Expanding our world languages collections

For those who speak and read in languages other than English, there’s even more to find at the library this year, as we expand our world languages collections for adults, teens, and kids.

Since last year, our librarians have been analyzing the collections, researching Oak Park demographics, and meeting with local educators to learn which languages they’re teaching and where they see potential growth.

And our community is responding: as these collections grow in size and quality, their circulation continues to grow too. Find them at the Main Library and through the catalog »

More for adults, teens, and kids

You can browse the Adult World Languages Collection on the Main Library’s third floor. It has nonfiction and fiction—including graphic novels and teen fiction—in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. And this year, we’re adding Arabic, Chinese, and Polish.

Also growing is the Children’s World Languages Collection. Located in the Main Library Children’s Services area, the collection is full of books and movies in languages including French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Dakota, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and more.

Original voices

For these collections, the library places great importance on original-language material.

“That means we want to have German books written by German speakers, for example, rather than having English works translated into German, all the while being aware of diversity,” says Neighborhood Services Martyn Churchouse.

For example, one recent addition to the Adult World Languages Collection is Die Mittagsfrau (The blindness of the heart). This novel is by Julia Franck, an East German-born feminist author who spent time in a refugee camp in her youth.

“Another example is ensuring that Spanish-language materials cover the entire Spanish-speaking world,” Churchouse says. “And I’m trying to uncover the complex diversities within those boundaries, such as Turkish diaspora writers writing in German, or Francophone African authors.”

Resources to learn new languages

Books and audiobooks

Next to the Adult World Languages collection on the Main Library’s third floor, you’ll find books and audiobooks to help you learn new languages, plus travel guides to help you explore new places.

Online learning tools

With your library card, explore Mango Languages. This online resource preps you for realistic conversations in over 70 world languages, including English as a Second Language. It’s good for tourists or beginners, and has a free app for iOS and Android.

And for kids, check out MUZZY, an online language program with games and learning activities.

Conversation groups

In French Conversation Hour, which meets at Maze Branch, we’re celebrating five years of building community. In these monthly meet-ups, we’ve built strong relationships and a tight community of lifelong language learners, from teens to retirees.

Our French and Spanish conversation groups always welcome new attendees. They meet monthly and offer language practice for learners at any level. See them on the calendar »

We love learning languages too!

At the library, 19 staff members across service areas speak 14 languages and dialects other than English, from American Sign Language to Urdu.

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