Friday, February 8, 2013

Bridging Cultures

Russell County Public Library has received copies of the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf entitled Muslim Journeys. These books were a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities along with the American Library Association. Our publicity about the grant has generated negative response from some members of the community, so I thought I would share what the intent of the grant is and why we applied for the grant.

Muslim Journeys is the first in a planned series of Bridging Cultures Bookshelves. “The bookshelf is designed to address the American public’s need and desire for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations.” The idea is to engage “the power of the humanities to promote understanding of and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad.”

Islam and Muslims are hot button issues for some of us. But as library director, I stand by my initial motivation to apply for the grant, which was that most of us, myself included, don’t actually know much about Islam. The media gives us ‘snapshots’ which is not the whole picture. (And doesn't our 'news' always seem to include only the bad? Everywhere?) This is a faith and culture that is having an enormous impact on our lives. (Remember 9-11 and the thousands more Americans that have died in military action abroad as a result to our country’s direct response to 9-11?)

I want to understand the background and culture that surrounds this religion, which brings us back to the bookshelf. The Bookshelf is organized around several themes: American Stories; Connected Histories; Literary Reflections; Points of View; Pathways of Faith; and Art, Architecture and Film. I’m confident that one of the themes will interest you.

Since the goal of the bookshelf and this Sunday’s panel discussion is to encourage the public to read and learn, I hope that each of you will consider joining us for the reception and panel discussion that begins at 2 pm at the Lebanon Library. Revel in the fact that we can learn and speak and practice our religion of choice.

Posted by Kelly McBride

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