In today’s world, odds are you know at least a few words in a language other than English, whether you picked up a few things from Dora the Explorer or you’re fluently bilingual—maybe English isn’t even your first language.

Did you know the Madison Library District owns a variety of materials in foreign languages? From classic and contemporary literature to films, at least 20 languages are represented, including Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, and Taiwanese. We have both translations of popular works, like the Harry Potter series and What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and classics in their original languages, like The Adventures of Pinocchio and Don Quixote.

Until now, these books have been incorporated into our junior, young adult, and general non-fiction collections. With three different places to look for a book in a foreign language, it was hard to tell what we had to offer. Many people may not have realized we have foreign language books at all.

In an effort to make it easier for our patrons to search and browse all the foreign language books we have available, the books are being relabeled and will be shelved together in one place. In recent weeks, visitors to the children’s section may have noticed that the junior audiobooks and DVDs have migrated to the shelves between the Community Room and the Activity Room. Over the next few weeks, our foreign language collection will be moving into the vacated space on the north wall next to the junior non-fiction. The move will happen in batches as we finish recataloging. The books will be organized by language first, then subdivided into fiction and non-fiction and by age group, mirroring the filing of books in our other collections.

The foreign language DVDs will remain in the general DVD collection. Instructional materials such as dictionaries, grammar guides, and lessons on audiobook will remain in the 400 section of the junior, young adult, and general non-fiction collections.

To browse all of our offerings in a given language in our catalog, do a subject search using the phrasing “Spanish language materials” or “German language materials,” inserting the language of your choice. This will display all books and movies available in that language. Our newest materials can be found under the New Titles tab in the online catalog.

As we build up this special collection, we would like to hear from our patrons which languages they are most interested in having us obtain or expand. Visit our Facebook page at to vote for or to suggest a language, or come into the library to cast your ballot.

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