MAGIC VALLEY — The Hailey Public Library was one of the libraries nationwide selected to participate in libraries transforming communities. The initiative is part of the American Library Association to help library employees better serve their small and rural communities.
Along with being selected, the library will also receive a $3,000 grant that will go towards their 'Your Library Listens' initiative. The resource will help the library build a stronger relationship with the Hispanic and Latino community.
“When I first came here three years ago we recognized that we have a large Hispanic community here and we just realized that not many Hispanic people were walking through our doors and attending our program," Kristin Fletcher, Program and Outreach Manager of the Hailey Public library, said.
They say although Hailey's population is more than 30% Hispanic, only a fraction use the library's resources. They say they noticed this was an issue after tracking data from library checkouts.
“We don’t have the same amount of collections numbers for English language collections as we do for Spanish or bilingual. It’s probably about ten percent of our total collections so if you look at our checkout numbers you can see that in our checkout numbers," Lyn Drewien, Director of the Hailey Public library, said.
In order to address this issue, the library created a Hispanic Advisory Group last year, which will also help in their ongoing efforts.
“It’s been obvious to library staff for a long time that we didn’t have anybody on staff that spoke Spanish. So someone would come in who maybe was bilingual but they felt much more comfortable speaking in their native language. We didn’t have anyone who could step in that role," Fletcher said.
Within the last year, the library hired two Spanish speakers to help them better connect with the community. Their goal is to start conversations with the Hispanic community to better learn their needs.
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to reach out to our Hispanic neighbors and simply to become better acquainted to tell you the truth," Fletcher said.
Part of the grant will go towards staff taking online courses to learn how to lead conversations to bridge the gap with the library and the Hispanic community.