Bridging Library Cultures

Worlds Connect Image

One of the positive results from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association's Grant "Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys Bookshelf" and two “Let’s Talk About It" (LTAI) book discussion series, themed  "Points of View" and "Connected Histories", is a  collaboration of local libraries. This bridging of library cultures is part of a Worlds Connect effort, with Fall 2014 centering on African cultures.  This idea originated with and was promoted by the Hillcrest Branch of the Boise Public Library which serves diverse groups of patrons.

In a recent article on conservation efforts with locals in this country, Zoo Boise stressed that all of the news about Africa seems to be bad. Relying upon written or media information about another place and populations is not always effective. I decided with the Connected Histories LTAI theme to use Africa as a focus in cultural programming. This decison was also prompted by a book from the LTAI theme "The Humanity of Science & Technology", Born in Africa by Martin Meredith. The idea was rather than compete for audiences to cooperate with similar programs at different sites while sharing publicity.

Ada Community Library partnered with two adjacent library systems to expand our reach and began with a Worlds Connect Global Lounge: AFRICA! event.  Global Lounge is a non-profit organization focused on promoting diversity and building a stronger community through art, music, dance, friendship and culture, with a mission of celebrating culture through art, music and people. An overview of their mission states: Global Lounge bridges culture, creates understanding and also broadens the perspectives of individuals by endorsing a culture of inclusivity. At the first event, we had a wonderful blend of Africans from a variety of countries with instruments and costumes as well as non-native Africans performing in a mix of musicians and dancers.

Learning about our neighbors and community members face to face is a positive step towards understanding the unique mix of residents in Idaho. The nearby Boise Hillcrest Branch will sponsor a Worlds Connect program on Eritrea in mid-October created and conducted by people from this country, some as former refugees now living in Boise. In November the Meridian Library District will host a World's Connect program on Nigeria. This will be supplemented and shared on both the Worlds Connect and individual library websites and FaceBook pages. The Ada Community Library Victory will have two more African related programs in October and November 2014.

At one of these programs, Idaho Humanities Council Speaker Joanne Klein will present "Women and the Veil in Middle Eastern and North African History" described as "Contrary to American stereotypes, the veil is not a symbol of repression within Islam. It will present a more realistic picture of the purpose of the veil and Islamic dress, including its advantages and disadvantages, within the context of Middle Eastern and North African cultures." Also a local World 1 performer will teach a North African social dance class and demonstrate some traditional styles. Please consider coming to enjoy global perspectives on our world, see www.adalib.org/victory for events.