Blogger Katie Salo

Picture Book City in Spanish!

Almost a year and a half after the inspiration session “I Want a Truck Book!” at ALA’s Annual Conference in 2012, my library’s picture book reorganization project is finally done!

The catch is that I thought our project was done in February when we finished relabeling the last English language book in our department. But over the next few months I began to think — why shouldn’t we do this project with the Spanish language books too? If the goal of the project is to help patrons find books, only reorganizing the English language books only helped some of my patron base and not all.

Part of “La Ciudad de Libros Ilustrados” in Spanish. Picture courtesy of the author.

Since it was so close to summer reading, I knew I had to wait until the kids were back in school. And I began to formulate my plan. In English, we called our subject areas “neighborhoods” and our picture book area “Picture Book City” after reading Amy Koester’s post on her blog last summer. The system was already in place since we knew we wanted consistency between both areas.

In Spanish, we would have “vecindarios” and “La Ciudad de Libros Ilustrados.”

I’d taken three years of Spanish in high school and college, so I knew that I would be able to read most of the books in order to decide what neighborhood they belonged in. But I didn’t feel comfortable writing and approving the translations for the labels and neighborhoods. All of our Spanish-speaking employees met with me and, together, we decided what our translations would be.

Our spine labels in Spanish. Picture courtesy of the author.

That meeting resulted with us changing “Fairy & Folk Tales” neighborhood in English to “Cuentos de Hadas” in Spanish so it would fit on the label. It meant our Circ./Tech manager taught the Technical Services department how to use alt codes so that our label “Transportacií³n” would be correct. And finally, we changed the order that the neighborhoods appeared in, re-alphabetizing. “Bedtime” comes first in Picture Book City, but “Hora de Dormir” is seventh in La Ciudad de Libros Ilustrados.

And of course then it was time for reading and re-labeling. The bilingual books were easy to determine and most Spanish-only books were doable for me. When books gave me trouble, I used the subject headings and pictures to help provide context clues; I checked the catalog to see if we had the title in English or could get it from another library; I used Google Translate in a pinch; and I had a small pile of books for my Spanish-speaking co-workers to vote on.

Three weeks later, and we were done. We created a face-out display, information sheet, and talked it up with our patrons. After a month, our circulation in that area has already risen by 25%.

Have you thought about doing picture book reorganization in another language? Do you have any tips to share? Or any questions for me? Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library

One comment

  1. Mary Lee

    I would like to suggest the English edition and the Spanish edition Cuando los Dientes Postizos de Abuelita Vuelan of When Grandma’s False Teeth Fly (Silver Medal Winner from MWSA and Book Award Finalist Winner from Readers’ Favorite contest) be added to your library.

    Thank you,
    Mary Lee
    Author When Grandma’s False Teeth Fly
    My Air Force Mom
    The ABC’s of Titles for Tiny Tales (Scheduled for April 2014 release)

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