In attendance: Barbara Ford (Chair), Harriett Green, Lura Joseph, Scott Schwartz, Susan Schnuer
The meeting commenced with introductions.
Agenda Items began with a review of the committee charge.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Global Libraries (GL) grant for public libraries in Latvia and Romania is in its last stage. Susan Schnuer is working on the final report. 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. Scott Schwartz asked about project archiving, both administrative documents and products of the projects.
The Mortenson Center has partnered with Beyond Access after Barbara and Susan attended the BA Conference in Washington, D.C. They were invited to put together a presentation on program sustainability. 20 countries attended with submissions on how libraries would power development. The conference was a networking opportunity for foundations to connect with libraries for the funding of future projects. Susan Schnuer is working with other library organizations on a curriculum called ‘Development 101’ to help community libraries partner with development organizations.
GL has provided support for the evaluation of the Mortenson Center’s past 10 years of programs, including their impact on the careers of the participants and wider library innovations to support library users set into motion. Their goal is to discover what makes the Mortenson Center and its programs so successful. Arabella, a consulting group, is set to visit the Center in December to begin their initial assessment. Evaluation has not been a focus of the Center, so Barbara and Susan hope to finish the project with an evaluation model to use in the future for projects with other organizations. They also plan on using the information to develop a brochure for prospective funders.
GL will also fund a review of Mortenson Center materials to be developed by Studio 2D. In order to compete on an international stage, the Center needs to maintain a public image, but has used the same logo and type of information materials for twenty years. It has fallen behind in this regard. Studio 2D will develop a new look and graphics package for promotions and informational materials. The Mortenson Center will provide the content. Printing costs are not included in the funded project.
A new project with READ Global is set to begin in February. Barbara and Susan will visit Nepal, India, and Bhutan for an in-country evaluation of needs. READ Global helps communities in these countries to set up community libraries and businesses to fund these libraries. The Mortenson Center may bring in partners from Haiti to help design and implement a suitable training program. A group of librarians will most likely visit the Center in September 2013.
Susan is also busy helping to organize the next GL Peer Learning Meeting in South Africa in April. The 3-day meeting brings together teams from partner countries in order to compare different perspectives of shared challenges.
The Mortenson Center Summer Associate application process is approaching its deadline. So far, 30 librarians from all over the world have submitted application materials. This year’s program will run from May 30 – June 25, 2013.
In July, the Mortenson Center will host a group of Russian public librarians. The Center began its work in 1995 with programs for Russian libraries and has been looking for a way to reengage with the libraries there. This program will focus on Teen and Young Adult services. They will visit Champaign, Urbana, and Chicago public libraries. The new director of Chicago Public Library is motivated to work with the Mortenson Center. Some of the Russians will also give a presentation at the American Library Association annual meeting.
The IMLS grant with public Libraries in China officially ended. The training part of the project was 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. Projects with public and university libraries have both experienced difficulties involving strict government controls of accessible Chinese materials. A closing ceremony for the project was held in June. The final project report was submitted in November.
Possible future projects include grants from the Open Society Institute for a library project in Turkmenistan. The Center is waiting on government approval for such a project. There is a possible library association project in Mauritius. Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan is interested in a 2014 training project.
Scott Schwartz suggested a future project for Latvian and Romanian archiving and retention of cultural records. This initiated a discussion of the importance of archiving in smaller countries in order to preserve cultural identities. Lura Joseph suggested a possible partnership with the Geological Librarian Society to fund members as Mortenson Center Associate applicants.
There were no other topics so the meeting was adjourned.
Minutes prepared by Lindy Wheatley.