How To Start Your Spanish-Language Collection

Libraries should be actively cultivating Spanish-language collections. The following tips and books will help librarians get started.

With nearly 60 million people of Hispanic origin living in the United States, Hispanic people continue to be the nation’s largest ethnic minority group, constituting 18.3 percent of the total population as of 2018, per the U.S. Census, a number projected to grow to 24 percent by 2065. Forty-one million people speak Spanish in the United States, making it the most spoken language other than English. With this in mind, libraries should be actively cultivating Spanish-language collections. The following selection, acquisition, and maintenance (SAM) tips will help librarians get started.

 

SELECTION

Materials should be selected, acquired, and maintained using available collection development and maintenance tools and in accordance with your library’s policies and guidelines, considering all audiences, ages, and reading levels, and all available formats supported by the library. Knowledge of your local Spanish-speaking community and their informational and recreational needs will be crucial in selecting a wide variety of original, translated, and bilingual titles relevant to them. Translated materials should be considered carefully to ensure clarity and accuracy.

Spanish-language periodicals, listservs, online resources, social media, and vendors’ print and online catalogs may offer lists of titles to consider for inclusion. Consult not only professional reviews but also consumer reviews from trusted sources.

In general, subjects frequently in demand among Spanish speakers include popular periodicals, award-winning works, and English-learning titles, as well as books on life skills, lifelong learning, immigration, citizenship, self-help, relationships, health, finance, career/job preparation, parenting, and how-to guides.

 

ACQUISITION

Visiting bookstores allows librarians to preview available materials and understand the local readership’s tastes. Some vendors provide advance readers’ copies as well as title presentations, recommendations, and new releases. Many distributors offer standing orders, on approval plans (OAP), and opening day collections (ODC); larger distributors may offer cutting-edge, custom-tailored collection development tools, print on demand (POD), and shelf-ready services, while smaller distributors might operate like “book boutiques,” helping locate titles that meet particular needs.

Local Spanish-language book fairs offer a unique opportunity to evaluate and preselect materials personally, as international materials vary in quality and content; learn about upcoming titles and market trends; discuss current issues, informational needs, and readers’ requests; and discover new authors and specialized Latin American vendors.

International Spanish-language book fairs provide the aforementioned benefits and also the chance to review materials not otherwise available stateside. However, when selecting materials overseas, keep in mind that titles popular in Latin American countries may not necessarily be as well liked in your local community.

Gifts may be gathered through partnerships with other libraries, educational institutions, and community organizations serving Spanish speakers. Some vendors may also offer gift copies upon request.

 

MAINTENANCE

Collection continuance involves reviews based on accuracy and relevancy. Regular inventory inspections help determine usage and losses. Weeded, deselected, or surplus materials may be considered for book sales, exchanges, loans, or donations to other organizations. In order to promote collection access and usage, the following are some crucial points to consider:

• Availability of Spanish-language subject headings in the library’s OPAC to facilitate access to bibliographic records.

• Placement of collection materials in visible and accessible locations.

• Posting of prominent bilingual signage with international

symbols. Consider displaying Spanish-language publications,

e.g., booklists, guides, feedback forms, etc., close to the collection.

Additional resources are also available at:

• “ALA/RUSA Guidelines for Library Services to Hispanics” (bit.ly/31Ww5i0)

“10 Reasons Why Libraries Buy Spanish Language Books” 

REFORMA Northeast Chapter’s “Book Buzz”

Starred titles (redstar) are essential for most collections.


Alexandra Gomez is the sole Supervising Librarian responsible for the selection of Spanish and other world languages materials at BookOps. Alexandra is an ALA Spectrum Scholar, a William Randolph Hearst Scholar, and Past President of the Northeast Chapter of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library Services to Latinos and Spanish Speakers, whose Annual Spanish-language Book Buzz was one of her presidential initiatives under the theme of ”Cultures, Literature, Arts and People” (CLAP).


BIOGRAPHIES & MEMOIRS

redstarAlvarez, Julia. Una boda en Haití. Plume. ISBN 9780142424735.
The National Medal of the Arts winner shares her family relationships and fondly recalls a friendship with a young Haitian boy.

redstarRabuffetti, Mauricio. José Mujica: La revolución tranquila. Aguilar. ISBN 9786073129732.
Rabuffetti reveals the keys to the great Uruguayan revolutionary leader’s legacy of humility and humanity.

Serrano, Marcela. El Manto. Alfaguara. ISBN 9786073185738.
Through a blend of essay and diary, Serrano reflects on her grief over her sister’s death.

redstarSzichman, Mario. Sonia Sotomayor: Una sabia decisión. Vintage Español. ISBN 9780307739995.
Szichman details the life and career of the first Latinx justice and third woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

COOKBOOKS

Cervera, Verónica. La cocina cotidiana de vero. Grupo Anaya Comercial. ISBN 9788441541993.
Cervera provides a variety of international recipes, along with helpful tips to reduce food waste and incorporate batch cooking.

Chef Yisus. Cocina delicioso con Chef Yisus. Grijalbo Ilustrados. ISBN 9781949061987.
In addition to sharing his favorite dishes and cooking secrets, the popular TV chef reveals childhood memories and his immigrant experience.

Hernández, Karla. Comida sana con pizca de sabor. Grijalbo. ISBN 9786073183413.
Hernández’s joyful collection contains healthy, simple, and affordable recipes.

 

FICTION

redstarAleu, Fernando. El intercambio. Roca Editorial. ISBN 9788417541194.
In 1943 Spain, people join forces to rescue a young German at risk of being sent to a concentration camp. Based on real events.

redstarAllende, Isabel. Largo pétalo de mar. Vintage Español. ISBN 9781984899163. 
A young doctor and his friend leave Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and board a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, landing in Chile as heroes.

redstarBelli, Gioconda. Las fiebres de la memoria. Planeta. ISBN 9786070753329.
Accused of murder, a nobleman in 1840s France fakes his suicide, flees to the rain forests of Nicaragua, and becomes captivated by a woman called “Rosa Blanca.”

redstarCortés, Carlos. Larga noche hacia mi madre. Alfaguara. ISBN 9789968893091.
An older man reviews his past struggles to understand the complex events that marked his childhood.

Del Risco, Enrique. Turcos en la niebla. Alianza Editorial. ISBN 9788491814467.
An exiled Cuban in New Jersey is willing to confront the authorities looking to seize his workshop.

redstarEscobar, Mario. Recuérdame. HarperCollins Español. ISBN 9781418599386.
During the Spanish Civil War, 500 children embark on a journey to Mexico, seeking refuge and protection.

redstarGarcía Márquez, Gabriel (text) & Luisa Rivera (illus). El amor en los tiempos del cólera. Vintage Español. ISBN 9780593081655.
The Nobel Prize winner’s tale of a long unrequited love. Illustrated version.

redstarMoya, Horacio Castellanos. Moronga. Literatura Random House. ISBN 9788439734055.
José Zeledón flees the civil war in El Salvador to the United States but remains tormented by his violent past.

redstarRestrepo, Laura. Delirio. Debolsillo. ISBN 9786073168892.
A man who returns from a business trip finds his wife is now insane and looks for answers hidden in her turbulent past.

redstarRey Rosa, Rodrigo. El país de Toó. Alfaguara. ISBN 9788420434681.
A man’s struggle to defend the rights of Indigenous people and the environment creates big enemies in a small Central American republic.

redstarSánchez, Carlos Cuauhtémoc. Emerge o muere. Diamante. ISBN 9786079830700.
After being accused of medical malpractice, Dr. Benjamin accidentally causes the death of his wife and loses custody of his daughter.

Sancho, Mateo. Nueva York de un plumazo. Roca. ISBN 9788417305963.
Simon, a young, gay journalist, emigrates from Madrid to New York, where he experiences difficulties and new joys.

redstarPaz Soldán, Edmundo. Los días de la peste. Malpaso Editorial. ISBN 9788416665679.
A series of characters share the only destiny that unites them, a plague that threatens to destroy them all, rich or poor.

redstarValdés, Zoé. La casa del placer. Almuzara. ISBN 9788417954192.
An unconventional artist experiences ghostly visions from his past, including his friendship with Vincent van Gogh and his unsupportive wife.

Vallejo, Fernando. La Virgen de los sicarios. Debolsillo. ISBN 9786073156226.
After long years away, an older man returns to a hometown beset by young hitmen.

redstarVargas Llosa, Mario. Tiempos recios. Alfaguara. ISBN 9781644731048.
The Nobel Prize winner’s fictionalized account of the 1954 military coup in Guatemala.

 

HEALTH

Guerrero, Rosa. Remedios naturales para las alergias. Vintage Español. ISBN 9780593081709.
Natural remedies to improve the quality of life for people suffering from unexplained allergies.

Viver, Nuria. Guía práctica de primeros auxilios. Vintage Español. ISBN 9780593081747.
First aid instructions to help with medical emergencies and other health-related issues.

 

PARENTING

Jaramillo, Ana María. College para todos. Urano. ISBN 9788416997169.
A practical guide to help parents and their children navigate the U.S. educational system.

redstarTorres, Jeannette. Ser mamá: Cómo encontrar el balance…¡sin perder la cabeza! Aguilar. ISBN 9781949061727.
The expert psychologist and mother of two reveals her parenting and coping skills.

 

SELF-HELP

Bevione, Julio. Volver a mí. Urano. ISBN 9788416720859.
This meditation guide invites readers to reexplore and thus rediscover their inner selves and enact positive life change.

redstarStamateas, Bernardo. Soluciones prácticas. Vergara. ISBN 9786073174039.
Keys to self-improvement, success, and conflict resolution.

 

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Alonso, Guillermo. Michael Jackson, música de luz, vida de sombras. Random Cómics. ISBN 9788417247478.
Highlights of the pop legend’s image and legacy.

 

DVD

redstarDolor y gloria. color. 113 min. Columbia. DVD UPC 043396564091.
Pedro Almodóvar’s award-winning autobiographical interpretation of his memories and innermost thoughts.

redstarPájaros de verano. color. 125 min. Passion River. DVD UPS 889845942931.
Prize-winning film about a 1970s Indigenous man torn between tribal traditions and his ambitions.

redstarRoma. B&W. 135 min. Criterion Collection. DVD UPC 715515237413.
Alfonso Cuarón’s award-winning portrayal of his childhood and family life as seen through the eyes of a maid caring for four fatherless children.

 

WEB RESOURCES

America Reads Spanish
Literary news, best sellers lists, new releases, and newsletters to promote Spanish-language literature in U.S. libraries and schools.

REFORMA
Information and programs to support the work of library professionals serving Spanish speakers.

 

EBOOK PLATFORMS

Digitalia
Spanish-language classics, ebooks and ejournals.

EBSCO Referencia Latina
Theme-based electronic resources, newspapers, and news wires from Latin American countries.

EBSCO Mags
Database subscription includes Spanish-language magazines.

Overdrive
Electronic books, audiobooks, and magazines.

 

APPS

El libro total. Free. For Android.
Streaming available for thousands of books, musical selections, and audiobooks.

Wattpad. Free. For iOS & Android.
Millions of books and stories, along with comments and connections with writers.

 

VENDORS

American Book Group
Creates and distributes cutting-edge print, educational, and general interest content.

Baker & Taylor
Collection management tool, custom-tailored notification carts, POD, standing orders, OAP, and shelf-ready services.

Brodart
FASTips lists, ODC, OAP, and shelf-ready and book fair services.

Chulainn
Collection development services, customization, shelf-ready, and book fair services.

Cinco Books
Collection development and book fair assistance.

DK
A PRH division; publishes educational materials, including English-language learning.

Harpercollins Christian Publishing
Inspirational books and bible study programs.

Harpercollins Español
Original and translated works and best sellers.

Ingram Library Services
Custom-tailored collection development database, notification carts, standing orders, ODC, OAP, and shelf-ready.

Latin American Book Source
Selection customization, OAP, shelf-ready and book fair services.

Lectorum Publications
Imports and distribution, monthly bulletins, standing orders, ODC, OAP, shelf-ready and book fair services.

Multicultural Books & Videos
Monthly new releases, shelf-ready and book fair services.

Penguin Random House (PRH) Grupo Editorial USA
Publishing and distribution, previews, and new releases.

Spanish Publishers
Imports and distribution, new releases, presentations, customizations, standing orders, OAP, shelf-ready, and book fair services.

Vintage Español
A PRH division; publishes selected Spanish-language fiction and nonfiction works.

 

PERIODICALS

Latin American Periodicals
Package subscription customization of the popular Fotonovelas magazine.

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