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Choldin to deliver Mortenson Lecture

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
(217) 333-2177;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Marianna Tax Choldin, the Mortenson Distinguished Professor and director of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will deliver the 2002 Mortenson Distinguished Lecture.

The topic of her talk is "Walls and Windows, Islands and Bridges:  Libraries Along the Road to Civil Society."

The free public event, the 12th annual lecture in the series, will begin at 4 p.m. Oct. 21 in the auditorium of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana.

In her talk, Choldin will discuss episodes, scenes and symbols – drawn from her decades of experience with libraries, archives and museums around the world – that illustrate access and obstacles to access. She also will talk about the roles these institutions and the people who work in them play in the movement of societies along the road to civil society.

Choldin became director of the Mortenson Center in 1991. She has traveled worldwide to work with librarians, promoting improved library services, new technologies and especially freedom of information.

In her research, Choldin focuses on censorship in Russia, the Soviet Union and the post-Communist world. A prolific writer, she is best known for "A Fence Around the Empire: Russian Censorship of Western Ideas Under the Tsars" and "The Red Pencil: Artists, Scholars, and Censors in the USSR."

Choldin has been on the Illinois faculty since 1969. An adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, she also has directed the Russian and East European Center and the Slavic and East European Library, all at Illinois.

In 1995, Choldin was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. In 2000, the Russian government awarded her the Pushkin Gold Medal for contributions to culture. In 2001, she became the first recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement at Illinois.

From 1997 to 2000, Choldin also chaired the library program of the Soros Foundation, which has distributed millions of dollars to libraries and librarians in more than 30 nations.

Choldin received her doctorate at the University of Chicago.

The C. Walter and Gerda B. Mortenson Professorship and Center were established in 1989 and 1991 respectively with the aim of strengthening ties among libraries and librarians worldwide.

Since 1991, more than 500 librarians from 76 countries have participated in the center’s training programs on the UI campus.

The center has initiated cooperative programs in Central America, Georgia, Haiti, Russia, and South Africa and is exploring a partnership with Colombia.

The Mortenson Web site is at