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Newsletter of the Federal Depository Library Program

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Cumulative Table of Contents Vol. 1 - present [ PDF ] ( includes current issue )

June 15, 2003

GP 3.16/3-2:24/07
(Vol. 24, no. 07)

Readers Exchange

Meeting the Federal Government Information Needs of the Spanish Speaking Population in Mesa, Arizona

By Kathy Little, Supervisory Librarian

City of Mesa Library

The City of Mesa Library, main branch, has been a depository library since 1983 and currently selects approximately 48%. The Mesa library system consists of a main library (located in downtown Mesa) and two branches to support a city population of almost 400,000. 34% of the population within an approximate 3-mile radius of the main library is Hispanic (10% of the Spanish speakers speak English "not well" or "not at all"), so the library has a nice collection of materials in Spanish to meet the needs of the citizens who are more comfortable reading and viewing materials in Spanish.

In March 2002, we decided to move all of the Spanish language Federal documents to the part of the library that houses the rest of the Spanish language materials. There are many good documents in Spanish that never get used because non-English speaking patrons typically donít use the library catalog. We gradually located the Spanish language documents by browsing through various agencies where we knew Spanish language documents were located. Now as we weed or add documents, we pull out the Spanish materials as we find them.

When setting up the display area, we decided to put the documents near the non-circulating reference materials with a sign in Spanish indicating the materials were to be used in the library. We also mark the Spanish documents with a stamp indicating they are not to be checked out. Some of the documents are displayed on slanted periodical shelves and others are in magazine boxes. We do not attempt to keep the documents in order, as we want the collection to be used. Every few days, we rearrange the documents so the collection looks refreshed.

It is very evident that the collection is being used, as the documents always need to be straightened up. Recently we had a Spanish-speaking patron ask how to get copies of several of the health documents that were on display, so we know we are doing our job of meeting the needs of the patrons we serve and we are meeting the responsibility of promoting the use of Federal documents in the community. We also recently added several Spanish language document posters to the area.

Another method we used to make Federal government information available to Spanish speakers in our community was to develop a library web site in Spanish. From this section of our site, we link to many Federal web sites that have information in Spanish <http://www.mesalibrary.org/espanol/enlaces/gobierno.htm>.

In January 2001, the library undertook the planning process, Planning for Results. The end result was a 3-5 year development plan for the City of Mesa Library. The plan consisted of several goals and objectives. Our separating and moving the Spanish documents to the area where the Spanish language materials are, helped the library meet several of the goals and objectives outlined.

We are very happy with the success of our endeavor and will continue to try to come up with ways to serve our Spanish speaking community better.