Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Multiculturalism, Libraries, Language, Language barrier

Organizational Units

University Libraries


In Part of Our Lives: A People's History of the American Public Library, author and library historian Wayne A. Wiegand describes how the mass migration of seven million southern and eastern European migrants between 1893 and 1917 shaped public libraries. “As neighborhoods changed ethnic and racial profile, the public library – main or branch- often became a place where newcomers assimilated.”1 This assimilationist praxis, specifically when it comes to the conscription of the English language, is problematic for library workers and patrons for whom English is not their first or only language and who want to see themselves reflected in library collections, services, and the workforce. Library and Information Science literature rarely mentions language or linguistic diversity despite the globalization of information and the increasing diversity of the United States. Many studies include language as a subsidiary as opposed to salient point. Even so, language is often framed in problematic ways, reflecting how libraries have historically functioned as places where immigrants learn the English language and assimilate to American culture.

Publication Statement

This book chapter was originally published as:

Solis, D., & Espinoza, J. (2021.) Entre mundos y fronteras: An exploration of linguistic visibility and value in libraries. In A. Ndumu (Ed.), Borders and belonging: Critical examinations of library approaches toward immigrants (Ser. Critical Race Studies and Multiculturalism in Library and Information Studies). Library Juice Press.

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License