Magazine article American Libraries

The Global Village Is Here

Magazine article American Libraries

The Global Village Is Here

Article excerpt

By the time you read this, I will have returned from IFLA in Beijing. After circumnavigating the globe, I'll be reaching new-found friends by circumnavigating the Internet. How exhilarating! Just this morning, a colleague brought to my attention an article in the June issue of Technicalities, "How to Read Chinese on the Internet," written by a librarian serving a multicultural student body and an Asian Studies program at the University of Oregon. That article reminds me that the global village is not only in cyberspace.

The global village is right there, in Oregon. It's also here, in Miami, and in other U.S. towns and cities. Every evening when I go out to dinner, the theater, or shopping in South Florida, I hear other languages spoken. The xenophobic "English only" dictum has become a moot point in Miami, a lesson in denial, an attempt to cleave to a past that is fast disappearing. Europeans have been multilingual for years. Last night in a Miami luggage store, almost unthinkingly, I spoke halting French to a toddler who asked me in French to retrieve her blanket. She smiled, meaning that we'd communicated. It didn't matter that my accent wasn't perfect. The point was I managed to make myself clear, and a child helped me take the plunge. I'm also startled to realize that, daily, I understand more and more Spanish. Perhaps children will help me there, too.

We are the world

By coincidence, yesterday I received a call about a pilot project to reach Spanish-speaking parents of school children via the Internet. A similar project for parents of Asian children in California is underway. More and more, as the world becomes smaller, as our multilingual customers defy the English-only collection-building and reference delivery patterns of the past, the Internet will continue to shrink borders and open new worlds to us. …

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