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Farmer Returns After Fulbright Experience in Brazil

Published: December 15, 2008

Advanced Studies in Education and Council Professor Lesley Farmer recently returned from Brazil where she presented research and discussed school librarianship as part of a special Fulbright award.

The Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship in international educational exchange, sponsors the Fulbright Senior Specialists Program designed to provide short-term academic opportunities (two to six weeks) for U.S. faculty and professionals. Shorter grant lengths give specialists greater flexibility to pursue grants that work best with their current academic or professional commitments.

The program’s goals include increasing the participation of leading U.S. scholars and professionals in Fulbright academic exchanges; encouraging new activities that go beyond the traditional Fulbright activities of lecturing and research, and promoting increased connections between U.S. and non-U.S. post-secondary academic institutions.

She was pleased to receive her first Fulbright and to make her second visit to Brazil. “This was a good opportunity for exchange,” said Farmer, who joined the university in 1999. “It was a fresh chance to review school librarianship and make connections as well as bring home a little prestige to CSULB. It gave me a new appreciation of what good jobs American schools do in preparing teacher librarians.”

Between Oct. 20-31, Farmer presented “The UNESCO School Library Manifesto and Its Impact on Brazil” and “From Automation Systems to Participatory Networks” at the International Association of School Librarianship and Regional Council of Librarianship Forum in Sao Paulo. She presented a paper on “School Library Services to Youth” at a regional Forum on School Librarianship held in Marilia and she presented a paper on “Collaboration on Information Education” at a “Dialogue on Information Education” at the University of Sao Paulo. Farmer also visited several school and public libraries as well as consulting with their librarians.

Fulbright grants are made to U.S. citizens and nationals of other countries for a variety of educational activities, primarily university lecturing, advanced research, graduate study and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Since the program’s inception, approximately 279,500 participants have been chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential with the opportunity to exchange ideas and to contribute to finding solutions to shared issues.

Farmer’s first trip to Brazil came in 2005 when she visited four information resource centers sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. She contrasted her first visit with the level of activity she encountered on her return. ”It was a good time to go down there,” she said. “There are issues in librarianship that are really bubbling.”

Farmer in Brazil

Photo courtesy of Lesley Farmer
Lesley Farmer (r) met with colleagues while in Brazil

Farmer was named the California Library Association Member of the Year in 2007. She has published 25 books in librarianship including her forthcoming one titled A Basic Guide to School Libraries and is a recipient of CSULB’s Distinguished Faculty Scholarly and Achievement Award. She also hosted an exhibition of her photography at the Showcase Gallery in Costa Mesa this summer. She was awarded the Gold Disk Award in 2005 from Computer-Using Educators.

She earned her B.A. in English from Whitman College and her master’s in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After serving a term in the Peace Corps in Tunisia, she received her doctorate from Temple University in 1981. She joined Virginia Commonwealth University and later worked for 15 years as a K-12 library media teacher and served as an adjunct faculty member at San Jose State.

Farmer said she was pleased to receive the Fulbright and encouraged other CSULB faculty to apply. “Not only did I have a chance to make new professional connections, but I came home with a whole new appreciation for Brazilian coffee,” she laughed.