...una biblioteca es un gabinete mágico en el cual hay muchos espíritus hechizados. Despiertan cuando los llamamos; mientras no abrimos un libro, ese libro, literalmente, es un volumen, es una cosa entre las cosas.      - Emerson

Public Libraries Using Spanish




Nathan Christian Jensen 1916-2001

This issue is dedicated to the fond memory of Flaco's papá. Q.E.P.D., viejo.
SOL 68 Contents:

Nov 20, 2001
1. St. Paul's electronic INS kiosk
2. What's missing from the new issue of Críticas
3. NPR spotlights another bilingual publishing sensation
4. Get your free bilingual B.S. detector right here
5. REFORMA's new book and website
6. "Diary of a Day Laborer"
7. Barahona Center's workshops: YA books in Spanish
8. Kansas City woos Spanish speakers to its libraries


1. INS kiosk offers information at St. Paul library

The kinder, gentler Immigration & Naturalization Service (?!) is working with the St. Paul Public Library, writes Lourdes Medrano Leslie in the St. Paul Star Tribune of Oct 31 2000, hosting an electronic "information kiosk that dispenses many of the immigration forms that people routinely seek at the office of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), where long lines are a staple of any visit."  (Flaco shouts, "Amen!")

"Simply by touching a screen," the story goes, "users can obtain application forms for citizenship, permanent residency and work permits. The kiosk also offers answers to basic immigration-related questions and access to other local, state and federal government sites." 

Find the whole article at, and if you want to get in touch with the Lexington Outreach branch you can call 651-642-0359 or write to 


2. A SOL exclusive!  The "lost" review from Críticas

The new Críticas (#4, Winter 2001) is just out, and as always it's full of great stuff.  You'll find bestseller lists on p. 17, tips on making the most of the FIL on p. 8 (but, since when do librarians need to be reminded to wear comfortable shoes?  Times are changing, evidently, and come to think of it Guadalajara is the Footwear Mecca of North America) and more than 150 reviews of Spanish-language books, magazines, videos, and--dig it--music.

A review you won't find, even though it's promised right there on p. 7, is the one of Victor Villaseñor's new novel Trece sentidos.  The book's important enough to be HarperCollins' first release under its new Rayos imprint, which publishes titles simultaneously in both languages--and that right there is the rub. Críticas sent a review copy to your buddy Flaco, then decided that the Spanish version's a translation so must be reviewed by someone else in a separate section...but it never happened, so if you want to read Flaco's review, here it is:

Villaseñor, Victor. Trece sentidos. (Thirteen Senses) New York: Rayo (HarperCollins).  2001.  ISBN 0-06-621160-3.  $26. FICTION
Like the best-selling Rain of Gold (Arte Público Press, 1991) and its prequel Wild Steps of Heaven (Dell, 1996), this final part of the trilogy mines the author's family history and polishes its narrative nuggets with magic, myth, and fable.  Trece sentidos follows Villaseñor's parents-Mexican immigrants from families making new lives in California-through the early years of their marriage.  It's the Prohibition era, and he's a bootlegger, card shark, and smuggler; she's a God-fearing young beauty prepared for heroic sacrifice on behalf of her man.  The couple is bonded by a lyrically described love and a mutual regard for their mothers, one of whom, doña Margarita, is a truly fabulous character who chats regularly with the Virgin Mary and arranges a détente between God and the Devil.  The novel's title derives from the tenets of Margarita's earthy plainspoken spirituality that runs from the sublime to the comical; Villaseñor gives us a female counterpart to Carlos Castañeda's don Juan, with an indigenous holiness whose erratically reverent take on Catholicism might discomfit some readers. One of the strongest motifs of Trece sentidos is its feminism, reminding us throughout that it is the women who hold these families together.  Issues of assimilation and cultural identity surface as well.  Villaseñor's writing occasionally comes unbridled in fits of sheer enthusiasm for his themes and characters, and so readers who disliked the unrestrained sentimentality his earlier works will have the same complaints here.  The author participated in this translation, launched HarperCollins' new Rayos imprint, and the text is richly colored with Mexicanisms.  Recommended highly for all libraries and bookstores.


3. Speaking of Rayos, here's another book you might want

You don't need to run your turntable backwards in order to hear the drug references in Mexican 'narcocorridos,' popular outlaw ballads about doughty smugglers.  National Public Radio yesterday ran a nine-minute feature on the genre (available for your listening pleasure at and for it tapped the brain of Elijah Wald.  His new book Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas is available in both English and Spanish editions from Rayo.  If you'd like a taste of his work, Wald has a nice narcocorrido website up at


4. Detector de Tretas

A well-calibrated B.S. detector is a key survival tool in any language, and now there's a fully downloadable bilingual one courtesy of the folks at Miami's Radio Progreso.  It's a section of RP's site "where we decipher the B.S., or “Bilingual Scam”—the art of reporting differently in English than in Spanish, so often practiced by The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald."  The B.S. Detector, or Detector de Tretas if you like, is itself published in both languages and furnishes an alternative take on current events and reportage.  Find it weekly at


5. New book and website for REFORMA

Maybe we're biased, but we heartily recommend the recently released REFORMA book The Power of Language/El poder de la palabra, published by Libraries Unlimited (see and  Not because it contains some musings by Flaco--which you usually get for free anyway--but because it is well-edited and embraces a remarkable range of articles about library services to Spanish speakers and Latinos.

As a matter of fact, if you can identify the author of its fascinating article subtitled "Applying Whiteness Theory to Our Profession" you'll be entered in a big prize drawing to win Seix Barral's recent reissue of Guerra en el paraíso by Carlos Montemayor--a $16 value, yours postage-paid if you submit your answer by Dec 10 and get lucky.

And while we're on the subject of REFORMA, you might want to check out its handsome new look at as Web genius Francisco Garcia-Ayvens reworks the site.


6. Latino day laborers featured

Gustavo Arellano--journalist, scholar, and bilingual ethnographer--wrote a fine piece about jornaleros for the Orange County Weekly ("Diary of a Day Laborer: A human drama in 5 parts"):

Your fellow SOListas, of course, are still interested in hearing about what you and your library have done to address the information needs of these hardworking folks, so share your story right here.


7. Young readers of Spanish the focus of upcoming  workshops  

From: Chisato Uyeki


The Barahona Center for the Study of Books in Spanish for Children and Adolescents at California State University San Marcos announces three three-day workshops:

June 24 and 25- Books and Reading Strategies for English Language Learners in Grades K-8.  This workshop will focus on reading, selecting, and using appropriate literature to teach reading strategies for English language learners. Activities will include: Selecting appropriate literature for language proficiency, cultural learning style and reading ability, using literature to teach reading strategies such as reader's theater, reciprocal teaching, SQ3R, vocabulary strategies, and the directed reading thinking activity.  We will also design lessons using a variety of strategies for the English language learner using quality literature. (Two-day workshop to be conducted in English. Noncredit only. $75.)

July 8-10 - Current Issues:  Books in Spanish for Young Readers.
Introduction to and analysis of current practices and problems in selecting and using books in Spanish for children and adolescents. (Three-day workshop to be conducted in English. Noncredit only. $115.)

July 22-24 - Literature in Spanish for Children and Adolescents/ La Literatura en Español dirigida a los Lectores Infantiles y Juveniles.
Introduction to the literature in Spanish for children and adolescents including selection criteria and reading promotion strategies.  (Three-day workshop to be conducted in Spanish. Noncredit only. $115.)

Workshop sessions will be from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Students will be free to use the resources of the Center in the afternoons.

Enrollment is limited; early registration is definitely recommended.

For further information, please call or write:
Dra. Isabel Schon
Barahona Center for the Study of Books in Spanish for Children and Adolescents
Centro Barahona para el Estudio de Libros Infantiles y Juveniles en Español
California State University San Marcos
San Marcos, CA 92096-0001  USA
Tel. (760) 750-4070
Fax: (760) 750-4073


8. KC makes the news again

Katie Weeks reports in the Nov 10 Kansas City Star  that a number of suburban libraries are redoubling their efforts to come up with Spanish-language materials, signage, and OPAC interfaces ("Library collections adding more books in Spanish"). The article's not available for free, but the lead goes like this:

"Sylvia Castro, an immigrant from Lima, Peru, volunteers her time at the Oak Park branch of the Johnson County Library in hopes of improving her English skills.

" 'It is very useful for me to have the opportunity to talk to American people,' said Castro, whose husband's job transfer led them to Kansas City almost two years ago."


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