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Mortenson Center Advisory Commitee Meeting Minutes, November 20, 2013

Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Minutes

Wednesday – November 20, 2013

9:00 am

141 Undergraduate Library – Conference Room

 

In attendance: Barbara Ford (Chair), Alistair Black, Lura Joseph, Susan Schnuer, Scott Schwartz, Steve Witt


The meeting began with brief introductions.

Agenda Items commenced with a recap of the 29th Annual Distinguished lecture by Sanjana Shrestha, READ Nepal Country Director. Feedback from the community on the lecture was positive. The GSLIS students found it interesting to think of libraries as more than book repositories, but as agents of development in rural communities.

Thinley Choden, READ Bhutan, gave an interview to UI-7 Cable Television and Geeta Malhotra, READ India, gave a lecture through Blackboard to an online class.

The next item on the agenda was the Center’s ongoing work with READ Global. 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.

Most of the people hired to run the libraries are local community members, not trained librarians. While the country directors visited the Mortenson Center in September, they helped to develop plans for a Spring 2014 “Train the Trainers” program to help build stronger READ Global libraries. This program will include programming from the SAWBO (Scientific Animations Without Borders) health and agricultural information animated media program. Seven (7) READ Global staff will visit the Mortenson Center in May-June 2014.

Scott Schwartz mentioned a similar program he is involved with in a small African village. Community members sell donated seeds to benefit a library they built with proceeds from their preliminary sales. Susan Schnuer suggested a consultation with READ Global staff and perhaps using their model as a structure for the African program.

Alistair Black asked for a citation on READ Global’s program. More information can be found on their website: readglobal.org.

Mortenson Center outreach was next on the agenda. Barbara and Susan both attended the IFLA conference in Singapore. They presented a poster and Susan gave some talks.

Barbara Ford recently returned from Shanghai, China after attending the Library Society of China conference. The conference was very impressive and Barbara saw a number of the librarians who were trained at the Mortenson Center as part of the China IMLS grant. Results of the program have been impressive. An indirect impact was the Chinese government taking over the Library Society conference, which transformed it into a widely-attended event with fantastic exhibits and many substantive programs.

Susan Schnuer attended the LIASA conference in South Africa. The association continues to grow and is on track to becoming a major player in the international library community. One of the panels Susan served on was the Public Libraries Burned in Townships panel, which addressed the factors behind the burnings. A sociologist on the panel explained the townships’ perception of the public libraries as government institutions. The government was not meeting the communities’ demands for clean water, sanitation, and other public works projects. Burning the libraries was a demand for the government’s attention in addressing these basic needs. A focus of the conference was the link between public libraries and development, which appears to be a trend in the library community in South Africa.

Alistair Black mentioned the work of Archie Dick on Township libraries. Susan talked about the area’s unemployment problems and the “born free” generation who did not grow up during the apartheid era. Their generation is more focused on the future and less interested in past struggles.

Barbara Ford told the committee about her U.S. Department of State speaking tour of Zimbabwe on developing library associations, the role of women in libraries, and library trends. The interest in that region is the increasing use of technology in libraries and introducing that aspect to developing libraries of the future. She also spoke at the Wisconsin Library Association on the topic of women in libraries.

Beyond Access was next on the agenda, so Susan spoke about her recent training visit to Myanmar. A new member of Beyond Access, the country has lifted many restrictions but censorship is still practiced by the government. A flood of NGOs have entered the market in hopes of funding community development projects. It won’t be long before the internet comes to Myanmar, which makes library professionals there very excited about the coming possibilities for user services. 91% of Myanmar citizens can read, but most don’t have access to reading materials. The bookmobile program has done wonders for library outreach and is utilized primarily by children and teens.

Susan Schnuer recently attended a Gates Foundation Peer Learning Meeting in South Africa. These meetings bring international librarians together from 15 countries 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 Global Leaders and Innovators program grant came to an end last year, but the Romanian grant from the Gates Foundation for over $20 million just ended. The National Library was the site of a conference to showcase the results of the Gates Foundation-funded project to bring technology into the library. 

Susan Schnuer pitched an idea to Gates for a Leadership Training Institute conference for programs currently training the leaders of tomorrow. The next step would be for the Gates Foundation to complete an environmental scan of these training programs worldwide. Depending on how discussions with the Foundation go, the Center might be asked to submit a formal proposal in 2014.

Arabella, with funding from the Gates Foundation, has evaluated the Mortenson Center’s past 5 years of programs, including the programs’ impact on the careers of the participants and wider innovations set into motion. Their preliminary findings from 120 survey responses and 30 interviews have been very positive. Barbara and Susan will travel to Seattle in January to discuss Arabella’s findings with the Gates Foundation and propose future projects. Arabella’s final results will include the evaluation and a metric for evaluating, which they will teach Center staff to use in order to self-evaluate future projects.

Also with generous support from the Gates Foundation is a Center rebranding by Studio 2D. The Center has begun incorporating their new logo into reports and other files and is currently working to provide content for a rebranded brochure and case study documentation.

At this point, the conversation deviated from the agenda as Barbara and Susan told the committee about a possible new project for the Mortenson Center with Native American communities. Tom Mortenson contacted the Center about a public library training program for Native American reservation libraries, specifically, the White Earth Nation. As soon as he has conferred with the community’s governing council, more discussions can take place. Scott Schwartz and Lura Joseph suggested consulting Native American library programs in Washington State, Oklahoma, and Arizona, particularly Native American Archive initiatives in these states. Barbara Ford spoke about the University of British Colombia’s Library School curriculum on First Peoples libraries.

Next year’s Associates program is already on the horizon. The deadline for application is December 1st but the Center already has 19 individual applicants and two organizations who wish to send a few participants of their own. Funding for international librarians to attend this program continues to be the biggest stumbling block.

Scott Schwartz suggested giving another half-day presentation to the Associates on his work involving music programming for children, “The Science of Sound.” The university music archives has put together an exhibit on local music and partnered with an African drum circle program that might be incorporated into the Associates 2014 programming.

The Russian All-State Library for Foreign Literature would like to send another group of Russian librarians in 2014. They have some funding but are looking for more. Last year 27 librarians spent 2 weeks with the Mortenson Center learning about youth and teen services. Discussions about this program are still underway, but the group would come to the US in July.

Future Mortenson Center endeavors may include training public libraries in Namibia. As part of the Millennium Goals Funding Grant, a series of libraries have been built throughout the country and they have asked the Mortenson Center to train the new librarians and staff. It was suggested that 2014 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. They are planning to submit another proposal for possible on-site training in Namibia.

Other topics discussed were the Center’s possible program promotion or outreach through WILL 580, though it has been difficult getting into contact with their new program producer.

Jamie Luedtke has joined the Mortenson Center for the year to help Barbara and Susan with presentations and writing content for the new Mortenson Center brochures and a variety of projects.

Steve Witt asked about SAWBO (Scientific Animations Without Borders.) He and Atoma Batoma were contacted to help promote the program’s materials and make them available to the public. SAWBO was referred to Atoma by the Mortenson Center as a possible partner because of the need for SAWBO animations material cataloging.

Scott Schwartz asked for leads on speakers for a Chinese history and using primary sources talk. He told the committee about the Chinese Association of Archivists. They want to bring people from libraries who are interested in archiving together for a conference. There was talk of using the Mortenson Center Model for this conference. Steve Witt also mentioned the Chinese Executive Leadership Program. Barbara mentioned a group of agricultural librarians from India who may be visiting the campus as part of the International Training Program and may receive training through the Mortenson Center.

Lura Joseph suggested the Agriculture Communication Document Center as a possible stop for international librarians focused on agricultural information materials.

Alistair Black brought up the possibility of a GSLIS class on the Mortenson Model for those students going for a career with NGOs. The class would involve real-world examples and a bit of theory, but would also get the word out about the Mortenson Center. It could possibly be a candidate for a Title VI proposal.

There was a short discussion on recent cuts to British public libraries. Mr. Black explained that branch libraries in some depressed areas were severely underutilized.

There were no other topics so the meeting was adjourned.

Minutes prepared by Lindy Wheatley.