"This is just to portray part of the important history of the Dominican Republic to our Dominican and non-Dominican community," said Tilo Rivas, a Union City resident and Board of Education member who is the chairman of the library's Dominican Heritage Committee. "We wanted to show that we are a united community that is willing to help each other and this community."
The library's events were kicked off with a floral offering made to the statue of Dominican patriot Juan Pablo Duarte on Sunday in Ellsworth Park, located on 24th Street and Palisade Avenue.
On Monday, two Spanish classes from Emerson High School attended educational presentations on Dominican culture and history at the 15th Street library branch located at 420 15th Street.
While Dominican Heritage Week will last until March 1, the last event took place on Feb. 27 at the 15th Street library branch, with a program giving information on Dominican books and authors. Educator-historian Anthony Stevens-Acevedo and artist designer Andy Castillo, both Dominican, were featured speakers at the event.
The library also has Dominican books, musical instruments, postage stamps, masks and a map of the Dominican Republic on display at the 15th Street branch.
"We wanted to awaken the sense that this is their library and things can happen here," said Librarian Nolan Ledet.
Union City's Board of Commissioners had also celebrated the anniversary of the Dominican Republic's independence from Haiti with a flag-raising and ceremony on Friday, Feb. 22.
The members of the Dominican Heritage Committee are Rivas, Ledet, Juana Dominguez, Cynthia Campos, Goethy Guareno, Clarence Romero, and Manuel Osoria.
Expanding the library's cultural programs
Ledet said that holding these cultural events is a way to build the library's collection.
"It is time to start doing some cultural programming," said Ledet, who is the coordinator for the committee. "We also thought that these committees would be a good way to build up the cultural collections in the library." He said these events have brought close to 40 books to the library about the Dominican Republic and its way of life. According to Ledet, many, if not all, of these books are already out of print and many are in Spanish.
A number of books written by important Dominican author Juan Bosch were among those in the collection.
"These new collections are a testimony of what people did," said Ledet, adding that library is currently lacking these cultural collections. "We've got to start celebrating more. Every cultural committee we form here will expand these collections."
Ledet said that the library already has an Irish heritage committee set up to discuss ways of celebrating Irish heritage in time for St. Patrick's Day on March 17. He hopes to create committees for all of the city's different nationalities.