How Libraries Can
Better Serve English
Compiled by Wendy Tucker from the articles below:
Library Demographics, Services and Programs
Serving Non-English Speakers:2007 Analysis of
written by Denise Davis
Library Literacy Programs for English Language Learners
written by Eileen McMurrer
Serving Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students:
Strategies for the School Librarian written by Melvian Dame
History of Library Literacy
l In 1655 colonist Robert Keayne willed money for the founding of a
public library in Boston.
l Later industrialist Enoch Pratt and Andrew Carnegie endowed public
libraries and stipulated local governments provide support for
l Enoch Pratt’s libraries were to be for all rich and poor without
distinction of race or color.
l In 1960 the War on Poverty Program increased money for public
libraries to reach out to new immigrants.
l Between 1988 and 1995 the State of California Libraries analyzed
and restructured programs to better serve ELL patrons.
l The American Library Association(ALA)
supports a nationwide effort to enhance the
literacy services of local libraries to
“encourage opportunities for maxium
intellectual participation for underserved
l Broward County, Florida publishes a newsletter in six different
languages that cover topics of interest to new immigrants.
l Queens Public Library in New York has serviced over 10,000 of
adults in its reading and literacy programs.
l Arlington County, Virginia library has satellite library collections in
apartment complexes with large immigrant populations.
l Arlington County, Virginia has bilingual weekly story times at four of
their branches and apartment complexes.
l Arlington also has a “CyberCenter” computer learning lab in a
branch to teach reading and other literacy skills. The lab was funded
by the Gates Foundation in 2001.
l The American Library Association and many
local libraries are working hard to meet the
various literacy and reading needs of English
Language Learners. The development of
library skills is an important part of learning
English and learning how to read. It is
important that public and school libraries
continue to bridge the gap for ELL’s so they
can become equal participants in our
Strategies for the School Librarian: How to
help our ELL students want to read.
l A Welcoming Place: Make students feel
special by hosting a special orientation for
l Each student would get a modified map of
the library and information about the library
l Thereafter ELL students would have smaller
follow-up sessions with the librarian.
l ELL students were given individual assignments to
complete using library resources.
l To encourage students to use the library regularly, the
library started a collection of reading materials in their
native languages. Books and materials were borrowed
from larger public libraries and embassies.
l High interest low level paperbacks were purchased and
borrowed from a local library.
l A listening station with a cd-player and a collection of
read along books in English was made available.