Site translates 'survival' info

California libraries are reaching out to the state's diverse ethnic communities with a new Web site designed to provide information that non-English speakers might have trouble finding.

The site, called the Ethnic Resource Center of California (www.verc.org) and sponsored by the California State Library, is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Site coordinators are calling the information they're posting "survival" information for the targeted ethnic groups.

Topics tackled on the site include buying a car, reporting child andspousal abuse, finding an attorney, and what happens when someone is arrested. It also contains a variety of health information for mothers and provides information on the many services offered at state libraries.

"It's very basic information that we're making available to people who don't read English and who aren't served by libraries or are underserved by libraries," said Cathie Helmick, network resources consultant for the California State Library.

Helmick said the site is in a trial period that probably will wrap up by the end of the year. At that time, officials will analyze whether people are tapping the resource, and if so, whether they're finding the type of information they need.

An evaluation form on the site asks users whether the site was usefuland easy to read, as well as other feedback.

"We're not really sure if this is reaching people," Helmick said.

Helmick said library officials have publicized the site through brochures at libraries across the state and through a recent press release.

The site is funded through a $79,000 grant that comes via the federal Library Services and Technology Act.

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