Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

Announcing California Humanities’ 2024 Library Innovation Lab Recipients  

LIL 2024 first cohort meeting_March_20_24

For Immediate Release 
Media Contact: Kerri Young, Communications Manager,

April 15, 2024—(Oakland, CA)—California Humanities is delighted to announce awards for the 2024 Library Innovation Lab (LIL). Ten public libraries in rural, suburban, and urban communities across the state will use grant funds to design new programs that welcome immigrants from the San Francisco Bay Area to San Diego County.  

Now in its eighth year, this nationally recognized program supports public libraries as they welcome new Californians and build more inclusive communities. This year’s cohort of participating libraries represent a diverse range of professional interests and experiences and includes several librarians who are themselves immigrants. They aim to develop programs that will engage immigrants and refugees from many parts of the world, including Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe. While some will focus on engaging teens, young adults, and seniors, others will emphasize multigenerational and family programming.  

To date, 84 librarians representing over 50 library systems have participated in the program. Oral history projects, film screenings and discussions, memoir and zine writing activities, podcasts and mini-documentaries, and art and history exhibits have celebrated the food, music, dance and cultural traditions immigrants have brought to our state, engaging over 107,000 Californians. 

LIL provides a ten-month practice-based professional development experience to each librarian along with grants of $5,500 to research, design, implement, and assess a small scale, short-term public humanities project at their library. By the end of the year, working in a collaborative environment that incorporates group meetings and individualized advising from two peer mentors, both program alumni, they will experiment with new approaches to programming, acquire new skills and knowledge, and build capacity to serve immigrants as well as all community members.   

“We are proud to welcome this exceptional cohort to our Library Innovation Lab program,” said Rick Noguchi, President and CEO of California Humanities. “We look forward to seeing how they exercise creativity and imagination in designing new program approaches for both immigrants and longtime residents in their communities.” 

2024 Library Innovation Lab Recipients: 

  • Valery Verdin, Project Director
    Long Beach Public Library—Billie Jean King Main Library
  • Allison Ortiz, Project Director
    Los Angeles County Library—La Mirada Branch
  • Jacqueline Stewart, Project Director
    Moreno Valley Public Library—Main Branch
  • Mariella Garcia, Project Director
    Oceanside Public Library—John Landes Community Center Library
  • Christopher Eaton, Project Director
    Richmond Public Library—Main/Civic Center Branch
  • Anna Bekker, Project Director
    Riverside County Library System—Home Gardens Branch
  • Angelica Snyder, Project Director
    San Diego County Library—El Cajon Branch
  • Catalina Morancey, Project Director
    Santa Barbara Public Library 
  • Olga Gonzalez, Project Director
    Santa Fe Springs City Library 
  • Scott Gurrola, Project Director
    Whittier Public Library—Central Library

About Library Innovation Lab: 
Library Innovation Lab was made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, California Humanities, and the generosity of individual donors. Learn more here

About California Humanities: 
California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, promotes the humanities—focused on ideas, conversation and learning—as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect people to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975. To learn more, visit, or like and follow on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn


Zoom grid with 14 people smiling for the camera
The 2024 Library Innovation Lab cohort convening on March 20, 2024.  

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