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

A person with long dark hair holding a children's book with colorful illustrations in one hand and a small rice pot in the other hand. Behind her are shelves of books in a library.

Announcing September 2020 Library Innovation Lab Programs

Over the last four months, the 10 innovators who make up this year’s Library Innovation Lab (LIL) program cohort have been interviewing community members, exploring partnerships, and researching ways by which they can create welcoming experiences for immigrants in their communities. Despite the restrictions on the usual public programming modes necessitated by the pandemic, the LIL librarians will be field-testing new types of virtual and socially distanced activities this fall. Their projects demonstrate creativity, imagination, and resilience that benefit not only other libraries but the entire public humanities field. The programs highlighted below take place in September, and we will highlight more events in the upcoming months. For a list of participating libraries and capsule descriptions of their projects, visit the LIL program page, and be sure to check our online event calendar to search for programs in your area.

Oceanside Public Library

Oceanside Public Library will conduct a week-long series of programs beginning September 14, that includes ongoing bilingual story-time programs for children and parents, and a tween book discussion group. They also host a virtual tour of Balboa Park’s historic Japanese Friendship Garden, a performance by a Taiko drumming ensemble, and arts and crafts sessions (books and materials are distributed through kits). Titled Yōkoso! (Welcome!) the project aims to increase appreciation for and understanding of the values and meaning of Japanese traditional arts and cultural forms and recognize the presence and contributions of the local Japanese American population in this north San Diego County community. For more information, visit the Oceanside Public Library website or contact Librarian Erin Nakasone.

Santa Clarita Public Library

Santa Clara Public Library (SCPL) kicks off “Our Voices/Nuestras Voces, Our Food/Nuestra Comida, Our Culture/Nuestra Cultura” on September 15 with a series of family-friendly programs celebrating Latin American Heritage Month: Loteria with Dr. Gloria Arjona, Latin American Heritage Storytelling, and Latin American grab-and-go pre-packaged snack kits. More programs aimed at honoring Latinx contributions, past and present, to shaping this suburban community on the northern edge of Los Angeles County, will be offered through December. For more details, visit the SCPL events calendar or contact Librarian Morgan Lazo.

Home Gardens Library (Riverside County Library System)

Home Gardens Library in Corona serves a diverse community in western Riverside County. On September 29 they launch a series of multicultural book-based programs for children and parents with a visit from Vilayyanh Bender, the Laotian American author of Mommy Eats Fried Grasshoppers. After reading from her book, the author will lead a discussion about her childhood in Laos and her journey to the United States and demonstrate traditional Lao arts and crafts. Books, craft materials, and snacks will be distributed to the participants with appropriate social distancing precautions observed. Please visit the Home Gardens Library event calendar or contact Librarian Nancy Reiter for information about the entire series, titled “Immigrant Life in Riverside County.”

Library Innovation Lab is an ongoing program of California Humanities that supports responsive and relevant public humanities programming in California’s public libraries by providing a practice-based, capacity-building, professional development experience for library programming specialists. Cash awards to the participating libraries support innovative programming that engages immigrant populations and offers welcoming and inclusive experiences for all community members. Click here for more information.


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