Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
Irving West Library officially presented their newest acquisition – a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) – entitled the Bridging Cultures, Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Award. This is not only the first Bookshelf Award the Irving Library System has received, but the first Bridging Cultures award to be given.
The inaugural Bookshelf Award, given to over 800 museums and public libraries, consists of 25 books and 3 DVDs at both Central and West libraries. The books explore Muslim culture and history spanning multiple continents and hundreds of years. These resources are not just politically correct gestures of good faith, however. About ten of the books are already in the library system because of their critical acclaim.
The ceremony filled the library’s conference room with spectators who came to celebrate the reception of the award with Mahood Egal, a school board member of the Islamic School, who besides speaking. presented the library with a plaque in appreciation; Nouman Ali Khan, the founder of Bayyinah, and Rabbi Frank Joseph of the Congregation Irving Havurah.
Khan admonished the audience that, although this is a good first step, there is still much need for collaboration ahead.
“Building something like tolerance is not nearly enough … We’re here to build an understanding and appreciation of the diversity that is part of what America is to all of us,” Khan said. “The Muslims who are sitting in the audience have so many different stories to tell, and all of them in the end are American, and they need to be told.”
Deborah Vaden, the library’s Branch Services Manager, intimated that the receipt of this award, at its core, is a challenge to the community at large.
“[We are] starting conversation,” she said. “Maybe the conversation isn’t so comfortable at first.”