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.

General Info

Describe your program idea in one sentence

Staff and our partners will receive arts-based cultural competency training to better engage library users, cultivate unity, and celebrate the complex diversity of Brighton Beach and Coney Island.

Describe how you will highlight library resources, collection material, and/or programs

The proposed trainings will enhance our branches' ability to create tailored programming, to deliver nuanced service, to better understand and work with the needs of our community, and to highlight specific resources customized to our patrons. The Ili devices allow for better communication on the floor and give our patrons more agency in asking for, and receiving collection material.

Describe the community need you will address

Traditionally a Russian Jewish neighborhood, in recent years an influx of Muslim immigrants from South and Central Asia and a burgeoning Mexican community have become a part of the fabric of the boardwalk. Unfortunately, there are often clashes between these divergent cultural groups, as well as a language barrier that only serves to exacerbate the tension. All our populations deserve library services that make them feel welcome and proud of their new home by the sea.

Target Audience

Birth to Five Years
Kids
Teens
Adults
Older Adults
Team Leads

Name

Adriana Mitchell

Location

Brighton Beach Library

Is this proposal a collaboration of 2 or more branches?

Yes
Other Team Leads
Sharon Tidwell, Library Information Supervisior, Coney Island
Community Partner

Organization Name

APNA

Describe why you chose this/these partner(s) and the context of your collaboration

APNA is an organization that serves the South Asian community in Brighton Beach with an adult day-care facility and various community activities for newly immigrated young families. Our partnership will focus on connecting their established senior community to our programs, connecting New Americans to language learning resources, as well as literacy acquisition for the whole family.

Organization Name

Brighton Beach Neighborhood Association

Describe why you chose this/these partner(s) and the context of your collaboration

The Brighton Beach Neighborhood Association strives to connect the neighborhood with resources in order to keep the community whole and flourishing. Our partnership will tap into the underserved Spanish speaking population in Brighton Beach in order to open windows of opportunity for this community; connecting families to language learning resources at BPL as well as educational opportunities, levelling the playing field and making the community a more visible force.

Organization Name

The Shorefront Y

Describe why you chose this/these partner(s) and the context of your collaboration

The Y is an established organization that has its finger on the pulse of community needs. Working with the Y allows us to expand our reach and create stronger programming. The Y has an English Language Learning component that can complement our efforts at the library. We want to combine forces with the Y to develop mutual programming for immigrant populations and local community services. Russian and Jewish older adults look to the Y and our programming for their needs as well.

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