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Literary Salons: Taller Literario (TL), Cercle Francais (CF), Arabic Salon (AS)

Louisville Free Public Library

Innovation Leader: Sophie Maier, Immigrant Services Librarian, Sophie.maier@lfpl.org

Problem Statement

Having built a strong program for providing library resources to new Americans in Louisville, we began to think about other ways to reach out to our international community to support their literary interests, ongoing educational needs and their desire for discussion and discourse.

Innovation

In 2007, we initiated TL, a Spanish literary salon, with a handful of former Cuban professors who wanted an opportunity to share ideas with other Spanish speakers in their new home land. TL has become a signature program, hosting local musicians, artists and a diverse array of speakers from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, who have addressed topics such as a critical discourse of Marti, Borges, and Marquez, overviews of Mexican cinema and pop music, and discussions on the art of translation. In 2008, we added CF for French speakers from countries such as Rwanda, Togo, Congo, Haiti, DRC, Canada, Luxembourg, Vietnam, Palestine, Tunisia, Algeria, Peru, Cuba, El Salvador, France, Romania, Côte d’Ivoire and more. Discussion topics have included: films of Ousman Sembane, literature of Moliere, Mardi Gras of Louisiana, music of the Francophone World, Tunisian identity, and an overview of Kinshasa. In 2010, our AS began with a group of Iraqi artists, musicians, writers, cinematographers and costume design folk, along with emissaries from the University of Louisville’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Department. Participants have joined us from countries such as Tunisia, Syria, Algeria, India, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq and the US.

Progress

AS is the first Arabic literary salon in the US and brings new patrons to LFPL.

  • As many as 40 immigrants attend each established salon now, with an additional 15 at AS.
  • LFPL fostered partnerships with University of Louisville, Indiana University Southeast and Bellarmine University.
  • LFPL gained additional media support from Greater Louisville International Professionals (part of Louisville’s Chamber of Commerce), in addition to partners for TL and CF.
  • Academicians, artists and musicians gain experience presenting in their new homeland.