With the foreign born population that may not walk into the Library and be able communicate their needs or find materials in the language they can read the Library has to rely on other sources to identify the materials and methods to provide these materials. Like many other organizations the Library partners with the Howard County School System's International Student and Family Services Office, Howard Community College's English Learning Center and organizations like FIRN (Foreign Information and Referral Network) to identify the different foreign born residents in the County and what their interests might be. Some of these resources are online like the online resource at the University of Maryland that identifies childrens books in many languages that can be read online.
"Howard County Library System's Project Literacy, a highly successful adult education initiative, is made possible by grant funding from the Maryland State Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Library instructors and volunteer tutors have taught 6,500 adults since 1987. Representing 33 countries, the students learn basic math, reading and writing skills through free, one-on-one tutoring and class sessions. One hundred forty-eight students have received their high school diplomas, and 122 have become U.S. citizens."
"Last year, volunteers and teachers provided 11,000 hours of tutoring to 405 students -- 109 students in the tutorial component and 296 students in the ESL track."
Finally I want to mention a program that the Library started in 2005 with a grant called Cultural Connections. This program is described on their website as,
"Begun with grant money from the Maryland State Department of Education, Cultural Connections was initiated in 2005 by Howard County Library System to address and enhance the educational needs of Howard County’s diverse multicultural population. Library staff and ethnic liaisons work with the community by distributing a survey and running a series of discussions focusing on the following five components:
- Classes and events for all ages
- Library building/signage
- Library catalog
- Materials including books, music, movies, magazines, newspapers, and electronic databases
- Cultural awareness training for staff
Library Staff Working with Cultural Connections
Each Howard County Library System branch has a designated Cultural Connections representative. In addition InterpreTALK , a telephonic interpreting service linking non-English speakers with skilled interpreters, is available at all branches.