Plaza Voices: Bridging the Gap

Cover of American Libraries May 2014 issue
Plaza program with participants working on a variety of projects Family working together in Plaza Plaza staff helping participant with school work Plaza participants cooking together

The Denver Public Library's Plaza program is featured in the May 2014 issue of American Libraries Magazine!

Though the article, "Connecting Latinos with Libraries," focuses particularly on Spanish-speakers, Plaza programs are designed to engage international migrants from all over the world, as well as other community members, regardless of their background or native language.

As the article points out, immigration is a continuing force in American culture and economics. According to a recent analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center, 40 million people living in the United States came here from another country. Of these, nearly 40% are from Mexico, Central America, and Cuba.

Here in Denver, the numbers are also impressive. Between the years 2000 and 2010, more than 80,000 new immigrants arrived in the Denver metro area, increasing our total foreign-born population to 35%, according to a 2011 Brookings Institution report.

The library responded by creating the Plaza program, a multigenerational, drop-in program that fosters human connections, provides help with finding resources and information, and encourages personal expression and growth.

"Everyone comes to this country with a whole group of issues, and navigating all the resources can feel overwhelming," says Will Chan, program coordinator. "[Plazas] help bridge the gap, connecting new immigrants to the library, other community organizations, and the community as a whole."

But Plaza is not a one-way street. "We all stand to benefit greatly from the unique perspectives others have gained through their immigrant experience and global backgrounds," notes Pilar Castro-Reino, DPL manager and Plaza visionary.

Plaza is a meeting place where people from all over the world connect with information, make new friends, and enjoy new experiences, building Denver’s global community.

To find a Plaza program near you, please see our events calendar.

Comments

Thank you for your comments, José. I think you're absolutely right.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful article, Amanda. The Plazas got well-deserved attention in American Libraries. Congratulations to Will and Pilar for the great coverage.

One point the reporter made really resonated with me: the phonetic similarity between "library" and "librería." I've long felt that our outreach campaigns should address this specifically. ¡La biblioteca no es una librería. Sigamos luchando para acceso universal!

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