January 22, 2022

NPR Report: “How NYC’s First Puerto Rican Librarian Brought Spanish To The Shelves”

The report linked and embedded below (text and audio) aired on NPR’s “All Things Considered” earlier this week.

From National Public Radio:

11:00 a.m. is bilingual story hour at the Aguilar branch of the New York Public Library. Dozens of kids — mostly children of immigrants from China, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico — have settled down to hear Perez y Martina, a story based on a Puerto Rican folktale.

But Perez y Martina — which tells the tale of a romance between a cockroach and a mouse — isn’t just any children’s story. When it was published in 1932, it was the first Spanish language book for children published by a mainstream U.S. press. And its author, Pura Belpré, was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York’s public library system at a time when the city’s Puerto Rican population was swelling. Belpré could not find any books for kids in Spanish — so she wrote them herself.


Washington Heights librarian Vianela Rivas got into the “business” because of Belpré — she remembers reading about her back home in the Dominican Republic. “As I was reading about her, I thought to myself: Oh, I can do that. I can read books to children in Spanish. I can tell parents about the resources the library has for them.”

Read the Complete Article

Listen to the Report

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.