The Latino & Puerto Rican Cultural Center at NYPL’s Bronx Library Center


The Latino & Puerto Rican Cultural Center, featuring colorful art on the walls and shelves of books.

The New York Public Library is committed to preserving the stories and experiences of our diverse communities. The Bronx Library Center's Latino & Puerto Rican Cultural Center pays homage and celebrates the rich heritage and contributions of Latinx communities through a wide array of reference materials and monthly art showcases. Keep reading for a closer look at what makes this collection unique and worth a visit. Lea esta página en español.

About the Collection

Affectionately named El Cuartito (The Little Room), the collection showcases an impressive array of resources, including books, manuscripts, photographs, artwork, and more—all of which highlight the history, achievements, and challenges faced by Latinx communities in the United States. Whether you're a history buff, an artist, a student, or simply someone eager to learn, this collection has something for you. A few examples include:

  • Juan Garrido: The Black Conquistador in the Antilles, Florida, Mexico, and California by Ricardo E. Alegria is a beautifully illustrated work that sheds light on the remarkable but often overlooked journey of this pioneering black explorer and conqueror.
  • Zapata's Disciple presents a collection of essays penned by poet Martin Espada, delving into themes encompassing social class, power dynamics, parenthood, and personal identity. Drawing from his own experiences, Espada offers insightful reflections on his father's life as a dark-skinned Puerto Rican, initially navigating the Air Force in Biloxi, Mississippi, and subsequently adapting to suburban life with his mother, a Jewish Jehovah's Witness. In these pages, Espada contemplates guiding his son through a world rife with prejudice and intolerance. Published two decades ago, this title resonates poignantly in our current times, echoing the enduring relevance of its thought-provoking narratives.
  • José Martí: Selected Writings by Esther Allen delves into the often overlooked corners of the renowned poet, prolific writer, and visionary founder of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. Within the pages of this anthology, Martí's panoramic view unfolds—ranging from the vibrant pulse of Coney Island to the philosophical resonance of Ralph Waldo Emerson. His literary journey encompasses diverse terrain, from the struggles of the working class to the intricate tapestry of high-society existence. 
  • Author Piri Thomas, acclaimed for his work Down These Mean Streets, presents a heartfelt collection titled Stories from El Barrio. Within these eight poignant tales thoughtfully crafted for young readers, Thomas intimately shares glimpses of his upbringing in Puerto Rican New York. These narratives provide a vivid window into his childhood experiences, offering a resonant exploration of life, culture, and community within the dynamic environment of El Barrio.
  • Arboles de Puerto Rico by Edwin Miner Solá and Plantas medicinales de Puerto Rico by Esteban Núñez Meléndez are must-reads for those who hold a passion for nature and are fortunate to journey to Puerto Rico. These invaluable resources offer a comprehensive guide to the island's rich botanical diversity, empowering you to explore and appreciate its trees and medicinal plants in all their glory.

 


 

Colorful artwork on the walls of the Latino & Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

Preserving Latinidad

One of the most remarkable aspects of the collection is its commitment to preserving the authentic voices and stories of Latinidad. Collecting and archiving materials that might otherwise be lost to time, the collection pays tribute to the past and provides invaluable resources for future generations. Through memoirs, oral histories, artwork, and first-hand accounts, visitors can gain unique insights into individual and shared experiences of challenges and triumphs of immigration, cultural assimilation, identity, and much more.

 



Get Involved

Artists from all disciplines are encouraged to submit works reflective of the rich and varied experiences of Latinidad. Whether it's writing, painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, or other—your art has the potential to resonate with others, prompting conversations, questions, and connections. 

Once you've selected a theme that resonates with you, submit an interest form or pitch your idea to evelynmurielcooper@nypl.org. Our staff will walk you through the next steps to prepare your artwork, literary pieces, or other creative contributions for display.
 


Featured Exhibiton: 

Series of drawings featured in Evelyn Ray's exhibit. Drawings by Evelyn Ray

Online
Explore the work of Evelyn Ray, a painter and artist residing in the Bronx, who received her training in the Art Students League of New York, the School of Visual Arts, and the Art Studio of New York. El Cuartito features “Drawings by Evelyn Ray,” a collection of drawings honoring Puerto Rican women who were pioneers in the art world on the island and beyond. Join us as we celebrate this extraordinary collection of drawings that honor the legacy of these influential artists.



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