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Lehman College's Chief Librarian Awarded Fulbright to Organize New Library and Archive in Eastern Cape, South Africa

December 3, 2010


Kenneth Schlesinger

Lehman College Professor and Chief Librarian Kenneth Schlesinger has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant to help organize a library and archive for the Steve Biko Foundation's new cultural heritage center in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Steve Biko Centre will serve as an intellectual and economic development resource in one of South Africa's poorest provinces.

For six weeks, beginning February 1, 2011, Prof. Schlesinger will work with the Centre to create an international resource for scholars interested in anti-apartheid history and the life of activist Bantu Stephen Biko, as well as a community resource for education and empowerment. Recognized as a national legacy project by the South African government, the Centre is a collaboration of the University of Fort Hare and the Steve Biko Foundation. It will be the cornerstone of the Biko Heritage Trail, a series of Biko-related sites in the Eastern Cape, some of which are on UNESCO's interim World Heritage list.

"It's an exciting time to work in South Africa," said Prof. Schlesinger, who also received a Fulbright Senior Specialist award in 2006 to work in Vietnam as a consultant to academic and special libraries on strategic planning and intellectual property. "This is an opportunity for education and empowerment of community members. It's important to reconnect the South African people with their cultural heritage—something valued by Steve Biko himself—so that they gain an understanding of their troubled past as they move forward."

The Eastern Cape region currently faces challenges in the area of education, with a pass rate of only 51% for its students. The library and archive component of the Centre will address the scarcity of learning facilities available to the general public. The Steve Biko Foundation is a community development organization inspired by the legacy of the anti-apartheid activist, who died in 1977, shortly after he was arrested and imprisoned for his political activities.

Prof. Schlesinger joined the Leonard Lief Library as chief librarian in 2007. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he earned his master's degree in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from the Yale School of Drama and his master's in information and library science from Pratt Institute.