Resources about Islam made available to all public libraries in WV


Several organizations are working to ensure more West Virginians have access to information about Islam.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA) awarded four college libraries with a collection entitled, "Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys".

The colleges are West Virginia Wesleyan College, Marshall University, West Virginia University, and West Liberty University.

"I'm hoping with this collection, people in West Virginia will be interested and they'll have this resource to use," said Susan Hayden, adult services consultant at the West Virginia Library Commission. "I think there's a lack of understanding in a lot of places in the country, it's not just West Virginia."

The Humanities Council asked the West Virginia Library Commission to keep the collection and make it available to public, academic and high school libraries across the Mountain State. All in English, more than 25 books and DVDs illustrate how Muslim and American cultures intertwine. 

Imam Ehteshamul Haque with the Islamic Association of West Virginia said the collection gives people a chance to look past stereotypes. He said he feels that Islam has been misaligned with terrorism in light of recent events, including the Boston Marathon bombings.

"Having the accurate information as they say, right from the horse's mouth, is really the valuable thing," Haque said.

Some people said the resource could help people understand a religion not widely practiced in West Virginia.

"It's important to learn about other cultures," said Sheila Hott, of Romney. "I think there's a lot of stereotypes in the world and there's a lot of close-minded people."

Others said they'd have to think about it first before flipping through the pages.

"I am a Christian," said Aaron Morris, of Cannelton. "I don't want it to be something that would confuse me about the religion that I've been taught."

The imam said he hopes people spend the time to educate themselves about Muslims.

"Don't let the really small fraction of Muslims tell you what Islam is all about," Haque said. "Because there are rotten apples in everyone's basket."

A group of professors and experts selected the readings they felt most accurately represented the religion and culture.

Funding for the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf was provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

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