rusq: Vol. 53 Issue 1: p. 60
Arizona Public Libraries Serving the Spanish-Speaking: Context for Changes
Denice Adkins, C. Sean Burns

Denice Adkins ( is Associate Professor, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. C. Sean Burns ( is Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
Some of the data presented in this paper was also presented at the Library Research Seminar V, October 7, 2010.


Arizona is at the forefront of Latino population growth and political and racial politics. Three different factors could potentially influence the provision of library service to Latinos in the State of Arizona. These are (1) the growth of the Latino community and the consequent growth of its library needs, (2) the growth of state legislation that is hostile to immigrants and Latinos, and (3) the promotion of a pro-immigrant position by the library profession. This paper compares services to the Spanish-speaking in the State of Arizona from 1999 to 2009 in light of conflicting pro- and anti-immigrant sentiments operating in the state during that decade.

As the Hispanic/Latino population grows, and as the Spanish-speaking population grows, library services for those groups become more important.1 Arizona is at the forefront of Latino population growth and political and racial politics, as evidenced by the 2010 passage of SB1070, “the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration.”2 Three different factors could potentially influence the provision of library service to Latinos in the State of Arizona. These are (1) the growth of the Latino community and the consequent growth of its library needs, (2) the growth of state legislation that is hostile to immigrants and Latinos, and (3) the promotion of a pro-immigrant position by the library profession, embedded in a larger position of providing information service for all. This paper explores the context surrounding library services to Spanish speakers in an attempt to document changes in those services within this context. In this case, we are looking at services to Spanish speakers as indicating a library’s openness to serving Mexican and Latin American immigrants, in addition to creating a sense of welcome for US-born and long-term resident Latinos.

Latino immigration and the presence of a Latino population are not new for Arizona. Before the Mexican-American War and the Gadsden Purchase, the area that is now the State of Arizona was Mexican territory, and residents there were Mexican citizens. Sitting on the Mexico-US border, Arizona is currently home to long-term Mexican-American citizens who have roots extending to the Mexican territory days. It is also home to new immigrants from Mexico—and from other Latin American countries. Some of those residents speak Spanish predominantly; other Latinos only speak English. The American Community Survey reports that 70 percent of Arizona Latinos speak Spanish as their home language.3 The population that identifies itself as Latino has grown significantly in the last few decades—from 18.8 percent in 1990 to 29.6 percent in 2010.4 Moreover, the Spanish-speaking population has also increased, from 19.5 percent of the state’s total population in 2000 to 20.7 percent in 2010.5 While the presence of Latinos is not new to Arizona, and while Arizona libraries have a longer history of providing service to Latinos than libraries in many other states, that service did not come without a struggle.6

The Growing Latino Population

As mentioned above, the Latino population makes up a substantial proportion of Arizona’s population, and is growing rapidly. In 2000, Arizona’s total population was 5,130,632, with 25.3 percent Latino.7 In 2010, the population was 6,392,017, and 29.6 percent were Hispanic or Latino.8Table 1 presents the growth of the Latino population by county. Only Pinal County’s Latino population percentage decreased, and even in that case, the county’s Latino population almost doubled between those years—as did the non-Latino population. Growth is also apparent in the school system. The Arizona Department of Education reports that in 2002, 35.5 percent of Arizona’s 922,280 students were Hispanic, growing to 41.4 percent in 2009.9 The Latino population growth has two main drivers: a higher birth rate in Latino families already resident in Arizona and immigration, authorized or unauthorized.

While Latinos generally transition from their native languages (Spanish and/or indigenous languages) to English over generations, the growth of the Latino population through immigration ensures that the Spanish language is reinforced and retained. The 2000 Census found that 927,395 of Arizona’s 4.7 million residents (19.5 percent) spoke Spanish.10 Of the Latino population in Arizona in 2000, 74 percent used Spanish as a home language.11 Of those, 51 percent spoke English “very well,” but 12 percent did not speak English at all. Comparing these results to the 2006–10 American Community Survey shows the absolute number of Spanish speakers has increased to 1,199,689, and the percentage of people who speak Spanish has increased to 20.7.12 Looking exclusively at the Latino population in 2010, 37 percent are foreign-born and 70 percent speak Spanish at home. Of those, 54 percent speak English “very well,” and 12 percent do not speak English at all.13 In 2010, Arizona had 877,260 foreign-born residents, of whom 572,915 speak Spanish.14 The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 360,000 undocumented immigrants were living in Arizona as of 2011.15 Nationally, Hispanic women have a higher fertility rate than non-Hispanic white or black women, 98.8 versus 59.4 and 71.1 respectively.16 This holds true in Arizona, where in 2010, Hispanic mothers accounted for 39.4 percent of all births in the state, although the Hispanic/Latino population was only 28.6 percent of the total Arizona population. By contrast, the white non-Hispanic mothers accounted for 44.5 percent of births, while the white non-Hispanic population was 57.8 percent.17

Arizona State Legislation

At the same time as Arizona’s Latino population has grown, Arizona’s laws and attitudes toward Latin American immigrants and Spanish-speakers seemed to grow less tolerant. From 1999 to 2009, 110 bills were introduced into the Arizona Legislature that dealt with immigration, with a rapid surge of bills coming from 2006–10.18 From 1999 to 2004, 19 bills were introduced and four were ratified, including one resolution to the US Congress encouraging them to consider legislation for a legal worker program for immigrants. In 2005, 15 immigration-related bills were introduced, followed by 24 in 2006, 21 in 2007, 24 in 2008, and 17 in 2009. Of these 91 bills, 12 were submitted to and signed by the Governor, and three resolutions were transmitted to the Secretary of State. Resolutions signed into law included legislation allowing judges to consider illegal immigration an aggravating factor in sentencing, denying bail to illegal immigrants accused of “serious felony offenses” or drunk driving, requiring applicants for public programs to submit proof of immigration status, requiring law enforcement agents to determine a detainee’s immigrant status within 24 hours of arrest and transmit that status to the person’s country of origin, and requiring the Attorney General to investigate businesses accused of knowingly employing illegal immigrants and to notify US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.19 The year 2007 also saw the passage of a resolution from the Arizona House to the President of the United States, urging him to deploy National Guard troops to defend the US border.20

Between 1999 and 2009, five propositions were placed on the state ballot by citizen initiative. The 2000 passage of Proposition 203 eliminated bilingual education in lieu of one year of English immersion for Spanish-speaking children, and in 2006, Proposition 103 declared English the official language of the State.21 In 2004, Proposition 200 restricted public services to citizens and required service providers to check for citizenship before providing services.22 There was fear in the library community that this law would apply to librarians serving patrons, including school librarians helping children. The Arizona Attorney General later clarified that this law applied only to public welfare, but a clear precedent was laid down that immigrants were not desired. Proposition 300 in 2006 stated that undocumented immigrants were not eligible for state-provided child care assistance, were not eligible to participate in adult education programs, and could not receive in-state tuition or state-funded financial aid at Arizona colleges.23 In 2008, Proposition 202—which was intended to stop hiring undocumented immigrants by fining and punishing employers—was overturned by the voters.24

More recently, Arizona has been in the news for SB1070, which required law enforcement officials to determine a person’s immigration status if the officer suspected the person was undocumented.25 This opens the door to racial profiling, and essentially requires anyone who might be suspected to be an undocumented immigrant to carry certain specific forms of identification at all times. Indeed, a federal judge recently ruled that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had engaged in racial profiling of Latinos.26 Additionally, SB1070 made it a felony to transport or harbor illegal aliens. After numerous challenges, the Supreme Court in 2012 maintained that federal law preempted state law on three of the law’s provisions: making failure to register as an alien a state offense, criminalizing an unauthorized alien for seeking work, and arresting a person on suspicion that the person has committed an offense that would make him removable from the United States. They did not invalidate the part of the law that would allow detention of a suspected alien until his or her immigration status was determined, on the grounds that state courts had not yet shown that enforcement of this provision would conflict with federal law.27

The rise of anti-immigrant sentiment stems from several factors. “In periods of high unemployment and global dislocation, immigrants easily become the targets of political leaders who accuse them of criminality, lack of morals, making excessive demands on public services, and creating undue competition for scarce employment.”28 There is a belief that undocumented immigrants are associated with increased drug trafficking and crime rates. As Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer claimed there was a link between illegal immigration and drug cartels. Economic instability may also play a factor. Some argue that low-skilled native workers bear the negative effects of undocumented workers depressing average wages, though others argue that immigrants have had a net positive fiscal effect on the state’s economy.29

Professional Statements, Reports, and Toolkits

Libraries have long had a tradition of providing information services to their entire communities, and the library profession has increasingly recognized the needs of immigrants and non-English speaking people. ALA’s mission includes the goal of “access to information for all” and considers “Equitable Access to Information and Library Services” as a key action area.30 Since 2000, ALA and its divisions have passed two resolutions in support of immigrants’ rights,31 and produced several documents regarding library services provided to non-English speakers. ALA’s Services to Non-English Speakers in U.S. Public Libraries study used national demographic data to identify libraries near linguistically isolated populations and surveyed those libraries to learn about the services they offered.32 Results indicated that Spanish was the language most frequently spoken by library communities, and the language most frequently provided for by libraries. Librarians indicate that “special language collections” and outreach were the most frequently used services and that ESL activities were the most successful. RUSA’s Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Multilingual Collections and Services advised librarians specifically on developing their collections, suggesting considerations of format and topic areas of interest to the library’s targeted groups, providing ready and convenient access to those materials through appropriate cataloging and shelf displays, and appropriate promotion of the collections.33 Additional recommendations were made about marketing, outreach, and staffing to meet the needs of linguistically and ethnically diverse patrons. Another document, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ “Library Services for Immigrants: A Report on Current Practices” was developed by a working group of librarians and immigrant/cultural aid societies.34 The report provided ideas and recommendations for libraries seeking to improve their services to immigrants, as well as highlighting some successful library practices. This report suggested developing partnerships with other community organizations, getting the immigrant community involved in the library through collections and planning, and engaging in programs and outreach to attract new immigrants.

Tool kits were developed, including the Librarian’s Toolkit for Responding Effectively to Anti-Immigrant Sentiment, How to Serve the World @ your library, and The American Dream Starts @ your library.35 Tool kits generally provide some general background and provide tips, ideas, and resources to help libraries solve problems for their own communities. ALA’s How to Serve the World and American Dream tool kits both focused on providing services for non-English speakers and new immigrants. REFORMA’s Anti-Immigrant Sentiment toolkit provided ideas for librarians to use for helping new immigrants obtain library cards and library services.

The University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science developed the Knowledge River program, specifically designed to get Latino and Native American students involved in the profession.36 The program offers scholarships to Latino and Native American students, but also incorporates diversity and cultural perspectives into the study of information and communication behaviors. In addition to financial aid and curricular reform, the program focuses on ensuring students form supportive cohorts, take advantage of mentoring, and participate in work experience. The Institute of Museum and Library Services and other local stakeholders have provided significant funding for the Knowledge River program, making its existence a visible marker of professional support for Latino librarianship in Arizona.

Professional Books on Latino Library Services

Between 1999 and 2009, 11 books were published to advise librarians on serving their Spanish-speaking or Latino populations (see appendix). Of these, three were focused on services to Latino youth, four were guides to serving Latinos and/or Spanish speakers, two were collections of research on services to Latinos, one focused on historic periodicals, and one provided Spanish language subject headings. In 2011, library holdings were examined in OCLC’s WorldCat to determine whether Arizona public libraries held these works. Libraries that purchased these volumes likely had a Latino or Spanish-speaking population to be served and a commitment to learn more about serving that population. However, if a library did not hold one of these titles, it doesn’t necessarily signify that they did not have a Spanish-speaking population nor that they weren’t interested in serving that population. For instance, small libraries with small budgets would prioritize materials for patrons over materials about library services. Two of the titles were not held by any public library in Arizona. Distribution of the remaining titles can be seen in table 2.


This paper compares services to the Spanish-speaking in the State of Arizona from 1999 to 2009 in light of conflicting pro- and anti-immigrant sentiments operating in the state during that decade. Surveys were distributed to Arizona public libraries in 1999 and again in 2009.37 Questions on both surveys included number of librarians, paraprofessionals, and staff who spoke Spanish, number of Spanish-language materials in the library’s collection, presence or absence of programs and workshops for Spanish speakers, and outreach in the community or with external agencies. Additional questions asked about Spanish-language resources in the library, such as signage, forms, and instructions. Survey results were tabulated and compared.

In 1999, the questionnaire instrument was sent out to 169 public library service outlets across the State of Arizona and 106 were returned, for a return rate of 63 percent. In 2009, the questionnaire was sent to 197 public library service outlets in Arizona and returned by 85, for a 44 percent response rate. Forty-one libraries completed surveys for both 1999 and 2009. For the 1999 survey, library service outlets were taken from the 1998 Arizona Library Directory.38 For the 2009 survey, library service outlets were identified through the Arizona State Libraries, Archives, and Public Records’ Library Directory web page, and cross-checked against the list of Libraries by County on the same site.39

The surveys were sent to public library service outlets (i.e., library buildings), rather than to public library systems. In a large city, the population that uses one branch may be markedly different from the population that uses another branch. One branch may specifically cater to Latinos, whereas another branch caters to African Americans. These differences can be lost in system-wide summaries. For both surveys, bookmobiles, prison and jail libraries, and tribal libraries were excluded. Bookmobiles were excluded on the pragmatic grounds of not having a stationary population to analyze. Jail and prison libraries were excluded as not having a voluntary population. Tribal libraries were excluded on the grounds that they would be oriented toward serving their tribal populations rather than the Latino population.


The 1999 and 2009 surveys each individually serve as a snapshot in time. Combined, the surveys illustrate the change and growth of Latino services in the state. General results are compared between years, while a more specific comparison of libraries that filled out both surveys is also conducted.

A total of 106 libraries answered the 1999 survey, and a total of 85 libraries answered the 2009 survey. However, not every library answered every question, and so percentages are calculated by the number of libraries answering the question.

Results from All Libraries

In almost all categories of service to the Spanish-speaking, Arizona libraries have experienced positive but incremental changes. Tables 3 and 4 show the changes in service to the Spanish-speaking over ten years.

Table 3 provides the percentage of libraries offering a service, but does not tell us the degree to which the service is offered. In this table, the library that has one Spanish-language book is included on equal terms with the library that has 1000 Spanish-language books. Results from table 3 indicate that more Arizona libraries provided services to the Spanish-speaking in 2009 than did in 1999. Moreover, more libraries have Spanish-speaking staff available for all their open hours and more libraries are providing cultural and language instruction to their staff. However, this has not translated into a noticeable increase in libraries providing outreach targeted toward Spanish speakers.

The results indicate that more libraries hold Spanish-language children’s and adult materials. Several survey recipients provided no information about collection size, or provided information only about their Spanish-language collection without providing information about the rest of the collection. For the 2009 survey, 54 libraries reported their total children’s collection size and 59 reported the size of their Spanish-language children’s collection. Of those 59, no libraries reported a collection size of 0, meaning 100 percent of those who answered this question had Spanish-language children’s materials. While 58 libraries reported their general adult collection size, 60 libraries reported their Spanish-language adult book collection size, and four of those libraries reported zero Spanish-language adult holdings, for a total of 93 percent of libraries holding Spanish-language adult books.

Information on collection size for other media was not collected, but results indicated that more libraries had videos, audio recordings, and periodicals in 2009 than in 1999. More libraries had Spanish-language forms, flyers, and signage, and many more had a Spanish-language interface to their library catalogs. Information was not collected in 1999 about Spanish-language electronic resources and Spanish-language library websites, but it seems reasonable to assume that both these categories have increased.

Table 4 looks at the degree of services offered across the whole state using averages and medians. Averages speak more to the performance of the entire state on these measures than it does to any one library. For instance, libraries in 2009 reported that they had 346 librarians, of whom 60 were fluent in Spanish. These librarians were not distributed equally across libraries; some libraries had as many as five Spanish-speaking librarians, and most had none. Services to Spanish speakers seem to have increased between 1999 and 2009, though slowly. While the percentage of Spanish-speaking clerks and youth services staff has changed considerably, the percentage of Spanish-speaking librarians is increasing very slowly. Spanish-language material collection sizes are growing slowly, while children’s programming is increasing more rapidly.

Averages may be appropriate to measure general state performance, but median statistics are more appropriate to gauge the performance of individual libraries within the whole. The median is the value that falls in the middle of the cases—for 2009, the median would be the forty-third out of 85 values, arranged smallest to largest. Looking at medians demonstrates a real change in number of Spanish-speaking clerks employed, while there is essentially no difference in number of librarians or youth services staff. However, there has been a real increase in the number of Spanish-language adult and children’s books held by libraries.

Results from Libraries Participating in Both Surveys

The surveys were sent to most public libraries in the State of Arizona, but not all public libraries answered. Comparing results from different libraries in 1999 and 2009 might miss service changes in particular libraries. Tables 5 and 6 present results from the 41 libraries that completed both surveys.

Among libraries that answered both surveys, there is some indication of slowed growth of library services. While there is an increase in the number of libraries employing Spanish-speaking clerks and youth services staff, the number of libraries employing Spanish-speaking librarians remains stagnant. Fewer libraries provide Spanish language classes for their employees, though more provide cultural education.

Libraries seem to be most effective at providing Spanish-language adult and children’s books. In 2009, 34 libraries reported their Spanish-language adult collection size, and of those, only three indicated a collection size of zero, meaning 91 percent of reporting libraries held Spanish-language adult books. Of the 33 libraries that indicated their Spanish-language children’s collection size, none had a collection size of zero, for 100 percent of reporting libraries holding Spanish-language children’s books.

A greater percentage of libraries are providing videos, audio recordings, and periodicals in Spanish, but the increase is relatively small in real numbers. More libraries are providing language classes and bilingual children’s programs, bilingual catalog interfaces and library forms. However, fewer are providing outreach to the Spanish-speaking community, and the percentage of libraries providing Spanish-speaking staff for all open hours and Spanish-language signage has remained stagnant.

The number of Spanish-speaking clerks has increased markedly and the number of Spanish-speaking librarians has increased slightly, but the number of Spanish-speaking youth services staff has not increased at all. Spanish-language children’s and adult collection sizes have increased, and more Spanish-language children’s programs are being offered. However, the total number of librarians, youth services staff, and children’s programs have decreased.


As indicated by tables 3 and 5, more Arizona libraries are providing services for Spanish-speaking patrons than were doing so ten years ago. More libraries have Spanish-speaking clerks now. The growth of Spanish-speaking librarians is minimal, but it is conceivable that the Spanish-speaking clerks now employed may go on to become professionals. Children’s programming has increased slightly. More libraries are offering Spanish or Spanish-bilingual materials. General services like Spanish-language catalog access and forms have increased.

Despite more libraries providing services for Spanish-speakers, though, the overall quantity of those services is increasing only slowly. Tables 4 and 6 suggest that on the whole, Arizona libraries are not doing that much better at serving Latinos than they were 10 years and 600,000 fewer Latinos ago. There are more Spanish-speaking staff, but the median number of Spanish-speaking librarians and youth services staff is still zero. There are slightly more Spanish-language books, but book collection size over the past ten years has not grown as rapidly as media collections.

Arizona’s proximity to the Mexican border ensures a steady stream of immigrants and Spanish-speaking visitors, which serves to refresh the Spanish language in the post-immigration generations. Language and racial politics still play a significant role in Arizona governance. Providing services to Spanish speakers is unlikely to be irrelevant to Arizona libraries any time soon.


This paper looked at Arizona public library services to Latinos in 1999 and again in 2009, and found an increasing number of libraries providing service for the Spanish-speaking, but a much smaller increase in the quantity of services provided. Increases in library services to the Spanish-speaking are to be expected—Arizona’s total population has grown and every 1 in 5 Arizonans is a Spanish speaker. One might have expected library services to grow more than they have. No population should be denied library service because of their linguistic background, but Arizona’s Spanish speakers are getting fewer services than they should be.

Our purpose was to examine changes in a ten-year period to public library services to the Spanish-speaking, as well as provide some contextual factors that influence library services and policies. With regard to serving Spanish speakers, Arizona librarians fall under two different spheres of influence. The growth of the Latino population in Arizona, through increased birthrates and immigration, and the strong professional stance in favor of serving immigrant and Latino populations would seem to also provide support for libraries’ increasing services to the Spanish-speaking. However, nativist state legislation and anti-immigrant sentiment work against the increase of services to the Spanish-speaking. When an immigrant feels unsafe leaving his home, using the library will not be a priority. When a library decision-maker does not see immigrants in her community, she does not plan for services to immigrants. When a person is a legal resident or citizen of this country, but feels unsafe due to negative community sentiment toward people who look like him, he may also choose to avoid the library. In view of the fact that almost one out of every three Arizonans is Latino, Arizona libraries definitely need to keep purchasing materials for Latinos, to keep purchasing Spanish-language materials, to increase their hiring of Spanish-fluent clerks and professionals, and to ensure that libraries are welcoming environments for Latinos, whether they speak Spanish or English. Libraries should work to provide programming and materials that portray Mexican American and other Latin American cultures positively, allowing all patrons to see the benefits of the various cultures that have shaped the American Southwest.

Next steps for librarians in Arizona, and communities like Arizona that are also looking at anti-immigrant legislation, are to reflect on how to serve the values of the profession and publicize those values to staff, patrons, and legislators. The library’s message should be explicitly clear that library services are for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, language spoken, or immigration status. Libraries should also clearly establish networks with other community agencies such as legal aid groups and other organizations to support civil and human rights in their communities for all residents.

On a larger scale, our purpose in writing this paper is to demonstrate that libraries and library practices do not operate in a vacuum; librarians are enmeshed in local and national communities of interest. Municipal and state legislation influences library practices, while our professional ties influence us as practitioners and take us outside our local boundaries. This dual positioning as librarians, members of a larger profession dedicated to serving the public good, and as state residents living and working within the confines of state and local laws, can lead to conflicting goals. In telling the story about Arizona’s anti-immigration legislation and “fear of brown people,” we hope to provide some lessons for librarians outside Arizona. One important lesson is to keep our eyes and ears open for potentially restrictive legislation in other communities and to be prepared to mount an argument against similar legislation in your own community. After the passage of SB1070 in Arizona, similar laws were proposed in 13 other states.40 When one community enacts laws against certain types of people or actions, it becomes easier for other communities to do the same.

Another lesson is to be supportive of professional values. Because of the passage of SB1070, several organizations boycotted Arizona.41 However, Arizona librarians and library patrons still needed support, and that support came from national organizations like the ALA, REFORMA, and others, in the forms of tool kits, publicity, and expressions of professional values. Our look at Arizona public library services to the Spanish-speaking shows professional values such as diversity and equitable access for all: despite hostility, libraries continued to provide services and materials for Spanish speakers and continued to hire Spanish-speaking staff. Further investigation would have to be done to indicate whether librarians made these decisions specifically to challenge legislators, but this does indicate that Latinos and Spanish speakers were viewed as active members of the communities that libraries serve.

This study highlights that librarianship can be a deeply political profession. Specifically, the state of affairs in Arizona, the values of librarianship, and the results of this study reveal possible ethical and professional tensions between librarians and the peoples and governments that provide and distribute funds to libraries. There may come a time when librarians will have to take strong positions, decide how to respond to the rhetoric and the laws passed by their parent communities, and do so under risk of losing the funds provided by those parent communities. Such responses may include lobbying politicians or peaceful resistance, or involve the continuing provision of services that are needed by marginalized communities, even if those services have been legally restricted. Deciding which courses to take requires careful thought and deliberation as well as preparedness. Library educators, directors, and boards of trustees all need to introduce these kinds of ethical dilemmas into their thinking, to create that deliberation and preparedness before a situation strikes.

1. The US Census Bureau uses the terms “Hispanic or Latino” to refer to Americans with Spanish or Latin American heritage "The terms are used interchangeably in this paper; however, most American Hispanics/Latinos prefer to identify themselves based on their country of origin rather than a pan-ethnic term. The same report also notes that most Hispanics use Spanish, though 51 percent of US-born Hispanics are English-dominant," in When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and their Views of Identity, Pew Hispanic Center ,   ed. Paul Taylor, et al.,,  (April 4, 2012) ;, 3–4.
2. Randal C Archibold,  "“Arizona Enacts Stringent law on Immigration, ”,"  New York Times.  (April 23, 2010) accessed May 21, 2013,
3. US Census Bureau, "“B16006, Language Spoken at Home by Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over (Hispanic or Latino), ”"2006–2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, accessed October 19, 2012,
4. Betsy Guzman,  "The Hispanic Population: Census 2000 Brief,"  (Washington, DC:  US Census Bureau, May 2001): , accessed October 19, 2012,–3.pdf; US Census Bureau, “DP-1, Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: Arizona, ” Census 2010, accessed October 19, 2012,
5. US Census Bureau, "“QT-P16, Language Spoken at Home: 2000, ”,"  Census 2000 Summary File 3. accessed October 19, 2012,; US Census Bureau, “B16006.”
6. Some of that struggle is noted in Bee Gallegos and Lisa Kammerlocher, “A History of Library Services to the Mexican-American and Native American in Arizona, ” Journal of the West 30, no. 3 (July 1991) and Donna Stephenson Lopez, “Arizona Libraries and the Spanish Speaking, ” Road Runner 22, no. 4 (April 1979): 10–12
7. Guzman, Hispanic Population, 4
8. US Census Bureau, “DP-1.”
9. Arizona Department of Education, Arizona October 1st Enrollment Figures ,   accessed October 19, 2012,
10. US Census Bureau, “QT-P16.”
11. US Census Bureau, "“PCT011, Language Spoken at Home by Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over (Hispanic or Latino), ”,"  Census 2000 Summary File 3. accessed October 19, 2012,
12. US Census Bureau, "“S1601, Language Spoken at Home, ”,"  2006–2010 American Community Survey Estimates.  (October 19, 2012)
13. US Census Bureau, “B16006.”
14. US Census Bureau, "“B16005, Nativity by Language Spoken at Home by Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over, ”,"  2006–2010 American Community Survey. accessed October 19, 2012,
15. Michael Hoefer, Nancy Rytina,  and Bryan Baker,  Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics, 
16. US Census Bureau, "“Table 79. Live Births, Birth Rates, and Fertility Rates by Hispanic Origin: 2000 to 2008, ”,"  in Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012. accessed April 18, 2013,
17. Arizona Department of Health Services, "Health Status and Vital Statistics site"accessed April 18, 2013,
18. Arizona State Legislature, accessed October 19, 2012,
19. Arizona House of Representatives, Aggravating factors, immigration law violation, HB 2259 (47th legislature, 1st regular session, 2005); Arizona House of Representatives, Illegal aliens; serious felonies, bail, HB2580 (47th legislature, 2nd regular session, 2006); Arizona House of Representatives, Licensing eligibility; lawful presence; verification (NOW: public programs; eligibility), HB2467 (48th legislature, 1st regular session, 2007); Arizona Senate, VOIP service; emergency telecommunication services (NOW: bailable offenses, illegal immigration), SB1265 (48th legislature, 1st regular session, 2007); Arizona House of Representatives, Fair and legal employment act, HB2279 (48th legislature, 1st regular session, 2007)
20. Arizona House of Representatives, "National guard, border defense, HCM2010 (48th legislature, 1st regular session, 2007)"accessed October 19, 2012,
21. Betsey Bayless,  "2000 General Election Ballot Measures,"  (Arizona Department of State, November 17, 2000): , accessed October 19, 2012,; Janice K. Brewer, 2006 General Election Ballot Measures, Arizona Department of State, November 7, 2006, accessed October 19, 2012,
22. Janice K Brewer,  "2004 General Election Ballot Measures,"  (Arizona Department of State, August 16, 2004): , accessed October 19, 2012,
23. Brewer,  "2006 General Election Ballot Measures,"  
24. Janice K Brewer,  "2008 General Election Ballot Measures, Arizona Department of State,"   (August 25, 2008) accessed October 19, 2012,
25. Arizona Senate, "Immigration; law enforcement; safe neighborhoods (NOW: safe neighborhoods; immigration; law enforcement) SB1070 (49th legislature, 2nd regular session, 2010)"accessed October 19, 2012,
26. Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. ___ (2012)
27. Fernanda Santos,  "“Judge Finds Violation of Rights by Sheriff, ”,"  New York Times.  (May 24, 2013)
28. William A. Darity ,  (): "“Xenophobia,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. " 2nd ed., vol. 9 (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008), 161.
29. Gordon H Hanson,  "Why Does Immigration Divide America? Public Finance and Political Opposition to Open Borders,"  (Washington, DC:  Institute for International Economics, 2005): , Judith Gans, “The Economic Impact of Immigrants in Arizona, ” in Arizona Firestorm: Global Immigration Realities, National Media, and Provincial Politics, eds. Otto Santa Ana and Celeste González de Bustamante (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield: 2012), 47–70.
30. American Library Association, "“About ALA, ”"accessed April 18, 2013,
31. American Library Association, "Resolution in Support of Immigrants’ Rights to Free Public Library Accesseed June 2005"accessed April 11, 2013,–4-3immigrantsrights.pdf; American Library Association, Resolution in Support of Immigrant Rights, January 2007, accessed April 11, 2013,
32. American Library Association, "Serving Non-English Speakers in U.S. Public Libraries,"   (2008) accessed October 19, 2012,
33. Reference and User Services Division, "Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Multilingual Collections and Services,"   (January 2007) accessed October 19, 2012,
34. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, & Institute for Museum and Library Services, "Library Services for Immigrants: A Report on Current Practices,"   (2006) accessed October 19, 2012,
35. REFORMA, "Librarian’s Toolkit for Responding Effectively to Anti-Immigrant Sentiment,"   (May 2006); American Library Association, How to Serve the World @ your library, 2006,; American Library Association, The American Dream Starts @ your library, 2008, (all accessed October 19, 2012
36. Patricia Montiel-Overall and Sandra Littletree, "“Knowledge River: A Case Study of a Library and Inormation Science ProgramFocusing on Latino and Native American Perspectives, ”,"  Library Trends. 59, no. 1 (Summer/Fall 2010): 67–87
37. Surveys can be found at
38. (): Arizona Department of Library, Archives, and Public Records, Arizona Library Directory ( Phoenix, AZ:Author, 1998).
39. Arizona State Library, "Archives, and Public Records,"  Library Directory.  (2008) accessed October 19, 2012,
40. “Anti-illegal Immigration Laws in States, ”, New York Times.  (April 22, 2012)
41. Marc Lacey,  "“Immigration Advocates Split Over Arizona Boycott, ”,"  New York Times.  (September 14, 2011)

Alire, Camila A., and Jacqueline Ayala. Serving Latino Communities: A How-to-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2007.

Avila, Salvador. Crash Course in Serving Spanish Speakers. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

Byrd, Susannah Mississippi. Bienvenidos = Welcome! A Handy Resource Guide for Marketing Your Library to Latinos. Chicago: American Library Association, 2005.

Castillo-Speed, Lillian, ed. The Power of Language = El Poder De La Palabra : Selected Papers from the Second Reforma National Conference. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2001.

Güereña, Salvador. Library Services to Latinos: An Anthology. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000.

Immroth, Barbara Froling, and Kathleen de la Peña McCook. Library Services to Youth of Hispanic Heritage. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000.

Martell, Helvetia and Nicolas Kanellos. Hispanic Periodicals in the United States: Origins to 1960: A Brief History and Comprehensive Bibliography. Houston: Arte Público, 2000.

Miller, David P., and Felipe Martínez Arellano. Salsa de Tópicos = Subjects in Salsa : Spanish and Latin American Subject Access. Chicago: Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, American Library Association, 2007.

Moller, Sharon Chickering. Library Service to Spanish Speaking Patrons: A Practical Guide. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2001.

Treviño, Rose Zertuche. Read Me a Rhyme in Spanish and English. Chicago: American Library Association, 2009.

Wadham, Tim. Programming with Latino Children’s Materials: A How-to-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1999.

Table 1

Arizona Latino population growth by county.

County Latino Population Percentage, 2000 Latino Population Percentage, 2010
Apache 4.5% 5.8%
Cochise 30.7% 32.4%
Coconino 10.9% 13.5%
Gila 16.6% 17.9%
Graham 27.0% 30.4%
Greenlee 43.1% 47.9%
La Paz 22.4% 23.5%
Maricopa 24.8% 29.6%
Mohave 11.1% 14.8%
Navajo 8.2% 10.8%
Pima 29.3% 34.6%
Pinal 29.9% (53,671) 28.5% (106,977)
Santa Cruz 80.8% 82.8%
Yavapai 9.8% 13.6%
Yuma 50.5% 59.7%

Table 2

Distribution of professional books on Latino library services published between 1999 and 2009.

Library Name County Titles Held
Phoenix Public Library Maricopa 7
Pima County Public Library Pima 6
Casa Grande Public Library Pinal 4
Glendale Public Library Maricopa 3
Mohave County Library Mohave 3
Prescott Public Library Yavapai 3
Peoria Public Library Maricopa 2
Scottsdale Public Library Maricopa 2
Yavapai County Free Library District Yavapai 2
Chandler Public Library Maricopa 1
Mesa Public Library Maricopa 1
Safford City-Graham County Public Library Graham 1
Tempe Public Library Maricopa 1

Table 3

Percentage of libraries offering services for Spanish-speakers, 1999 and 2009

Service 1999 (offering/answered) 2009 (offering/answered)
Spanish-speaking librarians 43% (43/101) 47% (40/85)
Spanish-speaking clerks 35% (34/98) 62% (51/82)
Spanish-speaking youth services staff 27% (25/93) 39% (31/79)
Spanish-language adult books 86% (84/98) 93% (56/60)
Spanish-language children’s books 91% (87/96) 100% (59/59)
Spanish-bilingual children’s programs 13% (13/102) 26% (19/72)
Cultural education for library staff 24% (24/102) 56% (47/84)
Spanish-language instruction for library staff 26% (27/103) 34% (29/85)
Spanish-language videos 45% (47/104) 73% (41/56)
Spanish-language musical recordings 41% (42/103) 79% (41/52)
Spanish-language newspapers and magazines 31% (32/104) 37% (25/68)
Spanish-language electronic resources 15% (15/101) 69% (40/58)
English as a Second/Other Language classes for patrons 16% (16/101) 24% (17/70)
Information & Referral Services for Spanish speakers 59% (60/102) *
Spanish-language catalog interface 23% (23/101) 65% (47/72)
Spanish-language flyers and handouts 51% (53/103) 71% (50/70)
Spanish-language web site * 56% (38/68)
Spanish-language forms and library card applications 27% (28/103) 62% (44/71)
Spanish-language staff during all open hours 19% (19/102) 28% (23/81)
Spanish-language signage 15% (15/103) 26% (18/69)
Spanish-language instructions for AV equipment 9% (8/92) 7% (2/30)
Spanish-language interface to public access computers * 63% (42/67)
Outreach specifically designed to reach Spanish-speakers 34% (34/100) 38% (27/71)

*Empty cells mean no information was provided for those categories.

Percentages rounded to the nearest whole number.

Table 4

Averages and medians of staff, materials, and programs, as reported by all respondents in surveys from 1999 and 2009.

Respondents Average, 1999 Average, 2009 Median, 1999 Median, 2009
Total librarians 5 4 2 3
Spanish-speaking librarians 1 1 0 0
Total clerks 6 10 2 8
Spanish-speaking clerks 1 2 0 1
Total youth services staff 3 2 1 2
Spanish-speaking youth services staff 0 0 0 0
Total adult books 29,916 32,154 14,000 20,000
Spanish-language adult books 549 901 75 200
Total children’s books 13,748 14,690 5,000 7,294
Spanish-language children’s books 381 612 77 210
Total children’s programs 8 12 5 8
Spanish-bilingual children’s programs 0 1 0 0

Table 5

Percentage of libraries offering services for Spanish-speakers, for respondents answering both 1999 and 2009 surveys (N = 41).

Service 1999 (offering/answered) 2009 (offering/answered)
Spanish-speaking librarians 41% (16/39) 39% (16/41)
Spanish-speaking clerks 37% (15/41) 54% (22/41)
Spanish-speaking youth services staff 33% (12/36) 35% (14/40)
Spanish-language adult books 89% (34/38) 91% (31/34)
Spanish-language children’s books 92% (34/37) 100% (33/33)
Spanish-bilingual children’s programs 13% (5/40) 21% (7/34)
Cultural education for library staff 30% (12/40) 48% (19/40)
Spanish-language instruction for library staff 37% (15/41) 34% (14/41)
Spanish-language videos 51% (21/41) 71% (22/31)
Spanish-language musical recordings 53% (21/40) 79% (23/29)
Spanish-language newspapers and magazines 41% (17/41) 45% (18/40)
Spanish-language electronic resources * 76% (25/33)
English as a Second/Other Language classes for patrons 18% (7/40) 26% (9/34)
Information & Referral Services for Spanish speakers 54% (22/41) *
Spanish-language catalog interface 29% (12/41) 50% (17/34)
Spanish-language flyers and handouts 54% (22/41) 67% (22/33)
Spanish-language web site * 41% (13/32)
Spanish-language forms and library card applications 35% (14/40) 47% (16/34)
Spanish-language staff during all open hours 30% (12/40) 30% (12/40)
Spanish-language signage 23% (9/41) 23% (7/31)
Spanish-language instructions for AV equipment 11% (4/37) 0% (0/10)
Spanish-language interface to public access computers * 55% (17/31)
Outreach specifically deigned to reach Spanish-speakers 38% (15/40) 29% (10/34)

*Empty cells mean no information was collected for those categories.

Percentages rounded to the nearest whole number.

Table 6

Averages and medians of staff, materials, and services, as reported by respondents completing both surveys from 1999 and 2009 (N = 41).

Average, 1999 Average, 2009 Median, 1999 Median, 2009
Total librarians 5 4 3 2
Spanish-speaking librarians 1 1 0 0
Total clerks 6 8 3 6
Spanish-speaking clerks 1 2 0 1
Total youth services staff 4 2 1 1
Spanish-speaking youth services staff 1 0 0 0
Total adult books 34,032 28,593 20,000 20,000
Spanish-language adult books 687 1,134 100 418
Total children’s books 15,726 12,648 5,700 5,862
Spanish-language children’s books 596 587 185 200
Total children’s programs 9 8 6 5
Spanish-bilingual children’s programs 0 1 0 0

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