Friday, September 29, 2006

Marshall County stands firm on multilingual library collection

Officials support trilingual librarian, but Hispanic Heritage Month display cancelled

The Marshall County Memorial Library in Lewisburg will continue to carry books in languages other than English and will have even more books in an outpouring of support and donations from the community. After a trilingual librarian was hired and a handful of county residents expressed opposition to public funds being spent on books and story times in languages other than English, the library Board of Directors stood up to the language ban concept and said that library policy would not change.

WKRN has filed a series of reports on this story. According to this early report, librarian Nely Rivera is new both to the job and to Lewisburg, and she has support all the way from her boss to the mayor. This WKRN story reports that the library’s director, Jan Allen, "is disappointed in the community's comments and said her heart goes out to her employee. 'I was flabbergasted, I was insulted. I felt very bad for her. And I felt bad for the library in general, for the patrons that we serve,' she said." Nonetheless, in the same story we learn that "the library had to cancel a planned display in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, because they didn't want to draw retaliation from angry residents. The controversy has drawn the attention of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, which is going to be keeping an eye on the situation."

This WKRN report and this one describe donations "pouring in" from residents for the purchase of more books in other languages, to add to the current collection that includes books in Japanese, Russian, Polish, and French.

Apart from the WKRN stories, the most comprehensive accounting online is reported in this post on the Coyote Chronicles blog. NewsChannel5 also filed this brief report.

The mayor, library director, and library board in Lewisburg stand out when compared to officials in other parts of the state who speak and act with disrespect for Hispanics and immigrants, as reported previously (latest story here) in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook.

Focus: Education

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