Nicanor Diaz Statement

My name is Nicanor Diaz and I’m a Senior Librarian with the Denver Public Library working at the Athmar Park Branch Library. I have worked in libraries since 2005, including a 6 month practicum at the Argentinean National Library in Buenos Aires. I have been involved with Reforma since 2007 as a member and more recently as the Chair of the Translation Committee and the President of the Colorado Chapter of Reforma.

Over the past several years I have dedicated myself to serving our Spanish Speaking community. As a member of Reforma Colorado I started a Translation Service that assists libraries that do not have the necessary resources to pay for translations of important information about their policies and guidelines. The Reforma Colorado Translation Service uses volunteers who provide translation to libraries that request our services.I also helped organize three incredibly successful Reforma Mini Conference that gave Professionals and Paraprofessionals working in Libraries a chance to learn how they can better serve their Latino Community.
As a Senior Librarian with the Denver Public Library I have successfully grown a Plaza program at the Athmar Park Branch Library, helped secure funding so that the Plaza program will continue to run for another 5 years and sought additional grant opportunities and secured partnerships to create a Naturalization Clinic. I will continue to work diligently to improve services to Spanish speakers within the Denver area.

The start of my passions for this work is due to my childhood experiences growing up in Washington as the child of immigrants. I often had to serve as a translator for my mother in our community. I was 8 or 9 years old at the time, and didn’t realize the burden that I undertook to allow my mother to communicate with the bank, or the DMV or even the library. I also didn’t realize the strain it put on my mother or how ostracising it was for her to not be fluent in English. After I started working in libraries in 2005 I realized how difficult it is for families like mine. Children who come to the library should be able to enjoy the library and not have to worry about being a translator for their parents. Parents should be able to access all information available to them at a library without having their children serve as their translator.  I noticed quickly what a huge relief it was for a parent when they would approach me and look at their child and begin by saying “Preguntale si... “ I would look at the parent and simply say with a smile: “?En qué puedo ayudarle?” Their faces always illuminate when they realize that language isn’t going to be a barrier to accessing the information they need. That’s the way it should be. I would like to be able to further this work with the Central Region Chapters to see how we can continually improve the services libraries provide to our most underserved customers.