The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is a collection of 25 books, 4 DVDs, and other programming resources selected and prepared by America's National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Libraries Asscoiation (ALA) to help public audiences in the United States become more familiar with the people, places, history, faith, and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the U.S.
The Bookshelf is intended to address both the need and the desire of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations.
NEH and ALA announced 843 humanities councils, and public, academic, and community college libraries awarded with the Bookshelf for use in presenting public programs in 2013.
The books and DVDs are now being received by the winning libraries, and they are being greeted with excitement by library staff and the public alike.
"What we hear in the media about Muslims and their faith and culture is incomplete," said Paula McGrew, a librarian at West Virginia Wesleyan College. "This could potentially change that perception."
Amanda Mohl, a Glen Carbon Centennial librarian in Illinois, said that library programs have the potential to emphasize common human experiences: "Through shared personal stories, we are able to see the world through someone else's eyes, making the often abstract concept of the Muslim world less foreign and, in some cases, less frightening."
Recipient libraries are hosting local events with film screenings, lectures and panels aimed at engaging people in learning something new about Muslims around the globe and in America. One of the scholars who helped choose the books for the project, Reed College professor Kambiz Ghane aBassiri, told an audience at Portland State University that "our goal was to emphasize the pluralities of Islam, including the histories, the perspectives, the peoples, places and journeys of Islam."
Retired US Army Colonel Lawrence H. Saul, invited to give a talk about the role of Islam in today's world at the Oconee County Library in Watkinsville, Georgia, spoke about his interactions with Muslim communities during his years of military service. "The attendees at the program were engaged and ready with intelligent questions," said Jessica Jenkins, Adult Services Coordinator at Oconee.
After the event, she said, patrons checked out nearly all twenty-five books in the Muslim Journeys set.
Alameda Free Library in California kicked off a four-part cultural event series, "Muslim Journeys: An exploration and celebration of the intertwined histories of Islam and the West" with a screening of "Koran by Heart," one of the bookshelf films. Afterwards, librarian Cosette Ratliff said, "Many people, customers and staff, told me how happy they were that the Library would present an event of this type" which was co-sponsored by the Alameda Multicultural Community Center and the Islamic Center of Alameda. "They have asked for more programming that focuses on the different cultural groups that make up our Alameda community."
"The Dearborn Public Library is very pleased to have been awarded the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf," said Library Director Maryanne Bartles. "We truly believe these materials will allow our library users to become more familiar themselves with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world."
In addition to the initial grant, NEH and ALA have developed five Let's Talk About It themes in conjunction with the works included in the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. Libraries that received the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf are invited to apply to receive up to $4,500 in programming support for scholar-led reading and discussion programs. These applications are being accepted until 29 March 2013.
"Dearborn Public Library receives Muslim Journeys collection" Heritage Press & Guide march 9, 2013
"Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys" ALA March 9, 2013
"NEH Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys Bookshelves arrive in 800 libraries" NEH News Feb 14, 2013
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today