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Holiday crafter ties a ribbon.

December’s Library Innovation Lab Event Preview

Don’t miss the final month of activities taking place throughout the state at libraries who’ve been a part of 2019 Library Innovation Lab cohort. This year, 10 public libraries throughout California reviewed the needs and interests of immigrants in their communities, designing events that engaged and welcomed these groups and connected them with longterm residents in their areas. This month, we’ve got programs in the City of Commerce, Mill Valley, Fountain Valley, and Los Angeles.

A range of programs at the City of Commerce Public Library that took place this fall were organized under the theme of “My City, My Voice,” including workshops and presentations on art, music, zine-making, the Mexican pastime of Lotería, and poetry with several lauded local writers. This month’s final programs promise to be especially engaging, with a virtual reality experience allowing library patrons to “visit” the places they grew up, and share stories and memories with a larger group, as well as a final celebration and zine release party. For more information, contact Project Director Sonia Bautista.

COMMERCE—My City, My Voice: Origins

COMMERCE—My City, My Voice: Celebration

Taking inspiration from the idea that the humanities are “how people process and document the human experience,” Mill Valley Public Library partnered with Tamalpais High School’s English Language Development program and the MultiCultural Center of Marin this fall to record stories from members of Marin County’s immigrant population. The recordings will be archived in the collection and made available to the public through the Library’s website. Two public programs provided opportunities for some of the participants to share their experiences in real time with the broader community. The culminating event in December features Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jose Antonio Vargas, speaking about his own experience as an undocumented immigrant. For more information, contact Project Director Andrew Murphy.

MILL VALLEY—After Hours: Jose Antonio Vargas

In Orange County, at the Fountain Valley Branch of the Public Library, a series of events created this fall titled “Libraries are for Everyone” engaged local immigrant and refugee communities through visual storytelling, from art journaling and storytelling workshops, cultural performances, and speakers about the immigrant and refugee experience. Throughout, participants were given notebooks in which they shared their stories. In December, the completed notebooks will be displayed at an art exhibition and opening reception at the Fountain Valley Library, and the work will then travel and be displayed at two other libraries. The art notebooks will be added to the library’s collection and available for the community to browse. For more information, contact Project Director Zoe Nash.

FOUNTAIN VALLEY—Exhibit Opening: Art Is For Everyone


Responding to requests from In celebration of their rural, largely Mexican American community, the Tulare County Library System’s Exeter Branch has presented programs ranging from Día de los Muertos craft workshops and film screenings to a graffiti workshop for teens to a special storytime presentation. The season will close with A Taste of Oaxaca, where library patrons can hear Rosa Hernandez speak about an innovative business in the area, Collectivo Sabor a Mi Tierra, and learn how to make and sample tamales. For more information, contact Project Director Veronica Casanova.

EXETER—A Taste of Oaxaca

A diverse population surrounds the Los Angeles Public Library’s Washington Irving Branch library, whose cultures were highlighted by a series of events this fall featuring food, dance, and history. The series concludes this December with two events: a holiday craft tradition-sharing event, and reprise of the popular cooking demonstration and talk about healthy eating practices in Asian cuisines, and handing out a community cookbook. For more information, contact Project Director Krystal Messer.

LOS ANGELES—Holiday Craft Traditions

LOS ANGELES—HEAL Demonstration

This fall, the Billie Jean King Main Library in Long Beach hosted weekly bilingual storytelling workshops called Cuentacuentos Café that empowered the community to give voice to their experiences while learning the basics of storytelling. Select participants were invited to use the library’s Media Lab to capture their stories through audio, video, art, or a mixture of varying media, assisted by library staff and volunteers. Recordings will be translated into multiple languages and archived in the library’s collection. Continuing the focus on Latinx immigrants, the primary immigrant population in the library’s service area, is a Tamalada, or tamale-making party, to mark the start of the holiday season. For more information, contact Project Director Joshua Sanchez.


For a list of programming at all the participating libraries, click here and check our online calendar for events near you.

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 about this grant and professional development opportunity.

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