Thursday, May 04, 2006

Resource Center for the Americas

A variation on the traditional theme: I am a teacher by day/librarian by night - one night a week - at the Resource Center of the America's Penny Lernoux Memorial Library. It is a small bilingual collection (10,000 or so volumes in one big room) focused on Latin America and Latino issues. All countries in Latin America are covered to some extent, and there are topical collections on liberation theology, the global economy, and human rights. There's also a kids collection, lots of curriculum resources, fiction, an extensive collection of videos, language resources, lots of little pearls of wisdom in the vertical files, and probably quite a bit I'm forgetting. The website ( gives a good overview, and also links to lots of web resources in English and Spanish, as well as community organizing resources. Volunteering there, I get to wear a lot of hats - reference, cataloger, tour guide, general circulation. It's great and they're always hiring volunteers. If you're interested, browse the website and contact Mary Turk. Even if you don't need a volunteer librarian gig, you should visit. You can get bilingual books for kids you like a lot, specialized materials for your research, and tons of materials to help your teaching, or just a great read to help boost your Spanish or English.

The library is also embedded within a massively cool parent organization, the Resource Center of the Americas ( They are an activist organization doing education, social justice work, and community organizing locally, nationally, and globally. By providing classes in Spanish and ESL, community events like films, lectures, and musical performances, and partnering with other community organizations, they help to welcome new Minnesotans to the community and give long-term Minnesotans opportunities to build cross-cultural understanding and communication. The educate about current events in Latin America and offer opportunities for political action. And I may have forgotten to mention the cafe that has some excellent tamales de y pollo y de queso. And the bookstore with fair trade coffee, gift items, and books, books, books, books.


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