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Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Monday, April 14, 2008, 10:30 a.m. 

Present: Barbara J. Ford (chair), Susan Schnuer, Janice Pilch, Atoma Batoma, Yoo-Seong Song, Melody Allison, Rae Anne Montague, Jacques Fuqua, and Scott Schwartz.

Absent: John Santos

Committee members introduced themselves and Barbara welcomed all.  She noted that every effort is made to work with the various schedules of the committee in setting meeting dates and times and was grateful to see so many able to be present. Barbara also reminded the committee the agenda is always open for additions. 

The Mortenson Center continues to be presented with new opportunities for involvement in South Africa. The center just hosted a group of seven South African librarians for a two week program focused on support for faculty research.  This was an interesting experience, given the scope of the programming was so focused compared to the broad focus that is usually put together. This particular group split up when leaving here to go on to six different academic libraries in the United States for an additional four weeks. The center will have another group arriving in March 2009 for a similar program that is funded by the Carnegie Corporation for three academic libraries in South Africa.

The center is assisting the University of Pretoria with developing a leadership institute that will be presented in November 2008.

The Mortenson Center continues to work with academic libraries in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda to support implementation of technology.  In West Africa, Nigeria signed with VTLS and Susan is assisting with implementation which is a very slow process. Susan continues to go to Nigeria several times a year to work with them.  In East Africa teams provide continuing education about topics of interest. 

Rae Anne expressed concern as to the software becoming obsolete by the time they are up and running with it. Susan said VTLS has made a five-year commitment of partnership and is updating as needed. 

The Thinking Outside the Borders: Library Leadership in a World Community grant was scheduled to end in 2007, however there has been a one-year extension granted. The grant was developed with the Illinois State Library and the center worked with state libraries in Nebraska and Arizona in presenting leadership institutes that included US and international librarians.  A publication of modules developed with the grant that may be used globally in presenting library leadership training is now being developed.  Funding for such international projects is rare, so as this grant comes to a close we would like to note how fortunate we have been to have had this opportunity.  

The Mortenson Center has worked with librarians Shuyong Jiang and Karen Wei who have drafted a grant with the cooperation of the Chinese American Librarians Association. The grant is three pronged in that it supports Chinese librarian visits here, American librarians visiting there, and will create a database that will be useful for librarians in the US who serve Chinese populations. The proposal was just begun before Christmas and a team will travel to IMLS next week to discuss the proposal with them. Next month a team will travel to China to discuss the proposal with the Ministry of Culture. 

Jacques had a question regarding the programming and activities for visiting librarians under this grant.  Barbara said the Library Society of China has a list of priorities for topics and noted the incredible potential of this initiative for professional bonds being created. 

The signature program of the Mortenson Center this year has brought a large number of applicants. We currently have 21 candidates under consideration for the September 2 through October 31 program.  Among the applicants, four come from counties which would be new to the Mortenson Program; Iraq, Palestine, Sierra Leone, and Bahrain.  The number of participants we are able to accept is limited due to housing availability and transportation costs. These are the biggest issues, transportation particularly with groups over 15 since the program includes a trip to Chicago, possibly OCLC in Ohio, and visits to various libraries throughout the state. We are also limited by the number apartments available through Orchard Downs. 

This fall will be particularly busy since we will have a one-month program for eleven Carnegie/MacArthur African librarians running simultaneously. 

Scott inquired as to our knowledge of the applicants’ interests or focus. Susan explained we are still in the planning stages and the Mortenson graduate assistance will go through all the motivation statements to compile interests. The applicants come from a variety of situations; academic, public, and special libraries, this year we have one librarian from an orphanage, so addressing the needs of all can be challenging.  Barbara spoke of the efforts made to provide a program that covers a broad spectrum of topics while working within the availability of instructors, facilities, and technology. 

Jacques commented that looking at the list of applicants, he saw some that looked as if it would be challenging to obtain visas and wondered if the center was able to assist them in that area.

Susan said that when we have connections within the county we will make calls and request assistance.  She noted the campus office, ISSS, is also very helpful in this regard. Barbara said each year there are usually a few who have difficulty obtaining a visa, among a whole host of other human factors that arise as obstacles.  Until they actually arrive, there are no sure numbers. Last year we had accepted and processed 20, however when we came to the arrival date, we had only 17. Other times, they all make it. 

Scott inquired as to who pays for the associates participation in the program. Barbara explained the funding comes from a variety of sources. Some are partially supported through grants, others are paid for by their home institutions, and some pay their own way. For example, our guest from Pakistan who is here for a year is funded through Fulbright. 

Appropriate to the current project, we are working on hosting a Chinese speaker this year in September.  

The Mortenson Center will host five librarians who are IFLA/OCLC fellows  for a one day program on May 13. 

Rae Anne spoke of a GSLIS partnership with Sao Tome and the challenges presented by unreliable power, bandwidth, and wireless, as well as the Portuguese /French language challenges. 

Scott, Janice, Susan, and Barbara will be presenting at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institution Conference in Quebec City in August.

Yoo-Seong asked if some of the African groups we are working with will be moving into electronic resources and issues. Susan said that since some of them are virtually starting from nothing, we are focusing on library management systems. 

Yoo-Seong inquired how they get around the bandwidth problem.  Susan explained that there is a service whereby they make requests for materials prior to leaving for the day and the requests are filled and sent to them during the slower evening hours. 

Janice suggested that the Mortenson Center might be able to play a role in international education initiatives on authors’ rights and copyright, given the increasing need for this information in developing countries. This might involve collaboration with other organizations involved in similar efforts. Possibilities for grant funding will be investigated. Susan Schnuer will be going to Harvard later this week to take part in discussions about developing tutorials about copyright that they are hopeful to have on the web within the next year or so. Melanie inquired as to what type of program would be helpful for providing international copyright instruction. Janice felt a one-day program would suffice with approximately three hours to show how international copyright would work and the remainder of the time creating scenarios to work through. 

Scott had questions about where preservation fell on the list of priorities. Susan stated that there are definite thoughts in that direction but with such limited resources they have to deal with the basic issues first.  Scott was curious what the interest level was with regard to projects on preservation, perhaps with institutional or national archives. Barbara and Susan felt that consortiums, even within the more open countries are difficult. Trust is a major issue, not only with the sharing of documents, but projects have been started and not followed through with. Barbara noted most countries have national archives and that IFLA devotes time and effort to this topic. Mortenson Center grant funding is more focused on academic efforts, but if anyone is aware of funding available for such efforts we would certainly look into it. 

Rae Anne suggested the possibility of the center working together with GSLIS on career guidance for students interested in international jobs. Atoma said he had some of his GSLIS students inquire about doing their practicum at Mortenson Center and Susan explained that because of our limited staff it would be difficult to administrate. Atoma also suggested pursuing avenues for maintaining connections between the Mortenson Associates and university librarians who have served as instructors once they had returned home.  Barbara noted some of the past efforts to connect librarians and associates were not necessarily well-attended and the Center welcomes fresh ideas to create more long-term connections. Rae thought we might try getting involved in the GSLIS orientation to see if we had students interested in the “Friends” program. Barbara felt we might be able to set-up specific activities for the students and associates and Rae Anne suggested bringing the associates to the Windsor Lecture and other activities.


The meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m. 

Minutes prepared by Coral Daube