The Ronald Williams Library is one of 840 libraries and state humanities councils across the country to receive the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys, and one of 125 libraries to also receive the Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA). The Bookshelf programming aims to familiarize public audiences in the United States with the people, places, history, faith and cultures of Muslims in the United States and around the world. The books and films comprising the Bookshelf were selected with the advice librarians and cultural programming experts, as well as distinguished scholars in the fields of anthropology, world history, religious studies, interfaith dialogue, the history of art and architecture, world literature, Middle East studies, Southeast Asian studies, African studies, and Islamic studies. All the 25 books and 4 films are available at the library. To see the full schedule of events, go to http://libguides.neiu.edu/muslimjourneys.
As part of the Bookshelf grant, the Library partnered with the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs at NEIU to offer public showings and discussions on two of the films from the Bookshelf, Koran by Heart (2011) and Prince Among Slaves (2007), and a public talk and discussion by NEIU Professor of Anthropology, Russell Zanca, on Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, by Maria Rosa Menocal.
Let’s Talk About It programming includes a five-part reading and discussion series titled focused on those books in the Points of View theme, led by Alicia Erian, Assistant Professor of English and author of two books–a collection of short stories called The Brutal Language of Love, and the novel Towelhead, a coming-of-age story about an Arab-American adolescent experiencing racism, abuse, and her own sexuality, which was made into a film by Alan Ball in 2008. Her third book, a memoir called The Dragon Lies Down, will be published in 2014.
The books that will be discussed include:
- In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar
- Dreams of Trespass by Fatima Mernissi
- Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
- House of Stone by Anthony Shadid
- Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
The first book discussion will focus on In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar and will be held on Thursday, September 19 at 5:30pm at the Ronald Williams Library, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave. For details and to register for the discussion series, please visit http://libguides.neiu.edu/muslimjourneys or contact Kimberly Shotick at firstname.lastname@example.org or (773) 442-4415. Additional books will be discussed throughout the year at Ronald Williams Library and Skokie Public Library. Registered participants of the discussions can check out copies of each of the books at the Ronald Williams Circulation Desk.
The Bridging Cultures Bookshelf is a project of NEH, conducted in cooperation with the ALA Public Programs Office, with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts.