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

California Humanities Announces 2020 Library Innovation Lab Cohort


Professional Development and Grant Program Helps Library Staff Respond to Needs of Immigrant Communities

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Cherie Hill, Communications Manager,,

March 27, 2020

(Oakland, CA) — After a highly competitive process, California Humanities is pleased to announce awards for the 2020 Library Innovation Lab (LIL) cohort and grant program to ten public libraries across the state, representing the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, the Sierras, Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire, and San Diego metropolitan area.

Now entering its fourth year, the Library Innovation Lab carries on the tradition of American public libraries as resources and welcoming places for newcomers. LIL supports the design and delivery of relevant and responsive public humanities programming in California’s public libraries by providing a nine-month practice-based professional development program and grants of up to $5,000 to participants. The creative and innovative programs that library staff develop throughout the year will respond to the needs and circumstances of today’s immigrants and immigrant communities and foster more inclusive communities in California.

Each cohort member will research, design, implement, and assess a small scale, short-term public humanities project at their library between April 1 and December 31, 2020. Working in a collaborative learning environment that incorporates group meetings as well as individualized advising, participants will acquire new skills and knowledge in programming and project management. Throughout the year, they’ll experiment with new approaches to program development, building confidence and developing capacity in working with immigrants and other key audiences.

“We’re proud to welcome this cohort for Library Innovation Lab,” said Julie Fry, President & CEO of California Humanities. “The libraries in this group represent California’s broad geographic diversity, and the library staff hold a wide range of experiences—some are relatively new to library work, while others have may years under their belt, and many are immigrants themselves. We know that they’ll continue to build capacity for California libraries to serve all communities in our state—from newly arrived immigrants to longtime residents”

To date, 42 California libraries from across the state have participated in the program. A list of all Library Innovation Lab grantees can be found on the California Humanities website.


Tony Lam, Librarian
Anaheim Public Library—Euclid Branch Library

Susan Martinez, Senior Librarian
Oakland Public Library—Eastmont Branch

Annemarie Russo, Literacy Coordinator
Marin County Free Library—Point Reyes Branch Library

Isariya Locke, Community Librarian
Fresno County Public Library

Erin Nakasone, Librarian II, Youth Services
Oceanside Public Library

Rachael (Morgan) Lazo, Adult Services Librarian
City of Santa Clarita Public Library—Old Town Newhall Library

Bobbi Luster, Branch Manager
Nevada County Community Library—Truckee Branch Library

Emily Aaronson, Adult Librarian
LAPL—Friends of the Studio City Branch Library

Nancy Reiter, Branch Manager 2
Riverside County Library System—Home Gardens Library

Lisa Carter, Adult Services Librarian
Alameda County Library System—Newark Branch Library

Library Innovation Lab is supported in part by Wells Fargo Foundation and the generosity of individual donors throughout California.

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 us 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 follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



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