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A simple story hour

Staff Reports

Every once in a while, as a community, it’s a good idea to hold a mirror up to ourselves.

The Douglas County Library Board of Trustees recently performed that exercise and decided it was time to offer additional outreach programs to encourage more people to use the library. A staff member volunteered to tell children’s stories in English and Spanish as part of the popular story time program.

Two people, offended by that decision, called the library last Saturday to complain. One father, whose children regularly attended story time, said he would pull his youngsters from the program if the library continued with the bilingual stories.

The second caller referred to the library’s Spanish-speaking patrons as “those people,” and wondered why they should receive what she called special treatment.

Both anonymous callers somehow failed to make the leap of logic that by introducing children of any nationality to the library – including those who speak English – only improves their language skills.

The bilingual story hour went off without a hitch Monday night. Participants included the regular crowd and some newcomers, who, perhaps, felt included because they would hear stories in their native language. We hope the audience included children who wanted to learn Spanish as well.

Library Director Linda Deacy said she doesn’t believe those two complaints reflect the majority of Douglas County residents. We agree and endorse the library’s efforts to reach every member of our community, even the people who refuse to recognize or embrace our diversity.

In these turbulent times – when pre-schoolers are fired on at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles and two teen-agers go on a murderous rampage in Colorado – we have to begin somewhere to address the fragmentation of our society.

Perhaps it starts with a simple story hour in a lovely little park where children of all ethnic backgrounds are made to feel at home.