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BLOOMINGTON - If you speak Tagalog or Greek, your services are needed.

Lincoln Trail Libraries System has succeeded in finding many volunteer interpreters for a new library network called PolyTalk, but no one has come through for Greek or Tagalog, which is spoken in the Philippines.

Those are two of the top 10 languages spoken throughout the state. English is the No. 1 language.

"We have volunteers for Spanish, Polish, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean and French - although we could always use more," said Randi Weiss of Lincoln Trail.

Volunteers would be on call in case a library needed a translator for a non-English speaking customer. The PolyTalk system would allow librarians to access the list of volunteers through a secure database and set up a three-way call among the translator, library user and librarian.

Organizers hope to have the free network available for all libraries throughout Illinois by spring. The immediate goal is to get interpreters for the top 10 languages but eventually they hope to find volunteers for all 100 languages used in the state.

Weiss said the project also will include a "language kit" featuring several general library transactions translated into 50 languages. Some common questions might include: "How do I find a book in the library?" "How do I get a library card?" and "Does the bookmobile travel to my neighborhood?"

Lincoln Trail Libraries System, which is headquartered in Champaign, received a grant from the Illinois State Library to establish the interpreters' network. It will be the first of its kind in the state.

Weiss said a Web site with details about the PolyTalk program should be up and running this month.

In the meantime, people who would like to be added to the volunteer translator list should contact Weiss at (217) 352-0047, Ext. 229, or through e-mail at

Volunteers provide times they are available and can note times and dates when they will be on vacation or unavailable.


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