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Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 10:00 a.m.

Present: Barbara J. Ford (chair), Melody Allison, Rae Anne Montague, John Santos, Janice Pilch.

Absent:  Atoma Batoma, Jacques Fuqua, Scott Schwartz, Yoo-Seong Song

The meeting began with committee members and staff introducing themselves. Noting a busy time of year for all, Barbara welcomed those in attendance and encouraged suggestions.

Clara Budnik of Chile will be the 17 th Annual Mortenson Distinguished Lecturer on Thursday this week. She will be speaking on “The Enchanted Libraries of Chile- A Story of Transformation.” Barbara explained to the committee that we were trying a new time of day this year and that our lecturer will additionally be speaking at the “Thinking Outside the Borders” Leadership Institute in Nebraska where she will be accompanied by seven of the Mortenson Associates. Promotional posters were made available to anyone wishing to post them, and Barbara welcomed suggestions for a speaker for next year.

The Carnegie Corporation invited technical assistance grantees to a meeting in New York in September. Mortenson Center was included with a number of large and notable development firms to give a presentation. The group was impressed with the “librarians” and surprised to learn of the small staff size in relation to the Mortenson projects and activities. Barbara informed the committee Carnegie would like the center to write another grant, which it will probably do. Susan will be in Nigeria and then Ghana for several weeks beginning in late October to check on the progress of the Mortenson Center/Carnegie initiatives. Barbara stated that Center staff members are pleased with the progress, noting lack of reliable power and bandwidth as the ongoing challenges there.

Melody inquired about projects in the Congo, as she had a friend there working on a solar project. Barbara responded that both Carnegie and MacArthur choose the locations, as well as the participants in their programs but that the center is always interested in contacts for exploring opportunities.

John inquired if grants were covering the costs of the Mortenson Associates from project institutions. Barbara explained grants are paying for one each from Uganda and Tanzania this fall and the grants also covered the costs for the library directors to attend I.F.L.A. which was is Durbin, South Africa this year. Carnegie and MacArthur are very interested in investing in people, and human development. Just as Russia previously was key in Mortenson Center work, the focus is now shifting to Africa.

Barbara made the committee aware that this grant was due to expire in fall 2007 but was extended one year. “Thinking Outside the Borders” was developed to bring together U.S. and international librarians. This has not only been an outreach to libraries in developing countries, but has had an impact on U.S. libraries as well. Under the program this fall a Leadership Institute was coupled with host visits to libraries throughout the state of Illinois. The final workshop will be held in Nebraska later this month. Modules are being developed so other libraries around the world can replicate this program.

Rae Anne inquired if the center was preparing new grants. Barbara said we will probably prepare new grants for Carnegie, but not for IMLS.  The Center is concentrating on the Fall Program, which has continued grow. This year we have 17 associates from 14 countries. We actually had to turn away four or five fully funded applicants due to lack of space.

Rae Anne asked if the grants paid for these associates and Barbara explained the funding comes from a mixture of sources. Some are covered by grants and some are funded by their individual institutions. Rae Anne then inquired about if the associates are housed at Orchard Downs. Barbara said they were and voiced concern over the redevelopment planned there and if we would be able to afford to continue housing the associates there at post redevelopment prices. She had heard the University purchased the apartment complex adjacent to the UIUC Employee Credit Union on south First Street which might be another housing option. Logistics, including housing and transportation, are always the most difficult and costly.

John Santos recognized that the associate program is labor-intensive for staff but felt it was well worth the efforts once the associates return home and initiated programs based on what they had learned here. He felt it very important to make the associates feel as if they are part of the university and encouraged ideas on what we can do to nurture that.

Barbara told the committee that only 7 of the 17 associates were traveling to “ Thinking Outside the Borders” Leadership Institute and the Nebraska Library Association conference this year since they were only able to come up with that many Nebraskan   participants. This caused us to have to split the group up, with the remainder going to OCLC in Ohio. The Illinois Librarian Association presentations were well received last week at ILA, where the Associates spoke to a packed room on innovative library programs. She acknowledged the support of The Illinois State Library and Illinois Librarians Association as such an integral part of the programs of the Mortenson Center.

Continuing to review the major activities of the program, Barbara noted the group had visited a Midwest farm and were scheduled to travel to Arthur next week to experience an Amish farm and lifestyle in contrast. Last week the associates were at a digitization institute and the Lincoln sites in Springfield. Previous to that they were in Chicago for visits to the Chicago Tribune library, the Chicago Public Library, and the American Library Association. Barbara continued to review some of the highlights in the Fall Program itinerary and told the committee that each of the associates put together presentation projects and reports. They went to GSLIS and from this visit there are usually one or two who make application to the school.

The four IMLS Latin American sponsored individuals have been very impressive and will be excellent ambassadors for the Center when they return to their countries.

John felt that because the group learns about UIUC, they come to realize the resources available and tend to stay connected once they return home and need assistance with projects.

Barbara shared the MC Select website with the committee and explained it was the result of many requests in the past for free or low-cost resource links. It was developed with the assistance of Jo Kibbee and input from past associates via email. The Mortenson Center did a poster session at IFLA on MC Select. The committee was asked for their input on additional sources to add to the site.

Rae Anne commented on CE programs mushrooming at reasonable prices and questioned the ability to promote them within the website. Barbara suggested getting together with Mary Ann to develop promotion. She felt a list could be put together for promoting short programs and commented that some of these have minimal application requirements.

As mentioned earlier, the Center did a poster session at IFLA on MC Select and also presented a paper at a pre-conference meeting on continuing education. Since the conference was hosted in Africa, it brought an opportunity to see many past Mortenson Center Associates and hear of their accomplishments. Next year IFLA will be hosted in Canada.

John discussed the possibility of offering the two-month program twice a year but questioned, with our current commitments to projects in Africa, if the staff could handle it. Barbara mentioned the Center’s short term program coming up in the spring focused on increasing faculty liaison skills of librarians in South Africa. The Center will be hosting two individuals from each of three Universities for two weeks beginning in mid-March. John told the committee an additional goal is to involve other university units with international programs and inquired about increasing staff for the Mortenson Center.

Barbara stated the only way she is aware of to increase staff would be to include the cost in grants. Dawn Cassady, the center’s academic professional who took a position at the Urbana Free Library in August, was funded through a grant. However, it was a three-year contract due to run-out soon. Barbara told the committee that when writing the next round of grants the center would try to include more staff. Staffing is completely dependent on grants, the return of investments on endowments, and creatively piecing together various funds.

John asked if the program made money and Barbara said no.

Rae Anne said she thought the university would be interested in promoting global programs.

Barbara said she had met with the Associate Provost of International Affairs, and he is supportive of the Center program.

Rae Anne suggested using more promotions and Barbara welcomed ideas and direction in that area.

John noted the resemblance to the China Executive Program. Barbara said she meets with them and that the Center has also expressed interest in the possible establishment of the Confucius Institute.

Rae Anne suggested offering a program for Latin Americans and partnering with SALAM.

Barbara felt the committee offered some viable ideas and thanked them for their participation and input.

The Mortenson Center Associates joined the committee. They introduced themselves and told a little about where they are from, their institutions and the role they play.  A common thread throughout each of their introductions was gratitude for the opportunity to be here and learn skills that not only benefit their personal careers, but their profession, and their countries.

Janice Pilch introduced herself to the associates. She is scheduled to give a talk to the associates this week on copyright. She has just returned from Geneva where there was much discussion on international copyright she felt they would find very interesting.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

Prepared by Coral Daube