The Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) continues their commitment to celebrating the diversity of Somerset County through cultural displays, programs, and collections that explore perspectives and share experiences. Throughout the month of May, the Library System is honoring the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, which make up approximately 19 percent of Somerset County residents.

“Making personalized connections between our patrons and the materials in our collections is one of the most important things that we do at our branches,” said Lynn Mazur, youth services supervisor. “By creating booklists and curating displays that spotlight and reflect the diversity that we see in our communities, we are ensuring that our customers are able to see themselves reflected on the covers and in the pages of books.”

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Manville branch, located at 100 South 10th Avenue in Manville, created a display that focuses on geography, history, and culture.

“The books featured on this display are all from the Enchantment of the World series (by various authors), typically housed in our children’s nonfiction collection,” said Jen Fitzgerald, youth service supervisor. “Asian and Pacific Islands countries from this series include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, North Korea, Pakistan, The Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and Yemen.”

Fitzgerald continued, “However, this is not an exhaustive list of all Asian and Pacific Islands countries. This display gives customers visiting the Manville branch an opportunity to learn more about these nations, with many people browsing the books while in the Library and others checking these titles out to read more at home.”

The display also features a family heirloom, a traditional Korean dress that belongs to Rosemary Kim, circulation supervisor.

“The dress is a handmade traditional hanbok from Korea,” said Kim. “Today, we wear this dress during special occasions and events, particularly during the New Year’s sebae tradition, which is a bow given to elders. This particular dress has been in my family for approximately 30 years and I am happy to share my heritage during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”

In addition to the display at the Manville branch, SCLSNJ’s expert librarians have curated booklists that delve into the lives of members of the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities.

“As a librarian, I believe that there is no better way to understand diverse communities than to read their stories in their own words,” said Bob Helmbrecht, collection development librarian. “Whether you’re looking for memoirs dealing with adoption, LGBTQIA+ memoirs, coming-of-age stories, business memoirs, or even graphic memoirs, you can find some great titles in the Library’s collections.”

Explore Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander memoirs for adults:

Celebrate the culture and diversity of Asian American Pacific Islander communities through teen reads:

For reading recommendations, librarian-curated booklists, and more explore SCLSNJ’s blog: SCLSNJ.org/read-listen-view/recommendations.