Multicultural Collection

Oak Park is a community committed to diversity and developing global citizens. The Multicultural Collection, full of books, films, music, and artifacts from around the world, is curated to help our community explore cultures and build empathy. Looking for celebration event dates? Check out this external calendar »

Juanta with Aztec calendar

Multicultural virtual learning: a video series

Join us to explore items and cultures with Miss Juanta (pictured above) and friends through the Multicultural virtual learning video series.

What’s new

Ella Reads! With Miss Juanta

Miss Juanta’s friend Maui Jones is happy to introduce you to Ella and the books he’s written about her! What is your name and your pronouns? How do you like to play?

And stay tuned: “Hi, I’m Ella” soon will be available for checkout at the Oak Park Public Library!

Check out more of Everyday with Ella »

Multicultural videos listed alphabetically

What is the Multicultural Collection?

Multicultural Collection logo

The Multicultural Collection at Dole Branch is full of thousands of cultural resources. It includes artifacts like handmade textiles, games, and dolls, as well as books, films, and music from around the world.

The collection is a great learning resource for individuals, families, and classrooms. Most of the collection is available for library cardholders to borrow for up to four weeks.

Items are organized by continent

You can search the collection through the library catalog.

The collection is organized by continent, with a world category for items that cover multiple continents, plus categories like human rights, immigration, disabilities, and family diversity.

For example, enter “MC Asia China” in the catalog search bar to find artifacts from China. Other possible search terms include but are not limited to:

  • MC African American
  • MC Asian American
  • MC Flag
  • MC Asia Pakistan
  • MC Asia Phillipines
  • MC Jewish American
  • MC Muslim American
  • MC North America Canada
  • MC North America Mexico
  • MC North America USA
  • MC Religion
  • MC Women
  • MC World Celebrations
  • MC World Geography

About 100 items come with an object card, an informational card that describes what the object is, where it’s from, and the story behind it. Each card includes questions and prompts to spark curiosity. Find a list of items in the collection with object cards »

Why have a Multicultural Collection?

In a time and place of intercultural conflicts and misunderstandings, the Multicultural Collection helps individuals, families, and educators:

  • Explore cultures. We can learn about other cultures, both past and present.
  • Understand our identities. We can learn about our own cultures, and understand how our cultural lenses affect the way we see and interact with the world.
  • Build empathy. Our ultimate goal is to build intercultural empathy, to understand cultures in their own terms, to explore our commonalities, and learn from our differences.

Cultural artifacts are powerful tools for learning about a culture in new and different ways. They’re engaging and hands-on, giving you a direct, tactile connection with the creators. They spark curiosity and are accessible: anyone can learn something with an object.

How the collection was born & keeps growing

In 2016, Oak Park Elementary School District 97 transferred ownership of its collection to the public library. Nearly 30 years in the making, the many artifacts and materials used in classroom learning had outgrown their available school space. Today, the library is able to provide wider public access and a professional commitment to ongoing curation.

“Thanks to this partnership, the community enjoys greater access to the collection’s valuable resources,” said District 97 Superintendent Carol Kelley. “It fosters critical conversations about topics such as race, ethnicity, and diversity, and helps teach people of all ages about the importance of cultural sensitivity, tolerance, civic action, and mutual respect.”

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