PITTSBURG — When Dr. Sang-Heui Lee arrived at Africa University near Mutare, Zimbabwe for a sabbatical leave from Pittsburg State University in the fall of 2018, he found a surprisingly impressive library building that had been built with funding from American organizations.
"It’s very unusual, that kind of nice building as a library at a university in Africa," Lee said. "But, you know, when I was looking for some materials for my class that I taught, I couldn’t find any good materials. The most recent I could find was from 1984."
That gave Lee, who teaches in PSU’s Kelce College of Business, the idea to start a book drive to collect more up-to-date books for Africa University’s library. When he returned from Zimbabwe he shared that idea with Dr. Paul Grimes, the dean of the college, who liked the plan and gave Lee some tips on who he might contact to get book donations.
"You never know how many lives the books will touch when they get used over there in their institution," Grimes said, "and we just think this is a great opportunity for cooperation."
Dr. Lee sent out flyers, announced the book drive at the PSU Faculty Senate, and ended up collecting 18 boxes of books from various departments at the university as well as the Leonard H. Axe Library. On Monday he was preparing to ship the boxes — which weighed a total of about 400 pounds, Lee knew from calculating shipping costs, though he didn’t have an exact count of the number of books — to Africa.
"I really appreciate my colleagues in the university who really, you know, helped me by sending books," Lee said. "So this is kind of a collaborative work across the university."
The cost of shipping the books to Zimbabwe is being covered by the two journals published by the Kelce College of Business, and the books are expected to arrive at Africa University by the end of the month.