NYC: Queens Libraries Speak the Mother Tongue

Posted on January 3, 2012 by

From The NY Times:

Striving to cater to the intensifying globalization of its surrounding streets, the New York neighborhood library speaks your language as never before.

The surge in immigrants patronizing the Queens system has spurred its branches to offer books, DVDs and CDs in 59 languages, more than double the total a decade ago. So important has acquiring foreign-language books become to the Queens Library’s mission that Radames Suarez, who supervises the Spanish collection, travels every year to the largest Spanish book fair in the world, in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Queens Library even has a staff demographer.


Of the 6.8 million books, CDs, videos and other items on Queens stacks, 833,000, or 12 percent, are in a language other than English. (Calling them foreign languages does not seem quite accurate in a borough where almost 50 percent of the populace was born abroad.) Chinese and Spanish top the list, but there are large collections of Korean, Russian, French, Hindi, Italian and Bengali as well, said Joanne King, a library spokeswoman.

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