Collaborate with us, share your culture

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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At the Oak Park Public Library, we strive to empower every voice in our community, and to put our community at the center of everything we do.

When it comes to cultural programming, we realize we are not always the experts. That's why we're launching a new way to intentionally center our community members who want to celebrate and share their heritage and cultures through public programs at the library.

Community members like Juanta Griffin, who has organized a Community Kwanzaa Celebration at the Main Library on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2-5 p.m. This will be the third year in a row that Griffin has worked to bring in food, music, dancers, entrepreneurs, and more with library support. Everyone is welcome to attend this celebration of African-American culture and community.

"As a diverse community, our goal is to live together peacefully," Griffin says. "Cultural community programming provides the education needed for villagers to share fellowship with each other in a safe, welcoming environment."

Now, based on the success of this annual event and other cultural heritage celebrations that community members have brought to us in the past year, the library is welcoming applications from community members who would like to co-host their own multicultural programs, supported by library staff, space, and resources.

This new approach is one way for us to proactively uplift and support community voices and expertise, and to welcome community members into inclusive and inspiring library spaces at all three library locations.

If you're interested, or know someone who is, please visit oppl.org/multicultural to learn more and submit an application. If the library has the capacity, you will receive support from library staff to plan and facilitate your program.

This new initiative allows us to be intentional in our work and to make choices based on our community's shared needs and aspirations. It supports our goals to actively engage with our community through cultural programming that is facilitated by and delivered through the unique voices and identities of community members, to foster inclusive opportunities with diverse groups, and to show empathy for and develop connections between diverse audiences.

Sarah Yale

Manager of Community Engagement

Oak Park Public Library

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