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Explore the World with Culture Boxes

by on June 6, 2013

Libraries often offer opportunities to explore the world through programming.  These include special events with music, food, travel experiences, book discussions, author visits and more.  Our library offers another opportunity to explore the world through Culture Boxes, kits with objects inside all relating to a specific country.

The Culture Boxes were created to help teachers, organizations, other libraries, and individuals interested in teaching about a particular country.  Homeschoolers were a target audience as well.  We created the kits with decorated plastic boxes approximately 24 x 18 x 16 (though the most recent was a little larger).  The objects inside were collected from patrons and visiting relatives from other countries.  Donated objects include clothing, folk items, handicrafts, music, books, CD’s and more.  Each box contains a list of items and all items are labeled.  We have tried to be consistent among the boxes so that users will find similar objects in each box.  The Culture Boxes are cataloged and may be discovered through our online catalog, and they are available to anyone with a library card.

Our library currently offers Culture Boxes for Mexico, India, and Ecuador.  When the box is ready to be used, we have an unveiling event for patrons of all ages.  At the event, we offer music and food, and time to explore the items in the box.  The newest box is all about Ecuador and it holds items such as an Aztec sun stone, dance costumes, Frida Kahlo images, hand-made dolls, sandals, a piñata, a sombrero, pottery, wooden masks, cookbooks, and books about food, festivals and costumes.  At the unveiling event, attendees enjoyed homemade Ecuadorian foods, music by a band called Costas, and exploring various objects.  Photos from the event are posted on our Flickr stream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/plainfieldpubliclibrarydistrict/archives/date-posted/2013/04/19/).

When the Culture Boxes are not in use by our patrons, the Outreach Department uses them at diversity or cultural evenings at the local schools and in the community.  They may also be used during English Language Learner (ELL) classes at the Library or during school classroom visits.

The Culture Boxes are used often and in the near future, we will create boxes for Korea and China.  What are your ideas to help your community explore the world?