In a sharp break from American tradition, the Denver Public Library is promoting a plan that would make seven of its branches “Spanish focused,” banishing English language books to the backroom. The “Languages and Learning” plan would dramatically increase Spanish language offerings and staff, designating some locations as Spanish dominant. The proposal is currently under review by the Library Commission and an advisory board.
“Denver’s action is a dubious first in American history: a major U.S. city is creating a public institution that intentionally excludes native-born Americans,” explained Mauro E. Mujica, Chairman of the Board of U.S. English, Inc. “This action goes against the model of assimilation that has successfully served the United States for centuries.”
“In a nation of immigrants, focusing on a single non-English language is the type of favoritism that we should have abandoned years ago. The taxpayers of Denver—residents who speak 68 languages—should not stand idly by while their money goes to support immigrants from El Salvador or Colombia over immigrants from Vietnam or Egypt.”
Library officials counter that the switch to Spanish dominant libraries is an extension of the institution’s purpose. They claim that the Languages and Learning plan will assist Spanish speaking residents in becoming members of their community. Proponents call the plan “cutting edge” and “revolutionary.”
“I fail to see how an ‘Official Spanish’ Library will aid immigrants in learning English and becoming Americans,” Mujica continued. “If anything, it will further the notion that Spanish-speaking immigrants can live in relative comfort without needing to learn our common language. If we are to successfully continue as a nation of immigrants, we cannot send an ‘English Optional’ message to any immigrant group.”