Washington County lbrary's bilingual coordinator wants to put patrons at ease

October 14, 2008|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Jocelyn Mojica is charting new territory.

The 23-year-old was hired in August as bilingual coordinator for Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, a newly created position.

"I wasn't really even looking. I just came across it. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to work here," Mojica said of her part-time job at the library.

Mojica is of Puerto Rican-descent and grew up in a bilingual family. The 2002 graduate of Williamsport High School went to Hagerstown Community College and transferred to Shepherd University, where she is working on her undergraduate degree in psychology.

She teaches dance at Girls Inc. and Zumba classes at Gold's Gym in Waynesboro, Pa.

In her library position, Mojica is responsible for ordering children's and adult books and DVDs in Spanish. She also does bilingual storytelling at the downtown Hagerstown library and other branches.


"I am a liaison between the library, The Judy Center and the Latino community. I just see the importance of speaking Spanish," said Mojica, who lives in Hagerstown.

Through a partnership with The Judy Center at Bester Elementary School, Mojica has started a Conversation Café with parents. That outreach also includes Winter Street Elementary and Head Start parents, and provides an opportunity for parents to meet other Spanish speakers in a comfortable setting.

On Saturday, the library will sponsor Hispanic Heritage Day at the downtown branch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mojica has organized a celebration that includes music, dance lessons, bilingual storytelling, face painting and food.

The event will highlight the library's growing Spanish collection and outreach to the community, to both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking residents.

Mojica said she's had English-speaking parents indicate a desire for their children to learn Spanish, and this is a good way for those families to be exposed to Spanish. She also suggests they use the bilingual books to help their children learn Spanish.

"I'm hoping everyone comes. I want people to learn about the culture. I want it to be a learning experience more than anything, more than a party," Mojica said.

Mojica works Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. She said one of her goals is for Spanish speakers to feel comfortable coming to the library and not to be forced to speak English.

In addition to the library's new Spanish offerings, Mojica said there's an Internet link to Spanish newspapers from Brazil, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

"I'm so proud it's expanding and I get to be part of it," Mojica said.

If you go

Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown is holding Hispanic Heritage Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call Jocelyn Mojica at 301-739-3250, ext. 190, or e-mail her at

The Herald-Mail Articles