The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, a set of twenty-five books and three films about Muslim cultures and history, arrived in 800 libraries across the United States last month, serving as the centerpiece for discussion programs and talks in every state and dozens of communities.
“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, frightening.”
The National Endowment for the Humanities, using grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and others, enlisted scholars and librarians in a collaboration to select books and films that introduce the diverse cultures of the Muslim world to interested library patrons. The bookshelf, which was offered free to interested libraries and humanities councils, has been delivered to rural and urban communities from Hawaii to Maine. The bookshelf is part of NEH’s Bridging Cultures initiative.