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Omaha Public Library awarded grant to host ‘Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys’ reading and discussion series

Omaha Public Library awarded grant to host ‘Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys’ reading and discussion series
September 24, 2013
Omaha Public Library (OPL) received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA) to host a five-part reading and discussion series titled Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys. OPL is one of 125 libraries and state humanities councils across the country selected to participate in the project, which seeks to familiarize public audiences in the United States with the people, places, history, faith and cultures of Muslims in the United States and around the world.

“We are delighted to host this unique series that will allow patrons a chance to discuss some important themes in Muslim history and literature with the help of a well-qualified scholar,” said Gary Wasdin, OPL executive director.

All  programs in the series will be led by Dr. Paul A. Williams, chair and associate professor of religious studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha, and  held at Millard Branch, 13214 Westwood Ln. Programming will seek a way of understanding how Islam and the West are seen as products of a shared, cosmopolitan and inextricably intertwined past. The books discussed at each event help envision the world of our ancestors, which was as complex and dynamically interconnected as the world we live in today. The programs are free to attend and books will be made available for participants. People are welcome to attend one session or all five. To register or for more information, visit or call 402.444.3399. Following the series conclusion, the books featured in each program and several others in the collection will be added to OPL’s catalog and made available for check out to the general public.
  • Thursday, October 3, 7-8:30 p.m. A story weaving program based on When Asia Was the World by Stewart Gordon.
  • Thursday, October 17, 7-8:30 p.m. A mosaic craft program based on The House of Wisdom by Jim Al-Khalili.
  • Tuesday, October 29, 7-8:30 p.m. A panel discussion program based on The Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal.
  • Thursday, November 14, 7-8:30 p.m. A discussion of Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf (translated by Peter Sluglett) will reflect on Islamic history depicted in fiction form. The program will conclude with the introduction of Muslim Journeys book club kits based on this historical novel.
  • Thursday, November 21, 7-8:30 p.m. In the last event of this series, the three faiths described in In An Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh will be connected by inviting Tri-Faith Initiative members to share stories and family recipes. Project partners include American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture (, along with Temple Israel, a reform synagogue (, and a Christian ecumenical community being developed by the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska (
All of the books to be discussed in this series are part of the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. The books and films comprising the Bookshelf were selected with the advice of 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.

The Bridging Cultures Bookshelf is a project of NEH, conducted in cooperation with the ALA Public Programs Office, with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts. Special thanks to Tri-Faith Initiative for program support efforts.

Visit for information about additional programs offered at Omaha Public Library’s 12 metro locations.
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