Library seeks to serve wider range of cultures, nationalities |
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Luja Urbanska, a native of Poland, welcomes news that Monroeville Public Library is taking steps to provide more diverse cultural materials.

“The library is so big and so convenient,” said Urbanska, a resident of Monroeville who meets weekly at the library with a tutor to study English as a second language. “There are all kinds of books, resources and the Internet.”

Library officials have made it a goal for this year to expand and strengthen its collections of books, magazines, audiotapes, videos and DVDs relevant to the varied cultures represented in the municipality.

Library Director Kathy Kennedy said the library always is reviewing its materials to make sure they are current and meet the needs of patrons.

“We do have a lot of people that come from other countries,” she said. “Some are here for school, work, or they recently moved here. We do have materials for a lot of cultures, but we want to get a lot more.”

The library, which is located across from Moss Side Elementary School, regularly exhibits materials specific to cultures and ethnic groups. It often has African-American and Jewish exhibits and currently has an exhibit celebrating the Chinese New Year.

According to its Web site, the library has in its collection more than 95,000 hardback and paperback books, access to more than 250 newspapers and magazines, and 17 computer workstations with Internet access.

Kennedy said she wants the library to be balanced with material for anyone interested in any culture, ethnic group or belief.

The Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council regularly has tutors and students in its English as a second language programs that meet at the library. The group, which includes natives of Poland, Russia, Japan, Germany and Mexico, meets in Monroeville for workshops, discussion groups and tutoring.

“They do utilize the space there, and we encourage our students to get library cards,” said Jamie Phillips, area coordinator for the east suburbs division of the literacy council. “The ESL students like to get videotapes and books for their children to help them with the English language.”

Phillips said more cultural resources at the library will help the students stay connected to their native countries and use the materials to improve communicating in English.

Harry Mayo, a literacy council tutor, said the new cultural materials will benefit his students by stimulating conversation that helps them use what they are learning.

“All of my students have texts that they use,” said Mayo, who has been tutoring ESL students since 1997. “(But) some libraries have newspapers in their native languages, and they can use the Internet as a resource. I think (expanding the cultural resources) is a good idea.”

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