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

Above Images courtesy of Library Innovation Lab participants.

Libraries participating in the Library Innovation Lab across California are celebrating the holiday season with a wide variety of programs highlighting cherished holiday traditions of California’s immigrant communities. You are welcome to craft a decoration, listen to a story, enjoy a performance or presentation, or simply meet your neighbors for conversation while enjoying seasonal refreshments at one of the participating public libraries in our Library Innovation Lab. All programs are free and open to the public. 

Delano Public Library, a branch of Kern County Library, will conclude its Creating Vines of Hope: A Filipino-Community Celebration project with a Parol-crafting workshop on Wednesday, December 7.  Making parols, ornamental lanterns associated with Christmas celebrations in the Philippines, will provide an opportunity for the Delano community to learn more about Filipino traditions and display their creations both at the library and online. The library will continue its Weekly Game Afternoons, providing recreation, as well as opportunities to develop skills and learn about the traditional Filipino game of Sungka (similar to Mancala). For more information, contact Librarian Fabiola Orozco.

Photo courtesy of Delano Public Library, Philippine Parols

Escondido Public Library will wrap up its fall series, Around the World in Many Ways, on December 3 with Tradición Mexicana USA. The local Baile Folklorico troupe will demonstrate traditional Mexican regional dances and share the history and heritage associated with them through a presentation in Spanish and English. Following the performance-presentation, participants can make a mini-piñata holiday ornament to take home while enjoying traditional puerquitos, gingerbread cookies shaped like pigs. For more information, contact librarian Maureen Hogan.

Flyer courtesy of Escondido Public Library.

Fremont Library, a branch of Alameda County Library, will conclude its Let’s Gather! series of family-friendly programs celebrating the cultural heritage of its immigrant communities, with a Joy Walk on December 3. Participants are to view a newly displayed StoryWalk in front of the library featuring a community poem created at the November Joy 101 workshop. Participants can enjoy food along with live music from the Eternity Band, a group of local high school musicians, then walk to Lake Elizabeth, breathe in the fresh air, and get to know each other. For more information contact librarian Becky Machatta.

Flyer courtesy of Irvine University Park Branch Library.

Irvine University Park Branch Library (Orange County Public Libraries) will wrap up We are OC: Stories. Connection. Sharing., a series exploring the cultural diversity of Orange County, with two programs this month. On December 3, Celebrating “Home”: Teen Poetry Workshop with Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo will provide time and space for young adults and teens to write poems about the people, places, and moments that shaped who they are. On December 4, UC Irvine professor Matthias B. Lehmann will be featured in an Author Talk about his newly released book, The Baron: Maurice de Hirsch and the Jewish Nineteenth Century. For more information, contact Librarian Marisa Saam.

Flyer courtesy of Long Beach Public Library.

Long Beach Public Library will conclude Khmer, Come All!, a six-week series exploring the culture and heritage of the city’s Cambodian community, which is the largest in the United States, with two December programs. On December 1, children and teens are invited to learn some basics about the language and to write their names in Khmer in a one-hour workshop on Khmer Calligraphy. On December 3, a day-long Khmer, Come All! Concluding Celebration will include a screening and discussion of The Killing Field of Dr. Haing Ngor with director Arthur Dong, a children’s story time presented in Khmer (participants are encouraged to wear traditional attire), a dance workshop and demonstration of traditional Cambodian ballet presented by the Modern Apsara Company, and a social hour with local D.J. Hunny Hach, which will include listening to popular Cambodian music, making crafts, and enjoying light refreshments. For more details (some events require advance registration) contact Librarian Eric Cardoso

Santa Clarita Public Library’s fall series Connecting through Art, Nature, Healing and Story, a series of family-friendly programs celebrating the cultural heritage of its immigrant communities, will culminate with two exhibits featuring poetry and collages created by local youth in response to the question “What does community mean to you?” Receptions celebrating these young artists will take place on December 11 at the Old Town Newhall Branch Library and on December 28 at Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Branch Library. Live music and refreshments will be provided, along with free transportation on request. For more information, contact Librarian Farima Kafai.

Flyer courtesy of Santa Clarita Public Library.
Photo by C D-X on Unsplash.

Sutter County Libraries will host a Podcast Listening Party podcast listening party on Thursday, December 15 to launch a series of Farsi and English podcasts featuring stories shared by members of the local Afghan community. Attendees will listen to Episode 1, New Roots: Stories From Some of Our Newest Neighbors while enjoying traditional Afghan foods provided by the community. This listening party will launch the podcast with subsequent episodes to be made available on most podcast platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud, as well as an animated version on YouTube. For more information contact librarian Marika Garcia.

Woodland Hills Branch Library (Los Angeles Public Library) will conclude Khānah, a Place of Belonging, a three-month series aimed at welcoming Afghan refugees to Los Angeles and helping them preserve and share their cultural heritage, on December 17 with a Yalda Night Celebration and Closing Ceremony, celebrating the Winter Solstice, a traditional holiday marked by family and community gatherings and festivities. The library’s program will include readings by local Afghan-American and Iranian-American poets, moderated discussions about Afghan culture and heritage (in English and Farsi/Dari), book and media displays, a showcase of the Afghan lullaby collection created during the course of the project, a performance by an Afghan music band, games and activities for children, and traditional foods associated with the holiday. For more information contact Librarian Toki Gholami

Flyer courtesy of Woodland Hills Branch Library (Los Angeles Public Library)

Library Innovation Lab: Exploring New Ways of Engaging California’s Immigrant Communities (LIL) 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 and details about how to apply for the 2023 Library Innovation Lab cohort. Join us for a free, informational webinar online on December 14 at 11 am PST. RSVP here for the webinar.


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