Libraries Get Involved With Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Check out what libraries are doing to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month!
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to honor and elevate this community’s historical and cultural impacts on the United States. Although everyone should educate themselves about the AAPI community, libraries use this time to provide essential resources to local patrons. The theme for AAPI Heritage Month 2023 is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.” The theme emphasizes a growing goal to expand opportunities for the AAPI community.
Here’s what you need to know about AAPI Heritage Month and what libraries do to get involved.
About Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Every May, the United States recognizes Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month). It aims to acknowledge and celebrate the cultural and historical contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. AAPI is a general term for a diverse group of cultures. This includes but isn’t limited to East, South, and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
The origins of AAPI Heritage Month in the U.S. began in 1977 when Representative Frank Horton proposed a bill that recognized the first ten days of May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. Alongside the support of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, these efforts eventually went into law by former President Jimmy Carter. This was expanded to a month under the George W. Bush administration in 1992. In 2009, it was renamed AAPI Heritage Month.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are essential to American history and culture. They’ve contributed to the sciences, medicine, art, sports, politics, activism, and more. The AAPI community is the fastest-growing population in the country. Thus, AAPI Heritage Month commemorates the community’s unique and diverse traditions.
Libraries Getting Involved
New York Public Library Hosts Online Storytime
Alongside its wide range of resources, the New York Public Library provides free online storytime centered around AAPI Heritage for May. These feature diverse and captivating books narrated in unique ways. Along with engaging songs, their online storytime provides early literacy tips for young readers.
Their AAPI Heritage Month online storytime events include drag story hour, where books are narrated in Cantonese. They also offer a storyline that recounts children’s literature their librarians perform. These can be listened to in Chinese, Japanese, English, Spanish, and Russian. Explore their website for a complete collection of AAPI Heritage Month materials.
A Vast Digital Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library
Like many during May, the Los Angeles Public Library provides a rich collection of materials representing AAPI Heritage Month. However, they take it further by going into great detail, separating resources by genre, interest, and medium. Users can access their online collection for free, with a few open to the general public.
For example, any user can visit their online exhibit detailing the stories and voices of L.A.’s Chinatown. Their online library also includes ALOUD podcasts, oral histories, photographs, and spotlights on important contributors to the AAPI community. Anyone interested in book recommendations can browse their vast collection and educate themselves.
Incorporating Students at Central Michigan University
Academic libraries also get involved, with Central Michigan University being a perfect example of celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion within post-secondary education. According to their website, Central Michigan University librarians showcase materials celebrating AAPI communities. In addition, they make these resources available for checkout for students and faculty.
From March 15–April 15, Central Michigan University’s Park Library offered to teach students how to write haikus. Once completed, these would be added to the facility’s second-floor display. Alongside many other libraries across the country, the library also houses a vast online collection of materials available for exploration.
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Unique Events at the DC Public Library
The DC Public Library gets very creative with its AAPI Heritage Month events. They aim to incorporate family-friendly activities that educate and represent all ages. During May, their calendar is filled to the brim with film screenings, author talks, and exhibits. They also provide craft kits, StoryWalks, and a free digital collection of AAPI Heritage Month resources.
Last year’s film screenings included Disney’s Moana and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Other events involved an exclusive preview screening of a short documentary called Dear Corky and a discussion panel following the presentation. They also performed a virtual reader’s theater event and hosted several authors within the AAPI community.
Library Resources Provided by EBSCO
For people interested in delving deeper into self-education and research, EBSCO has an entire webpage devoted to assisting users with these materials. This also includes resources for librarians preparing their facilities for AAPI Heritage Month. EBSCO organizes these materials by needs, whether you’re a student or patron interested in getting involved.
Specific examples include book recommendations for librarians, school curriculum guides for teachers, and free downloadable posters discussing AAPI Heritage Month. In addition, links are provided to detailed databases and digital collections for anyone interested in learning more about AAPI cultures and history.
How to Celebrate
It’s important to celebrate the AAPI community all year long. However, AAPI Heritage Month allows people to learn more about their history, cultures, and traditions. If you’re interested in educating yourself, there are many ways to get involved. Firstly, explore AAPI history to understand the community’s impact on the United States.
Otherwise, art, films, literature, and food are unique to the AAPI community. Try not to restrict yourself to one region. Instead, diversify your knowledge by learning about their similarities, differences, and individual cultures. Another fantastic way to uplift the AAPI community is to advocate against systemic and active racism.
EveryLibrary aims to provide diverse resources for AAPI History Month and beyond. Visit everylibrary.org to learn more about what libraries are doing to support AAPI communities and what you can do to help!
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