Published January 13, 2015
A proposal in Denver would have more Spanish-language books and increase the number of bilingual staff members at public libraries in the city's neighborhoods with large Latino populations, but some local citizens are against the idea, saying it favors undocumented residents.
"Somebody has an agenda that says 'you all can come on over and we'll change our library system for you and we'll do it at taxpayer expense,'" said Fred Ebel of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform.
But those who support a multi-lingual library system stress the benefits of widening the scope of the library's collection.
"A strong library, a multi-lingual library, a strong reading public is going to foster democracy and that's exactly the kind of thing that we want to see in the public realm," said Lisa Duran of the organization Rights For All People (search).
A librarian with the Denver Public Library (search), Rick Ashton, told FOX News, "We take a variety of approaches to try to serve with a broad selection of material for people's needs."
The issue of whether or not taxpayers should support a multi-lingual library system came to light when a local radio talk show host discovered that The Denver Public Library carried hundreds of graphic Spanish-language animated storybooks that depicted violent sex.
The Denver Public Library pulled the materials off the shelves, but that opened up the discussion of what the materials were doing there in the first place.
Nationwide an average of 8% of library budgets are spent on Spanish-language books. What upsets immigration reform supporters though is that at the same time, libraries have been forced to lay off staff and reduce their hours and services because of budget cuts.
According to Ebel, "[They] have no right really to use our taxpayer-funded facilities and especially to dictate library policy."
The local library commission is scheduled to consider community feedback on the language program issue in September.