Our proposal seeks to build a model for how library staff can grow and change with their community. Brighton Beach re-opened in February of 2017. After being closed for just over a year, we see so many changes as we reunite with our community. We would like to roll out the welcome for everyone, new community members and old. Collaborating with the Coney Island branch, we can make a larger impact for our collective community. We have an amazing opportunity to unify the divergent cultural communities in Brighton Beach and Coney Island by breaking language barriers, celebrating cultural diversity, and strengthening our community; building value patron by patron.
We want to enhance our programming at the branches to serve our whole population. We want to increase our offerings to reflect our community. Cultural competency trainings will be a significant part of preparing our staff to take on such an undertaking. As librarians and teaching artists are both community workers, learning the ways that teaching artists engage and activate communities to create art and connect across boundaries will give the staff at our branches and the staff at our partner organizations another lens through which to approach our audience, a creative set of tools to add to their skillset; gaining awareness, pathways towards empathy, and sensitivity towards multiple perspectives. With teaching artists as our facilitators and working in conjunction with the Outreach Department to tap into our unseen and underserved populations, we will go through a series of workshops focused on awareness of one's own cultural worldview, attitude towards cultural differences, knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and cross-cultural skills.
In addition, supporting communication through technological assistance, specifically talk-to-translate software made by Ili, will increase our reach tenfold. Ili is a wearable device, that unlike others, does not need Wi-Fi to work. It is a one-way translation device that is speedy and efficient. These devices can be used anywhere in the library during customer service interactions breaching significant language barriers.
We envision using our training to tailor existing programming. For example, using our monthly Kids Create activity to share crafts from a specific culture and explore identity or our engaging older adults in Computer Basics class to practice typing skills by creating a shared document of idioms in their languages while defining and comparing language through discussion. The staff at both branches looks forward to gaining more insight and clarity for programming through our training. Reflecting our community can strengthen cultural values, preserve heritage and history within the neighborhood, build character, solidify identity within a sense of place, and unify over demographics and socioeconomic lines.
Our three partner organizations were selected based on the make-up of our community. By training together, we have the opportunity to create a solid foundation for our neighborhood; a neighborhood anchored by the library. Training with our community partners also gives them an opportunity to interact and form connections with one another as they currently serve the population in a separated and often segregated way. By cultivating strong bonds within these organizations, we can build a coalition that serves the whole community. Through APNA, the Shorefront Y, and BNA, patrons have a direct line to social services support and we have a direct line to patrons who need multiple levels of support. This reciprocal relationship feeds directly into the goals and values of each organization and allows us to approach community needs holistically.
We plan to host culminating cultural inclusion events designed to inspire and engage library users at Brighton Beach and Coney Island. Brighton Beach will host a patron-led day of activities; offering various workshops, an intergenerational story and recipe swap, and a potluck. Coney Island will host a day-long event featuring diverse musical performers from our community and a culminating potluck. The Programs and Exhibitions Dept. will be an asset in booking more diverse authors/performers for branch events that support our initiative. The purpose of our training is not specifically for these events, but to celebrate with our branches and partner organizations to mirror back to our community what cultural transformation actually looks like.
In order to evaluate the impact of our training, our program implementation, and our culminating events, we will be using surveys as an evaluative tool throughout the process, in addition to our internal program statistics. We hope to create healthy communication practices that reverberate throughout the community. Giving staff and our partners the skills to impart precise and culturally specific programming delivers safer spaces for inspiration, learning, and recreation.