Alumni Updates

Alumnus of the Month- May 2024

Neveen Nagy Eid, 2023

Current Place of work and title.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA), the New Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt

Website & Smart Applications Coordinator

What is a current project you are working on right now?

My job focuses on coordinating the requests of creation and/or updating of LS websites, software and/or applications between the Library Sector at the BA and our IT Sector. Additionally, I maintain the functionality of the website/software/application, keeping it up-to-date, and managing any other technical issues that may arise. I also create tutorials and deliver orientation sessions on the newly-published website/software/ application to my colleagues.


Currently, I’m working with others on the DAISY project where I prepare audio books and voice-record them to be available to our blind and visually-impaired patrons. Other projects I’m working on include finalizing ‘Callima’ website; a repository of the BA FAQs including an ‘Ask a Librarian’ service and finalizing the registration backend form of the ICIL-Africa 2024 conference to be hosted at our library in October 2024.

What LIS related session/ topic(s) were most interesting/memorable for you when you attended the program?

The ‘Everything DiSC Workplace’ workshop was really interesting and informative. Shirley Stelbrink’s amazing personality added a lot of fun to it as well. It is very important to grasp the different personalities of your team work members, get adaptive to each of their styles for the sake of better management of your work projects, and easy, smooth and fruitful communication among the team members.

The Grant Writing’ session by Anne Craig was interesting. It was the first time for me to attend a session about grant writing; knowing how to look for a grant, what mistakes to avoid while applying, what the grant reviewers look for in an application, etc.

The ‘Foresight Strategies/Techniques’  with Lisa Hinchliffe was a great session: It is very important to be fully aware what the challenges and trends going on currently in your field are, and accordingly set a 5-year plan for your work/institution.

The ‘Research Services/ Data management’ with Sandi Caldrone was great. As a highly-organized person, I like the idea that the University of Illinois Library offers Research Data Management training sessions and services to students teaching them how to manage their valuable research data, share them, keep them organized and maintain them in a secure place.

What fun activity/ tour did you enjoy most while attending the program?

The ‘Allerton Park & Retreat Center’ was really a needed calm break. The vast acres of green land, the bright colors of flowers, the huge trees, and the amazing lake was definitely a breathtaking scene and a lovely sanctuary!

My favorite tours were the ‘Champaign Public Library’, ‘Westerville Public Library’ and ‘Chicago Public Library’. Maybe I feel at home being at public libraries! I cannot forget the colorful design of the Champaign Public Library, the services of ‘Westerville Public Library’ provided specially to children and seniors, and the YOUmedia place in Chicago Public Library with the several tailored activities it encompasses to its teens

What advice would you give someone who is considering applying for the program or someone who has been accepted into the program?

For those who are considering applying for the program:

  • Do not ever hesitate applying. It is a life-time experience! As Clara told us once, quoting a past associate feedback: “Life before Mortenson Center is different than life after Mortenson Center’.
  • Set your goals to be open-minded, good to others, and benefit from every single thing you experience.

For those who have been accepted into the program:

  • Taking notes constantly is essential.
  • Ask all the questions that may cross your mind during the sessions and library visits; everyone there is so friendly and ready to help.


Alumnus of the Month- April 2024

Thikra Alharbi, 2023

Current Place of work and title.

Librarian at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Saudi Arabia, Jeddah

What is a current project you are working on right now?

Currently, I’m keen on studying societal trends in information consumption, or as I prefer to describe it, ” information lifestyle.” Nowadays, we no longer live without the constant influx of information, whether by our own choice or by algorithmic selection. Just as we engage in daily physical exercise and consume healthy food, understanding our information consumption habits and patterns is crucial for maintaining a balanced “information lifestyle.”

What LIS related session/ topic(s) were most interesting/memorable for you when you attended the program?

Two sessions profoundly impacted me, both revolving around the power of storytelling. Dr. Peggy Nzomo’s session, “Storytelling – COVID,” delved into how narratives can bridge gaps during challenging times like the pandemic. It illuminated how storytelling fosters empathy and community resilience, enriching my understanding of libraries as centers for shared experiences.

The second session, led by Ms. Kristin M, showcased the Westerville COVID-19 Memory Project at the Westerville Public Library. This initiative invites community members to contribute their pandemic experiences through various mediums like written stories, video, or audio recordings. By intertwining storytelling with preservation efforts, this project emphasizes how libraries serve as custodians of our collective memories.

These sessions underscored the transformative role of libraries as storytellers and guardians of community narratives. They inspired me to explore innovative ways to engage with my community, amplifying their voices and preserving their stories for future generations.

What fun activity/ tour did you enjoy most while attending the program?

One of the most memorable tours for me was the visit to the Amish community. This encounter left me profoundly grateful as it vividly illustrated the significance of social cohesion amidst diverse societal landscapes. Notably, we observed horse-drawn carriages alongside cars in the parking lot adjacent to the Arthur Public Library District.

As a humble librarian and a user of technology, I fall into the easy trap of learning stuff through the internet, not only books. Similarly, when I seek answers to questions like why my plants aren’t growing, I go to YouTube, while they rush to the library. The Amish rely on books as they don’t use technology.

This experience underscored the importance of libraries as cultural hubs that foster learning and community engagement, regardless of cultural backgrounds.

What advice would you give someone who is considering applying for the program or someone who has been accepted into the program?

Self-awareness of your identity as an information professional and the community you aim to serve. This awareness will serve as the foundation for your application to resonate with the program. Moreover, it will help you connect what you learn with your community and ask the right questions that align with their needs.

Finally, a practical piece of advice: planning meticulously and being proactive are key to experiencing the program. getting accepted is not the most challenging step, but being a part of it.


…Continued Excellence Worldwide…

Update on 2014 Associate Beba Stankovic


Image of Beba Stankovic Beba has been very busy since her time at the Mortenson Center, setting up a Youth Department at her home library in Pozarevac, Serbia and more recently, moderating the Forum Creative Europe 2016 – Public discussion and concluding remarks of the analysis of international cooperation potentials in the areas of literature and publishing.

Two of her abstracts have also been accepted at regional conferences in June, the Western Balkan Information Literacy Conference In Bosnia & Hercegovina, and DisCo 2016 in the Czech republic.


Update on 2015 Associate Cajetan Onyeneke


2015 Mortenson Center Associate Cajetan Onyeneke will present a paper at the open session, Agricultural Libraries Special Interests Group, at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Columbus, Ohio.


Update on 2014 Associate Bhakti Gala


ALA Group

Bhakti Gala continues her professional advancements in the new year as a member of the ALA IRRT Membership Committee 2015-16. She has written a short article, ‘The Advocacy Approach: Networking and Online Volunteering’ in International Leads with reference to the Mortenson Center program’s contribution to her volunteering activities. Congratulations, Bhakti!


Update on 2014 Associate Beba Stankovic


Youth DepartmentThe Mortenson Center congratulates Beba Stankovic, 2014 Associate, who just oversaw the opening of a new Youth Department in the ‘Ilija M Petrovic’ Public Library in Pozarevac, Serbia.

A quote from Beba: “The same day after opening we had Creative Writing Workshop for students which was held by Miomir Petrovic PhD, dramatist and writer. It was very well attended and [the] Department is working now with full steam and with lot of new young patrons.”


Update on 2014 Associates Graciela Quesada Fernandez and Ramon Masis Rojas


MC Poster Two colleagues from the University of Costa Rica, Graciela Quesada Fernandez and Ramon Masis Rojas, attended the 2014 Associates program, which included a tour of the Champaign Urbana Fab Lab. Fernandez and Rojas are now leading the way toward building a fabrication laboratory at their university library. They hope to implement a partnership between the University of Costa Rica and the Mortenson Center for future collaboration.
Poster about the Mortenson Center by Fernandez and Rojas


Update on 2014 Associate Beba Stankovic


Beba Stankovic Update Public librarian Beba Stankovic from Serbia was an Associate in 2014. After the program, Stankovic became very involved with the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). She attended an IFLA Congress, presented a poster session, “It’s Your Right to Know”, and organized three sessions for the IFLA Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group. At her home library, the Public Library ‘Ilija M. Petrovic’ Pozarevac, she helped to begin a new cycle of free courses on information literacy for retired patrons and just received money from the Serbian Ministry of Culture for a new Youth Department. Most recently, Stankovic was elected Vice President of the Serbian Library Association. She also received one of the most prestigious awards in Serbian librarianship, the “Djura Danicic” award, given by the Community of County Libraries together with National Library of Serbia.



Update on 2012 Associate Darya Bukhtoyarova


Image of Darya Bukhtoyarova2012 Associates Program alumna Darya Bukhtoyarova visited the Center as the senior manager of the Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan) Library’s Patron Services department. In April 2014, she began a new job with Thompson Reuters as a customer education specialist, conducting workshops and training for librarians, graduate students and scientists. So far she has trained over 1,500 users in Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan in working with e-resources, publishing, and research evaluation.



Update on 2011 Associate Chinwe Anunobi


Chinwe Anunobi

Dr. Chinwe Anunobi attended the Mortenson Center’s 2011 Summer Associates program. Since then she has published many articles on information and communication technology (ICT) implementation in peer-reviewed journals. In 2013 she gave two sessions on community engagement at the Nigerian Library Association’s Library and Information Technology Today (LITT) National Workshop. She was recently appointed University Librarian of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Nigeria.





Update on 2014 Associate Sher Afzal Khan


IEEE Group As the Chief Librarian of Bahria University Islamabad Campus, Sher Afzal Khan (2014 Associate) helped to oversee an expanded search collaboration project among constituent libraries with the launch of a Union Catalog encompassing the collections of seven BU libraries. Khan led a 5-day workshop for university librarians on the software platform for the catalog entitled, “Integrated Library System: KOHA and Dspace.” Sher Afzal also won Second Prize and was the only library professional in Pakistan to receive the prize on the basis of TOP Institutional ATTEMPTS for the subject quiz in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Quiz for Engineering and Technology 2013-14.

Read more about the BU Library’s other awards and accomplishments in the University’s Annual Report .



Update on 2014 Associate Anargul Essenaliyeva


Image of Anargul Essenaliyeva

Mortenson Center alumna Anargul Essenaliyeva (2014 Associate, pictured at right) has conducted two presentations since her return home. One focused on her time at the Center and the other on cataloguing. She is currently writing an article on “Subject Headings” in Russian for the Kazakhstani Association of Libraries publication.



Update on 2012 Associate Deborah Eddy-Ugorji


Mortenson Book Deborah Eddy-Ugorji attended the 2012 Associates Program as the chief library officer at the National Library of Nigeria, Lagos. Since then, she wrote a book about her Mortenson Center experience and single-handedly set up a new, internet-based library at Peaklane College Akute, Ogun State, Nigeria.





Update on 2011 Associate Gimena Campos Cervera Bustos


Graduate Dinner Gimena Campos Cervera Bustos (pictured far right), Senior Researcher at the U.S. Embassy to Italy, has written prodigiously since her Mortenson Center program in 2011. Her articles have appeared on the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Europe and the Italian Library Association websites.

She has organized a series of annual events on the future of libraries in the 21st century: Modern Leonardos. In 2013, she coordinated the opening of the first digital maker space in an Italian library: YouLab Pistoia at the library of San Giorgio di Pistoia (Tuscany). In fact, Cervera recently gave a presentation on her experience with YouLab Pistoia at this year’s Internet Library International (ILI) conference.

Read More about Gimena’s work in Italy

2011 Associates Graduation



Update on 2013 Associates Raja Muhammad Ibrahim and Muhammad Idrees


Ibrahim with flowers

2013 Associates Raja Muhammad Ibrahim (pictured) and Muhammad Idrees from the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) in Islamabad, Pakistan have updated their library’s website to include a live chat service for providing real time assistance. They are also in the planning stages of adding a remote storage facility and gift shop to their library at CIIT. More recently, Raja Muhammad was elected as President of the Pakistan Library Association (HQ).


CIIT Library Website




Update on 2012 Associate Christelle Lubbe


Young Adult Library Space 2012 Associate Christelle Lubbe returned to the City of Cape Town Library in South Africa and implemented many new services for her patrons. The library now has a takeaway service for quick check-outs and returns, an updated young adult section with new programming and collections, and a variety of outreach endeavors to underserved groups. Christelle has also kept busy presenting papers at Library and Information Association of South Africa ( LIASA ) conferences and taking on leadership roles within the organization’s Western Cape Public and Community Library Interest Group (PACLIG).
View “The B-Zone” Young Adult library space upgrade PowerPoint




Update on 2013 Associate Erica Saito


Erica Saito Presentation

2013 Associate Erica Saito moved from Brazil to the United States, where she still works as a librarian in Washington, D.C. After her Mortenson Center program, she gave a presentation about her experience to colleagues at Sao Paulo University. She also published a paper on cloud computing in Brazilian libraries in the IFLA July 2014 newsletter, TILT .

(Picture on left: Erica Saito gives a presentation at Sao Paolo University about her Mortenson Center Program.)




Update on 2011 Associate Heba Mohamed Ismail


Ismail accepts award

Heba Mohamed Ismail (2011 Associate) presented a poster session with her colleague Rasha Essmat entitled, “ICS: A Success Story” at the 2011 American Library Association annual conference about their work with the Integrated Care Society (ICS) and the damage to its libraries during the Egyptian revolution. Since then she has continued her studies and in 2013 won the Honor Award from the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information (AFLI) in recognition of her accomplishments. She won yet another award this year from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in recognition of her ongoing civic engagement (pictured on left).





Update on 2014 Associate Dr. Kishor Satpathy

NITS Conference announcement
2014 Mortenson Center Associate Dr. Kishor Satpathy of the National Institute of Technology, Silchar (NITS) has been very busy since he left the Center in June. He wrote a book entitled, “E-Learning & Information Literacy – The Changing Role of Librarian” and oversaw the initiation of a central library volunteer program designed to involve the institute’s students in library developmental activities.Dr. Satpathy is organizing the “What’s Next in Libraries? Trends, Space and Partnerships” conference that will be held on 21-23 January, 2015 on the NITS campus, in Assam, India. The conference will feature speakers from the Mortenson Center and U of I Library technology and facilities experts. Conference Blog