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Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Tuesday, October 31, 2006, 3:30 p.m.

Present:  Barbara J. Ford (chair), Melody Allison, Atoma Batoma, Jacques Fuqua, Rae-Anne Montague, Janice Pilch, John Santas, Yoo-Seong Song, Susan Schnuer, Dawn Cassady

Absent:  Rajwant Chilana

The meeting began with the committee members and staff introducing themselves.  In addition to their introductions, the Mortenson Associates gave a brief description of their positions in their home libraries and related the importance of their experience at the Mortenson Center.

Alex Byrne, University of Technology at Sydney, Australia, and President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), was the speaker at the 16 th annual lecture on October 16.  The text of the lecture can be found on the Mortenson Center website.  The lecture was well attended.  Guests included the two Mortenson sons and their wives.

Barbara noted that the Center welcomes ideas of people who might be future lecturers.  Lecture subjects relate to issues related to libraries or other key international ideas.

Two current three-year grants provide funding for projects that are geared to helping ten African university libraries automate and/or have better access to electronic resources.  Barbara’s areas of primary responsibility are Uganda and Tanzania, and Susan is more involved with Nigeria and Ghana.   Susan reported on her recent five-week visit to Nigeria and Ghana.   During this trip, it was possible to get everyone to understand the importance and concept of automation and implementing an automation system.  Vendors have been contacted.  After one and one-half years of involvement with the libraries, most now have a more stable source of power.  Librarians from each of the African institutions were at the Mortenson Center last spring for a technology training program.  Mortenson Center staff will return to Africa in February, 2007.

The three-year grant, joint with the Mortenson Center and the Illinois State Library, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), is entitled Thinking Outside the Borders.  Twelve participants, from Latin America, arrived at the Mortenson Center last week for a two-week technical training program.  This week, they are in Springfield.  And, next week, twenty other visitors will join the group for a leadership institute at the Allerton Conference Center.  The conference will be presented in English and Spanish.  The major goal of the grant is to develop training modules to be used by librarians around the world making it possible to work in a global environment.  Two additional conferences are planned for next year in Arizona and Nebraska. 

This grant is used to support librarians from Vietnam.  First, the attendees spend time at Simmons College, then they arrive at the Mortenson Center for a structured course before returning to Vietnam.  The first group was here during June and July, 2006; the second group will arrive in January, 2007. 

Many people have been involved and many countries represented in the fall programs.  Participants have been coming to the Center since 1992.  The fall programs have been offered since 1996.  The cost for bringing an individual to the eight-week program is approximately $6,000-$7,000 plus air fare.  Areas of concern for future program participants are housing and transportation.  In some cases, it is more difficult to obtain visa papers than it was at the inception of the program.

Barbara expressed her appreciation for thoughts and ideas relevant to Mortenson Center activities.

Members of the committee acknowledged that there is a high volume of work involved in hosting visitors.

Sunday, December 3, a group of Iraqi librarians will visit the Mortenson Center for one day.

The Mortenson Center continues to have new opportunities for projects.  The Gates Foundation showed an interest in working with the Mortenson Center, but the project was not geared to the expertise of the Center.


The meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

(Prepared by Dixie L. Trinkle)