Humanitarian Award for MC

Aug 29, 2011

Recipients of the 2011 Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award
From left to right:
Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, Mortenson Center Associate Director Susan Schnuer, Mortenson Center Director Barbara J. Ford, Champaign Mayor Don Gerard

The Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library was selected to receive a 2011 Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award for its efforts to facilitate international cooperation through research and education.  The cities of Champaign and Urbana and the 2011 Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Awards Steering Committee honored the Mortenson Center on September 29, 2011.

The organization works to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians worldwide for the promotion of international education, understanding, and peace.  Over 900 librarians from more than 90 countries, including China, South Africa, and Ukraine, have participated in professional development programs offered by the Mortenson Center—the only one of its kind in the world.

The Mortenson Center was nominated for the award by the Champaign Public Library.  Director, Marsha Grove, said, “The humanitarian impact of the Center’s work is the contribution to the betterment of libraries and the individuals they serve.  Libraries support literacy, education and research by providing individuals access to books, information and technology.  This allows people to improve their own lives and their communities.”

“My position here has allowed me to build on the work of its founding director, Marianna Tax Choldin, who took an idea and developed a unique and thriving program.  And, none of this would have been possible without support from Joan Hood in the Library’s Development Office and a generous gift from C. Walter and Gerda B. Mortenson,” said Barbara Ford, who serves as the second director of the Mortenson Center.  “The future of the Mortenson Center looks bright as we continue to receive support from foundations and organizations to expand our work into new countries and regions.”

“For the past 18 years, I have had the privilege of helping shape a highly successful professional development program,” said Susan Schnuer, Associate Center director.  “This experience has brought librarians from the state of Illinois in touch with colleagues from around the world, weaving a rich fabric of international collegial friendships.  It is a heart-warming experience to be contacted by former international visitors who share with us that their experience in the Champaign-Urbana community was a highlight of their professional and personal lives.”

“The Mortenson Center is a unique operation with a unique undertaking: to essentially promote world peace through librarians,” said Paula Kaufman, university librarian and dean of libraries at Illinois. “It has brought librarians from around the globe to Champaign-Urbana for learning, to develop a trade, by understanding that there are many effective forms of government. “

The Champaign-Urbana International Awards were originally created  in 2003 to honor individuals/organizations whose work has contributed significantly to international understanding, cooperation, friendship and development; recognize the richness of Champaign County’s international contributions, concerns and commitments in a variety of arenas, including agriculture, hospitality, humanitarian relief, human rights, research/education, and trade and business; and educate the public about the connections that exist between our local and global community.  

For more information about the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs, please visit www.library.illinois.edu/mortenson/.

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