Collection Development

Why develop a Spanish-language children’s collection? According to the ALA guidelines for library services to Spanish-speaking populations, developing a Spanish-language and bilingual collection is a key way to ensure equity of access in library systems that serve significant Spanish-speaking and bilingual populations. The same collection development and access policies that you apply to your English-language collection should be applied to your Spanish-language collection:

1. Relevancy: the collection should meet the needs of the community being served, including both their educational and recreational needs.

2. Language: include materials both in Spanish and bilingual. Try to find titles published in the countries of origin of your patrons.

3. Bibliographic Access: Access to the Spanish collection should include Spanish subject headings in your library catalog, as well as locally produced access and identification aids.

4. Formats: Collect both print and non-print resources in Spanish. Include all reading levels.

5. Selection: follow the general procedures of your collection development policy. Use the resources listed below and/or other specialized tools to facilitate Spanish-language acquisition.

Further points to consider:

– Timeliness is very important in subjects such as health and legal advice. Make sure the publication date is current and the book is not a reprint.

– Remember that materials in Spanish have a short publication life. Try to order as soon as possible as they go out of print very quickly.

– Place an emphasis on materials in the original Spanish. You will of course add translations into Spanish as well but the focus should be on original materials.

– Maintain a list of Spanish language speaking countries and make sure that the collection has authors from all of these areas.

– While books on health, law, poetry, religion, parenting, cooking, and the occult are very popular, try to develop a well-rounded collection with books on all subjects. Look for bilingual books of poetry as well.

– Beware of badly translated books! As Isabel Schon says, “…no degree of fidelity can compensate for the betrayal of a good writer by “Spanishing” him or her in a limp, ludicrous style. It is important to note that none of these inferior translations has resulted in a Spanish-language book with an enduring and memorable style. These linguistic aberrations are especially evident in the numerous so-called bilingual books that are now published and sold in the U.S..”

– Look for these translators when choosing Spanish translations of English books: Elena Poniatowska, Osvaldo Blanco, and Maria Puncel — they are especially excellent!

*** Thank you to Crista Cannariato of the Yolo County Library System for compiling many of these sources and suggestions!!!***

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