Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Finding Foreign Language Books

Do you ever read books in foreign languages? If so, you may know that Wellesley Free Library has a growing collection of items in a variety of languages. They are shelved on the second floor, to the right of the Reference Desk as you stand facing it. We have books in Chinese, Danish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish and audio books in Spanish. In some cases, we have a few books that were donated to the library. In other cases, we are actively buying items to meet a perceived demand.

But, what if you want something in a language other than these? The Children’s Department has items in some other languages…Cambodian, Catalan or Farsi, anyone? They also have access to a digital collection of children’s picture books in a variety of languages. Click here to have a look. The library also has foreign language films. But, what if you were hoping to find adult level material in another language, perhaps even on a particular topic?

Your next option might be to check whether any other Minuteman Library has items in your desired language. There are many materials in many different languages among the member libraries. But what if you don’t see the language you would like to read in any Minuteman library?

All is not lost. The Wellesley Free Library Interlibrary Loan Department may be able to help. We borrow from libraries beyond Minuteman and often beyond Massachusetts We use WorldCat, a database of items owned by 72,000 libraries around the world. If you go to the WorldCat Language Cloud and hold your mouse over a language, you can see how many items in WorldCat are in that language. We don’t want to overpromise, because many of these items might be owned by libraries that do not lend their items, but we have had some surprising success stories. We have borrowed a Sidamo-English dictionary. Sidamo is a language from Ethiopia, with a very elegant script. We have borrowed a Chinese-English dictionary of accounting terms. We have borrowed material in Serbian, Farsi, Japanese, Doric (a Scottish language,) Tagalog, Telugu (a language from India,) Tibetan and Turkic, to name a few. We have also had our failures. We have tried for a Gujarati audio set several times, without success. You’ll never know whether we could find something in your preferred language unless you try us. To make your request, consult with the Reference Staff at 781-235-1610 x1117 or The Interlibrary Loan staff sometimes feels like one of the best hidden secrets in the library, so feel free to give us a try!


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