Prayer room at library coming along

Workmen construct the prayer room on the Dunedin Public Library’s first floor yesterday.PHOTO...
Workmen construct the prayer room on the Dunedin Public Library’s first floor yesterday.PHOTO:PETER MCINTOSH
The idea of a prayer room at the Dunedin City Library came after city council staff visited the Al Huda Mosque.

Several parents told staff their children enjoyed using the library but they often had to improvise to find a quiet space for afternoon prayers, library services manager Bernie Hawke said.

The library is creating an interdenominational or interfaith prayer room, as well as a Muslim space, on the first floor.

Mr Hawke said Dunedin City Council staff visited the mosque last year and the development was a response to community requests for a place to pray at the library.

"A modern library should be a welcoming community space — not just about books — and so staff worked to address the identified need," Mr Hawke said.

The council was aware of prayer rooms at the University of Auckland, University of Otago and Auckland International Airport, he said.

Council staff discussed the proposal with the Dunedin Interfaith Council, which supports the project, and a chaplain from the University of Otago.

Staff visited the university’s prayer room in the University Union Building and discussed the concept with representatives from Al Huda Mosque, who also supported the project.

Maori had not yet had input into the concept.

Mr Hawke said Maori would be asked for their thoughts before guidelines were developed for use of the prayer room.

The development did not need to be signed off by councillors.

Mr Hawke said the aim was to be inclusive and to respect different cultural practices and beliefs.

"Modern public libraries are increasingly community spaces where all members of the community can enter, use and feel safe irrespective of gender, economic status or religion."

Mr Hawke said the council aimed to respect protocols for particular faiths, including the Islamic tradition of men and women praying separately.

Mr Hawke said the space allocation was similar to that at the University of Otago, where there was a Muslim area divided by a curtain and an interdenominational space for other faiths.

"If there are specific protocols for faiths other than Islam, staff will attempt to accommodate them, too."

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

Comments

Why does Hawkins & Co believe Buddists will pray with Hindus, Rastafarians, Yazidis or Christians? They should all have one room, or NONE at all. Also, why are Muslims unable to pray with the other religions? Hawkins, you spend our money and can not answer such simple questions.

 

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