Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Announced as a 2015 Recipient of Nation’s Highest Museum and Library Honor

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard New York, NY, 10037 (Photo: nypl.org)
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd., New York, NY, 10037 (Photo: nypl.org)

The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research center of the New York Public Library, as one of 10 recipients of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. For 21 years, the award has celebrated institutions that present extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service to make a difference for individuals, families, and communities. The award will be presented at an event in Washington, D.C., on May 18. 

The Schomburg Center, located in Harlem, NY, is one of the world’s leading research facilities devoted to the preservation of materials on the global African and African diasporan experiences. A focal point of Harlem’s cultural life, the Center also functions as the national research library in the field, providing free access to its wide-ranging noncirculating collections. It also sponsors programs and events that illuminate and illustrate the richness of black history and culture. The Schomburg Center contains over 10 million items and provides services and programs for constituents from the United States and abroad. In 2015, the Schomburg Center will be celebrating its 90th anniversary year. 

“These National Medal recipients have demonstrated a genuine understanding of their communities and are committed to addressing community needs,” said Maura Marx, acting director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “IMLS believes museums and libraries are vital community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural and educational opportunities, and economic vitality. The remarkable community contributions these institutions have made are proof positive of this.”

“The Schomburg Center is honored to be the recipient of this year’s IMLS Award,” says Schomburg director Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad. “Since 1925, the Schomburg Center has been home to many of the world’s greatest writers, historians, and artists, from James Baldwin to Maya Angelou to Harry Belafonte, and thousands in between. As we celebrate our 90th year and in recognition of the National Medal, we are strengthening our foundation so as to be an indispensable resource for the next generation of storytellers, history-makers, and world-changers.”  

Director Muhammad and a member of the community will travel to Washington and share the impact the Schomburg Center has had on their life during the May 18 celebration.  After the ceremony, StoryCorps—a national non-profit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans—will visit the Schomburg Center to document stories from the community.

For a complete list of 2015 recipients and to learn more about the National Medal winners, please visit www.imls.gov/medals.

About the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library, is generally recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. For over 80 years the Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent. Educational and Cultural Programs at the Schomburg Center complement its research services and interpret its collections. Seminars, forums, workshops, staged readings, film screenings, performing arts programs, and special events are presented year-round. More information about Schomburg’s collections and programs can be found at www.schomburgcenter.org.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

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