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Local libraries expand their language profile

CLARE’S library services have moved to offer literature in different languages over the last few years, due to the changes in the Banner’s demographics, and they say that the numbers of books being borrowed in languages other than English is remaining stable.

Senior executive librarian Carrie Stafford said that there are books for adults in two languages other than Irish and English.

“For adults, there are just Polish and Russian. In 2005 we did a survey in the branch in Ennis to see what kind of languages were most popular, initially we had Polish, Russian, German, French, Spanish, Arabic, also Slovenian, Italian and Turkish, but we kind of reduced that over the years to just Polish and Russian, because that was really the only demand there. Now, we’d have a few French, German and Spanish coming in, but not very much.”

There are more options in children’s books. “We got some dual language books last year, they were picture books, one page would be in English and one in another language. We got those in Spanish, Polish, French, Czech, Arabic, Portuguese and Lithuanian. I’d say the Polish and the French are the most popular.”

The Polish and Russian books are only in certain areas, where there is enough demand in the community. “The dual language are just in Ennis and Shannon and the Polish and Russian books are in Scariff, Shannon, Ennis and Ennistymon, they’d only be in the bigger branches, because that’s where there’s demand.”

She said that there had been a demand for the books in Sixmilebridge and Kilrush but this has reduced.

Some of the books are translations, often from Irish authors, while others are from native Polish and Russian authors. “We get some translated, for example Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn was translated into Polish, and people like Marian Keys and Maeve Binchy. We’d try and have half-and-half, half in the original language. It’s hard enough to source them, there are really two companies in England that we deal with and we’d pick from their catalogues. The feedback from the users is very good, they say they’re able to get better books than if they were at home.”

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