Orland Park library adds Muslim selections to its diverse materials
From dismantling stereotypes to celebrating traditional food and dance, a monthlong series of events at the Orland Park Public Library aims to increase understanding of and respect for the Muslim culture.
“Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys” begins with a new collection of fiction and nonfiction books, as well as DVDs, on the Muslim experience. The purchase, secured with the help of grant money, enhances an already diverse collection of foreign publications that includes Polish, Spanish and Hindi books at the library.
With the help of the National Endowment for Humanities, library staff have developed a series of programs to run through August, complementing the new collection.
“This is an opportunity for everyone to learn about the Muslim faith, its history, its customs,” library spokeswoman Bridget Bittman said. “Our hope is that everyone, including Muslims, will come and contribute to the discussion.”
The programming kicks off Aug. 8 with a program on the origins of Islam and Islamic civilization, presented by Alexander Barna, of the University of Chicago.
Barna, who teaches in the School of Middle Eastern Studies, will talk about how the religion that today has more than 1 billion followers got its start and went on to become the second-largest religion in the world behind Christianity.
Later programs will explore American perceptions and stereotypes of Muslim and Middle Eastern people, as well as the diverse and often breathtaking world of Islamic art. On Aug. 20, the library will present songs and stories from Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.
On Aug. 22, a panel of Muslims from diverse backgrounds will talk about their ideals and religious practices. That panel will be headed by Thomas Maguire, also a professor in the University of Chicago’s School of Middle Eastern Studies as well as a convert to the Muslim faith.
The series will close with a celebration of Muslim culture that will include folkloric and classical dance as well as food supplied by Al-Amal Supermarket.
Bittman said patrons already have begun to check out the new Muslim-related materials that include such books as “The Art of the Hajj,” “Broken Verses” and “House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.”
“We ordered 15 to 20 copies of ‘Minaret,’ ” she said. “And all but one are currently checked out.”
That book, a work of fiction by Leila Aboulela, will be the topic of discussion for Muslim Journeys Book Discussion on Aug. 12.