2003 September Newsletter


Please mark your calendars to join us for the Mortenson Distinguished Lecture on September 23 at 4:00 pm in 126 GSLIS with a reception to follow.


Information Competencies: A Bridge to Narrow North-South Knowledge Gaps is the title of the 2003 Mortenson Distinguished Lecture to be presented by Jesus Lau from Mexico on Tuesday, September 23, 2003, at 4:00 in 126 GSLIS with a reception to follow.

ABSTRACT: Knowledge is readily accessible through the internet to some citizens of developing countries, and they have learned how to use it. However, many other citizens lack the information skills and competencies to access, use, and interpret such knowledge, even when it is produced by their own think tanks. Literacy was a paramount goal in most economically evolving countries years ago, and many have now reached acceptable standards. But reading is no longer enough. Today, educated and involved citizens must be able to use technology intelligently. Information competencies are important for evolving societies, if they want to bridge the international knowledge gap and pursue speedier development.

Jesus Lau received a Ph.D. in information studies from the University of Sheffield in England, a masters degree in library science from the University of Denver, and a law degree from the University of Sinaloa in Mexico.

Dr. Lau has held leadership positions such as Director of Libraries, Dean of Academic Affairs, and Information Services and Accreditation Dean in Mexican institutions at the Veracruzana University, Juarez University and the Technological Institutes of Monterrey and Durango. He is currently the University Librarian at the Veracruzana University, Veracruz Campus, and Coordinator of the Virtual Library Project.

He has authored four monographs, edited nine books and written more than 100 articles and conference papers in Mexico and other countries, received the National Researcher Award in Mexico and the Librarian of the Year Award of the Border Regional Library Association from Texas.

He is a member of the Special Libraries Association Board of Directors, Chair of the OCLC Advisory Committee on College and University Libraries, chair of the IFLA Information Literacy Section, member of the IFLA University Libraries and Other General Research Libraries Standing Committee, member of the board of the Trejo-Foster Foundation for Hispanic Library Education, and chair of the Mexican Library Association International Relations Committee.


Fourteen librarians from six countries (Kenya, Columbia, Russia, Japan, India, South Africa) are at the Mortenson Center this fall. An eight week program, including classes and library visits, has been developed for the group with presentations by a number of faculty. Five public librarians from Kenya are being funded for two months with a grant we received from the Carnegie Corporation. Four public librarians from Columbia are partly funded for their two month stay by a Colombian bank. There is one Fulbright and one Muskie fellow in the group, and they will be with us for about one year. Other funding sources include the home institution and a consortium of academic libraries in Japan. We will also have several short term visitors this fall from Honduras and Croatia. Mortenson Friends for the group include Stephanie Atkins, Rajwant Chilana, Katie Clark, Nelly Gonzalez, David Griffiths, Lisa Hinchliffe, Karen Hogenboom, Jing Liao, Setsuko Noguchi, Lynne and Tom Rudasill, Sue Searing, Caroline Szylowicz, Karen Wei, Lynn Wiley, and Joyce Wright. We look forward to a busy and successful fall, including the Friends program which has become a very important part of what is offered to our international visitors.


The second group of participants in the Mellon Foundation funded project with the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) were at the Mortenson Center from June 5 until July 19. Seven middle managers from academic and public libraries were in the group. Robert Moropa, president of LIASA and deputy director of the University of Pretoria Library, also spent time with the group and on the campus and delivered a lecture open to all library staff. The program was quite successful and included home stays with librarians during the week of the fourth of July, arranged by the Illinois State Library, and an in-depth program at the Chicago Public Library, as well as many interesting and useful presentations at UIUC. A special thanks to mentors – John Weible, Joyce Wright, Bob Burger, Lynne and Tom Rudasill, Jan Ison, Marsha Grove, and Fred Schlipf – who were key to the success of the program and to all those who met with and shared their expertise with the group.


On June 20, during ALA in Toronto, Barbara and Susan met with Carole Moore and Judith Snow from the University of Toronto to continue discussions about possible collaborations.

On June 23, at ALA in Toronto, two poster sessions were presented about Mortenson Center programs. They were entitled “Connecting Librarians Around the World” and “South Africa Library Leadership Project.”

On September 15 and 29 and October 6, the Fall 2003 American Libraries Seminar for International Visitors and Students will be presented by the Mortenson Center and GSLIS.

On October 2, librarians from Indiana University Libraries will visit the Mortenson Center and meet with a number of librarians about international issues.

On October 16, Susan, Barbara and the Mortenson Associates will speak about the Mortenson Center at the Illinois Library Association annual conference in Springfield.


We always need people who are interested in serving as Mortenson friends to work with Associates and help them get oriented to the library and community. If you would like more information or are interested in getting involved in any Mortenson Center activities, please let us know.