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October 2019

Engaging young minds: Dominican Library and the City College Academy of the Arts

Since 2014, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library (CUNY DSI), the most extensive Dominican Studies collection in the United States, has successfully collaborated with the City College Academy of the Arts (CCAA)’s Bridge to College Program for 8th graders. Every year, students excitedly look forward to this 8-week workshop to explore Dominican culture in the United States through history, folklore, food, race, class, and gender, using archival and library sources. In addition to lectures and discussions, we have interactive hands on activities where students are exposed to archival sources, including artifacts, films, and vinyl records. By the end of the seminar, students have a stronger understanding of Dominican culture and experience how college professors ask questions, do research, and solve problems. During the final class session, students are responsible for presenting what they have learned to the rest of the Bridge to College students and staff at CCAA.


Besides the Bridge to College Program, the Dominican Library offers an Immersion Summer Institute for 7th graders and various educational workshops during the year to hundreds of students from the New York City public schools, CUNY, community based organizations, and colleges and universities throughout the United States. These workshops are orga­nized using the unique resources found in the CUNY DSI Library and Archives, under the leadership of Prof. Sarah Aponte (Chief Librarian) and Jhensen Ortiz (Librarian). The workshops also help teachers enhance their curriculum by incorporating new knowledge learned at CUNY DSI.

With these educational workshops, the Dominican Library is bringing the joys and challenges of research using archival materials to those without too much experience, or any at all, in academia.



Top Image: Prof. Sarah Aponte (left) and Librarian Jhensen Ortiz (right) with the CCAA Bridge to College students.

Middle Image: CCAA Bridge to College students interacting with books of Taino (indigenous population of La Española).

Bottom Image: Mr. Martin Toomajian, CCAA teacher (left) with students from the Bridge to College Program.


Prof. Sarah Aponte

Chief Librarian and Associate Professor