Barbara J. Ford is the director of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs and Mortenson Distinguished Professor at the Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The American Library Association (ALA), Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have recognized her with awards for her significant contributions and dedication to international librarianship. In 2011, she was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.
Barbara previously worked as assistant commissioner for central library services at the Chicago Public Library, executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University libraries, and associate library director at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She served in several capacities at the University of Illinois at Chicago, including documents librarian and audiovisual librarian. In addition, Barbara was director of the Soybean Insect Research Information Center at the Illinois Natural History Survey and a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama and Nicaragua.
She was the 1997-1998 president of the ALA and her theme was "Libraries: Global Reach, Local Touch." She was president of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of ALA, from 1990-1991. From 2005-2009, she served as an elected member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Governing Board. She previously served as the secretary for the IFLA Section on Government Information and Official Publications and on the IFLA Academic and Research Libraries Section.
The author of many publications and presentations, Barbara has traveled around the world to address topics such as information literacy, government information, the future of libraries, the role of library associations, international cooperation among libraries, among other topics.
Barbara earned a bachelor's degree in history and education from Illinois Wesleyan University, a master's degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a master's degree in library science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
I have been at the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs since 1992 and have developed its programs and have managed new initiatives. The Mortenson Center offers intensive professional development programs in the U.S., and programs are tailored to meet the unique needs of each group. As an example, earlier this year we hosted a group of academic librarians from South Africa who wanted to learn how to support research activities at their institutions.
I have also been actively involved in projects and training in Central America, Russia, China, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. The projects have ranged from helping university libraries to automate to developing strong leadership in a library association. All of these projects have been grant-based. In the past year we began a Library Leaders and Innovators Training Program with GL teams in Latvia and Romania.
I started my career as an elementary school teacher in New Orleans and then worked in bilingual education in Massachusetts. Bilingual education led me to the Midwest Center for Bilingual Education in Illinois, and then to the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education in Washington, DC. At both centers I worked as a consultant to school districts and teachers.
I am an alum of Tufts University in Boston and have a degree from Boston University (M.Ed.) and another from the University of Illinois (MLIS). I have been very engaged in international activities within ALA and hold a committee leadership position in IFLA. I have given numerous papers and workshops at conferences and meetings around the world. I lived for several years in France, Peru, and Mexico.