2014 April Newsletter

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Since our last newsletter…

Barbara, Susan, and Paula Kaufman visited a number of potential federal funding agencies in Washington, D.C. in March.

Susan is working with Bill Mischo and Beth Sandore Namachchivaya from the University Library to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop a future partnership with the Center Library of the National Institute of Technology in Silchar, India. The goal is to have the MOU signed by the end of the summer.


National Institute of Technology, Silchar, India
National Institute of Technology, Silchar, India

Evaluation of Mortenson Center

Arabella Advisors, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has completed an evaluation of the past 5 years of Mortenson Center activities. In March, Arabella visited the Mortenson Center for an evaluation tools working session as we plan for how to evaluate Center activities in the future. Jen-chien Yu, Joanne Kaczmarek, and Lynn Wiley from the University Library will assist with future Center evaluation activities. The results of the evaluation are quite positive and the findings are available on the Center website.

“There are other international trainings on libraries, but this is the premier one on librarianship.”  – Mortenson Center Partner

Current and Upcoming

Mortenson Associates 2014

We expect 32 librarians from China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Serbia, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe for the 2014 Mortenson Associates program. The program, “Imagine, Question, Connect: A Professional Development Program for Library Innovators and Decision-Makers,” will take place in Urbana from May 29-June 14, 2014. Participants will engage with other library professionals in a variety of workshops and library tours, and will attend the Next Library 2014 Conference in Chicago. http://www.nextlibrary.net/

READ Global

Eight READ Global staff from India, Nepal, and Bhutan will participate in the Mortenson Associates program. They will have some special programming as well as participate in the Small Public Library Management Institute that the Illinois State Library holds for rural librarians. During their stay they will also be engaged in a train-the-trainer program. They will return to their home countries to deliver training to librarians in READ Centers in all three countries. Mortenson Center staff will participate in the regional training sessions. http://readglobal.org/

Future Plans

An IREX project with public libraries in Namibia seeks to involve the Mortenson Center in future activities. An assessment visit for July is under discussion. Susan would visit to explore the possibility of a long-term partnership with the National Library and Archives Services.

The university’s International Programs and Studies department has a new Illinois International Training program. Through this program, the Mortenson Center has met with librarians from India and Singapore and is exploring future training projects with them. They have also connected the Center with a library in Oman that is seeking training for staff.

Kids reading


Collaboration with the Beyond Access initiative continues. Beyond Access supports the involvement of public libraries in individual and community development efforts.  Susan recently participated in a four-day training design hack-a-thon in Bucharest, Romania. http://beyondaccess.net/ .

Mortenson Center staff will be presenting a poster at IFLA 2014 in Lyon, France, entitled “Evaluating Professional Development Training Programs for Librarians: Lessons Learned.”


Staffing Changes

Barbara will be leaving the University at the end of May 2014 primarily due to changes in the State Universities Retirement System.

She said, “It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be the Director and Distinguished Professor for the C. Walter and Gerda B. Mortenson Center for International Library Programs since 2003. I have greatly enjoyed working with colleagues at the University of Illinois and around the world as we implemented programs to promote international peace and understanding through developing librarians worldwide. I look forward to continuing to support the Mortenson Center, Library, and University as an emeritus faculty member. I expect to continue working on projects involving libraries and international issues and look forward to staying in touch with friends and colleagues.”

Barbara and Susan in a boat
Barbara and Susan in Nepal

Paula Kaufman, former Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, will join the Mortenson Center in August as interim director while a search is underway for the next Mortenson Center Director and Distinguished Professor.

For additional information contact Barbara Ford at bjford@illinois.edu or Susan Schnuer at schnuer@illinois.edu .