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

‘A place at the table’: Community members collaborate with us to share cultural heritage

Oak Park resident Dima Ali, who organized a family Ramadan celebration at the Main Library in May

In April, Oak Park resident Dima Ali (pictured above) came to the library with a concern—and an idea. Ramadan was coming up in May, and there were no public programs yet planned at the library to recognize it, this holy month of spiritual reflection and fasting for Muslims around the world.  “There is a need … Read more

Expanding our world languages collections

For those who speak and read in languages other than English, there’s even more to find at the library this year, as we expand our world languages collections for adults, teens, and kids. Since last year, our librarians have been analyzing the collections, researching Oak Park demographics, and meeting with local educators to learn which … Read more

‘The world needs more respect, love, curiosity, and acceptance’

Kids holding art

Krista Soli Foster always imagined “going on a pilgrimage” to different centers of worship with her daughter, learning about their core values. She wants to model respect, love, curiosity, and acceptance for Lydia, age 6, who is being allowed to make up her own mind about faith and religion.  “Then I started to think, ‘Why … Read more

Find yourself in a book

Book covers for The Treasure of Maria Mamoun by Chalfoun, Michelle, Sittings Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye, Honeybee by Naomi Shihab Nye, Yaffa and Fatima Shalom Salaam by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, Lailah's Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi, Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly, The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye, Saving Sky by Diane Stanley

Every year, our librarians review all our curated reading lists for kids and families, making sure we’re intentionally including books that represent diversity in race and ethnicity, gender, disability and neurodivergence, and more.  One recent addition: Arab Heritage Reads, a list with fiction, nonfiction, and picture books by Arab and Arab-American authors and illustrators. Some are … Read more

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