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Princeton Public Library celebrates diversity of art created in Islamic culture

PRINCETON — The Princeton Public Library now has its Muslim Journeys Bookshelf collection of 25 books and three videos available for checkout.

The library is one of 953 libraries and institutions to be awarded this Bridging Cultures Bookshelf from the National Endowment for the Humanities in conjunction with the American Library Association. The Bookshelf selections were chosen with a view to familiarizing the American public with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world.

It is intended to address both the need and the desire of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations.

The books in the collection fall under five thematic headings: American Stories, Connected Histories, Literary Reflections, Pathways of Faith, and Points of View. Library patrons can learn more about each theme through essays available at the library and also online at http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys/.

At 6:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, the library will screen one of the films from the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf — Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, a new documentary from award-winning Unity Productions Foundation. The film presents viewers with a kaleidoscope of exquisite works of art, from the opulent Taj Mahal of Agra, India, to written word in the form of Arabic calligraphy with master calligraphers such as Mohamed Zakariya.

With the insights and commentary of leading art scholars from around the world, Islamic Art brings life to the rich and vast legacy of the Islamic world and sheds light on the shared histories of Western and Islamic societies, revealing more continuity than division. Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon narrates.

As a suggested first step in exploring the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, the library will host “Princeton Public Library Reads ... The Arabian Nights,” a one-night book club at 6:30 p.m. May 30.

The Arabian Nights is a collection of stories collected over centuries, said to have been told by a vizier’s daughter, Scheherzade, over the course of 1,001 nights in order to save her life. The Muhsin Mahdi edition (in the Muslim Journeys collection) is based on a 14th or 15th century Syrian manuscript and contains stories that may not be familiar to English readers (and leaves out many that are). Only one story required! Participants should read at least one story from any edition of The Arabian Nights and come prepared to share the tale and discuss it. The program will also include a 30-minute video on The Arabian Nights.

All programs at the library are free and open to all. The library is located at 698 E. Peru St. in Princeton. For more information, go to www.theprincetonlibrary.org or call 815-875-1331.

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