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Library Program Explores Muslim Culture

Monroeville Public Library and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will participate in Muslim Journeys, a study of Muslim culture and religion.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Muslim culture, Dormont librarian Diana D’Agostino said. Talk is often negative, and the religion is often misunderstood.

Dormont Public Library—and more than 800 others across the country, including some in eastern Allegheny County—are hoping to change that perspective through a new, grant-funded program that explores Muslim culture and religion.

“We’re really not that different, which is something a lot of people don’t realize,” D’Agostino said. “We’re hoping, mostly, that people will come to these programs and come away with a more informed opinion of Islam.”

The Muslim Journeys program was made possible by a one-year grant from the National Endowment for Humanities and the American Library Association.

In addition to Dormont Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and the public libraries of Avalon, Monroeville, Cranberry, Upper St. Clair, Baldwin Borough, and Whitehall also received grants and will have related programming through the year.

A number of university libraries are participating.

Each participating library received a set of 25 books and three DVDs related to the religion and culture of Muslim life. The libraries will keep the materials after the one-year program ends.

Each library’s programming is slightly different, but most include discussions with Muslim scholars, book discussions and programs for children, and an asset from Dormont Library will be shared throughout the county.

D’Agostino, who was raised Christian and is now a practicing Muslim, put together a “book trunk” of items that better explain Muslim culture, to supplement the grant materials.

The trunk will travel to other Allegheny County libraries throughout the year, to be used for their own programming. It includes Muslim boy and girl dolls that say phrases used in Islam, a copy of the Qur’an that is color coded with Arabic language translation, prayer rugs, books for children and adults and music.

Library director Cindy D’Agostino said her daughter’s commitment to and teaching of Islam has opened her eyes to the ways Muslim culture is similar to the Christian and Jewish cultures, and she hopes the program will help others see that, too. 

“There’s a lot of overlaps between three religions,” she said. “Just like when you learn about any group that’s different, you also learn the similarities and learn that there are things to be appreciated.”

The following items are attached to this article in PDF format:

  • Muslim Journeys programming schedule for Dormont Library.
  • Muslim Journeys programming schedule for Carnegie Library, Forbes Avenue.
  • A full list of participating libraries.

Information also will be available on the Dormont Library website.

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