by Diane B. Rice
In October 2012, Ada Community Library, Victory Branch applied for the Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA). After successfully enjoying a previous blend of culture and literary exploration involving a Jewish Adult graphic novel discussions Let’s Talk About It (LTAI) series, (see: http://www.idaholibraries.org/idlibrarian/index.php/idaho-librarian/article/view/10/52) this was a new opportunity to delve into cultural exploration in our community.
“The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is a collection of 25 books, 4 DVDs, and other programming resources selected 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. (One of these is Oxford Islamic Studies Online database: http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/) 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.” Bridging Cultures is an initiative that engages the power of the humanities to promote understanding and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad. (http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys or www.ala.org)
It is exciting to be able to combine a Mid-Life Adults focus with these current events.
In-house surveys at the library in October 2012 queried the Fit and Fall Proof class group of older adults and on-line library patrons about their interests. One choice expressed multiple times was “learning about other cultures.” Initial programs that introduced the Bookshelf Grant included an Idaho Humanities Council Speaker program by Michael Zirinsky Islam: A View from the West and Singing My Faith: Indonesian Javanese Folksong by Ery Djunaedy. Travis Porter and I visited with the Islamic Community of Bosniaks center to invite them and publicity was shared on http://boisemuslims.org. We followed with two Learning Lunch programs, Islamic Artspots film clips on topics including calligraphy, architecture and gardens following two Art 21 programs. Great conversations shared were of travel, art, literature and community experiences including an Arabian Peninsula lobby display. We are developing ideas with Hillcrest Branch of the Boise Public Library in a collaboration of Worlds Connect programs with Muslim Journeys cultures over the next year. This will begin by hosting Bosnian dance group Mladi Behar here in October.
The Ada Community Library, Victory Branch applied for and received a next step “Let’s Talk About It” Muslim Journeys Grant from the NEH and ALA. In May 2013, NEH and ALA selected 125 libraries and humanities councils to participate in the project. Each participating site will focus on one of five Muslim Journeys themes, hosting a five-part, scholar-led reading and discussion series exploring the theme and related books. This library selected “Points of View”. Five books (both novels and memoirs, one a graphic novel) open doors to the experiences of adults and children living in Muslim-majority societies; while offering perspective on misunderstandings that confront the Muslim Community in America and revealing shared values. Scholars Heike Henderson and Megan Dixon will present the books in the series. Interest expressed by members in our local community thus far, from all parts of their life experiences, has offered wonderful insight into how well diversity works in Boise. Connecting people, while positively engaging in community dialogue, inclusive to cultural differences, are our hopeful goals. Please consider participating if you live in the local Lynx Consortium area with further details offered at www.adalib.org/victory.
Diane B. Rice is Reference Librarian/Program Coordinator at Ada Community Library Victory Branch.