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USA: Should Public Libraries be English-Only?

In the city of Denver, Colorado, there's an ugly fight breaking out over whether public libraries should provide books and other materials in Spanish. Anti-immigration groups argue that publicly funded libraries should be English-only, while library supporters retort that curtailing Spanish-language content is discriminatory and doesn't reflect the ever-changing population demographics of the United States.

2 comments

  • Ruth

    Absolutely NOT, public libraries should never restrict their collections to literature in just one language, and it is extremely dangerous to assume that Spanish materials will appeal most to the Hispanic population. I’m your stereotypical old fashioned American girl – blonde hair, blue eyes, European descendancy, and the only immigrant blood I have in me comes from way far back in my past. Is it fair to allow anti-immigration groups to deprive me of one of my favorite literary sections of the library and intellectual pursuits? Absolutely not, just as it is unfair to deprive anyone of pursuing their intellectual goals. In restricting public libraries to English only, the government would be filtering out certain opinions and ways of thought, keeping certain authors out of the general publics reach. On another note, we have the translations of famous authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cervantes, Octavio Paz, Isabel Allende, in our libraries – why not the spanish, the works of these authors in their original form. Regardless of whether you are in favor or against increased immigration into the United States, you must not assume that Hispanics are the only demographic that will appreciate a Spanish section. As often as not, the people looking for Spanish books are students of the language, just like myself. Thus to prevent us from pursuing our studies in a public library would deprive high-schoolers and others of the resources they need to learn!!!!!!

  • I agree with Ruth. Spanish speakers (whether or not Spanish is their first language) support these libraries. They should have the right to read books in the primary language they were written. I think this is an issue of intellectual freedom more of one of immigration.

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