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Library hosts book club

By Rebecca O'Neil | Thursday, October 17, 2013

 

Cushwa-Leighton Library has united reading and research with its launch of a discussion series titled “Let’s Talk About it: Muslim Journals.”

The book club’s first meeting took place on the top floor of the library on Wednesday. Roughly 25 members of the South Bend-Mishawaka community gathered to reflect on “When Asia Was The World,” a book by Stewart Gordon.

Saint Mary’s Assistant Professor of Global Studies Laura Elder, a seasoned traveler and inter-cultural and religious researcher, acted as the book club’s “local tour guide,” honing in on Gordon’s global perspective. 

“Great ideas come to you in libraries,” Elder said. “Why not talk about them here too?”

The new series, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in cooperation with the American Library Association (ALA), aims to promote mutual understanding and respect between persons. Suzanne Hinnefeld, a collection development librarian in Cushwa-Leighton, said the groups’ initiative, “Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys,” revolves around American Stories, historical connections, reflections, pathways and perspectives.

After receiving a different grant from the NEH last year, Hinnefeld said the library was encouraged to apply for a second grant, which included a collection of 25 books, five films and a subscription to the database Oxford Islamic Studies Online.

“The library saw the opportunity presented by the National Endowment for the Humanities as a way to strengthen the library’s collection in preparation for the new major in Global Studies as well as a way to reach out to the broader South Bend-Mishawaka community to gather and have discussions on Islamic themes,” Hinnefeld said.

She said one of the initiative’s programs is called the Bookshelf, a website developed by the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University. There, Hinnefeld said the general public has access to various multimedia resources “intended to enhance understanding of ideas.”

 “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,” Hinnefeld said.

Ultimately, Hinnefeld said ALA aims to foster interest in diversification. The association’s website says the program focuses on the “civility in democracy; religious pluralism in the United States; the Muslim-majority societies and the humanities; U.S. history in global perspective; Asian cultural traditions on the Pacific Rim; the role of women in war and peace; cultural encounters between China and the U.S.; the influence of the American west on European culture and the history of relations between China and Africa.”

 

Contact Rebecca O’Neil at roneil01@saintmarys.edu