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 shelf of multiple colored books.

Library Innovation Lab September 2021 Events

Since April 2021, the ten “innovators” who make up this year’s Library Innovation Lab (LIL) program cohort have been hard at work, interviewing community members, developing partnerships, and imagining new ways of welcoming immigrants into their communities, despite the continuing challenges posed by the pandemic. Now, the public programming phase of their work begins. Throughout the fall season, each library will offer a unique set of activities tailored to interest and engage immigrants as well as the broader public served by their library. 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.

A flyer with photos of different animals and details of the event.Coachella Public Library (a branch of Riverside County Library System) kicks off an 8-week series of programs celebrating Latin America’s cultural diversity titled ¡Celebrando Tradiciones, Culturas Unidas! A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. On September 1, the library will look at efforts to preserve endangered animals in Honduras and their importance to its traditions and culture. A presentation by Pacific Animal Productions will showcase several animals now protected in reservations in Honduras, with a particular emphasis on the Macaw, the official bird of Honduras. For more information, contact Librarian Denise Gomez Lopez.

Moreno Valley Library’s “Celebrating MoVal Cultures” will be a month-long series of intergenerational programs honoring the contributions of Latinx, Filipinx, Arab, and Southeast Asian immigrants to this Inland Empire community. On September 14, the series will launch with a presentation by local author and educator Jose Chavez, the child of immigrant parents. In addition, hands-on activities, book giveaways, and refreshments will be provided along with practical information about educational opportunities for immigrants and all community members. For more information, contact Librarian Charmaine Mendez.

A colorful flyer with details of the event.In the East San Francisco Bay Area, San Leandro Public Library will celebrate its diverse immigrant communities through “(be)longing – Woven Into the Fabric of Community.” The series will launch in September with several programs highlighting Salvadoran culture and heritage: an exhibit of traditional textiles, a storefront poetry installation featuring work by local immigrant writers, and a culinary arts demonstration. A talk about the tradition and history behind Salvadorean cuisine by local Chef Anthony Salguero on September 15 will be followed by tamale tastings and conversation – all ages are welcome. Future events will explore local Native Californian, Tongan, and Filipinx approaches to individual and communal well-being. For more information, contact Librarian Patti Mallari.

Orange Library’s Nuestras Voces / Our Voices project (Orange County) will engage residents of the city’s predominantly Latinx El Modena neighborhood through culturally relevant programming highlighting the power of story. The first phase explores stories about the popular Mexican cultural wrestling tradition (lucha libre), featured in an exhibition co-curated with local professional wrestlers, “Wrestling with Our Stories: La Lucha Libre in Orange County.” This exhibit launches on September 29 with a celebratory event. The second phase aims to build the library’s local history archives through the collection of family stories and related materials from community members. For more information, contact Librarian Lizette Guerra at

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. Click here for more information.


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