• By Don Dwiggins
  • Posted Thursday, January 7, 2016

Providing Library Services to Forsyth County's Invisible Population

Rolling toward another stop in another neighborhood in Winston-Salem children, young and old alike see the unmistakable brightly colored murals wrapping the modified camper bus and break out in smiles because they know that the library has arrived. Esmirna Esparza, head of our Hispanic Outreach Department and her staff open the doors of the Bibliobus, pull out the portable steps and prepare to greet the first visitors as they step forward.

“The Bibliobus is the affectionate name we call our bookmobile,” Esparza says. Starting service in 2005, the Bibliobus was the first of its kind in North Carolina as it not only stocks books and other library materials but also has a small story-telling area inside and an awning outside that provides shelter for various programs and activities.

In 1997 Forsyth County Public Library became the first library system in North Carolina to offer a dedicated outreach service to spanish speaking people. Hispanic outreach provides full library services to this unserved segment of the population to not only provides services but also to introduce services to those who are unaware that they exist. “I think of it as serving the invisible segment of our community. Invisible because society tends to not see them or doesn’t want to see them. The poor, the sick, the elderly, the shut-ins, the incarcerated, the foreigner,” says Esparza.

Most immigrants remain unaware of the services the library offers and many would remain unaware if not for the efforts of Hispanic Outreach. “It is trust or word of mouth,” says Esparza. “Those who utilize library services were introduced through our contact with them or their personal friends, other family or their church.”

“For many the thought of simply walking into a building and being able to leave with borrowed books or movies is an entirely new concept for them,” says Esparza. language and education are also barriers in increased library use among the Hispanic community something that will take time to overcome and perseverance to overcome.

Hispanic Services offers a full regimen of programs and activities in addition to the daily Bibliobus schedule which serves 20 different neighborhoods over a two to three week interval. Each spring there is a celebration of Dia de los Ninos--Dia de los Libros! a nationwide observance by teachers and librarians to promote the thought to children and parent alike that a child’s most valued friend is El libro or the book.

For more information on the Library’s Hispanic Outreach Department call 336 703-2969 or email Esmirna Esparza.

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