Evidence C                                                                            

Site Report

Nestled at the edge of a shopping center, the bulk of which consists of a mix of Vietnamese and Hispanic businesses, the Linda Vista Public Library serves its namesake – Linda Vista, a “primarily residential community with distinct neighborhood” centrally located in the metropolitan city of San Diego[1]. The shopping center is recognized as one of the oldest in the city, originally built as a Government Housing Project during World War II and marked as a historical site in 2009[2]. The community is known for being culturally diverse, home to a large population of Asians (Vietnamese, Hmongs, Laotians and Cambodians) that began arriving in the 1970s and a small population of Hispanics, as well as being home to the University of San Diego, a prestigious private Catholic college.

As part of the San Diego Public Library system, the branch collection includes offerings in Spanish, Chinese, Hmong, Lao, Khmer, as well as English to best serve its diverse community. There are popular magazines in each language, computer program manuals, novels such as those of John Grisham, Amy Tan and Danielle Steel, and even children’s picture books. There are also music CDs and movie titles available in multiple languages.

There is one main computer lab as well as several computer terminals spread out through the library for patrons to search their databases for materials, self-checkout terminals near the door, local community meeting space available for public use, and a teen room dedicated to teen materials. The meeting space is used by local groups such as the Vietnamese At the center of the library is a small reference desk. It say empty the first time I visited for my site report and on the second visit, Rebecca, the reference librarian was busy with other tasks at the circulation desk. Most of the questions she received were regarding how to search for materials on the terminal next to her desk. Unfortunately it was a busy Saturday morning so I didn’t get to really speak to anyone in depth. The bulk of the staff is white, with two Spanish-speaking library clerks who work part-time, except for Miss Kim, the Korean children’s librarian who conducts weekly story time events. The story time events bring in both new parents and grandparents, and expose the younger audience to different dialects. Many of the books are done in both English and another language such as Hmong. The bulk of visitors speak English so communication isn’t usually a problem. Non-native speakers are brought in by relatives who assist them in finding materials. Although staff and library users can request materials, the ordering of materials is done through the main Central library location. They do all the processing there as well.

There is a small alcove that services as the Friends of the Linda Vista Branch Library store which is headed by Regina Smith, a 30-year long resident of the area. The store is filled with gently used books for sale as well as other items, with proceeds going back to the library. The group offers free homework help and tutoring to community children[3]. They also do outreach in the form of weekly events, such as “Chinese Language and Play” – encouraging people to join them for Chinese stories, conversation, and writing practice for kids of all ages.

The branch library uses its small space well although the decorations (small iron statues on book shelves and ceramic moldings lining the walls) are eclectic and seem thrown together. I felt the programming was effective. I thought that the branch library does a good job of providing different kinds of materials but many of the books in other dialects seemed worn and outdated. There weren’t any non-English language books in the teen room. The manga materials and graphic novels (all in English) are kept elsewhere. It seems to be more of a budget issue though, as many of the English-language materials are the same way. The section filled with new material is delegated to English books only. The career and living guides written in Hmong and other languages are also several years old. I felt more current materials could be offered. I think it’s important that younger patrons remember and utilize their language skills. The library should appeal to that side. It would be nice if the library collection didn’t include merely translations of popular American literature. For example, native authors from the community’s country could be included.

[1] http://www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd6/communities/lindavista/

[2] http://www.lindavista.org/lvcdc/accomplishments.html

[3] http://lindavistalibrary.org

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