The library transports her to a world of imagination and fun. A voracious reader, Leah Flores, 12, uses social media to learn about new books and recommend her favorite titles to friends through occasional posts on Bookstagram, her Instagram page with book photos and reviews.
“It helps me escape what’s happening right now into the world of a book,” said Flores, a patron of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Benjamin Franklin Branch in Boyle Heights, who can now check out books using the library’s contactless service, Library To Go.
According to a 2020 Nielsen study, Leah is among the 57% of Latinos who are using social media, mobile apps, and other virtual platforms at higher rates than the general U.S. population this year.
In Los Angeles, where nearly half of the city’s population of 4 million residents are Latino, engaging Latinos on social media and digital platforms is more important than ever. And making city services accessible, by providing them in Spanish and focusing on values, such as family, that are important to Latinos, is key to building stronger communities.
The Los Angeles Public Library offers bilingual programs for the family, as well as books, e-media, entertainment, and educational services in English and Spanish. The library system which serves the largest and most diverse population in the U.S., has been a model for libraries around the world. As one of the city’s most trusted institutions, the library continues to develop new programs and services for monolingual and bilingual Latinos like Brenda Ulloa of Echo Park.
Brenda, like millions of parents nationwide, has been thrust into the role of guiding her children while they learn online from home. She reads mostly in Spanish while her two children, Giselle, 12 and Jesus, 7, study and read in English.
The family looks forward to weekly trips to the Echo Park Branch to pick up books using Library To Go. The service allows patrons the opportunity to browse the library’s collection online catalog and reserve books to pick up safely in person.
“They get so tired of looking at a screen all day,” Brenda said. “We look through the library books online and choose a bunch to pick up at Echo Park Branch each week. They love graphic novels. I don’t want them to fall behind at school. You, as a parent, can help them excel in school by encouraging reading.”
City leaders support the benefits of the library to Latino families. “Our libraries are anchors of academic achievement and lifelong learning—and by bringing curbside pickup to these beating hearts of our communities, we will reopen doors of creativity, discovery, and imagination for all of us,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
In addition to Library To Go, LAPL has also developed online bilingual and Spanish language programs during the past year that have soared in popularity.
These include the virtual Los Angeles Libros Festival, a fun-filled fall event for families packed with interactive performances by Latin Grammy-award winning musicians, discussions with Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino U.S. Poet Laureate, and bestselling authors. This event, broadcast live on the library’s YouTube and Facebook channels, surpassed the library’s English language programs as the most viewed event in 2020.
The Broad To Go program has been another hit with Latino families. Through a partnership with The Broad Museum, library staff distributed 200 art box kits filled with watercolor paints, information about art work at The Broad, and art activities for families to learn together at home about Pop Art or celebrate Día de los Muertos.
“The response was tremendous and demand exceeded our supply,” said Ana Campos, acting Principal Librarian. Ana helped hand out stacks of boxed art kits in front of Central Library to families who registered and drove by to pick them up. “As we see a higher demand, our goal is to reach more Latino and underserved communities.”
Latinos more comfortable speaking Spanish can explore the library’s bilingual website and take advantage of the library’s virtual Spanish programming such as storytime’s, arts and crafts events, performances and more. Additionally, they can also turn to many of LAPL’s librarians, who are bilingual Spanish speakers.
“Listening and trying to help even if you don’t speak the same language sends people the message that you care,” said Anna Avalos, Senior Librarian of Multilingual Collections. “I say this because as a child this is what kept me and my family coming back to the library.”
Explore free bilingual and Spanish language programs and resources at the following sites:
Website: Visitors to the library website at lapl.org/espanol have access to e-books and audiobooks, streaming movies and music, magazines and newspapers, and educational resources for all family members.
Programs and Resources:
Baila Baila – Kids and parents spend quality time together dancing, playing, and singing in Spanish.
E-Card: Don’t have a library card? Get immediate access to our resources.
Library To Go – Reserve, pick up and drop off books and materials from our multilingual collection.
MakeMake – A digital platform that offers access to a collection of children’s and youth literature from Latin America.
Mango – Learn a new language.
New Americans – Immigration services, online citizenship classes and assistance. For appointments, call (213) 228-7390 to leave a message. Bilingual staff will call back within 2 business days.
Pregúntale a tu bibliotecari@ en vivo – Ask a Librarian! Live! (Third Thursdays at Noon in Spanish.) Learn how to take advantage of the library’s digital resources from home.
Tutoring – Free online help every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for K-12 students and adult learners in English and Spanish.
Blogs – Read blogs in Spanish.
Reto de lectura de invierno – Learn about the Winter Reading Challenge.