Donnelly Library Awarded Grant for Muslim Collection

April Kent

April Kent

Las Vegas, N.M — New Mexico Highlands’ Donnelly Library was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant that includes the Muslim Journeys collection of materials.

Highlands was the only university in the state to receive the collection of 25 books, four films, and other resources that introduce the public to the complex history and culture of Muslims in the United States and globally.

The NEH developed Muslims Journeys in collaboration with the American Library Association. The collection is part of a new NEH initiative called Bridging Cultures, aimed at highlighting the importance of civility in American life and the role libraries can play in fostering community discussions that bring the humanities to the public in new ways.

“There may be no institution more civil than the public library,” said Jim Leach, NEH chair of Bridging Cultures. “Libraries are centers of learning that offer a welcome space where members of the public can learn about the history we share, and express different points of view with openness and mutual respect.”

April Kent, Donnelly assistant librarian and head of public services, wrote the successful NEH grant proposal. It is the second NEH grant award in the library’s history, with the first awarded in December 2012 to help preserve the library’s extensive historical records and fine arts collection.

“The Muslim Journeys collection shows the complexity and diversity of the Muslim world, and offers fascinating glimpses into Muslim life,” Kent said. “The books are beautiful and include fiction, nonfiction, memoirs and poetry. There are a wide variety of themes, including faith, art, everyday life, family, community, politics, world history, and more.

“This addition to the Donnelly collection is a great opportunity for the campus and the Las Vegas community to access material that helps build understanding of Muslim culture and history. The collection will circulate. I encourage community members who don’t already have a Donnelly borrowing card to come in and obtain one. It’s free,” Kent said.

Donnelly Library has scheduled two public programs to date for the Muslim Journeys materials.

On March 18, Highlands University history professor Kristie Ross will lead a film screening and discussion of the historical PBS documentary Prince Among Slaves at 7 p.m. in Sininger Hall, Room 100, 904 Columbia Ave. on the west side of the university’s Central Park.

Prince Among Slavesby Andrea Kalin tells the remarkable true story of Abdul Rahman Sori, a prominent West African Muslim prince who was enslaved in the southern United States in 1788 and freed 40 years later by President John Quincy Adams.   

On April 15, Highlands University history professor Steve Williams will give a lecture on the tensions and connections between the Muslim world and the Western world at 6 p.m. in Donnelly Library, Room 327, 802 National Ave. The lecture will focus on the years circa 1100-1300.

For more information about Muslim Journeys and the public programming, contact Kent at

The National Endowment for the Humanities supports research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities by funding top-rated competitive, peer-reviewed proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. At an annual cost of about 50 cents per capita, NEH brings high-quality historical and cultural experiences to large and diverse audiences in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories.