2024 SCECSAL Conference, Mombasa, Kenya


Our director Prof. Clara Chu gave the Keynote address at the SCECSAL ( Standing Conference of Eastern, Central & Southern African Library & Information Associations) conference on April 22, 2024. Her keynote was titled: “Our Libraries and Our Communities in the Digital Era: Re-imagining Services with Intention.” The conference was hosted by the Kenya Library Association whose chair person is an alumnus of the Mortenson Center, Prof. Peter Gatiti. He is the Associate vice-provost and University Librarian at  the Aga Khan University (AKU).


SILL Training with Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The Mortenson Center partnered with Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt, in providing the first in-person SILL (Strengthening Innovative Library Leaders) training since the pandemic.
  • When: February 13 – 14, 2024
  • Time: 10:30AM- 4:00PM each day
  • Where: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt
  • Format: In-person
  • Cost: Free for all invited/ registered participants
  • Language of Instruction: Arabic/ English

Congratulations to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Professional Development Division for hosting and presenting the workshop, by the local team of organizers and facilitators: Joseph Makkar (lead facilitator), Samia Abouhany, Sara Elgabalawy and Neveen Nagy (co-facilitator).

To learn more about SILL Training and find more resources visit our website at: https://www.library.illinois.edu/mortenson-leadership/about/

Mid Term Post Program Review – December 13, 2023

The 2023 Mortenson Center Associates had a mid-term post program review meeting on Zoom with the Mortenson Center Team. The associates each had a chance to share the PDP (Professional Development Plans) from the program and provided an update on their implementation, including challenges and opportunities they had encountered in implementing the projects. Some of the challenges included a lack of funding and issues related to time management while some of the opportunities mentioned included buy-in from administration and thus securing funding for the projects, and opportunities for networking and more travel outside of their countries. The associates expressed a desire to stay connected with zoom meetings at least quarterly. Vuyo Jamieson, the center’s Research Assistant and PhD student at the iSchool is working on some Alumni Engagement initiatives that will ensure former associates stay engaged and connected beyond their time at the center. The projects the associates are working on are varied and are listed below:

  • Neveen Nagy Eid (Egypt)Establishing a “Book a Librarian” program at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
  • Ola El Zein (Lebanon)Creating a Virtual Exhibition of Historical Medical Artifacts at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and AUB Medical Center (AUBMC)
  • Ulrike Junger (Germany)Automating Cataloging Tasks at the German National Library
  • Tebogo Khama (Botswana)Establishing a Research Data Management (RDM) and curation Service at the University of Botswana
  • Jinsook Lee (S. Korea)Renovation of the “Study Garden” (open study space) at the Seoul National University Library
  • Florence Plockey (Ghana)Advocating and Marketing Library Resources & Services thru social media at the Accra Technical University
  • Minsang Song (S. Korea)Using whiteboards for team meetings at the National Library of Korea
  • Tereza Richards (Jamaica)Improving Research Data Management services at the University of West Indies- Mona Campus

The 33rd Mortenson Center Distinguished Lecture- September 21, 2023


The 33rd Mortenson Center Distinguished Lecture featured Dr. Ricardo L. Punzalan, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, and a scholar of archives and digital curation. His lecture “Reciprocity, Reparative Actions, and Decolonial Work” explored the case of “decolonizing” U.S. Philippine materials to transform our digital work to enact reparative actions that connect collections with communities that have been long separated by colonization. View recording at: https://lnkd.in/g-cThK7S.


Human Library Event- September 16, 2023 Internationalization @ Home!

The Mortenson Center, in collaboration with the New American Welcome Center and the University YMCA hosted a Human Library Event as part of the events featured during 2023 National Welcoming week. The event featured immigrants and international students living in Champaign-Urbana as human books. Each human “book” was available during the event to interact with “readers” and talk to them about their native country. Topics covered in the conversations included among others geographic location, cuisine, languages spoken and culture. The human volunteers were also free to share their story of how they came to the United States or anything else they wanted to share about themselves or their country.  International food/cuisine was offered for sampling at the event.

Eleven countries were featured at this inaugural event: Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Greece, Kenya, Philippines, South Africa, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and USA. In keeping with the mission of the Mortenson Center, the event aims to introduce the concept of “internationalization @ home to the University of Illinois community and to foster intercultural competency and global understanding as well as welcome newcomers to the community while embracing diversity and fostering a sense of belonging.


IFLA 88th World Library and Information Congress (WLIC)

North American Regional Virtual Hub- August 21-25, 2023

The Mortenson Center and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library coordinated and hosted the North American regional virtual hub during WLIC to promote increased inclusion and participation from registered remote delegates (i.e., those not able to travel to Rotterdam).  The regional virtual hub sessions aimed to promote regional engagement/conversation on topics related to IFLA and the congress. Read more about the featured sessions at: https://sites.google.com/illinois.edu/2023-ifla-wlic/home.

International visits and Collaborations: Rwanda and Kenya- July 10-21, 2023

The Mortenson Center Team- Prof. Dr. Clara Chu and Dr. Peggy Nzomo had an opportunity to attend and present at the Peace Education Conference held in Kigali, Rwanda. While there, they took the opportunity to visit several libraries in Rwanda and Kenya and discussed potential collaborations with the Mortenson Center.


Kenya Visits included:

  • Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya: School of Information; University Library
  • University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya: Department of Information studies; University Library
  • Key School Libraries: St. Joan’s Academy; Little Lambs School; Kapsabet Boys High School
  • Kenya Library Association
  • Kenya National Library Services
  • Technical University of Kenya

Rwanda visits included:

  • Children’s Peace Libraries
  • University of Rwanda Library
  • Rwanda National Library Services
  • Kigali Public Library


Congratulations to the 2023 Associates

Congratulations to our 2023 Associates! Thank you all for participating and supporting the program as we learn to collaborate, develop meaningful connections and services, and employ new technologies in library spaces. We are hopeful that our Associates as leaders in libraries will pave ways for innovation and advancement. They all have demonstrated the foundational professional values of librarianship, connecting and empowering others through information.

  • Thikra Alharbi (Saudi Arabia)
  • Neveen Nagy Eid (Egypt)
  • Ola El Zein (Lebanon)
  • Ulrike Junger (Germany)
  • Tebogo Khama (Botswana)
  • Jinsook Lee (S. Korea)
  • Florence Plockey (Ghana)
  • Minsang Song (S. Korea)
  • Tereza Richards (Jamaica)

Workshop on Libraries and Advancing the UNSDGs- April1, 2023

The Mortenson Center for International Library Programs and the ALA Student Chapter, Illinois iSchool hosted a hybrid workshop on libraries and advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 

Clara M Chu, Ph.D., Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor
Mortenson Center for International Library Programs, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Kendra S. Albright, Ph.D., Goodyear Endowed Professor in Knowledge Management
School of Information, Kent State University.