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.

Kathy Valdivia, Multicultural Collection volunteer with artifact
Kathy Valdivia, Multicultural Collection volunteer, holds a Peruvian doll from the collection.

New! Collaborate with us on a multicultural program: Are you a community member who would like to co-host a multicultural program with library staff, supported by library resources? Collaborate with us »

What is the Multicultural Collection?

The Multicultural Collection at Dole Branch is full of thousands of cultural resources that cardholders can check out. 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.

Why check it out?

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.

Ready to explore the collection?

We can help! Just ask us, in person at Dole Branch and by email at multicultural@oppl.org.

Most items are available for borrowing for up to four weeks. Some items are for display or in-house use only. Because of the unique nature, size, and shape of many materials, there are no holds and no renewals.

How to search and use the collection

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

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

You can browse the collection in person at Dole Branch. You can also search the collection through the library catalog. 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 LGBTQ
  • 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

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.”

Stay current on news and new arrivals.