In attendance: Barbara Ford (Chair), Alistair Black, Paula Carns, Harriett Green, Kathleen Kern, Lynne Rudasill, Wolfgang Schloer, Susan Schnuer, Richard Tempest
The meeting began with introductions. Barbara mentioned it was International Week at Illinois and National Library Week. Last semester’s meeting was not held because the library was considering doing away with committees but decided the Mortenson Advisory Committee was necessary. Suggested reappointments to the Advisory Committee for two more years are Richard Tempest, Harriett Green, and Alistair Black. Paula Carns, Lynne Rudasill and Wolfgang Schloer are on their second terms so cannot be reappointed.
Barbara read through the beginning of the Mortenson Center’s April newsletter, pointing out the upcoming groups and staff activities.
Agenda Items began with the Center’s report on the Carnegie and MacArthur grants in East and West Africa. The grant projects made considerable progress with the university libraries, but due to logistical problems and political unrest, were not able to accomplish everything the project set out to do. The libraries are still interested in a partnership with the Mortenson Center and the Center staff hopes to help where they can. The African libraries are eager to continue their improvements in the future.
The IMLS grant with public Libraries in China is also drawing to a close. The information exchange and public librarian training objectives were very successful. However, the web portal objective to provide access to Chinese language materials for public library users in the U.S. ran into some roadblocks along the way so was not as successful. Mr. Schloer asked if a similar project – China Gateway at the University of Pittsburgh – experienced similar problems with access to Chinese materials. Projects with public and university libraries both experienced difficulties involving technological implementation but also communication breakdowns and strict government controls of accessible Chinese materials. A closing ceremony for the project will be held in June. A final project report will be prepared.
The Gates Foundation grant for public libraries in Latvia and Romania is also coming to an end. Small projects implemented in these libraries had larger impacts than anticipated, garnering public recognition for the public librarians in their communities and greater civil engagement. These projects included the purchase of cameras for the public to use for documenting community events and issues, a teen room to draw teenage users into the library and training for the librarians, who in turn trained others.
The Gates Foundation will also support evaluation of the Mortenson Center’s past 10 years of programs, including their impact on the careers of the participants and wider innovations set into motion. This evaluation may set the stage for a future long-term partnership between the Mortenson Center and the Gates Foundation and provide increased opportunities for worldwide involvement.
The OCLC Fellows will visit again in April. This year they will tour the Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) animation laboratory. SAWBO is a new opportunity for the Mortenson Center to collaborate with other University entities.
The Mortenson Center had a record number of Summer Associate applicants this year – 40 in all with 22 accepted from a wide range of countries. The program was restructured over the years to reflect the needs and comfort of the Associates. It has been shortened from 2 months to 3 weeks and now held in the summer instead of the fall, partly because housing is easier to attain and participants can then attend the American Library Association conference if they are interested. This year a generous library donor gave $2,000 to sponsor an Associate’s attendance to the program.
Richard Tempest pointed out that since there were so many Associates from Slavic countries (Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic), a collaboration with the Slavic library or Center would be a good idea. The Associates will most likely be partnered with a “Friend” - a university librarian with similar interests.
This year’s sponsored lecture coincided with the opening of the International & Area Studies library. Deborah Jakubs, the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University gave a lecture on March 6, 2012 entitled, “The Global Dimensions of Scholarship and Research Libraries.” Lecture text and video is available on the Mortenson Center’s website. Suggestions for future lecturers are welcome.
Since so many project grants are coming to an end, the Mortenson Center will be looking for new opportunities in the library science community. Some future projects include READ Global and a possible Gates Foundation/IREX partnership. Staff were invited to attend a program for this new initiative called Beyond Access and will put together a presentation on program sustainability.
The Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) animation laboratory looks to be an exciting opportunity for collaboration, as their program helps disseminate knowledge about topics such as agriculture and health through animations that libraries can tailor to their users’ needs and native languages. This might turn into an excellent application in with the READ Global projects in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, countries with high illiteracy rates. The SAWBO collaboration could possibly provide community libraries in these countries with increased access to a demographic in need of their resources.
Mr. Schloer suggested a possible collaboration with libraries in Sweden as part of the Illinois Strategic International Partnership. He’s working with a program geared toward university research in Sweden. He will put Mortenson Center staff in touch with Swedish librarians familiar with the program.
The Mortenson Center has received three requests to spend sabbaticals at the Mortenson Center and committee members provided some good ideas of possible collaborations for hosting.
There were no other topics so the meeting was adjourned.