For immediate release | October 1, 2013

ALA PPO and OIF co-sponsor free webinar for “Muslim Journeys” grantees

CHICAGO — Islam is the second most widely practiced faith in the world, and international news items focus on events in Muslim-majority societies daily. Librarians face the unique challenge of reaching patrons with requested information and programming regarding this often unfamiliar culture, while managing reactions from others who may hold Islamophobic or anti-Muslim prejudices. Librarians participating in the NEH’s Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys initiative and others interested in the topic are invited to attend “Muslim Journeys and Your Community: Managing Controversy, Maximizing Impact,” a free webinar to be held at 2 p.m. Central time on Oct. 24, 2013, sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, and the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF).

The webinar will feature Martin Garnar, chair of ALA’s Committee on Professional Ethics and reference services librarian at Regis University. Garnar will discuss some of the intellection freedom issues that may arise when hosting programs related to Islam. He will be joined by Lesley Williams, a Muslim Journeys project director and head of adult services from Evanston Public Library, who will share her experiences implementing successful public discussion programs that focus on Islamic history and culture.

During this free webinar, participants will:

  • review steps for developing actionable library policies that will help staff respond effectively to material challenges and requests for removal;
  • learn strategies for keeping potentially controversial reading and film discussion programs on track;
  • receive tips on preparing for and hosting events that may attract disruptive audience members or protestors;
  • be introduced to new project resources created to help Muslim Journeys grantees respond to public relations inquiries; and
  • hear about successes and lessons learned from librarians who have hosted Muslim Journeys programs.

Register for “Muslim Journeys and Your Community: Managing Controversy, Maximizing Impact” at .

Bridging Cultures is a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), intended to engage the power of the humanities to promote understanding of and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad. As part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, NEH is collaborating with the American Library Association to present two Muslim Journeys programs: the Bookshelf and Let’s Talk About It (LTAI). A total of 953 libraries in all 50 states and 2 U.S. territories are participating. For more, see or

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes cultural and community programming as an essential part of library service in all types and sizes of libraries. Successful library programming initiatives have included Let’s Talk About It reading and discussion series, traveling exhibitions, film discussion programs, the Great Stories CLUB, LIVE! @ your library and more. Recently, the Public Programs Office developed, an online resource center bringing librarians timely and valuable information to support them in the creation of high-quality cultural programs for their communities. For more information, visit

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries. For more information, visit


Angela Hanshaw

Web Editor

Public Programs Office