In attendance: Barbara Ford (Chair), Alistair Black, Harriett Green, Joann Jacoby, Lura Joseph, Susan Schnuer, Scott Schwartz, Lynn Wiley
The meeting began with brief introductions.
Agenda Items commenced with a look ahead to the Center’s summer programs, beginning with the Associates. Due to increasing difficulties obtaining U.S. visas for people in West Africa and the Middle East, only 13 Associates are expected this year, and two of those still await word from the embassy. Associate program content has changed over the years, shifting to focus more on library technology and social media. There was discussion of alumni forming networks with each other after the end of their respective programs. Some did, some did not. This year’s Associates will be partnered with a “Library Friend” - a university librarian with similar interests. Many librarians have already volunteered, including some new hires.
In July, the Center will host 27 Russian librarians. The planning stage of this program has just begun since it was not clear at the time how many visitors were Young Adult librarians, though logistical arrangements have been in place since the end of last year. The Center is now in the process of hiring interpreters for the group. Scott Schwartz suggested giving a half-day presentation on his work involving music programming for children, “The Science of Sound.” Depending on the number of Youth Services librarians and the preferences of the visitors, there may be two programs.
Throughout the month of March, Susan and Barbara traveled to India, Nepal and Bhutan for on-site visits of community libraries for READ Global. The organization helps rural communities establish libraries and the enterprises meant to support them. Some of the small businesses encountered raised money by selling produce, weaving, renting out farm equipment, and ambulance services. The challenges facing these libraries are many, including connectivity issues, as well as reliable electricity. Most of the people hired to run the libraries are development workers, not trained librarians. Many of the books available in these rural libraries are in English, so are not utilized largely due to language barriers. In the fall, READ Global directors will visit the Center to develop a Spring 2014 “Train the Trainers” program which will show the prospective librarians how modern libraries work and how they might provide services to their patrons.
Susan Schnuer recently attended a Gates Foundation Peer Learning Meeting in South Africa. These meetings bring international librarians together to share their experiences, talk about challenges and emerging trends, and learn about current and ongoing research in the field. Some of the main talking points during the meeting were “Design Thinking” and Sustainability.
The Mortenson Center staff was invited to attend a program in Washington, D.C. for a new initiative by IREX called Beyond Access. Susan Schnuer has been working on a curriculum for the project, called Development 101, which will help match libraries with international development organizations most able to guide them in their work and possibly fund their projects. Three pilot meetings in Colombia, Indonesia, and South Africa are scheduled to bring these two groups together. The goal is to involve public libraries in supporting international development work.
Arabella, with funding from the Gates Foundation, has provided a ‘Theory of Change’ document for the Center in keeping with other non-profit organizational literature. They are now seeking additional grant funds to begin evaluation of the Mortenson Center’s past 10 years of programs, including the programs’ impact on the careers of the participants and wider innovations set into motion. This evaluation may set the stage for increased opportunities for worldwide involvement.
Also aiding the possible increase in opportunities is a Center rebranding by Studio 2D, with generous support from the Gates Foundation. The new contemporary promotional materials will still feature the I-Mark, as the University of Illinois Library and its expert faculty are some of the Mortenson Center’s continuing strengths.
The Center’s submission of a poster for an IFLA Poster Session in Singapore was accepted.
Barbara Ford has been deeply involved in the new UNESCO Center for Global Citizenship. Its launch was very well-attended by students, community members and local government officials. The new Center is a university and community partnership designed to increase local awareness of the UNESCO organization and its work internationally. Phase 2 of the Center will involve local projects for club members. Barbara will head a reading group of publications on the UNESCO website. Her colleagues in the venture will plan trips to UNESCO world heritage sites such as Cahokia Mounds and even Machu Picchu in Peru.
Future Mortenson Center endeavors will include public libraries in Namibia. The IREX organization has built a series of libraries throughout the country and has asked the Mortenson Center to train the new librarians and staff. It was suggested that fall 2013 was an opportune time for on-site training in Namibia while also evaluating the needs of these libraries for future programs to take place in the U.S.
Barbara asked the committee if they knew of anyone who might be interested in joining the Advisory Committee for 2014. Several names were offered. Barbara is particularly interested in appointing those engaged in international development.
There were no other topics so the meeting was adjourned.
Minutes prepared by Lindy Wheatley.