Ouachita Baptist University is among a select group of universities and public libraries throughout the nation chosen to receive a copy of the “Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys” from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office.
The Muslim Journeys material, which will be housed in Ouachita’s Riley-Hickingbotham Library, will more than double the library’s holdings on Muslim history and culture, noted Dr. Ray Granade, director of library services and professor of history.
Among resources included in the initiative, Dr. Granade said access to the Oxford Islamic Studies Online will provide Ouachita “a comprehensive reference center designed to disseminate authoritative, balanced scholarship from a global perspective.”
Emphasizing that “it behooves OBU to add whatever it can to the public store of knowledge about matters germane to current concerns,” Dr. Granade said, “Since Muslims are much discussed every day in the present, we want to add information to that conversation – light rather than heat.”
A total of 840 sites nationwide have been selected as recipients in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including 545 public libraries, 259 university and college libraries and 36 state humanities councils. Ouachita is one of three schools in Arkansas to receive the resources, along with Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and Black River Technical College in Pocahontas, as well as the Arkansas Humanities Council in Little Rock.
“We are pleased and honored that Ouachita has been selected as one of only three institutions of higher education in the state to receive these materials,” said Dr. Stan Poole, vice president for academic affairs.
“This NEH grant will enhance our library’s holdings of quality academic resources available to students, faculty and members of the community interested in learning more about one of the major world religions,” Dr. Poole added. “The materials in this collection – historical works, memoirs, fiction, poetry, art history and films – will provide a rich variety of resources for studying the Muslim experience both in America and abroad.”
“I am excited about the opportunity to use these resources,” said Dr. Barbara Pemberton, associate professor of Christian missions at Ouachita.
Dr. Pemberton, who teaches courses on World Religions and Islam, said she also is “looking forward to my students having access to such marvelous resources as academic research tools.”
Ouachita’s course on Islam, which examines “the beliefs, practices and diverse communities of Islamic traditions,” is designed to address “contemporary issues and Christian response.”
According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf program is “an NEH 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.” Each of the selected sites in the Muslim Journeys emphasis will receive:
—A collection of 25 books that highlight the pluralism of cultural forms and traditions within the Muslim world.
—Three documentary films including public performance rights.
—Access to Oxford Islamic Studies Online, which will allow libraries access to primary source documents and current works of scholarship.
—Bonus resources to support programs for public audiences including thematic essays, discussion points, podcasts and proprietary film and Internet content.
—Materials to support program promotion, including bookmarks, posters and bookplates.
All of the materials and resources included in the Muslim Journeys program were selected with the advice of scholars, librarians and cultural programming experts. Support for the program has been provided by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities.
For more information about Ouachita’s Bridging Cultures Bookshelf resources, contact Dr. Ray Granade, director of library resources, at 870-245-5121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.