Muslim Journeys Bookshelf travels to Fresno State


From left to right, Negin Tahvildary, Alison Cowgill and Hiromi Kubo worked to bring the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys selection to the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State.
Photo courtesy of K. Nabil Sakib

The Henry Madden Library at Fresno State is now one of 840 locations nationwide chosen by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA) to feature the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. 

The new addition to the library comes just as Fresno State gears up to celebrate Diversity Awareness Week in April.

The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (ICCF), a nonprofit religious corporation, also accepted the grant.

Alison Cowgill, a librarian in the Henry Madden Library, spearheaded efforts to bring the new selection to campus.

The selection of books and films are part of a wider effort to engage and educate the public about Islam and Muslim identities here and around the globe.

“The program aims 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,” Cowgill said in a released statement.

The collection has a vast array of resources for Fresno State students and the public. Highlighted among the books and films in the collection will be the Oxford Islamic Studies Online, which will allow access to primary-source documents and current works of scholarship for students and researchers.

Advisors helping in the selection of works came from vast backgrounds: librarians, scholars of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian studies, anthropology, art and architecture and world literature among others.

Negin Tahvildary, a part-time lecturer in the linguistics and philosophy departments at Fresno State, will be the local associate and project scholar for the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf.

Tahvildary is also an advisor for the Persian Students Cultural Club and is heavily involved with the Middle Eastern studies program.

“Muslim-Americans are a significant segment both on and off campus,” Tahvildary said. “These resources and related programming will help us promote learning and understanding throughout Fresno County and even beyond.”

As Fresno State’s student body continues to diversify, Tahvildary sees the opening of the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf as a positive move towards cultural understanding.

“There is a need to promote diversity on campus and to celebrate the diversity we have among the student body,” Tahvildary said. “This Bridging Culture Bookshelf offers opportunities to raise awareness of, and actively promotes an appreciation of multiculturalism.”

Bahar Madani, a Fresno State graduate and former student of Tahvildary’s, believes that the new Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is a great new addition to on-campus resources.

“Henry Madden Library is a great research tool for Fresno State students and having an Islamic studies section in the library would help expand the future growth of students looking to gain more information on the religion,” Madani said.

Support for Muslim Journeys Bookshelf also came from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

The library is planning an opening for the display on Monday, April 22 at 2 p.m.