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

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 for more inclusivity in our community. People want to learn and are genuinely curious,” Ali says, noting that there is a small community of Muslims living in Oak Park. “By celebrating them, we provide a place for them at the table.”

The solution? Ali offered to share her own cultural heritage and expertise with the community by organizing a family Ramadan celebration at the Main Library. 

‘A need for more inclusivity’

Thanks to her efforts, the children and adults who came celebrated together, enjoyed food and activities like Arabic calligraphy, and connected over artifacts from Iraq, Egypt, India, and Pakistan contributed by community members, including traditional Middle Eastern dresses.

“I was encouraged to think of the library as a place to host my celebration of Ramadan, a holy Muslim month, because I know how inclusive and open to all it is,” Ali says. “I’m fortunate to live in a loving and tolerant community and call it ‘home.’”

Collaborate with us

Are you a community member who would like to co-host a multicultural program with library staff, supported by library resources?

Learn more about the process for community members to collaborate with the library on a multicultural program, and submit your idea through an online form on the library’s website.

See more examples of community-driven multicultural programming: