The Linguist

The Linguist 54,3

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 9 of 35

10 The Linguist Vol/54 No/3 2015 FEATURES Claire Nevill considers how well public libraries cater for foreign language communities 'libraries are, let us not forget, a golden thread throughout our lives,' says William Sieghart, author of the independent report on Public libraries – a recently published set of proposals for the future of Britain's libraries. Sieghart's recommendations come at a time when, over the past year alone, council spending on libraries in england has been cut by 3.3% and library users have dropped by a million, according to ciPFa (chartered institute of Public Finances and accountancy) figures. Sieghart says that more and more libraries are disappearing, leaving larger tracts of the population unserved and isolated. So where does this leave speakers of other languages and foreign language learners? are they being properly catered for amid the cuts? Local needs libraries typically tailor their foreign language stock and resources to meet local demand. darren Smart, Policy and advocacy officer at ciliP (chartered institute of libraries and information Professionals), explains that financial restrictions on libraries are having an impact on core foreign language stock. 'most libraries' foreign language shelves have a combination of core provision: historical european foreign language titles and translated or native fiction in the most popular languages of their community. But the severity of the cuts does mean that stock of the latter can be reduced. Some areas find it challenging to supply enough choice in their local community's languages.' according to Sieghart's 2014 report, 35% of people in england use their local libraries, rising to 50% among poorer and immigrant groups. 'The library does more than simply loan books. it underpins every community. it is not just a place for self-improvement, but the supplier of an infrastructure for life and learning, from babies to old age, offering support, help, education, and encouraging a love of reading,' he says. This is backed up by recent research from ipsos mori for the carnegie Foundation, which found that 74% of respondents in england thought public library services were essential or very important to the community, and 47% to them personally. norfolk and norwich millennium library is the second most visited library in the country. Jan holden, assistant head of libraries for norfolk council, says their partnership with the British centre for literary Translation (BclT) was useful in establishing their libraries as foreign language 'community hubs' rather than just book-lending centres. 'We run successful reading and learning groups in a range of foreign languages across the library service,' she says. For holden, it is about engaging the local community to run reading and language activities, and to decide for themselves which foreign language titles they want to see in stock. 'We were finding that our stock could become quite static, and when we asked library members to recommend books in their own language they always chose classics which represent their Libraries' lending power 'The challenge is keeping up with swiftly changing demographics and meeting local needs' Gerry BaldinG, 'T he Forum', 10/4/08 via Flickr (cc By-nc-nd 2.0)

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 54,3