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UNG, Oconee Library to host series about Muslims, faith

The University of North Georgia (UNG) and the Oconee County Library will host a five-part series exploring Islam early next year called "Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys." The reading and discussion series, funded through a $4,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA), is free and open to the public.

"We are excited to work with the Oconee County Library System on this project, which meshes well with UNG’s mission to develop students into leaders for a diverse and global society," said Dr. Eric Skipper, acting CEO of the Oconee Campus. "We want to continue to forge relationships with civic, business and educational organizations in Oconee County. This series is a great example of what we hope will become a robust symbiotic relationship between the Oconee Campus and its service area."

The Oconee County Library is one of 125 libraries and state humanities councils across the country selected to participate in the project, which seeks to familiarize public audiences in the United States with the people, places, history, faith, and cultures of Muslims in the United States and around the world. In Georgia, only eight libraries and the Georgia Humanities Council were awarded the grants. The Oconee County Library is part of the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the University System of Georgia.

"We are delighted to have been chosen to host this unique series that will allow people a chance to discuss some important themes in Muslim history and literature with the help of a well-qualified scholar," said Jacqueline Elsner, Oconee County librarian.

The discussions will be led by Dr. Douglas Ealey, a sociology professor at the University of North Georgia since 2003. He currently teaches in a multidisciplinary capacity, covering the topics of religion, political science, leadership, and conflict resolution. He holds a doctorate in political science from Clark Atlanta University, Master of Divinity in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, Master of Business/Public Administration from Bowie State College, and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Georgia.

The first program will explore "The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam" by F.E. Peters and will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Oconee County Library, located at 1080 Experiment Station Road in Watkinsville.

Additional books will be discussed at three-week intervals at the library; all sessions will be on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. The books are "Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction" by Jonathan A.C. Brown, which will be discussed on Feb. 11; "The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life" by Ingrid Mattson on March 4; "The Art of Hajj" by Venetia Porter on March 25; and "Rúmí: Poet and Mystic” by Reynold A. Nicholson on April 15.

All of the books to be discussed in the series are part of the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. The books and films comprising the bookshelf were selected with the advice of librarians, cultural programming experts, and distinguished scholars in the fields of anthropology, world history, religious studies, interfaith dialogue, the history of art and architecture, world literature, Middle East studies, Southeast Asian studies, African studies, and Islamic studies.

For details or to register, please visit or contact Jessica Fay at or 706-769-3950.

The Bridging Cultures Bookshelf is a project of NEH, conducted in cooperation with the ALA Public Programs Office, with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts.

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