.Aula Máxima es la biblioteca y también lugar de recreo del espíritu.   - José Vasconcelos

       ISSN 1542-0647



SOL 80   November 1, 2002

Win new bilingual books, and a new bilingual librarian, all absolutely free!  Read on...

SOL 80 Contents:


1. Will work the reference desk for food, says Flaco

10. New tool eases Internet book shopping
2. Ripoff alert: Selling sham ESL classes in library's name 11. Spanish is in style all across the U.S.A.
3. Free online self-paced computer classes in Spanish 12. Bank of America introduces site in Spanish
4. Wake up (reading) with hunky anchorman Jorge Ramos! 13. Library books in Spanish thrill Anglophone reporter
5. Brilliant Spanish-language DIY library goes online 14. New SOL contest is for the nasty poet in you
6. La reina del sur and Los Tigres del Norte 15. MEDLINEplus bolsters its bilingual content
7. 400 online dictionaries 16. Arkansas library's newsworthy Spanish-language services
8. Latin American cartoonists 17. Tiny Idaho library thinks big
9. Born to Read, and the Ratón returns 18. Now we've got an ISSN, of all things

1. My Nutty Hobby

Flaco, MLIS has the oddball hobby of going out on library job interviews.  Like any good hobby, trainspotting and the like, it eats up huge chunks of time and has a touchingly pathetic futility about it. 

Take his recent interview for a gig at the East LA Library, where nobody on the panel spoke Spanish.  Mywasn't that a comical experience!  East LA, where half the 125,000 residents are foreign-born, and 96.5 thousand speak Spanish at home.  The non-Spanish-speaking interview panel included the library's new director, Janet Fattahi, who asked the slender jobseeker, "If someone came to the reference desk with a question, would you look for the answer in a book or on the Internet?"  She even kept a straight face!

Under such capable guidance, surely great things are in store for that branch.  Flaco, meanwhile, gets skinnier every day. 

So he's shamelessly abandoning all propriety, and asking:  Have you got a job for this character?

You wanna talk?  Call me, or email me...we could even hook up at the FIL in Guadalajara if you want.

2. Sham ESL classes rob Oregonians, so watch out

From: "Chris Tovell" <>
To: "REFORMA NW (E-mail)" <>
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2002 9:31 AM
Subject: English Class fraud.

Hola amigos,

Lately we've been getting questions from Spanish-speaking patrons asking about an English class for which they have registered (and paid $20) that is supposed to meet in the library.  There is no such class here and I have to tell them that: a) they are the victims of a fraud, b) would they please speak to the police, and c) all library programs are free.  Evidently, a group of native Spanish-speakers are going door to door in apartment complexes that have a large number of native Spanish-speakers and "registering" people for this nonexistent class.  This scam could come to your community next, so please get the word out to your patrons and all your community partners.  Below is the text of the flyer I put up in our building and distributed to our community partners.  I wrote it, so the Spanish is suspect, but please feel free to use/modify it if you wish. 

And let's hope these chuckleheads get caught soon!

Chris Tovell
Languages Librarian
Beaverton City Library
(503) 644-2197 ext. 5260

[The text of Chris's flyer:]

Hay unas personas andando por la communidad diciendo que hay una clase para aprender inglés en la Biblioteca y que necesita inscribirse y pagar $20 a ellos. 

¡Este es un engaño y ellos son criminales! 

La Biblioteca no tiene ninguna clase para que es necesario pagar. 

Todas nuestras clases y funciones son gratis, sin excepción

Si usted encuentre estas personas, llame a la Policía de Beaverton: (503) 629-0111.

¡Por favor, dígales a sus amigos y parientes que no hay ninguna clase en la Biblioteca para que es necesario pagar!

[ABC News also ran a story this week on scam artists who prey on immigrants all across the country, and that report is worth reading.]

3. Software classes, online and in Spanish

[Goodwill Industries of North Carolina has launched cost-free Spanish-language computer courses for four popular programs.  These could complement the courses your library might be offeringor substitute for the ones you're not yet offeringso let your users know!  Bobbie Crockett's Spanish-language message below could be cut & pasted to make a flyer.]

From: Bobbie Crockett
clases de computación gratis - un programa de Goodwill Industries


GCF Aprendizaje Global es un programa de capacitación gratis en computación y está a su disposición en la Internet. Estudiantes pueden recibir las clases - MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint y Access - guiadas por un instructor.  En este momento, estamos registrando estudiantes para Excel 2000, que comienza el 28 de Octubre de 2002. La clase termina en tres semanans.

Visite nuestra Página:

Si tiene preguntas, por favor envíelas a: ­­­­­ 

GCF Aprendizaje Global es administrado por Industrias Goodwill del Este de Carolina del Norte, Inc. corporación sin ánimo de lucro. Este programa gratis es consolidado por las donaciones a nuestras tiendas.

Muchas gracias,


Excel 2000
Este curso proporciona una base sólida para utilizar Excel 2000, la poderosa aplicación de hoja de cálculo de Microsoft. Entre los temas tratados se incluyen: ingreso y edición de datos, uso de fórmulas sencillas y complejas, uso de funciones, creación de gráficos, formateo de texto y números, trabajar con varias hojas de cálculo, e imprimir hojas de cálculo.

Se recomienda realizar los cursos Introducción a las computadoras, Introducción al correo electrónico, Introducción a la Internet, Word 2000, o contar con una experiencia equivalente. Es necesario tener el programa de Excel 2000 para realizar satisfactoriamente este curso.

4. How to say 'Oprah' in Spanish

Jorge Ramos, that Univision anchorman with those dreamy blue eyes, has added a monthly book feature to the morning program Despierta América.  Check local listings, because he does it the first Friday of every month, and that's today.  If you missed the program, don't worry: his booklists and plenty of related materials are posted at the Univision website; that's how we know that La reina del sur (see Item 6, below) was spotlighted last month.

The current Criticas (Sep/Oct; p. 9) and its online version have a  Q&A with Jorge Ramos about this new segment, called "Despierta Leyendo" ("Wake Up Reading"), in which he says, naurally, "If Oprah did it in English, we can do it in Spanish."

5. Valuable Do-It-Yourself library goes online

This week brought detailed and profusely illustrated Spanish-language guides to plumbing, electrical work, construction techniques—in all, some 600 different topics—to the Web at the Lowe's home-improvement stores' laudable website.   

This is big news, folks.  Libraries have long recognized the demand for such materials; now, suddenly, a huge and well-executed online library of trade and craft information in Spanish appears.  Lowe's stores, by the way, also use a telephone translation service to assist customers who speak Spanish and other languages not covered by local staff.

What's more, we can all learn something from the preposterous reaction of rival Home Depot.  PR flack Don Harrison, evidently an idiot, is quoted in an article dismissing Lowe's online library because

...he doesn't think the site addresses the different dialects and types of Spanish such as Puerto Rican-Spanish, Mexican-Spanish and Cuban-Spanish.  "We learned from scratch that there are different dialects of Spanish," Harrison said.

Watch for Home Depot to discontinue all advertising and promotion once they discover the existence of different dialects of American English.

6.  La reina del sur

We've talked here about narcocorridos before, but now there's an amazing literary twist to the drugrunner ballad.  Arturo Pérez-Reverte, the Spanish novelist who's a bestselling favorite in many languages, has a big new book called La reina del sur which he describes as a "500-page narcocorrido."  Flaco, who's read it, says the novel's got a good beat and is full of music.

Pérez-Reverte claims the catalytic moment that led him to begin the novel happened in a Mexican cantina when Los Tigres del Norte came pumping out of the jukebox.  The song he heard that day and many others are mentioned in the book, and one attentive reader has even compiled a list of the tunes.

Now here's the amazing part: things have come full circle.  The current hit by the Tigres is called "La reina del sur," a danceable distillation of Pérez-Reverte's novel; you can, and should, listen to it online.

The Spanish novelist and the brilliant musicians have become fast friends.  "I love those guys," Pérez-Reverte said of the Tigres in an interview with a Spanish newspaper.  "They're the best."  And the band from Sinaloa, Mexico just wrapped up their first-ever tour of, dig it, Spain.   The crowds went wild.

7.  Hundreds of dictionaries

Miguel González, an English teacher in Spain, has assembled a tremendous index of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works available via the Internet.  It's classified according to subject areas and has more than 400 links.  You can choose between two versions of his index: one for Spanish speakers at and the other for English speakers, at

8.  "The keen harpoonery of their cartoonery"

We've been getting tons of comical email from Puerto Rican cartoonist Enrique "Kike" Estrada, whose Planeta Kike website is a real trip, and been thinking that some of our greatest storytellers and social commentators throughout history have said it with pictures. 

This time of year we always see a lot of José Guadalupe Posada's work, of course; he's one of the many expressive graphic geniuses the Spanish-speaking world has given us.  The upcoming Guadalajara book fair will pay tribute to Sergio Aragones, of MAD Magazine and Groo, the Wanderer fame.  The works of Rius and Quino certainly belong in anyone's library.  You can learn a lot, in English, about these two and many other important Latin American cartoonists at Mark Rosenfelder's wonderful site.

9.  Rats like us, baby we were Born to Read

Perhaps you've seen the sloppy translation of the Born to Read brochure on the ALA website.  Of course there's good information and sound advice there for people raising wee readers.  The same could be said of many of the nine Ratón de Biblioteca columns now up on the PLUS website, presented in handy bilingual format and yours to use as you wish.

10. Book pricing tool

[We're impressed with the effectiveness and simplicity of this price comparison tool.  If you do any online book pricing at all, give it a try.]

My name is Ori Tend and I want to introduce you to a new site I've launched recently:
It's a free service, allowing you to easily compare prices of any book in over 60 bookstores, and find a price which is 30% - 80% off the market list price.
As this service is new, I'm striving to improve it and make it better. If you have any feedback about it, please feel free to send it!

11. Spanish is everywhere

A recent article about the growing prominence of Spanish in everyday life around the U.S. is chock-full of intriguing data like this:

It might surprise people to find out the majority of the 300,000 ATMs nationwide are multilingual. "About 90 percent offer Spanish and English" Atlanta-based consulting firm...

12. Bank of America's new site

Speaking of ATMs, Bank of America has some that show mini-movies in color, with sound.  Better still, its branch in Los Angeles's Chinatown has an ATM equipped with a Chinese-language interface.  And a few days ago, with much fanfare, B of A rolled out its new Spanish-language website.

13. Reporter loves Spanish books @ her library

Connecticut reporter Kristen Daley's October16 story gives a different take on who's served by the public library's Spanish-language collection:

... When I saw a flier at the Guilford library about their recent additions to Spanish resources, it was like a breath of fresh air. The Hispanic population is now the fastest growing minority in the U.S., and I recently learned that there is an extensive Hispanic population in Guilford. The material now available at the library could serve that population as way to get in touch with their language and culture, at a time when knowledge of the English language has become so crucial.
Those Spanish books, newspapers, and magazines can also serve to further educate those who are learning the language, interested in learning the language, or just fascinated by the culture.

14.  SOL contest: There is Power in an Onion

Last Issue's Contest: First Mexican in Space
Dana Peeler conquered our quiz in a matter of minutes and won a terrific set of Spanish-language children's books from Rourke Publishing.  Thanks to everyone who entered hoping to win $77.70 worth of books for your local kids. The first Mexican in space was the good Dr. Rodolfo Neri Vela, who himself has written some ten books including Vuelta al mundo en noventa minutos (Around the World in Ninety Minutes), and hails from the capital city of Guerrero.  That's not Acapulco, it's Chalpincingo.

Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 10:16 AM
Subject: i know the answer!

> My research indicates that Rodolfo Neri was the first Mexican in Space. He flew in 1985 on the shuttle Atlantis.  Rodolfo Neri Vela is from Chilpancingo, Guerrero.
> Dana Peeler
> Assistant Director
> Ohoopee Regional Library System
> Vidalia, GA 30474
> (912)537-9283

Now, one of our favorite periodicals is The Onion, where we get most of our hard news.  We've been seen reading The Onion, is what I'm saying, but we'd never seen the reading onion till we looked at the website of Dana's library system.

She's in Vidalia, a town that lends its name to the sweetest onions this side of Walla Walla, WA.  The kind of onions that Flaco's dad used to eat out of hand, like an apple.  "Eating raw onions guards against communicable diseases," snickered the Old Man, "because nobody'll come near you."

This Issue's Prizes
Bilingual picture books for kids from the fine folks at  Raven Tree Press: gorgeous full-color illustrations, quarto size, hardcover, 32 pages.  Raven Tree is a Wisconsin publisher with some wonderful titles for youngsters; check their catalog and see for yourself.  They're even got one called Remember Me? / ¿Me recuerdas? about Alzheimer's Disease, along with a growing assortment of delightful tales about cute animals and kids getting mixed up in all kinds of entertaining adventures.

The New Contest
issue's contest is a dandy.  This time you get the chance to be creative and compose some deathly doggerel.  One of our favorite Day o' the Dead customs is the broadside publication and public recitation of topical satiric poems, called calaveras, that poke fun at public figures living and dead, putting them in graveyards, in heaven, in hell, doing all the zany things that dead people do.  Examples?  ''Carlos Salinas murió / la Muerte lo echó a la olla / prefirió estar en la tumba / que encerrado en Almoloya.''  The gist of that one is that disgraced Mexican ex-president Salinas let Death take him, preferring a grave to a prison cell.  Now, of course Salinas is not dead, but this is part of the wry humor of the calavera: imagining how the victim of the verse might meet an appropriate end, or how he'd behave in the face of Death.

Of course nobody is powerful enough to sidestep the cemetary, hence the gut-level populist satisfaction of these poems.  You can read more about them in Engish and see some (poorly) translated calaveras, or look at Spanish-language examples to get the feel for this thing before submitting your own work.

Remember: these don't have to be artful.  Our judges will be looking for topical wit, biting humor, cleverness, but not poetic technique.  Your calavera could be as short as a couple linesa haikulaveraor as long as Chente Fox's skeleton there.  English-, Spanish- or Spanglish-language entries  all accepted till November 11.

Two winners will get Raven Tree press bilingual picture books, a $16.95 value, and we'll post the winning calaveras on the site...maybe some of the unwinning ones, too.

15.  Medline in Spanish keeps getting better

Nobody beats the National Library of Medicine when it comes to health information on the Web.  We've sung the praises before of the powerful interface and rich Spanish-language content of MEDLINE, and things just keep getting better.

The NLM recently struck a deal with A.D.A.M. Inc., which over the years has compiled an enormous and graphically rich database of health information in Spanish, and whose "toggle" function enables quick switching between the two languages.

16.  Arkansas library throws down a challenge

The next two items demonstrate yet again that exemplary work goes on in some of the unlikeliest places. 

Witness last week's story, "Library Serves Hispanic Community" from Rogers, Arkansas.  A Latin American library worker there asserts that "Our library is doing a great job...The library here is much better than libraries in California."

17.  Famous Potatoes

And then there's this children's librarian, the acting library director in American Falls, Idaho—population 4,111—who claims she has one of the two largest Spanish-language collections in the state.  Uhhh...okaaay...anyway, you can read for yourself her remarkable claims in a recent article about a small-town library doing good stuff.

18.  ISSN 1542-0647 rules OK

Despite the big mid-term elections coming up, those hardworking staffers at the Library of Congress have found the time to catalog SOL and assign us an ISSN, prominently displayed in the upper-left portion of this page. 

Come to think of it, the election's probably not as big a deal for LC as it may be for youI mean, it's a safe bet that their library's not a polling place...

Bruce Jensen

Anti-copyright @ 2002 Not-for-profit use encouraged All other rights reserved.