Conversation Toolkit

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is pleased to present to the American public the first NEH Bridging Cultures Bookshelf, Muslim Journeys.

The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf collection consists of twenty-five books and three documentary films; a series of seven short videos exploring the arts of Muslim societies, and access to the resources of Oxford Islamic Studies Online. The Bookshelf’s companion website ( provides essays and other materials to frame and contextualize the books and provide avenues for further exploration.

Collections and programs at your library

In January 2013, 843 libraries and state humanities councils across the country received a complete set of materials in the Bookshelf collection. Click here to see if your local library or humanities council received a set. If your library has received the collection, you should be able to borrow the books and films for use at home, and you will have access at your library to the entire range of articles, maps, and timelines available on Oxford Islamic Studies Online. You may also wish to check with your library for opportunities to participate in public programs featuring the Bookshelf materials.

If your state or territorial humanities council has received the collection, you may wish to check with the council to see if it has plans for public programs in your state.

Excellent resources for programming at the libraries awarded the Bookshelf collection can be found on a website maintained by the Public Programs Office of the American Library Association (ALA), a partner in the Bookshelf project.

In the fall of 2013, many of these libraries will be hosting scholar-led reading and discussion programs on one of the Bookshelf themes. If your library is on the list of Bookshelf awardees, encourage the librarian to apply for the grant that will support these programs.

About the Conversation Toolkit

Even if your library is not participating in the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf program, there are still ways you can use and enjoy the Bookshelf resources. Some visitors to this site will choose to obtain one or more of the books and to explore the website for further information. Many of the educational resources available on the Muslim Journeys website are articles from Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Oxford University Press has generously granted permission to post these authoritative articles on the Muslim Journeys website.

You will notice that most of the books in this collection are gathered together under five different themes. The potential of each book to help stimulate conversation about a broader theme was one of the main criteria for its inclusion in the collection. We encourage you to find ways to talk about these books with other people in your book club, your place of worship, your civic organization, or any other gathering of people in your community, whether formal or informal. In the coming weeks, the Conversation Toolkit will provides additional resources for developing engaging, meaningful, and respectful community dialogue in a variety of settings such as these.

Meanwhile, you may wish to consult the excellent programming resources for libraries at the ALA website. Although they were developed primarily for libraries planning to host public humanities programs featuring the Bookshelf, you are likely to find in these pages some inspiration and useful tips for hosting conversations in your neighborhood or community.

You might also check with your state or territorial humanities council to see what support it might be offering for your formal or informal Muslim Journeys conversation.

Here you will find more information about the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf program.