The Santa Barbara Public Library has launched an initiative to better meet the needs of the Spanish-speaking community.
The Spanish Outreach Team is collaborating with local organizations.
“Over the past several years, the library has prioritized hiring additional Spanish-speaking staff when we’ve had vacant positions, and it has greatly improved the amount of Spanish-speaking programs the library is able to provide as well as our ability to provide day-to-day services in Spanish, which has in turn brought more of our Spanish-speaking community members into the Library,” Library Director Jessica Cadiente said.
In a community where nearly 40% of the population speaks Spanish, the library realized the community was not aware of services funded by government grants and free to residents, according to a news release.
To help spread the word about library services, the Spanish Outreach Team has targeted locations around the community to promote library resources, has developed a newsletter and Facebook page in Spanish, created a dedicated Library phone line for Spanish speakers, and reviews and translates essential Library information into Spanish.
The community has been increasingly borrowing more Spanish-language titles, and the library has doubled the amount of Spanish programming available between 2018 and 2021.
In addition, a series of virtual classes offered separately in English and Spanish had a greater number of Spanish-language participants.
“We’ve been able to expand services to our Spanish-speaking community by developing a culturally aware Spanish language book collection,” said Eric Castro, a senior library technician who works on the Spanish Outreach Team. “Now we’re collaborating with our Spanish-speaking community to implement innovative and comprehensive library programs that impact their lives through our workforce development programs, computer classes, and celebrating their culture by hosting international music concerts and art exhibits.”
Ms. Cadiente said the need to engage the community has become more important in light of the pandemic.
“We’re fortunate to have this dedicated group of bilingual staff to ensure the Spanish-speaking community’s voice is heard,” she said.
The library plans to continue to meet with partner organizations, hold focus groups, and will survey residents at sites around the Santa Barbara area to try to capture the input of people who don’t regularly visit the library’s branches and might not be aware of its services.
The library welcomes the community’s help for the Spanish Outreach Team. If you’re interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Spanish Outreach Team is encouraging community members to share how the library can best serve their needs.
To access the survey in Spanish, go to surveymonkey.com/r/3RLYNDJ.
The English version of the survey is at surveymonkey.com/r/N9DZJQT.