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Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

November 29, 2005, 9:00 a.m.

Present:  Barbara J. Ford (chair), Atoma Batoma, Dawn Cassady, David Griffiths, Janice Pilch, Michelle Ralston, John Santas, Susan Schnuer, Charles Stewart, Parul Zaveri

Absent:  Rajwant Chilana, Dale Silver

The meeting began with introductions.  Mortenson Center Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Parul Zaveri, spoke about her institution and department in Mumbai, India.  She noted differences between her library and American libraries.  She commented on the fall schedule at the Mortenson Center.  Barbara Ford informed the group that, due to grants, enough funds have been received to fund a new position at the Center—Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator.  This position has been filled by Dawn Cassady.  Barbara also commented that the Mortenson Center GA, Michelle Ralston, provided a great deal of assistance to the fall visitors.  Barbara congratulated Susan Schnuer on her promotion to Associate Director of the Mortenson Center.

The 2005 Lecturer, Jorge Orlando Melo Gonzalez, had a positive impact on the attendees at the lecture and at the Library History Seminar.  The Mortenson Center has been long term partners with the Luis Angel Arango Library in Bogota, Colombia, the library where Mr. Melo is director.  They have been sending visitors to the Mortenson Center for the past five years.  Mr. Melo’s speech is on the Mortenson Center website.  Mr. Melo also made a presentation at the Library History Seminar. 

The 2006 Mortenson Distinguished Lecture will be held Monday, October 16, 2006.  Alex Byrne, University of Technology at Sydney, Australia, and President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), will be the speaker. 

The fall program is an open enrollment, two-month program that is held during the months of September and October.  The schedule includes a variety of classes, tours, programs that offer broad exposure to U. S. libraries and to the cultures of the visitors.  This year, the Mortenson Center hosted a diverse group of participants from Vietnam, Japan, South Africa, Colombia, Mauritius, Botswana, and India.  Some of the activities included in the fall schedule were:  presentations around the state of Illinois and the Illinois Library Association, visit to an assisted living facility, farm visit, library host visits around the state of Illinois arranged by the Illinois State Library, visit to a library vendor, DEMCO, in Madison, Wisconsin. 


A three-year grant has been received with the Illinois State Library from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  The first international leadership program was held in September, and the Mortenson Associates participated.  The program included an equal number of international librarians and librarians from Illinois.  Activities included topics from leadership to World Summit on the Information Society.  Susan Schnuer led the group in a game called Pomoja which emphasizes cross-cultural connections.  Disaster preparedness was a subject that was covered and well-received by the group.  The Mortenson Center Associates’ evaluations of the entire program were quite positive.

The primary goal for the project is to help automate libraries.  Seven universities are involved.  Recently, Susan returned from a visit to the universities in Ghana and Nigeria.  The main obstacles incurred are lack of electricity and low bandwidth.  It is also a challenge to promote the understanding that instead of having many small projects, there is a need to focus on one project, i.e., library automation.  A fair amount of attention is directed toward communicating with campus administrators.  The administrators must be made aware that automation does not happen overnight and that infrastructure has to be built up before electronic resources can exist in libraries.  Another obstacle is that the vice chancellor position rotates and interests vary.  Although there are a number of hurdles, there are many good people who are willing to work on the project who are aware of the value of libraries. 

The Mortenson team will return to the African institutions in February.  During April and May, a group of Carnegie and MacArthur grantees will be at the Mortenson Center for a program.

There has been contact with the American Councils for International Education about a school library project in Uzbekistan; this is a joint project with an agency in the Philippines.

The University of Puerto Rico is applying for a grant from IMLS to educate librarians in their country.  The plan is for the Mortenson Center team to go there and work with 20 public librarians who will come to the Mortenson Center for 3-4 weeks in the summer of 2007, if funding is received.   

The Mortenson Center currently has a project with the Japan Association of Private University Libraries (JASPUL), and there is a proposed project with the Japan Association of National University Libraries to bring one librarian per year to the Center.   

Simmons College in Boston, supported by a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, will educate 25 additional Vietnamese librarians.  The librarians will come to the Mortenson Center for an eight-week visit.  The first group will arrive in summer 2006 and another group, in 2007.

The Mortenson Center has been discussing future IMLS grants.  Charles Stewart suggested meeting with the Center directors to discuss this.

Charles Stewart commented that International Programs and Studies is only effective if it interacts with campus as a coordinating agency and that it is playing this role.

John Santas said that University Extension has received state money to get networked with consulates in Chicago.

Charles Stewart suggested that a website that indicates international visits (who’s coming and who’s going) will be helpful.

The meeting adjourned at 10:30, and the group agreed to meet again in the spring.

(Prepared by Dixie L. Trinkle)