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5. Libraries with Multicultural Web Content

The following are some of the libraries in Canada and in the world that have online multicultural resources. This section is organized into the following parts.

  • Canada: Public Libraries
  • Canada: Independent Libraries
  • United States of America: Public Libraries
  • Libraries in Other Countries

5.1 Canada: Public Libraries

Calgary Public Library - Multilanguage Services
The Calgary Public Library provides books, magazines, newspapers and children's books in over 35 languages through many of its branches. The Multilanguage Services Web page identifies the specific materials (e.g., books, magazines) that are available in other languages and the specific branches at which these specific language materials are located.

The site also provides links to the following Web sites:

The Web page also provides:

  • links for ESL services; Calgary Public Library offers several programs to help improve English Language Skills;
  • links to organizations serving immigrants in Calgary; and
  • information and links on Canadian citizenship.

Kitchener Public Library - For Languages
The International Language collection at the Main Library provides books and videos in over 20 languages including Arabic, Chinese, German, Romanian and Vietnamese. KPL also subscribes to a number of magazines and newspapers in other languages including German, Chinese, Vietnamese, Dutch and Spanish.

The KPL online catalogue has a feature that enables a subject search for materials in a specific language by adding the words "language materials" after the language; for example: "German language materials." The catalogue then provides a list of all of KPL's holdings in that language for browsing.

The KPL Web site provides links to multilingual/multicultural sites in Canada, provides access to online newspapers in 16 languages and links to the NewsConnect service on the Web site of the Toronto Public Library.

Markham Public Libraries - Multicultural/Multilingual Resources Links
The Markham Public Libraries Web site provides an extensive set of links to multicultural resources. The Markham Web site demonstrates what simply providing the right links can do. The following are examples of some of the links they provide:

Asian Canadian
Directory listings for Asian Canadians, broken down by nation of origin. Locate cultural centres, resource links and associations.
Canadian Residential Rentals
Cultural associations including Italian, Greek, Chinese, Ukrainian, Bangladeshi, Jewish and Turkish and links to COSTI Immigrant Services, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, and the Ministry of Citizenship.
Designed for the Russian-speaking Community of Toronto. Its purpose is to provide the residents of Toronto, as well as new immigrants, with the essential information they need.
Search India
Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Asian organizations. Serves people of Indian origin living outside India.
Newspapers and Magazines of the World
The Internet Public Library Online Newspapers
News Online
Includes international newspapers by country.
The Virtual Reference Library's gateway to news from home and around the world. It features over a thousand news-related sites in more than 70 languages.
Browse English language newspapers and magazines by title, country or subject.
Online Newspapers and Magazines by International Press
250 online newspapers and magazines of the world by International Press.
World of Chinese Magazines
200 Chinese magazines, which are divided into several categories.

Richmond Public Library, BC
Approximately one in four residents of Richmond speak a Chinese language. Richmond central library has 46 000 items in Chinese, including a significant DVD collection. The fact that thousands of adult and children's books have been donated reflects the community interest in the library's Chinese collections.

The library Web site provides information on programs specifically planned for the Chinese population and the local Chinese community, for example:

  • What's On - Chinese Language Programs
  • Community - Asian Community - Culture/News & Newspapers
    This page provides links to a wide variety of newspapers from across Asia
  • Community - Asian Community - Organizations, etc.
    This page provides links to Asian organizations within the Richmond area.

The library has also started to put their catalogue of Chinese materials on the Web.

Saskatchewan Library
Multilingual Services of Saskatchewan Provincial Library provides books and materials in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Urdu, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.
Multilingual materials from the Saskatchewan Library may be borrowed through any local library. Titles in the Provincial Library's Multilingual Collection may be viewed on "SUNCAT", by author, title or subject.

Toronto Public Library - Multicultural Connections
The Toronto Public Library serves one of the most multicultural populations in the world. The Toronto Public Library (TPL) supports the reading interests and information needs of this multicultural population with collections, programs and services. TPL provides the following multicultural services:

  • reading materials and much more in many languages;
  • english language learning materials;
  • information to help the newcomers settle, adapt and grow in Canadian society;
  • current information on their countries of origin; and
  • materials about cultures and heritage.
TPL's strategic plan includes the following statement:
"to develop multicultural services that enable and encourage participation in Canadian society, provide links to cultures of origin and bridges between generations and cultures."

In support of this statement, TPL has established the following goals:

  • provision of collections, programs and services for our diverse communities to promote reading, literacy and learning;
  • preserving our collective past;
  • offering cultural programs that celebrate and promote the diversity of Toronto;
  • introduction of the library and its services to multicultural communities through outreach programs and promotional activities;
  • provision of English as a Second Language (ESL) collections and programs;
  • development of partnerships with the immigrant settlement services of the city of Toronto;
  • access to electronic information resources that are of interest to the city's diverse population;
  • encouraging the use of library computers and the Internet through public training programs; and
  • developing comprehensive staff training and development programs that help staff provide better service to multicultural communities.

TPL provides significant multicultural book, periodical, newspaper and video collections and has developed a sophisticated multilingual Web service - "Multicultural Connections."
The home page of "Multicultural Connections" includes the following links:

  • Our Multicultural Service Goals
  • Books, Videos and More
    • International Search Engines and Directories
    • Country Based Search Engines
    • Vancouver Public Library Multilingual Division Links
  • Multicultural Services and Programs
  • Learning English and Other Languages
    • ESL Library Materials
    • Heritage Language Programs
  • Multicultural Connections Site Map

The home page also provides a link to NewsConnect.
NewsConnect was developed by TPL as a Virtual Reference Library gateway to news in Canada and from around the world in many languages. NewsConnect provides links to online newspapers from many countries around the world. Any library in Canada interested in providing multicultural library services should provide a link from their multicultural Web page to NewsConnect. For an example, see the Kitchener Public Library Web site, which already provides such a link.

Vancouver Public Library - Multilingual Division
The Multilingual Division of the Vancouver Public Library provides a wide range of links through its Web page, including:

  • International Search engines
  • International Language Links
  • Translation Links
  • Specific Language Links, including Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

NewspaperDirect provides patrons of the Vancouver Public Library with same-day access to international newspapers. Newspapers are laser printed at the library on 11x17 paper using PDF files supplied by the library's partner, NewspaperDirect. El Pais (Spain), Korea Daily News (South Korea), the LA Times (USA), Le Monde (France), the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines), the UK Times (England), and the Washington Post (USA) are available at the Central Library and selected branches.

5.2 Canada: Independent Libraries

There are a small number of libraries with unique and valuable multilingual collections and resources. Some of the collections are run by full-time staff, are catalogued and accessible through a Web site. Some of these libraries do not have catalogued collections and are run by volunteers. All of them represent a generally untapped resource that should be included in any planning for the delivery of multicultural library services in Canada. A description of some of the best of these libraries follows:

Bibliotheca Mohyla, St. Petro Mohyla Institute, Saskatoon
The Bibliotheca Mohyla at the Mohyla Institute houses an important and extensive collection of library materials related to the Ukrainian experience. Most of the collection is not catalogued. The library currently has minimal online presence but is included in this list as an example of the type of resources that are available in Canadian libraries but are largely unknown and inaccessible to the public.

The Chinese Community Library Services Association, Vancouver
The purpose of the Chinese Community Library Services Association is to be information centre for the Chinese Canadian community. Its goals are to meet the reading and information needs of Chinese readers, preserve records on Chinese Canadian history, support learning and research, as well as promote Chinese language and culture to enhance inter-cultural understanding and racial harmony.

Jewish Public Library/Bibliothèque publique juive, Montréal
The Jewish Public Library serves the Montréal community in five languages: English, French, Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian. The library holds the largest public collection of Judaica in North America. The library has a fully developed Web site, which includes an online catalogue, online reference as well as an extensive range of links to Jewish online periodicals and newspapers, relevant sites and search engines.

Oseredok Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre, Winnipeg
The Library holds over 40 000 books and periodicals in Ukrainian and English, including a collection of children's books, folklore, music, humanities and sciences, a rare book collection and reference materials pertaining to all facets of Ukrainian culture.
The Archives and Museum collect and preserve materials and artefacts, including documents, ancient maps, rare books, films, photographs, items of folk art, pioneers tools, musical instruments, and regional folk costumes. The Web site only presents a brief description of the library.

The Polish Library, the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in Canada, McGill University
The purposes and activities of the Institute include the maintenance and development of the Polish Library as a public library for the benefit of the Polish-Canadian community and of all those interested in Poland and her culture, and to maintain art and other collections, and the archives of the Corporation.
The Polish Library collection of approximately 45 000 items consists primarily of works on literature, history, social studies, fine arts and religion. The majority of the books are in Polish, but both English and French publications on Polish subjects or by Polish authors are included. The Polish Library also contains several hundred titles of periodicals and a valuable collection of old maps and graphics.

The Polish Library catalogue is not yet available on the Internet. However, about 75 percent of the collection, especially academic material, can be accessed through the McGill online catalogue (MUSE), with location indicated at the Polish Institute Library.

Ukrainian National Federation Library
Head Librarian: Nel Nakoneczny
297 College Street West
Toronto ON   M5T 1S2
Telephone: 416-921-0231
The library contains a large collection of materials in the Ukrainian language, with a significant number of rare books, as well as about 1000 books in English on Ukrainian themes. A Web site with links to the library catalogue is being planned.

5.3 United States of America: Public Libraries

Several of the major public libraries in the United States have done an excellent job of integrating multicultural services into their library Web sites. The following is a brief description of some of the more exceptional sites.

Brooklyn Public Library - The Multilingual Center
The Multilingual Center at the Brooklyn central library provides a centralized language collection and has a staff of bilingual librarians and volunteer guides to help patrons find information in books and language learning programs in a variety of languages. The Multilingual Collection has books, magazines and newspapers in the major languages spoken in Brooklyn - Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew and Haitian Kreyol. The Center also houses additional material available in French, Yiddish, Hindi, Bengali, Polish, Italian and Arabic.

The Multilingual Center offers free lectures and workshops on citizenship and educational opportunities as well as cultural and recreational programs. MLC staff compiled a list of Internet Web sites of world language interests. The five selected languages are some of the major languages spoken in Brooklyn - Chinese, Russian, Spanish, French and German.

Pathfinder: Multicultural Literature for Children Produced by the Internet Public Library, School of Information, University of Michigan.

Internet Public Library (IPL) Pathfinders are home-grown guides written by IPL staff and are intended to help people get started doing research on a particular topic, both online and at the local library. Multicultural Literature for Children is the only multicultural pathfinder available from IPL.

New York Public Library (NYPL)
The NYPL provides a significant collection in other languages. For example, the World Languages Collection, situated in the Donnell Library Center, is an unique, centrally located circulating collection of about 150 000 books in languages other than English, including Spanish (over 33 000 titles), Russian (over 22 000 titles), French (over 13 000 titles) and Chinese (over 13 000 titles). The library also subscribes to 65 magazine titles in 27 languages.
The NYPL Web site provides catalogue access to the language collections and there are some Spanish language databases, but otherwise it does not provide any multicultural services.

Queens Borough Public Library - WorldLinQ
As New York City's most culturally diverse borough, Queens is a place in which people of more than 160 nationalities reside. The Queens Borough Public Library's New Americans Program (NAP) was established in 1977 to provide special services to the area's many new immigrants. NAP provides collections and programs for the major cultural and linguistic groups located in Queens.

The Queens Borough Public Library Web site offers access in three languages English, Spanish and Russian. The Web site also links to:

  • the International Resource Centre; and
  • WorldLinQ.

International Resource Center
The International Resource Center (IRC) is a citywide resource located on the third level of the Flushing Library. It houses books, newspapers, magazines, videos, CDs, and online and CD-ROM databases in English and international languages. It is a unique concentration of resources for global studies and international commerce, available free, to the public.

The International Resource Center has several special collections, including the Han Collection on Chinese Culture, the International Business Collection, the International Biography Collection, the International Dictionary Collection, the International Fiction Collection and the International Magazines and Newspapers Collection.

WorldLinQ is a multilingual Web-based information system, developed by Queens Borough Public Library that provides free electronic multilingual information resources to the Library's customers, as well as the Internet community at large. Currently, WorldLinQ has five language modules: Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish and Russian. Other language modules are in development. The Library will try to cover major languages represented in Queens in the future.

Each language module provides a menu with the following main headings:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Business and Economy
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Entertainment and Popular Culture
  • General Reference
  • Government
  • Health and Medicine
  • History and Biography
  • Newspapers and Magazines
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Sciences
  • Sports and Leisure

Under each of the main headings are links to key online resources in the language of the module, including links to countries that use the language or to general information sites in the specific language.

Several of the language modules were developed in partnership with a library from a country that uses the specific language. For example, the French module was developed in partnership with the Bibliothèque publique d'information, Paris, France; the Russian module with the V.V. Mayakovsky Central Public Library, St. Petersburg, Russia; and the Ukrainian module with the Chizhevsky Regional Universal Research Library, Kirovohrad, Ukraine.

5.4 Libraries in Other Countries

FINFO, Information for Ethnic Minorities in Denmark
The purpose of FINFO is to provide representatives of ethnic/language minorities with better access to information about their rights, obligations and opportunities in Danish society. It is a Web service provided by the Danish State and University Library, the Danish Central Library for Immigrant Literature. The service is maintained jointly by the Immigrant Library and the regional and municipal libraries.

FINFO presents information in 13 languages on the Web: Danish, Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, English, French, Kurdish (Kurmanji), Persian, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese. The global link page has localized menus and links to sites in numerous other languages and alphabets, e.g., Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Amhari, Hindi, Urdu, Thai and Tamil.

The European Library
The European Library webservice is a portal which offers access to the combined resources (books, magazines, journals.... - both digital and non-digital) of the 43 national libraries of Europe. It offers free searching and delivers digital objects - some free, some priced.

Maribyrnong Library Services, Australia
This library service places particular emphasis on providing multicultural services and collections. The diverse language skills of their employees are crucial to providing this service. Library staff members are fluent in the following languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian, Polish, Spanish, Italian and Greek. The library Web site is presented in English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Somali and other languages. The library provides materials in Chinese, Croatian, Filipino, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Polish, Serbian, Spanish and Vietnamese. The library catalogue can be searched for materials in specific languages.

MCL Multicultural Library
MCL - Multicultural library is a Nordic joint venture. The Helsinki City Library's Central Multicultural Library Service, and the Oslo City Library initiated it in the fall of 1996. MCL's objective is:

To make Nordic public libraries and especially their multicultural services available to everyone through the Internet, keeping in mind particularly the cultural and information needs of the foreigners living in the Nordic countries.

MCL's main target groups are the foreign library customers living in the Nordic countries, or those customers using the site from anywhere in the world. The aim is to develop the MCL in such a way that those interested can gain access to multicultural knowledge and information. The Web site provides links to a country page for most countries.

State Library of Queensland - Multicultural Bridge
The State Library's Multicultural Bridge Web site is designed to assist Queensland public librarians in providing services in various community languages. It is also designed to facilitate access to the State Library's multilingual collection of approximately 100,000 books in over 55 languages.

A variety of information in seven community languages and English is available:

  • Library Services. Information on using library services in Queensland.
  • Web Search. Search the Internet in your language. (Uses Google in Your Language)
  • Media Links. Links to online newspapers, as well as local community Web sites and Queensland government services.

Media Links provides access to:

  • the Paperboy: online newspapers in many languages;
  • online radio from around the world;
  • machine Translation: free, instant "gist" translation; and
  • Queensland Multicultural Affairs- for assistance with government services.

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