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 stands behind a table with paper bag gifts.

Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month & More with California Libraries

Libraries participating in this year’s Library Innovation Lab: Exploring New Ways of Engaging California’s Immigrant Communities (LIL) cohort are offering a wide range of public humanities programs this fall. These programs are carefully designed to interest and engage immigrants as well as the broader public they serve. Here is a sampling of the exciting activities taking place around the state in October. For a complete list of participating libraries and capsule descriptions of their projects, visit the LIL program page and check our online calendar for events in your area.

Santa Barbara Public Library continues its “Integrating Immigrants” series in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month on October 1. Led by Joshua Escobar, Director of Creative Writing at Santa Barbara City College, immigrant youth (ages 14-24) are invited to explore their identity by writing and designing zines. On October 15, Radio Café, a musical trio specializing in Afro-Peruvian music, Cumbia, and Son, will perform, followed by a bilingual (Spanish/English) conversation with the musicians. “The Things We Do Not Say: Intergenerational Conversations Through Art on Taboo Subjects,” a curated exhibit of art by local Latinx immigrant artists, is on view at the library through October 30. If you are interested in submitting a favorite family recipe for a cookbook of traditional Latin American foods that the library will publish later this year, the deadline is October 15. For more information and registration, go here or contact Eric Castro, Senior Library Technician,

Moreno Valley Library in western Riverside County continues its multicultural and intergenerational series, Celebrating Moval Cultures, with two virtual events this month. On October 2, join Beth Swartz from the Moreno Valley Genealogical Society for a workshop for residents who want to learn more about their Hispanic/Latino heritage and explore their family trees. Participants can pick up a set of free genealogical resource books at the library. Then, on October 9, the Filipino American Mental Health Resource Center will lead an interactive session about self-care techniques and mental health issues in Asian-American culture. For more information and registration, click here or contact Charmaine Mendez, Adult Services Librarian,

Following up on a successful kick-off event in September that drew over 300 attendees, the Coachella Public Library continues with an international series celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, ¡Celebrando Tradiciones, Culturas Unidas! Explore the story behind the popular Mexican breakfast food, “El Cochito,” and make your own “cochitos” while hearing a local immigrant family’s story on October 6. On October 13, “Microfono Abierto” will allow community members to share their immigrant stories and struggles and showcase the resiliency of the Hispanic Community while enjoying a coffee tasting provided by local partner 6th Street Coffee. On October 20, the rich cultural history of Guatemala is showcased in “Barriletes.” Participants in a hands-on workshop will create their own versions of the traditional giant kites and learn about their making and meaning. Click here for more information or contact Denise Lopez Gomez, Branch Manager Intern,

In the Bay Area, San Leandro Library continues its “(be)Longing: Woven Into the Fabric of Our Community” multicultural artsA flyer with photos of two colorful quilts and details of the event. and humanities programming series with an interactive exhibit of original handwoven textiles from San Sebastian, El Salvador. The exhibition incorporates an audiovisual demonstration of how weavers use the town’s historic telares to create one-of-a-kind, handmade, vividly striking textiles and a companion poetry walk featuring the work of local author Javier Zamora. On October 16, the library will host “Mabuhay! A Traditional Filipino Dance Performance,” a family-friendly program provided by the local Kariktan Dance Company. In addition to performing traditional dances like Tinikling and Bulaklakan, the company members will offer insights into Filipino history and culture. Visit here for more information or contact Librarian Patricia Mallari at

Join local luchadores and mariachi musicians at the Orange Library for a family bilingual storytime and community conversation on October 13. The program complements the library’s exhibit “Wrestling with Our Stories: La Lucha Libre in Orange County”, on view through December 31. For more information, contact Librarian Lizette Guerra,

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. In addition, cash awards to the participating libraries support innovative programming that engages immigrant populations and offers welcoming and inclusive experiences for all community members. Recruitment for our 2022 Cohort will begin in December. Learn more.


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