LANSING | With a local population about 15 percent Latino, the Lansing Public Library is bolstering its collection of books and materials in Spanish.
Maureen Stacz, the library’s Infants, Teens and In-Betweens department head, said officials want to be sure the community understands the public library is available for use by all, including newer residents who may not be fluent in English.
The library plans to have its first bilingual open house Tuesday.
“The purpose is to be sure that local residents understand what the library can offer them,” Stacz said. “There is a growing Hispanic population in Lansing, and we want to be sure that the language isn’t an obstacle for them to use the library.”
From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., library staffers will be on hand to give tours of the library facility in both English and Spanish. Stacz said the Lansing Public Library has two staffers fluent in Spanish.
Stacz said the collection of Spanish-language books is limited to children's books, specifically citing a complete collection in Spanish of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series of books.
Stacz said she expects the collection to continue to grow as officials purchase more Spanish-language and bilingual Spanish/English materials.
“We buy new books every day,” she said. “We’re always looking for more, appropriate materials.”
The library is hardly the only place in Lansing acknowledging a growth in the use, and comprehension, of Spanish.
Officials in Lansing School District 158 have considered increasing their offerings of Spanish classes for their students to the elementary schools, while officials at Nathan Hale Elementary School recently hired an English Language Learner teacher.
Stacz said the library is working with both District 158 and Sunnybrook School District 171, to coordinate the Tuesday event, which about 40 people are expected to attend, and to determine what materials are needed in the library’s collection.
“We’re working with the schools to make sure we have the proper materials for the kids,” Stacz said.
To date, the library’s efforts at bilingual materials focus on Spanish, since the growing Latino population in Lansing is the dominant one that would use a language other than English.
Yet Stacz said she thinks efforts such as the bilingual open house could benefit all residents, not just Spanish-speaking ones.
“In our changing society, Spanish is going to be a more important language to understand,” she said. “Having some understanding will be an important skill for everyone.”