Per the NEH Guidelines, libraries applying for a Bridging Cultures Bookshelf on Muslim Journeys must host at least one public event that introduces the books and the Muslim Journeys themes to the library’s patrons and broader community. Libraries are also strongly encouraged, but not required, to recruit and collaborate with a community partner organization.
The following programming ideas, resources and tips may be helpful as you plan your library’s programs.
Webinars for Prospective Applicants
If you are looking for ideas that may help you present Muslim Journeys Bookshelf programs, you may wish to view archived versions of the following webinars.
Public Libraries Bridging Cultures: Exploring Islamic History, held Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 2 p.m. CT.
Is there a need in your library’s collection, and in your larger community, for authoritative and accessible resources about Muslim history, beliefs, and culture? The NEH grant initiative Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys will offer 1,000 libraries a collection of 25 books, three documentary films, and other resources to encourage exploration, conversation, understanding, and mutual respect between Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Experienced library programming experts will share their experiences presenting “Muslim Journeys” programs during the pilot phase, and offer ideas for submitting a successful grant proposal. Speakers: Terrilyn Chun, Multnomah County Library; Tim Grimes, Ann Arbor District Library. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the ALA Cultural Communities Fund. View the archive.
Outreach for Academic Libraries: Bridging Cultures Bookshelf, held Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 2 p.m. CT.
Learn how to plan engaging programs about Islamic culture and submit a successful proposal for the ALA/NEH collection development grant, the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. Attendees will hear from seasoned programming librarians about their prior experiences conducting thematic programs that reach beyond the campus community, inspire partnerships with community organizations, and raise the library’s visibility. The webinar also included a Q&A period to address questions about the Bookshelf application process, as well as information about upcoming cash awards that will support reading and discussion programs featuring the Muslim Journeys materials. Speakers: Sandy Marcus, Queensborough Community College of CUNY; Sara Marks, UMass Lowell O’Leary Library; Tammy Sayles, Western Illinois University. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the ALA Cultural Communities Fund. View the archive.
General Programming Ideas
The following events and activities can help your library generate interest in the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf collection materials.
- Host a Muslim Journeys welcome celebration with a display of the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf books, films, and promotional materials. Include readers’ guides to selected topics or titles in the set, give away bookmarks, and feature readings from the books.
- Present a discussion of the books and films on local cable TV and radio programs.
- Host an exhibition of local collections of Islamic art in your library, kicked off with a launch event highlighting the Muslim Journeys collection materials.
- Present a scholar-facilitated discussion of a topic in Islamic history or culture, drawing on the Bookshelf themes and resources.
- Schedule a lecture by a local scholar with expertise in the program themes.
- Host an event celebrating the poetic voices of the Muslim world, featuring readings from Rumi: Poet and Mystic and other related works already in your library’s collection. You may also consider launching a “One Community, Many Poems” program, encouraging your community to read and discuss Islamic poetry.
- Invite a local storyteller to present readings from The Arabian Nights, or partner with a community or school theatre group to host a staged reading of selections or an adaptation.
- Create a Muslim Journeys webpage featuring the titles of the books, including images of the book jackets, book quotes and patron or staff reviews. Have a librarian moderate an online discussion through the library’s blog or Facebook account.
- Ask the local newspaper, local cable access television station, or radio station to feature a story or editorial about the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf collection and your library’s related programs. Be sure to contact book editors and well as news and feature editors.
Viewing and discussion programs that present documentary films, followed by a facilitated discussion can be a wonderful way for members of your community to explore the project’s themes, engage in conversation and connection, and expand their understanding of different cultures.
A library wishing to show films or videos to the public must first arrange for public performance rights (PPR). All films included on the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf have PPR included and are approved for use in screening events. For more information about negotiating PPR for any additional films that might be of interest, see Copyright Tips for Programming Librarians: Public Performance Rights.
ALA and NEH strongly encourage Bridging Cultures Bookshelf applicants to consider presenting a documentary viewing and discussion program, in order to fulfill the project’s programming requirement. Applicants may choose from Prince Among Slaves, Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, and Koran by Heart. Libraries selected to participate in the Bookshelf will receive a copy of each film, with public performance rights included. Each film will come with resources for a ready-to-implement program, including an introduction, focus points for viewers to consider during the film, and open-ended discussion points to facilitate conversation and connection after the screening, all written by a national project scholar.
In order to present an engaging session that will allow for a meaningful exchange of ideas following the screening, each program should be approximately 2 hours long. In many cases, this will mean screening a single film during the course of two programs, or screening an excerpt of the film. To use an excerpt, you may wish to consult with a local scholar/speaker, or follow the screening instructions that will be provided by filmmakers when Muslim Journeys collections are distributed to successful applicants. A scholar is not required.
The recommended breakdown of a single viewing and discussion program includes:
- 10 minutes of welcome remarks, acknowledgments, speaker introduction(s)
- 10–20 minutes of scholar/speaker commentary
- 50–70 minutes to view the film
- 5 minute break
- 30 minutes of facilitated discussion, focusing on questions prepared by a local scholar, or using sample questions developed by national Muslim Journeys scholars
- 10 minutes of scholar/speaker closing comments, including a summary of key discussion points
Working with a Scholar
Libraries are encouraged to recruit a scholar to lead each viewing and discussion event. Contact your state humanities council or local academic institution for assistance with scholar selection. In some cases, the state council may be willing to provide support for your program in the form of an honorarium for the scholar.
- An ideal candidate will possess appropriate academic qualifications (e.g., an advanced degree in Islamic, religious or film studies) to speak on the Muslim Journeys themes and have experience teaching or presenting programs on similar topics. He or she should be engaging, comfortable and familiar with facilitating open discussion with adult audiences that focuses on themes related to the human condition.
- The local scholar’s main duties include viewing the film in advance, preparing introductory comments with an overview and notes on important issues, developing 3-5 discussion points that relate to the film and establish a framework for discussion, and attending the session to present and provide leadership and facilitation.
For an overview of how to host a successful scholar-led viewing and discussion program, you may wish to view the archived webinar “Viewing and Discussion Programs with Ken Burns’ The Civil War.” This session provides basic information that will be useful to anyone planning a documentary film screening or series.
Reading and Discussion Programs
The books selected for inclusion on the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf were chosen with their potential to stimulate meaningful conversations in mind. If you are interested in hosting a reading and discussion program or series, please review the One Book, One Community and Let’s Talk About It program models.
One Book, One Community
- Select a book from the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf for a community-wide reading program. For complete, step by step instructions on how to plan and host a series, download a copy of ALA PPO’s “One Book, One Community: Planning Your Community-Wide Read” (PDF).
- Additional copies of the book you select may be purchased by the library with outside funding, made available for sale by the Friends of the Library or a local bookseller, or ordered via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Remember that a central library may apply on behalf of all branches within the system, which makes obtaining multiple copies of each book via ILL possible through the Muslim Journeys grant.
Let’s Talk About It
Let’s Talk About It is a scholar-led reading and discussion program model launched on a nationwide level for libraries by ALA in 1982. The model involves reading a common series of books selected by a nationally known scholar, and discussing them in the context of a larger, overarching theme. Participants explore the theme through the lens of the humanities, relating the readings to historical trends and events, other works of literature, philosophical and ethical considerations.
- The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf has been divided into five themes, each designed with the LTAI program structure in mind.
- Those interested in developing an LTAI program on one of the Muslim Journeys themes may wish to download “Let’s Talk About It: A Planner’s Guide” (PDF) for complete how-to information, including goal setting, scholar recruitment, promotion and marketing, budgeting, formatting, and evaluation.
- By February 2013, ALA will post an essay for each of the five themes included in the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. Written by a national project scholar, each thematic essay is a discussion tool and guidepost for local scholars and participants. Each Let’s Talk About It participant should be given the essay in advance of the first discussion session.
- For those who are interested in convening reading and discussion programs, but do not have access to an appropriate scholar, sample discussion points for each book will be posted by February.
- Applications for cash programming grants of up to $4,500 to support Let’s Talk About It programs will be available beginning in January 2013. Only libraries selected to participate in the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf will be eligible to receive a programming grant from NEH and ALA. Complete information will be available on January 15, 2013.
Partnerships can assume many forms: co-presenters, financial partners, organizations that will donate goods or services, marketing and outreach efforts, and volunteers.
When selecting a partner organization, identify groups that your library has worked with in the past, as well as ones that you would like to work with in the future. Share your Muslim Journeys programming ideas with potential partners and see if your goals resonate with their mission, interests, or intentions for community outreach.
Possible partner organizations might include:
- Arts and humanities organizations (historical societies, museums, cultural centers)
- Book clubs
- Community centers
- Senior organizations
- Area religious and interfaith organizations
- Professional associations
- Community colleges
- Literacy organizations
- Social justice agencies
- Literary magazines
- Writers groups and poetry guilds
- Fraternal organizations
- Local businesses
- Minority group associations
- Councils on Aging/AARP groups
State arts and humanities organizations can also be excellent partners, particularly in terms of offering financial support and access to experienced scholars and presenters. The links below may be used to locate your state agency, or an Islamic scholar in your area.