Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a history professor at Indiana University, has been named the new director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to begin in July 2011. New York Public Library officials made the announcement on Wednesday, ending a sometimes contentious search.
Dr. Muhammad, 38, succeeds Howard Dodson Jr., who last April announced his plans to retire after leading the Schomburg, a research unit of the library, since 1984. Under Mr. Dodson’s leadership, the Schomburg’s holdings of artifacts related to the global black experience went to 10 million items from 5 million. Mostly recently, the center acquired the papers of Maya Angelou, a collection that was added to treasures like a rare recording of a Marcus Garvey speech and documents signed by Toussaint L’Ouverture. Under Mr. Dodson, attendance at the Schomburg, at 515 Lenox Avenue, at 135th Street in Harlem, tripled to about 120,000 people annually.
In Dr. Muhammad, a Chicago native, the library has chosen a scholar with an interest in race relations to face one of the biggest challenges confronting all libraries in the Internet age: getting materials online while luring people away from their computers and into library buildings.
Dr. Muhammad, who has been at Indiana University since 2005, is the author of “The Condemnation of Blackness: “Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America” (Harvard University Press, 2010), a well-received exploration of how notions of black criminality were crucial to the creation of modern urban centers. On his Indiana University Web site, Dr. Muhammad lists his research interests as including the racial politics of criminal law, policing, juvenile delinquency and punishment, as well as immigration and social reform.