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 collage of six photos representing Library Innovation Lab programs.

Libraries Celebrate California’s Diverse Immigrant Communities

Above Images (left to right): Library Innovation Lab programs at Mill Valley Public Library, Sunnyvale Public Library, Santa Cruz Public Library, San Luis Obispo Public Library, Oakland Public Library Golden Gate Branch, Los Angeles Public Library.

Throughout the month of November, libraries around the state will honor the contributions of immigrants to California’s cultural mosaic. Participants in this year’s Library Innovation Lab: Exploring New Ways of Engaging California’s Immigrant Communities (LIL) program are offering engaging activities for all ages, including hands-on arts and craft making sessions, story hours, performances, demonstrations, and family history workshops. All events are free and open to the public. Visit the LIL program page and check our online calendar for more information about events near you.

Long Beach Public Library launches Khmer, Come All!, a six-week series exploring the culture and heritage of the city’s Cambodian community, the largest in the United States. On November 5, an afternoon program will include Why Long Beach, a presentation and discussion with local scholars Susan Needham (CSUDH) and Karen Quintiliani (CSULB) about the history of Cambodian immigration to the city, followed by a talk by author Christine Su, who will share insights from her book, Voices of a New Generation: Cambodian-Americans in the Creative Arts. The program will conclude with a cooking demonstration and tasting provided by local celebrity chef, Tarath Ouk (Chef T.). On November 12, Mayly Tao (aka “the Donut Princess”) will share her experiences working on the award-winning documentary film The Donut King and writing her book An American Dream, with Sprinkles. On November 26, poet and professor Bunkong Bk Tuon will share how he discovered his voice as a writer and his experience writing And so I was Blessed and Gruel, which detail historical trauma and family hardships. The presentation will be livestreamed at the Mark Twain Neighborhood branch and via Zoom. For more details (some events require advance registration) contact Librarian Eric Cardoso

THE DONUT KING film image courtesy of the Long Beach Public Library.

Delano Public Library, a branch of Kern County Library (KCL), continues its series, Creating Vines of Hope: A Filipino-Community Celebration in November, with a series of engaging activities for all ages. On November 4, the library will host a workshop for the community to demonstrate how to digitize photographs and printed materials using a scanner. USB drives will be given out to the first 100 attendees. The community is encouraged to share their scanned documents and photographs with KCL as we develop a collection of Filipino local histories through written storytelling and photographic collections that will be stored digitally on the Library’s website. On November 9, students from the United Filipino Organization at Delano High School perform traditional Filipino dances at Delano Library. Before the performance, the troupe will provide information about the history and culture related to the dances, and following the performance, the audience will be invited to learn a few dance steps and talk with dancers. On November 16, the library will host a construction craft activity in order to learn the history and culture around Jeepneys, a public transit method unique to the Philippines made from cobbled together parts of U.S. Jeeps; remnants from World War II. 

Other events include Story Time with Jocyl on November 30. Jocyl is a local community member and 50% of the sister-owned and operated Juju’s Bakehouse. She will be reading the book Pan de Sol Saves the DayWeekly Game Afternoons will be held at the library in the month of November, on Fridays. The Delano Public Library will provide opportunities to have fun while develop skills and learning about the traditional game of Sungka (similar to Mancala). For more information, contact Librarian Fabiola Orozco.

Image courtesy of Delano Public Library.
Flyer courtesy of Irvine University Park Library.

Irvine University Park Branch Library (Orange County Public Libraries) continues We are OC: Stories. Connection. Sharing. Participants are invited to experience the cultural diversity of Orange County through this engaging weekend series for all ages. On November 6 participants can unlock their inner K-Pop star and learn some of the latest popular dance moves at a special K-Pop Workshop for Teens. On November 12, the library will host an author talk with local immigrant writer María Amparo Escandón focused on her recent novel, L.A. Weather. On November 19, participants in an afternoon Family Story Crafts for Children program will have the opportunity to make their own family story book and a special paper doll. For more information, contact Librarian Marisa Saam.

Santa Clarita Public Library continues its fall series Connecting through Art, Nature, Healing and Story, a series of family-friendly programs celebrating the cultural heritage of its immigrant communities, with a hands-on Self-Care Rituals Workshop tailored for tweens, teens and adults on November 13 at the Old Town Newhall Branch. Participants are invited to share their own practices and cultural remedies and learn about others’ while creating a personalized self-care kit. Self-care items will be raffled off during the program. Free transportation is available on request. For more information, contact Librarian Farima Kafai.

Flyer courtesy of Santa Clarita Public Library.

Woodland Hills Branch Library (Los Angeles Public Library) continues 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 November  5 at 3 pm, the library will host Dance: A Window to the Beauty of Afghan Culture with Samia Karimi. Samia will talk about her experience of immigration, learning about her Afghan heritage through dance, and will showcase her Afghan dance style that is uniquely her own.

On November 18 at 4 pm, young adult book author Zahra Omar Shansab and children’s author Bahram Rahman will join a live discussion about their books and their own stories of immigration to the United States, and they will also discuss what Afghan refugees are currently experiencing as they integrate into our communities. The event will be live streamed on YouTube and Facebook.

On November 29 at 4 pm, there will be an in-person Zine workshop for all ages—Tell Your Own Story of Immigration through Zines. Other activities ongoing through the month are biweekly meetings of the International Women’s Club, weekly ELL classes, and weekly traditional Afghan lullaby collection and recording sessions supported by teen volunteers. Translation is available. For more information contact Librarian Toki Gholami.  

Flyer courtesy of Woodland Hills Branch Library.
Flyer courtesy of Woodland Hills Branch Library.

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.

Note the NEW application opening and deadline dates for Library Innovation Lab 2023

  • Application Opens: December 15, 2022
  • Deadline to apply: February 1, 2023

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