21 May is the World Day for Cultural Diversity established by the UN in 2002. The day promotes cultural diversity and dialogues among nations, people and cultures.
In 2015 IFLA, in partnership with UNESCO, published The Multicultural Library – a gateway to a cultural diverse society in dialogue. Libraries serve diverse interests and communities, they function as learning, cultural, and information centres, addressing cultural and linguistic diversity serving all members of the community.
This day is an opportunity to learn and understand the value of cultural diversity. Here’s five things you can do to embrace cultural diversity
1.Visit a library exhibition dedicated to other cultures
Libraries around the world support cultural diversity and have large collections and even exhibitions on a variety of cultures and cultural heritage. For example at the National Library of South Africa the exhibition ”Treasure House of Knowledge” show cases 300 of the institutes national treasures including a 10th century illuminated gospel book, Solomon T Plaatje’s translation of Julius Caesar into Tswana and letters from Olive Schreiner to Mahatma Gandhi during a time of turbulence in South Africa.
2. Talk to someone from another religion or culture to share views on life
They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover! The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers. There are Human Library events in libraries all over the world, where you can meet books such as the Refugee, the Muslim and the Convert. The Human Library supports dialogue between people, and let you learn more about other religions and cultures.
3. Read a book from another country than your own
There a plenty of languages that have nothing translated into other languages, and in countries such as the UK only 4.5 % of poetry, fiction and drama works are translations. In 2015 a movement started, having one goal: to read one book from every country in the world. The aim was to learn about different countries, cultures and people. Watch the TED talk how it all started and find the list of books from all over the world.
4. Learn about the diversity of cultures in your own country
In many countries libraries provides a historical glimpse of the country and its indigenous people. At the Native Hawaiian Library they offer services such as story telling, oral history and book launches. You can browse through Hawaiian language newspapers published between 1834 and 1948 and learn about history and language.
You can of course also ask your local librarian help you seek out the most important texts from thinkers of other cultures such as Socrates, Aristotle and Rumi.
5. Explore music from a different culture
Your local library will have a wide range of music pieces that you can borrow. Try to pick up something that you wouldn’t usually listen to, or browse through the online collection of Europeana where you can explore music recordings and other music items from across Europe.