The Norway Memorial Library is proud to announce plans for a summer series based on the collection of materials, Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys, which the library was awarded from the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) earlier this year.

Find more information about the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: HERE

The program series begins on June 20th with a kickoff program about Muslim culture, continues with a three-part book discussion series including a movie night, and ends on August 22nd with a performance of Middle Eastern music. All programs except for the film showing will take place at Norway Memorial Library. The film night will be held at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Forum.

As part of the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf the library has access for one year to Oxford Islamic Studies Online. This resource is accessible only through library computers, please visit the library if interested in using OISO.

For access within the library click here: OISO

June 20th at 7:00pm
Kickoff with Reza Jalali
Jalali will facilitate a conversation about Islam and Ramadan, one of the Five Pillars of Islam

Reza Jalali is the Muslim Chaplin at Bates College and Coordinator for Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Southern Maine. In addition, Jalali, a Kurd from Iran, is recognized as one of the eminent ethnic Americans in Making It in America: A Sourcebook on Eminent Ethnic Americans (©2001 by Elliott Robert Barkan). Jalali’s forthcoming book, God Speaks in Many Accents, is about the religions that Maine’s immigrants have brought with them to their new home in the U.S. His previous publications include the foreword to New Mainers: Portraits of Our Immigrant Neighbors by Pat Nyhan, and Moon Watchers: Shirin's Ramadan Miracle.

June 27th at 7:00pm
The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson
Book Discussion led by Katherine Morgan and Julia Hoisington
July 18th at 6:30pm
Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World
@ OHCHS Forum
Henry Hamilton
Humanitarian Worker

August 1st at 7:00pm
Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian
Book Discussion led by Heather Lindkvist
Lecturer in Anthropology & Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion at Bates College
August 20th at 7:00pm
Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal
Book Discussion led by Anne Marie Wolf
Assistant Professor of History at University of Maine at Farmington
August 22nd at 7:00pm
Musical performance by Middle Eastern Music Ensemble Okbari
With tastes of the Middle East

visit for more information

All Materials can be requested using the Minerva Library Catalog

Materials in the Series:

The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson

A memoir of an American woman raised in a secular family who discovers the value of religion during her travels. Interested in history, art, and literature, G. Willow Wilson takes a teaching job in Cairo. She meets the sincere young friend of a friend assigned to show her the ropes in the city—a highly unconventional relationship that turns into love and marriage. The book follows her encounter with Egyptian society and with her own spirituality as she converts to Islam, and about her developing relationship with her husband's family.

Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: American Stories

Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian

From School Library Journal, starred review, March 2013

Tom Bouchard’s small Maine hometown has become a key secondary migration location for Somali immigrants, and the local high school is overwhelmed with helping these students adjust to their new surroundings. As captain of the soccer team, Tom follows his instincts and recruits a Somali player, cashing in on Saeed’s talents and unique playing style. In the wake of a racially charged incident on their home turf, the team goes on to beat their crosstown rival, sparking racist reactions both from the opposition and local authorities. To classify Out of Nowhere as a sports story sells it short. Soccer is certainly an element, with a fair amount of play-by-play action (and standard locker-room language), but the novel is rich and multidimensional, addressing the Muslim experience in America, addiction, and romance. Tom is an authentic narrator who deals out life-changing empathy.–Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

Based on events in Lewiston, Maine in 2001

Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal

Exploring the varied culture of the Muslims, Jews, and Christians who lived together under imperial Andalusian rule, Menocal takes the reader to the vaults of the Great Mosque of Córdoba, onto battlefields outside Paris, and to King Ferdinand’s tomb, inscribed in Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and Castilian. The Ornament of the World conveys the richness, complexity, and continuing influence of this culture in poetry, architecture, politics, and religion. The book also illustrates a strong correlation between the empire’s achievements in these areas and its tradition of religious tolerance.

Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Connected Histories

Arabian Nights translated into English by Husain Haddawy

The stories of The Arabian Nights—stories within stories, and stories within stories within stories—are told in the voice of a beautiful young woman, Shahrazad, who will lose her life if the king loses interest in her nightly narratives. Collected over several centuries from a variety of sources in India, Persia, and Arabia, and ranging from adventure fantasies, amorous encounters, and animal fables to pointed Sufi tales, these stories provided daily entertainment in the medieval Islamic world, and still exert their presence today in literature and art, as well as everyday life. Over centuries of telling and retelling, the stories were modified to reflect the general life and customs of the Arab society that adapted them—a distinctive synthesis that marks the cultural and artistic history of Islam.

Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Literary Reflections

Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World

This ninety-minute film takes audiences on an epic journey across nine countries and over 1,400 years of history. It explores the richness of Islamic art in objects big and small, from great ornamented palaces and the play of light in monumental mosques to the exquisite beauty of ceramics, carved boxes, paintings and metal work. It revels in the use of color and finds commonalities in a shared artistic heritage with the West and East. The film also examines the unique ways in which Islamic art turns calligraphy and the written word into masterpieces and develops water into an expressive, useful art form.

Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Art Spots


The Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities, conducted in cooperation with the American Library Association. Support was provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Funding for all programs is provided by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council with matching funds from the Friends of Norway Memorial Library.

The twenty-five books and three DVDs from the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf will be on display and available to checkout starting June 17th. All programs are free and open to the public. To register for programs and for more information please email or call the library at 743-5309 ext. 1