Explore Books in Many Languages at Your Library

World language books are used by library customers in many different ways

You can find almost any information at your local public library. Everyone knows that libraries are filled to the brim with knowledge and resources. People are more than familiar with computers, reference materials, and the many genres of books available. What many haven’t realized they can come across at their library is books in other languages.

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Libraries carry books in lots of different world languages, and they are used by library patrons in many different ways. Some utilize these to learn new languages or practice a language through reading. Others find that they are great for refreshing themselves in a second language. Some find books in their native language or use them to read to their children in their native language. Books in world languages can even be used to explore different cultures. Cookbooks in different languages are an excellent example of this. There is a world of uses for this library offering and bringing awareness to these resources can have big impacts on the community.

New and Familiar Languages

The world languages section of the library comes with useful materials for those that are learning new languages or those who are trying to familiarize their families with a native language.

Spanish, for example, is the second most common language spoken in the United States. Many people want to learn Spanish out of interest or to build new language skills to make them competitive on the job market. Therefore, libraries will house language learning books in Spanish as well as translated versions of popular books. Many libraries have fiction and nonfiction books of all types for adults and children. These include books for pleasure as well as those that can be used for learning.

In addition, libraries have dictionaries, audiobooks, magazines, eBooks, and online resources that members of the public can use to learn. The library’s website is a great place to start if you’re looking for the types of language books available. Most sites will have a page listing the languages they have media and books in. There is a wide variety of language books at libraries from Arabic and Chinese to Swahili and Urdu. If there’s something that’s not physically available, interlibrary loans are a quick way to solve the problem, making language books accessible to anyone, anywhere.

English as a Second Language

Learning languages at the library isn’t only centered on foreign languages. There are many new readers and English speakers that utilize library collections to improve their English skills. English as a second language is something that many struggle with, from immigrant parents to students who have only ever spoken their native language until entering formal education. The library is also a great resource for helping people learn English. Most libraries offer ESL classes as well.

Library Collections

There are all sorts of library collections in world languages that you can find. With so many different reading resources available, there would be no end to the amount of reading and learning someone could do through their local library.

The New York Public Library has an interesting spotlight on its website that showcases the 21 most checked-out titles in world languages as well as what younger New Yorkers have been reading. In French, the most checked-out book is Albert Camus’ novella, in Russian, the most checked-out book is an analysis of Stalin’s military policies and purges, in Japanese, it is a collection of stories about three women, written by a world-renowned contemporary fiction writer.

Many forget to include braille titles under languages but this is also a special collection that the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress houses. There are audio and braille titles available in many languages. The audiobooks are made in a “talking book” format and while most of the foreign language braille titles are hard copies, digital content can also be sourced in many ways.

Online forums are also a good way to learn about the types of books available at local libraries. A Language Learners’ forum has a discussion question asking members all over the world what languages their library keeps in stock. The answers are interesting to browse and show that whether you’re living in a small town or a large city, keeping a variety of languages on shelves is an important part of connecting communities and the world.

Libraries are Windows to the World

There is much to discover at the local library. The next time you are wanting to take a step away from your normal reading selections and explore something completely new, try picking up a book in a different language. This is just one of the many ways that libraries can transport you to somewhere entirely different.