Posts Tagged ‘National Hispanic Heritage Month’

Libraries Serving Spanish-Speaking Communities

A library sign in English with Spanish translation, in a Texas library (Un letrero en inglés y español en una biblioteca en Texas).. The city has a large number of Spanish speakers moving in so the public library now has Spanish books and also some Spanish signs. (Pete Unseth, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license) (via Wikimedia Commons)

A library sign in English with Spanish translation, in a Texas library (Un letrero en inglés y español en una biblioteca en Texas). The city is serving its large Spanish-speaking population. (Pete Unseth, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license) (via Wikimedia Commons)

The Spanish language is an integral part of the American experience.

According to the 2011 Pew Research Center’s American Community Survey, Spanish is the main language spoken in more than 37 million homes. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans comprised 17% of the country’s population–53 million people.

How do the more than 16,000 public libraries across the United States serve this culturally rich community?

There are numerous ways that public libraries can find the fiscal support, cultural materials, and language expertise necessary to successfully serve their diverse Spanish-language-speaking communities. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated each year in the U.S. from September 15 through October 15, let’s take a look at some.

Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish-Speaking Library Users

The American Library Association offers a comprehensive overview to librarians and media specialists who seek to initiate services to Spanish-language-speaking populations or to build upon their existing resources. Visit Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish-Speaking Library Users for an overview of collection development and selection; cultural programming and outreach; the value of personnel training and development; and the significance of collection placement.


The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA) was established in 1986 with the purpose of providing educational, charitable, and programming outreach to Hispanic American librarians and to libraries wanting to serve the Spanish-speaking population.

The REFORMA site provides extensive online resources for libraries, including a Spanish-English dictionary, Spanish-language brochures and flyers, and storytime materials. The organization offers awards and recognition to libraries and holds events and conferences on Spanish-language literature and in support of outreach to Spanish-language communities.


Spanish in Our Libraries (SOL), although no longer being published, is now an archive of valuable information. This electronic newsletter helped to connect librarians and media specialists serving their libraries’ Spanish-speaking communities.


Public Libraries Using Spanish (PLUS) is a growing searchable database that provides libraries with documents necessary for any library to serve its Spanish-language communities. Find printable card applications, signs, programming information, and more, written in Spanish with English translations. The site’s owner is accessible by email and asks for users to share their comments, experiences, and document submissions.

WebJunction’s SLO Program

WebJunction is an online learning community for librarians. The organization offers knowledge and support in many areas of librarianship: leadership and communication, staff training, library services, technology, and programming.

One facet of WebJunction is its Spanish Language Outreach (SLO) Program. Case studies, webinars, and materials (such as an action plan template and checklists) assist libraries in creating, maintaining, and growing Spanish language collections, services and programming, and outreach. Text to the site’s Spanish Language Outreach Workshop Curriculum–including a PowerPoint presentation and a resource packet–offers in-depth instruction and support to librarians and media specialists.

These sites are only some of the resources available to public libraries serving, or looking to serve, their Spanish language communities–communities that are integral to the advancement of our nation and its libraries.

SIRS Knowledge Source and SIRS Discoverer commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month each year by spotlighting the history of and the news, events, and issues affecting this vibrant and diverse population. Find articles, timelines, photos, and more.

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

We are in the midst of Hispanic American Heritage Month! There is so much to know about the Hispanic presence in the United States and its impact on the country’s development and its continued growth. Populations of Hispanic descent have thrived here since 1565, when Spanish explorers founded the Florida city of St. Augustine. That’s 42 years before English explorers arrived in Jamestown. America has always been Hispanic!

While it’s important to delve into the history of the Hispanic American community and meet prominent Hispanic Americans, it is also valuable to learn about from where Hispanic Americans have descended. For example, did you know that the beautiful South American country of Bolivia, ruled by the Inca Empire for centuries, was colonized by Spain in the 1500s? And that the mountainous Central American country of Honduras was once part of the Mayan civilization? Perhaps you can challenge your students to pick a country, research its history and cultures, and present their findings.

Mayan Altar in Honduras

Mayan Altar in Honduras
Image by Dennis Jarvis via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

Or, direct their research with questions so that they can research for answers! Maybe you want to try a history question like “What Central American country was home to the Olmec civilization thousands of years ago? What other ancient civilizations lived in this country and what impact did they have?” Or a cultural question like “What is a quinceanera? It originates from the Spanish word quince, which means what?”


Image by Razi Machay via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

This information and much more is available on SIRS Discoverer. During the month of October our Spotlight of the Month highlights Hispanic American Heritage Month. Not only can your students learn about the histories and cultures of Hispanic countries, but they can meet Hispanic American authors, poets, politicians, musicians, civil-rights activists, and more. There’s so much to learn about the United States and the amazing people who compose its beautiful diversity.

Get Crafty with Hispanic Heritage

It’s time to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month!

There are many ways classrooms can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, a yearly celebration that falls between September 15 and October 15: meeting significant Hispanic Americans throughout U.S. history, exploring Hispanic countries, tasting traditional Hispanic dishes, or learning about Hispanic cultures.

OR, students and teachers can get crafty…while learning about some long-established Hispanic holidays and traditions.

Maracas for Cinco de Mayo

Mariachi Aguilar Real celebrates Cinco de Mayo
courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida via Flickr Commons [Public Domain]

In late 1861, Napoleon III sent his French army to invade Mexico in the hopes of establishing a French presence in the country. Napoleon III did not expect that Mexico would put up much of a fight. He was wrong. On May 5th of the following year, the Mexican army defeated the French army in the Battle of Puebla.

People celebrate Cinco de Maya (which means the 5th of May) by taking part in or attending parades, learning about Mexican history and culture, eating Mexican cuisine, displaying Mexican décor, and listening to or playing Mexican music. Students and teachers can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by learning about Cinco de Mayo and making their very own Mexican maraca. Why not Have a Musical Cinco de Mayo?

Remembering Family on the Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico
by Gengiskanhg via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated from October 31 through November 2. It is a celebration that transcends cultures and is acknowledged around the world.

The Day of the Dead provides time to remember and pay homage to loved ones who have died. Families and friends gather for parties and picnics in cemeteries and other places near ancestors’ remains. Elaborate decorations include skulls, skeletons, coffins, and other images representing death. Some people dress up in costumes, and children collect candy from piñatas. Shrines and altars to the dead are erected and filled with flowers and other offerings.

This culturally rich tradition is a wonderful way to honor Hispanic cultures in the classroom. You can make the lesson crafty as well…check out Remember Family with Ornament for instructions.

Worried? Make a Worry Doll!

Guatemalan Worry Doll
courtesy of Kakarinka via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

According to Guatemalan legend, muñecas quitapenas, or worry dolls, were created  by a child named Maria. Hoping to help her impoverished family, she made tiny dolls to secretly sell. The night before she went to the market, she expressed to the dolls her worry about not having money. The next day, one person bought all of the dolls—for more money than Maria could have ever hoped.

Thus worry dolls were born.

Telling your worry doll one worry and placing it under your pillow at night is believed to make the worry go away. This legend has spread beyond Guatemala, and now worry dolls are popular in many countries and cultures. Students can make their own Worry Dolls while learning about this beautiful tradition and the country from which it originated.

There are so many ways to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. One way is to use SIRS Discoverer and SIRS Knowledge Source to find articles and Web sites appropriate (and fun!)  for students.

Just make sure you celebrate!


SIRS Discoverer and SKS Spotlights of the Month: Hispanic Heritage Month

Do you know what the largest minority group is in the United States? Here’s a hint: America celebrates citizens of this heritage each year from September 15 through October 15. Need another hint? Some people of this heritage trace their ancestors back to the Spanish explorers of the 15th century! Wow! And here’s one more clue…some also descend from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South Americas. If you answered Hispanic Americans, you are correct!

Latin Cultural Dancing <br \> by National Park Service, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Latin Cultural Dancing
by National Park Service, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

The United States is in the midst of a national celebration of this diverse and culturally rich population. Around the country, schools are hosting Hispanic heritage nights, museums are exhibiting works of Hispanic artists, and concert halls are featuring Hispanic music and musicians. Festivals provide glimpses into the many different Hispanic cultures and traditions that have helped shape this nation; conferences bring Hispanic American groups together to celebrate shared heritage; and ceremonies honor Hispanic Americans of distinction. This year, join SIRS Discoverer and SIRS Knowledge Source in honoring the vital role of Hispanic Americans in American society and culture.

SKS Spotlight: Honoring Hispanic Americans

Celebrate National Hispanic Awareness Month with October’s SKS Spotlight of the Month! This tribute to National Hispanic Awareness Month honors the cultures, traditions, achievements and heritage of Hispanic Americans. Discover the massive political influence of the Latino population, consider the potential of the Latino book market, and ponder the efficacy of Latino studies. Meet prominent Hispanic Americans, such as author Sandra Cisneros and Senator Marco Rubio. Even take a quiz on the growing population of Hispanic Americans!

Spanish American musicians playing at a fiesta, Taos, New Mexico, July 1940, by Library of Congress via ProQuest SIRS Renaissance [Public Domain]

National Hispanic Awareness Month is held annually from September 15 to October 15 in honor of the anniversary of several Latin American nations’ independence. Hispanic Americans, the largest minority group in the United States, play a prominent role in all facets of American society and culture. Not only have Hispanic Americans shaped popular culture, but their increasing representation in government and media highlights their larger influence on American life. Join SKS/SIRS Issues Researcher in commemorating the the myriad contributions and cultures of Hispanic Americans.