities

According to Census data, the US population is becoming more diverse. Often, new immigrants are struggling to learn English, while maintaining a connection with their heritage language and country. Many libraries have transformed themselves into centers of information and learning for their diverse communities.

Welcoming Diversity

Libraries have been using creative strategies to attract and meet the needs of their multicultural patrons. If your local library is still developing its multicultural and multilingual offerings, consider sharing some of the innovative ways libraries have become more welcoming to their diverse communities:

  1. Presenting story times in various languages.
  2. Offering newspapers in multiple languages.
  3. Developing a collection of bilingual books for language learners and families in separate bilingual book display areas.
  4. Sponsoring English as a Second Language (ESL) classes or creating literacy centers to help adults learn English.
  5. Offering special programs, such as citizenship classes, or cultural programs that highlight important multicultural holidays.
  6. Displaying multilingual posters, and putting up signs in multiple languages.
  7. Carrying multicultural books that promote an acceptance of diversity, have multicultural themes and include illustrations of ethnically diverse characters.
  8. Hiring staff that speak the language(s) of the immigrant communities.

Communities benefit greatly when libraries increase their language holdings, and offer services and programs to meet the needs of non-native-English speakers. These books and programs also help to establish libraries as true centers of learning for the entire community.

Do you have an outstanding multicultural library in your community? Comment and tell us what makes it so special.

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Anneke Forzani founded Language Lizard ( to provide educators, librarians, and parents with resources that develop literacy skills among English Language Learners, build inclusive classrooms, and celebrate cultural diversity. Language Lizard offers bilingual books in over 50 languages, multilingual audio resources, multicultural posters, and free lesson plans to support multicultural classrooms. The company also runs a blog ( for parents and teachers working with language learners and culturally diverse students. Anneke is the author of Building Bridges with Bilingual Books and Multicultural Resources (a manual to support culturally responsive teaching) and With Flying Colors: Color Idioms (a multicultural idiom book).
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