New Americans will feel more welcomed in a space where their language is represented. While it’s not realistic for libraries in major resettlement areas to provide substantial resources in all languages, many libraries could benefit from considering how to develop multilingual resources in the languages widely spoken in a community. Libraries can strategize to accomplish this objective by considering both collection development and creating bi- and multilingual versions of other resources, such as templates and signage. Keep in mind that these efforts still will not reach non-literate patrons, and easily recognized graphics or icons in signage will be especially helpful. Libraries should consider the scale of their institution when developing a realistic strategy for what multilingual resources they can produce. The community assessment can inform the languages to focus upon, and to what degree.

Suggested Action Steps

  1. Do an inventory of your current bilingual or multilingual collections, and signage.
  2. Identify your greatest languages of need. Do they match your current collections? What about signage? In particular, consider critical wayfinding signage that helps patrons meet their basic needs, such as directions to the restrooms.
  3. Write up a wish list and begin to brainstorm how to fill the need. The Programming Librarian Interest Group can be a great resource here too.

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