Watch: “Hope of Juneteenth”

Celebrating Juneteenth Today is Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. It marks June 19, 1865, the day when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally told that the Civil War had ended and they were free—two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation … Read more

Meet Juanta: ‘Multicultural learning teaches us to see the world beyond our neighborhoods’

‘I am passionate about multicultural education’ Juanta Griffin, a longtime Oak Park resident and arts educator, is the library’s new Multicultural Learning Coordinator. In this role, she explores and shares learning from the library’s Multicultural Collection, which is curated to help our community explore cultures and build empathy. “I am passionate about multicultural education not … Read more

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

Cherry trees along the Tidal Basin with Japanese Lantern

Pictured above: Cherry trees along the Tidal Basin with Japanese Lantern placed in the park in 1954. Washington, D.C. Carol M. Highsmith;, photographer, [between 1980 and 2006]. (Library of Congress) A celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, this commemorative month pays “tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who … Read more

Virtual library programs connect regulars, draw new participants

Video chat screen

Like so much else these days, our monthly library groups for writers, performers, language learners, and more are now meeting virtually. While all in-person programs are canceled through August, these online programs are drawing new participants as well as regulars. For example, Oak Parkers who joined the virtual French Conversation Hour in April met new … Read more

Replica Benin bronzes on display at Main Library

Sculptures on pedestals in front of bookshelves

Six replica Benin bronzes are now on display on the Main Library’s third floor, with three more coming soon. Part of the library’s Multicultural Collection, these replicas can spark important conversations about pre-colonial African culture and the repatriation of cultural heritage artifacts. The original Benin bronzes, from the Kingdom of Benin in what is now … Read more

More Than a Model: Community members collaborate with us to share cultural heritage

In May, Oak Park residents Pem Hessing, Nicole Sumida, and Yoko Terretta organized a family celebration at the Main Library in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. In addition to literary readings, fine art, food, and martial arts demonstrations, they celebrated notable Asian Americans and also challenged definitions of who is considered … Read more

‘Filled with the spirit of unity’: Community members collaborate with us to share cultural heritage

This year’s Community Kwanzaa Celebration will be the third one that Oak Park resident Juanta Griffin has organized at the Main Library. Here, Griffin shares what the celebration means and what she’s looking forward to this year. “We believe that inclusion fosters understanding, and understanding builds respect, and with respect there can be peace,” she … Read more

Art in the library: Inspiring empathy, connection

In November, two traveling art exhibits that inspire empathy and connection are on display at the Main Library. When Home Won’t Let You Stay, in the Idea Box, shares stories and portraits of refugees. Community on a Shelf, in the Lobby Community Engagement Space, explores the human side of mental illness, community support, and libraries. … Read more

‘My mission is transmitting the folklore’: A volunteer’s story

Of all the Peruvian folk dances that Oak Park resident Kathy Valdivia has studied and taught, her favorite is the Huaylarsh. It’s “a happy dance,” she says, one that recalls agricultural work and courtship among young people in the central Andean highlands of Peru, where Valdivia is originally from. When Valdivia (pictured) moved to Oak … Read more

November is Native American Heritage Month

Jingle Dancer book cover art

Each November, The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans during National Native American Heritage Month. Learn more at nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov » Native reads for … Read more

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