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Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Minutes

Thursday, October 19, 2009

1 pm, 251a Undergraduate Library


In attendance: Barbara Ford (chair), Susan Schnuer, Paula Carns, Jenny Emanuel, Kathleen Kern, Rae-Anne Montague, Wolfgang Schloer, Scott Schwartz, and Karen Wei.

The meeting began with introductions of committee members, Mortenson staff, as well as seven of the 14 International Mortenson Fall Associates who gave a brief description of their roles within their home libraries.

Barbara spoke of the Fall Program as the Mortenson Center's signature program which hosts librarians from around the world for seven to nine week training programs. She acknowledged the center's reliance on the support of our colleagues and the university to be able to offer this valued and world renowned program. The content and activities of this year's program were reviewed.

A few of the Associates had questions for members of the committee regarding  both their individual roles and the committee role, which were answered and plans made for several one on one discussions at a later time.

The visitors were excused to return to their scheduled program sessions and Barbara answered questions from committee members about the funding that allows each of the associates to participate in the program. Most are financially supported by their home institutions, and some are brought here on grants awarded to the Mortenson Center. There was a short discussion regarding the role procedural encumbrances are playing in the future of grant funded attendees. Wolfgang noted the Provost's office is trying to address some of the issues involved with university hosted international visitors.

Both the MacArthur and Carnegie grants have been renewed for three years. These involve assisting the ten grant supported universities in Sub Saharan Africa to become automated. This will be the last renewal and Susan shared her satisfaction with the progress and ownership of the initiative made by the grantees. She will be visiting the Nigerian grantees during a three week trip in November. These grants will also provide for bringing 20 of their people here for training as well.

The center has been working with Shuyong Jiang and Karen Wei, Co-PI's for the two year collaborative grant with the Chinese American Librarians  Association and is funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Chinese Ministry of Culture. This is a three part program in which the first part brings Chinese Librarians, Administrators, and I.T. people to the U.S. for training. The initial group of Chinese Library Administrators was here in June for a three week program. The second group of library staff will be here in January and the final group of library I.T. staff is slated for next year. The second part takes U.S. librarians to China. Karen will forward recruitment material and requirements to those interested. The final portion of the grant involves designing a web portal of Chinese materials for U.S. librarians serving Chinese speakers. This is a highly visible project politically and discussions have already begun to extend the program.

Barbara encouraged all our colleagues to attend the 19 th Annual Mortenson Distinguished Lecture this Friday. We are honored to be hosting Ellen Tise, Senior Director of Library and Information Services of the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and the current President of I.F.L.A. as our Distinguished Lecturer this year.

She has served on the Governing Board and Executive Committee of IFLA, the IFLA Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) Advisory Board, and the IFLA Africa Section Standing Committee. Ms. Tise was Chairperson of the National Organizing Committee for the IFLA 73 rd World Library and Information Congress, held in Durban, South Africa in August 2007.

A welcoming dinner is being held the evening prior with reception immediately following the lecture. This annual event is made possible by the generous gifts of C. Walter and Gerta B. Mortenson, in their efforts to promote world librarianship and peace.

The Mortenson Center will be hosting 28-30 Ukrainian Public Librarians for a week of training the third week of February.  They contacted us about using a portion of their Gates Foundation award to fund this program.

The Center has been working with Russia for several years to lay the ground work for a collaborative initiative and those efforts will continue with Barbara and Susan going to Russia again soon.

On April 27 we will again host the participants of the Jordan IFLA/OCLC Fellowship Program. This remains a nice partnership between the Center and OCLC.

Barbara and Susan have been working with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for several years to find a good match in hopes of leading to a contract. They feel they are getting very close to seeing that come to fruition in the near future which would be the first Gates grants for the university. We will keep the committee posted on progress.

Other topics included an inquiry from Wolfgang regarding the sources for Distinguished Lecturer candidates and Rae-Anne expressing interest in the possibilities GSLIS may be able to play in the IMLS/China program.

Rae-Anne shared information about the São Tomé project and the potential it holds for a big impact on some of the smaller countries. Four undergraduate students at the University of Illinois have received a grant under the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program to provide XO laptops and teach computer literacy skills to children in São Tomé, Africa. Susan offered to forward any applicable grant opportunities to Rae-Anne.

The topic of future budgetary and procedural restriction having impact on the Center's ability to continue hosting international associates was brought back to the table by Wolfgang with an offer of supportive back up in addressing hindrances. Center staff, along with representatives from the library business office, and human resources, will be meeting in November with Payroll to discuss some of the payments to foreign nationals issues.


Reported by Coral Daube

November 5, 2009