Join your neighbors for live music, art, and games from around the world on the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 25, as the Oak Park Public Library unveils its new Multicultural Collection at Dole Branch, 255 Augusta St.
"First-Look Friday" will be the first public preview of the library's new Multicultural Collection, which includes artifacts, traditional clothing and costumes, games, books, posters, music, and films from around the world. The day's celebration features a live concert by Latin fusion band NuBambu at 2 pm, plus games and art and learning for the whole family from 10 am to 6 pm.
The library took over the Multicultural Collection from Oak Park Elementary School District 97 this fall, with the goal of expanding and increasing access to resources focusing on diversity and world cultures for students, teachers, parents, and library cardholders.
"Thanks to this partnership, the community will enjoy greater access to the collection's valuable resources," said District 97 Superintendent Carol Kelley. "It will also further foster critical conversations about topics such as race, ethnicity, and diversity, and help teach people of all ages about the importance of cultural sensitivity, tolerance, civic action, and mutual respect."
Most of the collection, which includes thousands of items—books and films, but also three-dimensional objects like dolls, statues, and masks—will be available for cardholders to borrow from Dole Branch, the collection's home base, by the end of November.
More fragile or rare items, such as a 6-foot-tall statue inspired by the sarcophagus of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, an Aztec calendar stone, and straw artwork from Afghanistan, will be for display or in-house use only.
"Integrating this special collection into our public library means it will be more accessible for families to learn together about different cultures around the world," said Kathleen Spale, the library's Assistant Manager of Materials Services. "Having access to unique, three-dimensional artifacts—tactile items families can interact with—will create memorable opportunities for learning, especially with children."
"More and more, we're a global society. Research has shown that talking about diversity and reading books about cultures different from our own has tangible benefits," Spale said. "We know the interest is there in our community, and not just for children. We've heard through Harwood Community Conversations, and from many responses to this summer's One Book, One Oak Park program, that Oak Parkers want more resources and opportunities to talk about diversity."
"Oak Park is a community that cares about developing global citizens, and that's why it's so important for the library to provide educational opportunities," she said. "With this collection, these opportunities will be numerous."
Upcoming opportunities beyond First-Look Friday include:
- A performance by the Lajkonik Song and Dance Ensemble on Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Main Library, showcasing vibrant national and regional dances, costumes, and winter holiday traditions from Poland, one of many cultures represented in the new Multicultural Collection.
- A formal Multicultural Collection Grand Opening on Friday, Jan. 27, 2–4 pm, at Dole Branch. Everyone is welcome; more details coming soon!
Learn more at oppl.org/multicultural.
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