NORWAY — The Memorial Library has been awarded a collection of materials to help patrons learn about Muslim cultures around the world.

“We are always looking for ways to bring cultural programming to our community,” said Julia Hoisington, Norway Memorial Library reference librarian.

The collection, which includes 25 books, three films and access for one year to Oxford Islamic Studies Online, was received through a grant opportunity from the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

It is intended 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, according to information from the Norway Memorial Library.

“We continually search for interesting and socially relevant book discussion topics,” said Hoisington. “In the past we have had great success with book discussions that focus on other countries and cultures. We felt that the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf would provide a wonderful opportunity to offer our community a quality book discussion and programs that inform and enlighten about people and experiences that are often misrepresented or misunderstood.”

Hoisington said the books and films are for the library to permanently add to the collection and will be available for checking out.

“They are adult-level materials that focus on the experiences of Muslims grouped into five themes to provide context for reading and discussion,” she said.

Because part of the grant agreement is to present programs highlighting the topic that the materials cover, Hoisington said the library staff’s main focus will be a book discussion series with other programs that will supplement what is being read with the personal experiences of Maine immigrants.

“We are partnering with the Western Maine University College Center and Oxford Hills/Buckfield Adult Education to promote the series,” she said.

The Bookshelf was awarded to 842 institutions and humanity councils across the country for use in presenting public programs and was made possible with a gift from the Carnegie Corp. of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

News of the award was received by the library in a congratulatory message from U.S. Sen. Angus King and an email from the NEH.

More information about the material is available by calling the library at 743-5309 ext. 1.

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