Francisco Díaz, WTBBL’s first Spanish audio book narrator. (Photo courtesy of WTBBL)
The Washington Talking Book & Braille Library provides comprehensive services to Washington residents unable to read standard print materials.
There are many Washingtonians for whom English is not their first language and who may also be unable to read print due to blindness, visual impairment, physical disability, or a reading disability.
WTBBL has more than 150 patrons borrowing Spanish language audio books, but the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 8.4 percent of Washington residents age 5 or older speak Spanish at home.
“We have long felt that there may be a need in the Hispanic community for WTBBL service and yet, even if we could make the connection, there aren’t nearly enough books in Spanish,” explained WTBBL Manager Danielle Miller.
That is about to change very soon. It came about thanks to outreach by a WTBBL staffer.
WTBBL staff member Rocio Vargas, a native of Mexico, has provided direct patron service for quite some time, helping in outreach efforts to current and prospective Spanish-speaking patrons.
Rocio recently did an interview with KKMO El Rey 1360 AM about WTBBL services. It was there that Rocio met Francisco Díaz, a broadcaster there who does the radio news section in the morning show, and hosts the Latinos Unidos show every Saturday at noon.
During the interview, Rocio invited the Latino audience to consider volunteering at WTBBL, in particular, auditioning to become a Spanish language narrator. Díaz himself was interested in volunteering at WTBBL and he quickly completed the application, came in for an audition, and now is officially WTBBL’s first Spanish audio book narrator!
Diaz recently finished narrating the book “Hoyos” by Louis Sachar. (The title is “Holes” in English.) It will be available for patrons in several months.
“We are very happy to be able to say that we are finally able to begin recording books in Spanish,” Miller said. “This is the first step to building a bigger and better collection for WTBBL patrons who need to receive their books in Spanish.”
Diaz moved to Seattle from Mexico City 12 years ago. Since moving to Washington, he has been working closely with the Latino community through different nonprofit organizations like Casa Latina, Centro de la Raza, and currently at Sea Mar Community Health Center.
Diaz also volunteers with the Seattle Latino Film Festival and teaches Spanish at Casa Latina. He enjoys helping and encourages others in the Hispanic community to do the same, contributing to society, and inspiring each other to donate time to nonprofits institutions.