The university, located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, received 24 books from United Sikhs, an international humanitarian organization headquartered in New York.
“This adds diversity for our collection,” said Tom Izbicki, collection development librarian. It is very easy for libraries to focus on mostly domestic books. But it is an obligation for the university to serve the entire academic community.
According to their diversity statement on the university’s Web site: “The libraries understand the value of diverse co-existence and interdependence and actively pursue strategies to achieve an environment of respect and a spirit of fairness and tolerance for human differences.”
“(We were) keen on receiving this gift,” Izbicki told SikhNN. “We had some, not nearly what we have now.”
The collection is composed of books from the United Sikhs’ 35 recommended titles, including theology, history, diaspora issues, culture and heritage, human rights, children’s books, dictionaries and encyclopedias, scriptural text and fiction.
Authors include Patwant Singh, Amandeep Singh Madra, Cynthia Mahmood and Jaskaran Kaur.
Amitoj Singh, who recently graduated from Rutgers, conceived the idea earlier this year, noting that the university had a very limited number of books on the topic.
"It was great to see many new renowned books at the Rutgers library by the same authors who are included in the United Sikhs book list,” he said in the group’s July 10 news release. “I hope that more books would be placed on the shelves by United Sikhs, which would offer the Sikh perspective within the academic field."
“The books not only share Sikh ideals but show a larger context to reflect the (ever-increasing) multicultural world we live in,” the group stated in the news release. “The recommended titles offer the Sikh perspective in an structured manner, starting from religion and theology, as understanding theology first is crucial to understanding Sikh history.”
Sikh Awareness Through Libraries is the United Sikhs’ program that donated the books to Rutgers. According to the group’s Web site, it aims to “improve the availability of information on Sikh culture, history and religion via multimedia resources - books, DVDs, CDs and microfilms.
“Under the SATL project, these resources will be made available in public and private libraries, including those in schools, universities and other educational institutions, throughout the world. The objective of the project is to reach out to various demographics through multiple media to provide global access to reliable and complete information on Sikhs.”
The library program was launched in April 2007. The only other library to receive a Sikh collection was the Hercules Public Library in California, on May 8, 2008. It received thirty books, donated by Amrik Singh Pannu.
United Sikhs hopes that the Rutgers project will encourage other such steps to be taken at other universities and academic libraries throughout the country, the group said in its news release.
“It’s important to disseminate knowledge to the community,” said Mankanwal Singh, the group’s national director of community empowerment and education. “People should know about Sikhi.”
According to the news release, Rutgers University has shelved the books in the reading room.
The library also has lost two of the books. Someone may have walked off with them, Izbicki said. United Sikhs will investigate the loss and replace the books, Mankanwal Singh said.