The Pilipino-American Reading Room and Library holds a celebration featuring food, entertainment and arts and crafts at its new location today.
Founded in 1985 by Helen Brown, the library is a repository of materials documenting the history, culture and politics of Filipinos in the Philippines and the United States. (Since Tagalog, the main Philippine language, has no F sound, some reject the traditional spelling of Filipino, preferring to use a P.)
The original location in the Filipino Christian Church proved to be too small for the growing collection and for researchers like Hector Santos, who found important sources in the collection for his study of ancient Tagalog scripts. "The new place is bigger, brighter and the atmosphere is quite a bit better for research," he said.
The library is believed to be unique in the United States in its focus on the Philippines and the scope of its multimedia collection.
"It's absolutely critical that we have this library in this specific area because there's a generation of kids who should be aware of their cultural background," said Lisa Sarno, a field deputy for City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, whose district includes a large number of Filipinos.
"Pilipinos in this city need a place where they can go to read about their heroes, heroes that we never learned about in school," said Sarno.
Brown, a former teacher and social worker who is a community activist, said that when Philippine American students have a chance to read the materials in the library, "it rekindles in them a sense of pride."
"The pride and self-esteem come with the rediscovery of lost roots and that gives them the strength and motivation to take their place in the whole multiethnic mix of this city," Brown said.
The library will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment, but Brown is seeking volunteers who can help expand the hours of operation.
Today's festivities run from 1 to 5 p.m. at 1925 Temple St. in Luzon Plaza.
Information: (213) 484-0818 or (310) 374-8340.