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Dukharan wants libraries to engage tribal members

Padmini Dukharan stands in the Dorothy S. Osceola Memorial Library on the Hollywood Reservation. (Photo Damon Scott)

HOLLYWOOD – Padmini Dukharan said she’s well aware that technology has changed libraries, including how people read books and how often they read. The Education Department’s new library supervisor said the name of the game is keeping people engaged.

“It’s not all about books anymore, it’s also about coming in and having a safe space to communicate with other people around you,” Dukharan said. “That’s the dynamic of a library now, the modern library; it’s kind of changing.”

Dukharan’s first day on the job was Jan. 9. She enters the position after 23 years of work within the Miami-Dade Public Library System. She began her library career as a junior at Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami. Dukharan worked her way up from library aide to her last position as a youth services specialist, where she oversaw the children’s department at a Miami-Dade branch – doing a variety of events and other tasks.

“Children are the focal point of any library, because it’s generally family oriented,” she said. “We had a great following.”

Dukharan oversees the Seminole Tribe’s libraries in Hollywood, Big Cypress, Brighton and Immokalee, which are often visited by preschool students. At the Dorothy S. Osceola Memorial Library, for example, Cecilia “Ceece” Vickers, a library assistant, leads story time and arts and crafts with students from the Hollywood Preschool. It’s a similar scene with staff at the tribe’s other libraries.

“But we have others that we need to target,” Dukharan said. “We’re coming up with ideas to get older kids to come to the library and engage, to make it a fun space for them – something different than being behind computers.”

To connect with adults, Dukharan said she’d like to start book clubs or have authors do a reading or a talk. She’d like to invite Seminole authors in particular, perhaps from the recently launched Seminole Writers Group.

In addition, the Education Department has implemented a grant that offers computer workshops and Seminole history presentations to tribal members at the tribe’s libraries. Five computer literacy workshops and three Seminole history presentations began in February and continue through July, mostly geared toward adults.

Dukharan, 39, was born in Guyana in South America, but has lived in Miami-Dade’s Cutler Bay area since her parents immigrated there when she was two years old. She’s a single parent to four children – two girls and two boys – ages 21, 18, 16 and 12. Dukharan is enrolled at Florida International University, working toward a degree in public administration.

“I’m happy to be here. I’m excited to learn more about Seminole culture,” she said.

Dukharan said she also knows she has big shoes to fill in her new position. She succeeds David M. Blackard, the longtime Seminole Tribe employee and library supervisor, who died last summer from complications of cancer at age 69. Blackard had been the tribe’s library supervisor since 2007.

“It breaks my heart, I’ve heard so many good things about him,” she said.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at