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Debating Library Service for Latinos in Santa Ana

September 01, 2002

Re "Latinos Finding Nada on Library Shelves," Aug. 25:

I am beginning to wonder if this is still America or just beginning to become Mexico del Norte. How upside-down can this political correctness get when it is bemoaned by Latino activists that there are no, or not enough, Spanish-language books in the Santa Ana Public Library, and soft-headed American political scientists agree?

The absurdity of this takes more shape when you wonder how many books written in English there are in Mexican libraries for the English-speaking Americans who live there, and how much the Mexican librarians care.

James Kerr

Laguna Beach

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I was concerned to read the negative statements made regarding the Santa Ana Public Library's commitment to serve its primarily Mexican immigrant community.

While I don't dispute the need for additional Spanish-language materials, funding increases and a more relevant speakers program, I challenge the notion that the "library system is out of touch with residents in a city deemed the most Spanish-speaking of its size in the United States."

While I respect the opinions of friends and colleagues cited in the article, two scholarly ethnographic studies and one independently conducted staff survey conducted in the 1990s offer a different perspective on the immigrant community's impressions, use and value of this institution. The studies' findings are reported in "Immigrant Politics and the Public Library" (Greenwood, 2001), a volume of original research and scholarly articles I edited.

As the principal investigator of one of these studies, which was made possible through research grants from the California Library Assn. and Cal State Long Beach, I can attest to the relevancy of the public library to the Santa Ana community's immigrant population and the commitment of the staff to serve immigrant users.

The Santa Ana Public Library's focus on youth, a strategic decision based on limited funding, is the real story here. The enormous efforts that the library focuses on Santa Ana's children should have been the highlight of this story. It saddens me that the library's success in this critical area appears as an afterthought at the end of the article. Overall, I feel the article discounts the dedication and hard work of workers at the library, a community resource that residents cherish.

Susan Luevano

Fullerton

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If you want books written in Spanish, go to Spain. Or Mexico. I love the country, and I mean Mexico. But I never would expect them to alter their libraries to conform to my language.

This is our country, and we have no reason to adapt for illegal immigrants, or those who have no desire to learn our ways.

Drew Schriefer

Costa Mesa

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