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Sociolingüística internacional
Autumn 2001

A library with a language focus, HABE Liburutegia, by Imanol Irizar

This article presents the lines of action of HABE Liburutegia. This public library specialises in language learning, sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics and contains collections of 25,000 monographs, 600 periodical publications and a range of audiovisual material for language teaching and (self-)learning. Both the general catalogue and the database – which contains 65,000 entries – are available on the Internet (http://www.habe.org/). The monthly news bulletins and other documentary products are distributed using a free distribution list.



1. Introduction

2. Thematic scope

3. Current situation

4. Services

5. Future plans

1. Introduction

Shortly after it was set up in 1981, the HABE Institute (Helduen Alfabetatze eta Berreuskalduntzerako Erakundea = Institute for Adult Literacy and Re-learning of Euskera) set about the task of organising a specialist public library. Although the library was growing year by year, it still did not have a permanent site (it had changed location four times in 12 years) until finally, in Autumn 1994, it set up home alongside the HABE’s other services in the Institute’s buildings in the Barrio del Antiguo in San Sebastián, close to the campus of the University of the Basque Country.

The main task during these first years was to gather together a bibliographical heritage featuring a collection of some 20,000 books and 500 journals. From 1995 onwards, our task came to focus on the creation of tools for providing access to the library’s collections (general catalogue, documentary database of ADBD articles, Internet...). This has allowed us to broaden the library’s scope, substantially increasing the number of users and offering a wider range of services with a higher level of quality.

2. Thematic scope

For many years, our potential users have related our library exclusively with Euskera. They assumed, without knowing what the library’s collections contained, that a teacher or student of Euskera could use the library to find the documents they required but a teacher or student of English, German, Spanish or French could not.

Although Euskera is the library’s priority – the HABE Institute has been commissioned with the task of managing and coordinating a group of around 2000 teachers and 40,000 adult-learners of Euskera . Teaching - of Euskera, in this case - has an important aspect in common with the teaching of other languages: methodology, scheduling, assessment, teaching methods, etc.

Likewise, the lack of an Institute of Sociolinguistics ( only in December of last year, the SEI set up a Congress to promote the creation of the Basque Institute of Sociolinguistics) and the demand that existed and continues to exist in Basque society for a bibliography that would allow study and research into the various aspects of such an extensive field that is sociolinguistics, have led the library to try and respond to this need.

Thus, the thematic scope of HABE Liburutegia focuses on a particular area: languages, and centres on the learning, social and psychological aspects of these, with a special emphasis on the Basque language, Euskera.

  • Language learning. This section encompasses the areas of language learning and teaching (methodology, syllabus, assessment, scheduling, teaching methods, speaking and writing, reading and listening comprehension). The language under study can be a native, second or third language or indeed a foreign language. Thanks to the methods and materials we have at our disposal, many languages can be taught and learned at different levels: Euskera, English, Spanish, French, Catalan, German, etc.; but also Slovakian, Hindi, Urdu, Chinese, Arabic, Georgian, Armenian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Ukrainian, Turkish, Korean, Swahili.

  • Sociolinguistics. This section analyses the social aspects of the various languages: language policies, language contact, bilingual and plurilingual situations, diglossia, language planning, demolinguistics, ethnolinguistics, linguistic minorities¼ and, generally, information on the reality of many of the 5,000 languages that exist around the world.

  • Psycholinguistics. The acquisition of a native or second language, features of children’s language, linguistic perturbations, etc. are all dealt with in this section.

  • Euskera. This is divided into two sections:

    On the subject of Euskera. This refers to both corpus and status: grammars, methods, aspects of standardisation, planning...

    Whatever is published in Euskera: literature, social sciences, natural sciences, philosophy

  • Linguistics, Pedagogy, Psychoogy, Sociology

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