Global Literature in Libraries aims to bring translated works to the attention of libraries and librarians. A good idea perhaps, although librarians already get lots of demands on their attention, and another one may risk alienation through overload. Publishing Perspectives brings us a story about the organization.

Their goals are unimpeachable:
– Book lists and guides tied to major translation awards and library themes
– Programming ideas for various library user groups: children, teens, college students, adults, English Language Learners, etc.
– ALA conference involvement: workshops and sessions, networking through various ALA units and offices to explore the best ways to provide information and services to librarians
– Joint webinars with various ALA offices
– Publisher and journal lists organized by vendors/distributors to help librarians more easily acquire books in translation
– Advocacy on behalf of small publishers to increase their visibility on the review platforms that librarians commonly use for their acquisitions decisions
– General education efforts to help librarians understand more thoroughly the value of translated literature and of contemporary foreign-language literature
– Pan-publisher catalogs crafted specifically for librarian users, as a form of “one-stop” shopping to learn about new works coming out in translation
– Exploration of ways in which non-US publishers of English translations and non-US, non-English-language publishers can more easily promote their works among libraries

Rachel Hildebrandt, whose idea this is, would “like to hear from publishers, librarians, library journals, her fellow translators, educators—anyone who’d like to join this new exploration of what connections might be made between library patrons and translated literature.” The list of publishers in her catalog is small (as they tend to be too) but perhaps from tiny acorns. . . : Cadmus Press, Deep Vellum, Kurodahan Press, Le French Book, Open Letter Books, New Vessel Press, Owl Canyon Press, Phoneme Media, Restless Books, Unnamed Books, and White Pines Press.

It’s not clear just what the business model is. Are they asking publishers to fund the effort by paying for listing? Or do they aim to raise funds via sales to libraries? While it’s nice to have a little catalog like this, it is just too small. A unified list of translated books from all publishers might well provide a useful guide to librarians. Like so many things, though, if they don’t scale up quickly their catalog risks ending up just being another distraction.

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