Marshall Cavendish Excellence in Library Programming Award named

Contact: Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

For Immediate Release

February 24, 2005

Marshall Cavendish Excellence in Library Programming Award named

CHICAGO—The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce that the San Diego Public Library is the winner of the Marshall Cavendish Excellence in Library Programming Award, for its program "Stories of Faith: Religion & Diversity in San Diego."

The annual award sponsored by the Marshall Cavendish Corporation consists of $2,000 and a citation. The honor recognizes either a school or public library that demonstrates excellence in library programming by providing programs that have community impact and respond to community needs.

"In the aftermath of September 11, the San Diego Public library had the courage to take on a controversial topic in an attempt to build community understanding about the diversity of religions and cultures in its community," said award chair Leslie Burger. "In a world where we often find ways to divide communities, the San Diego Public Library found a way, through creative and accessible programs, to bring people together with the goal of building tolerance and understanding. This is a shining example of what libraries do best."

After 9/11, tensions between many communities in San Diego were heightened, particularly for Arab and Muslim communities, making apparent the need for people to increase their understanding of their neighbors. The goal of "Stories of Faith" was to strengthen the ties between communities by fostering awareness and understanding of commonalities among the different spiritual beliefs that make up the San Diego landscape.

The project focused on the most diverse neighborhoods, including the City Heights community, which hosts many newly arrived immigrant groups from around the world. The religious beliefs practiced within these neighborhoods include Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Rastafarianism, various Christian denominations, Baha’i, Yoruba, Santeria and Voodoo.
"Stories of Faith
" has enabled the library to extend the discussion to these many ethnic and cultural groups, as well as the community at large, through writing and oral history workshops, documentaries, panel discussions, music and dance concerts, media documentaries, theatrical performances, and book discussions and films, which took place from August 2004 through January 2005.

The "Stories of Faith" project offered community members and formal and informal religious organizations an opportunity to express their beliefs publicly and to reflect on their significance in the context of the many religious practices present in the region.
"Stories of Faith
" helps diverse groups to explore the ways new realities are being lived, to increase opportunities for interaction and understanding and to face openly and honestly what divides groups, as well as what people have in common.

The Marshall Cavendish Excellence in Library Programming Award will be presented Tuesday, June 28, 2005 during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.