Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month | Los Angeles Public Library
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Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month

Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library,

May is Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month which was officially designated and signed into law in 1992.  This month is also known as Asian-American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Library of Congress defines the geographic areas of the world as the following:

“. . . A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).”

Asia is the world’s largest continent in size and population with fifty countries and two dependencies:  Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan(Asian), Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, East Timor, Egypt (Asian), Georgia (Asian), India, Indonesia (Asian), Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan (Asian), North Korea, South Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia (Asian), Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey (Asian), Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, and two dependencies: Gaza Strip and West Bank. There are hundreds of cultures, religions, ethnic groups, languages and dialects in each country.  Despite past and present differences, some peaceful and some violent, the overall canon of literature is vast, going back centuries, covering all manner of interest and thought:  religion, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, cooking, art, music, dance, theater, business, sex, love, war, government, and multitudes of stories and folklore.  In the written word, the past and the present are alive and well-read in the United States and abroad.  May is the month to honor and celebrate this rich heritage from authors who live here, and from those who live in the various countries and regions.

Here are some resources:

Ararat-Eskijian Museum The Ararat-Eskijian Museum is an Armenian cultural institution and center for the performing arts and lectures, with a library, collections and displays of historical maps, photographs, numismatics, crafts, medals, sketches, musical instruments and documents relating to the Armenian Genocide of 1915.  The museum also pays tribute to Armenian-Americans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as contemporary writers, such as William Saroyan.  

CAAM The Center for Asian American Media is a "non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. We do this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media."

Chinatown, Los Angeles There is a calendar of events; shopping, dining, community services and history information.

City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs "Our challenge is to be a catalyst for the delivery of art, culture, and heritage to every neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles."

East West Players  “As the nation’s premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players produces artistic works and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific experiences.” They are celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Getty Museum  Within parts of the collection you can type in key words to access art images from specific countries or regions of the world.

Historic Filipinotown "Historic Filipinotown is a district of the city of Los Angeles, California, that makes up the southwest portion of Echo Park.   It was created by a resolution proposed by city council member Eric Garcetti on August 2, 2002."

Japanese American National Museum  "The mission of the Japanese American National Museum is to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience.”  There are permanent and new exhibits, films, library, gift shop, and tea room.

Japanese Garden  Located in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, the garden follows traditional Japanese design.  Online tours are available, but an in-person visit is even better.

Khmer Arts "Khmer Arts is dedicated to fostering the vitality of Cambodian dance and music across borders."

Korean Cultural Center  “Operated by the Korean government’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Cultural Center is dedicated to providing insights into the rich cultural heritage of Korea.  We encourage everyone to visit and learn something new about a nation with a history spanning more than 5,000 years.”  The Center hosts a variety of events: music, lectures, book signings, and more. 

LACMA, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has several access points to their collections: Islamic Art Now:Contemporary Art of the Middle East; Cherry Blossoms, Korean Scholar-Officials; Edo Society: Toys. LACMA’s Curatorial Area Index: Art of the Pacific; Chinese Art; Islamic Art; Japanese Art; Korean Art; South and Southeast Asian Art.  LACMA’s display qualifier for visual art allows you to select public domain images.

The Library of Congress site is an absolute gem with links to audio-visual materials, information resources for teachers with links to The National Archives, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and World Digital Library; and there are images, podcasts, book lists for everyone.  This is a link to last year’s exhibit “Treasures from Korea:  Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910” which includes a video of some of the treasures. 

Little Tokyo, Los Angeles There is a calendar of events and community council information; history, transportation information and things to do.

Los Angeles Public Library Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month  Check the link for month-long activities throughout the LAPL system; special photographic exhibits; oral histories; travel poster collection; databases and book lists.

Norton Simon Asian Collection The Norton Simon has a fabulous collection of art from South and Southeast Asia, with works from “India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia and Thailand, as well as selected works from Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.”

USC Pacific Asia Museum This museum is over forty years old and its mission is “to further intercultural understanding through the arts of Asia and the Pacific Islands.”

Words Without Borders  “opens doors to international exchange through translation, publication, and promotion of the best international literature. Every month we publish select prose and poetry on our site. In addition we develop print anthologies, work with educators to bring literature in translation into classrooms, host events with foreign authors, and maintain an extensive archive of global writing.” Subscribe to get email updates.

The following book lists will be added to throughout the month:

Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month - Non-Fiction

Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month - Fiction & Literature

Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month - Cookbooks & Food