Post Author
Alison Gowans
Post Type
Post Tags

Jan. 23, 2024 – When patrons visit the Downtown Library, they may notice new shelves in the center of the second floor with books in multiple languages, including Spanish, French, Swahili, Chinese, Nepali, and more. The new location for these books is part of the library's recent collection reorganization.

Materials Librarian Allison Zordell said the move is meant to make the books more visible and accessible. She has also been working to order more books in languages other than English:

"I learned from the City of Cedar Rapids that the most requested translation services for city departments were Spanish, Swahili, French, Kinyarwanda, and Chinese. For our schools, the most frequent languages requested were Spanish, Swahili, Kirundi, French, and Nepali. Knowing this helped guide me in searching for materials to add to the collection," she said.

"Finding more books in Spanish was relatively easy, and I worked to balance the collection between translations of English materials and books originally published in Spanish. French was more difficult - there just aren't many sources of French language materials that we can purchase from! The Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Chinese, and Nepali materials took a bit of research – I relied on several major publishers in addition to searching out books that had won national or worldwide awards. With the help of library staff, I was able to add Bengali and Hindi titles, too.

"My hope is that this collection will help non-English speakers in our community feel more welcome -– the library really is for everyone!" she said.

She also encourages patrons to make suggestions for books they would like to read in different languages, either by filling out an online purchase suggestion form, by emailing her at, or by talking to any staff person.

Browse some of the books in the multi-lingual collections and put them on hold in our catalog below, or stop into the library to browse more title.


Additional books, magazines, and more are available in multiple languages through digital resources offered by the library.

These include ebooks and audiobooks on Libby, Hoopla, and cloudLibrary, available in dozens of languages. There are also children's ebooks available, as well as TumbleBooks in multiple languages.

Hoopla, Kanopy, and Freegal also offer streaming TV, movies, and music in a variety of languages.

Digital newspapers and magazines from around the world in many languages can be found on Press Reader. 

The library also offers free access to Pronunciator, which offers language lessons in 315 languages. It includes lessons for both English speakers wanting to learn another language and for English language learners.