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Where EAST meets the Northwest

BEYOND THE BOOKS. In an effort to reach Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian community members in Multnomah County and throughout the state of Oregon, the Multnomah County Library System has created an 18-minute Welcome to the Library DVD available in three languages. A public screening of all three videos is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21 at Midland Library, located at 805 S.E. 122nd Avenue in Portland. (Photos courtesy of the Multnomah County Library)

From The Asian Reporter, V19, #15 (April 14, 2009), page 13 & 16.

Library system launches streaming video in three languages

By Allison Rupp
The Asian Reporter

In an effort to reach Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian community members in Multnomah County and throughout the state of Oregon, the Multnomah County Library System has created a Welcome to the Library DVD which will be broadcast on its website in each of the three languages.

The videos, which are 18 minutes long, describe the services provided by Multnomah County libraries and explain how to use the library system.

"Have you ever needed to find out more about something, but didnít know where to look for answers?" the videoís voiceover narration asks. Welcome to the Library aims to answer this question by plugging viewers into the variety of resources available at the library, from free classes to internet access to librarians who speak their language.

Each video is organized into eight chapters, such as "How to Find Materials," "How to Get a Library Card," or "Different Ways the Library Provides Information." The videoís organizers place special emphasis on ways the library serves immigrants and non-native English speakers. Some of the services outlined include free English-language practice sessions, book collections organized in other languages, and a translation hotline library patrons can call if no one on the library staff speaks their language.

According to Penny Hummel, marketing and communications manager for the Multnomah County Library, the library has made a conscious effort to hire more bilingual staff in recent years, along with working to increase its collections of books and multimedia material in languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, and Spanish.

Programs targeting specific age groups such as children, teens, and seniors have also been an integral part of their outreach. Bilingual storytimes at some locations offer kids enrichment in both English and their native language, while mobile book collections offer homebound seniors a chance to check out materials.

Even for experienced library users, it may come as a surprise to learn the library protects each patronís privacy by deleting records of which books borrowers have checked out after the materials are returned. In a society where immigrants are often cast under a suspicious eye by the Patriot Act and other invasive legislation, the libraryís commitment to privacy may encourage first-time users to sign up for a card.

The video, which was produced by the local Wave One Group, used bilingual library staff and local library patrons as its actors. English subtitles accompany the Vietnamese and Russian versions, while traditional Chinese characters accompany the Mandarin video to make it accessible to Cantonese viewers.

"We believe itís the first time a library has undertaken to develop three such informational videos simultaneously," said Hummel. "It was a complex project, but weíre very happy with the results."

Hummel hopes to have Welcome to the Library streaming on the library website, <www.multcolib.org>, by April 17. The video will also be posted on YouTube and available for checkout at library locations throughout the state.

A public screening of the videos is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21 at Midland Library, located at 805 S.E. 122nd Avenue in Portland. The Chinese version plays at 6:30pm, Russian at 7:00pm, and Vietnamese at 7:30pm.

Library staff and other volunteers who contributed to the film will be honored at the event. Funding for the project was provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act.

To learn more, call the Multnomah County Library at (503) 988-5402 or visit <www.multcolib.org>.