2015 November Newsletter

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Since our last newsletter…

The Mortenson Center for International Library Programs is a growing and busy family, from the staff to our program participants, partners and visitors. Starting with the staff, this year has been a time of welcome, farewell, and appreciation.


Clara M. Chu – New Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor

Clara Chu

The Mortenson Center welcomed Clara M. Chu as its new Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor on June 1, 2015. Clara brings more than two decades of professional knowledge and international expertise to this dual role, garnered from her teaching, research and professional association activities (see: http://www.library.illinois.edu/news/clarachu.html or https://www.library.illinois.edu/mortenson/about/staff/). Through collaborative leadership she is excited to advance the Mortenson Center’s mission to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians worldwide for the promotion of international education, understanding, and peace.

She sees a horizon of opportunities to train librarians who can develop libraries (personnel, services, collections and spaces) as community anchors that foster meaningful intellectual and human connections, and empower individuals and communities. Noting that the year 2016 marks the 25 th anniversary of the Mortenson Center, she has started the process of engaging the Center and its community to plan celebration activities. For the coming year, her goals emphasize a renewed focus on fundraising, increasing the visibility of the Center, use of information and communication technologies to expand the Center’s reach, and celebration of its many achievements.

Paul Kaufman, Mortenson Center Director 2014-15

The Mortenson Center is indebted to Paula Kaufman for serving as Interim Director for the past year. Her extensive professional experience, long association with the Center, and visionary leadership were beneficial in the search for a new Director and in managing the Center during the transition year. Her presence at the Center is missed since Paula ended her term on July 31st and took retirement. Paula’s commitment to the Center is unwavering as she continues to participate in and advise on Center activities. It is in this spirit that we take the opportunity to gain from her insights, and asked her the following three questions:

1. Name three highlights during your year as Interim Mortenson Center Director.

The easy answer is to point to the visits of three groups of librarians from outside the US: a group from Africa who are enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Pretoria; the Jay Jordan/OCLC International Fellows; and this year’s class of Mortensen Associates. All the participants are talented, energetic, and enthusiastic librarians who will play major leadership roles at their institutions, in their countries and regions, and globally. Meeting and working with them was a joy. But I would be remiss not to highlight the work of the Center’s small but incredibly innovative and productive staff, without whose work the Mortenson Center could not fulfill its mission, nor to acknowledge the generosity of the Library faculty and staff members who give their time and talents as Mortensen “Friends,” and as presenters in our programs, and who come to us with ideas and opportunities for expanding the Center’s reach.

2. What did you find surprising that you didn’t know until you worked at the Center?Kaufman

Although the Mortenson Center is well known outside of the world, it is still relatively unknown among our North American colleagues. As our own faculty and staff know, interactions with our program participants is far from a one-way street. We all learn so much from these oft-times courageous librarians, many of whom struggle with few resources, unstable electrical, water, and internet infrastructures, conflict, and war.  Listening, for example, to Nigeria’s Benson Ali, who lives and works in the northeast region of his country, talk about the impact that Boko Haram has had on his library, his university, and his family, puts even our current situation in perspective.

3. Share a parting comment/message.

I have always believed strongly in the importance and the power of investing in training and development for library professionals and staff; its importance and urgency are increasing as our society becomes more and more complex. I’ve put my money where my mouth is, establishing staff and professional development funds at the Libraries where I’ve served as Dean, both at the University of Tennessee and here at Illinois. The Mortensen Center’s mission – to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians worldwide for the promotion of international education, understanding, and peace – continues to be met best by professional development and training programs.  The endowments provided so generously by Walter C. and Gerda B. Mortenson can no longer support all of the Center’s activities. I hope that our other generous friends will recognize this need and step forward to invest in the Center so that it can continue to do its important work.
Susan M. Schnuer – Recognitions of Excellence

Schuner Award

Congratulations to Susan Schnuer who received two honors this year! Her commitment to the mission of the Mortenson Center, leadership in training international librarians, and sustained ethic of caring not only contribute to the success of the Center, but result in stronger professional practice, identity and leadership in libraries around the globe. Her work and achievements were recognized several years ago with the 2013 John Ames/Humphry/OCLC/ Forest Press Award for international librarianship. http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2013/06/susan-m-schnuer-receives-2013-john-ames-humphryoclcforest-press-award

Schuner Faculty Award

This year at the 2015 IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town, she was presented with the IFLA Scroll of Appreciation for her distinguished service to the international library community especially for inspiring and developing the next generation of library leaders. http://www.ifla.org/node/9806

A month later, on September 29, 2015 at the UIUC Libraries Faculty and Academic Professional Recognition Dinner, Susan was honored with the University Library 2015 Outstanding Academic Professional Award. http://publish.illinois.edu/libraryofficenotes/files/2015/10/2015_Fac_AP_brochure.pdf


Dr. Ekaterina Genieva (April 1, 1946-July 9, 2015) – In Remembrance

We say farewell and thank you to longtime Mortenson Center friend and collaborator, Dr. Ekaterina Genieva, former Director General of the Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, who in 2001, received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her association with the Center was initiated by friend Marianna Tax Choldin, Founding Director and Founding Mortenson Distinguished Professor. It is fitting that the 25th Annual Mortenson Distinguished Lecture will commence with a memorial tribute by Marianna to her friend Katya.

Read more about Dr. Genieva:


Advisory Committee Members – In Appreciation

The Mortenson Center Advisory Committee advises the Director on center policy and procedures. http://www.library.illinois.edu/committee/mortenson/charge.html . The Center thanks committee members Atoma Batoma and Harriett Green, who served 2 consecutive two-year terms, and Alistair Black, who began his second consecutive term in fall 2015 and was on sabbatical in spring 2015.


Programs and Grants

SILL TrainingIn May, Susan Schnuer, Rebecca McGuire, the Mortenson Center’s new Visiting Instruction Technology Specialist, and Eric Kurt, coordinator of the Undergraduate Library Media Commons visited Namibia for a train-the-trainers event. As part of the Gates Foundation project, the Mortenson Center team is developing leadership training materials that can be used by librarians around the world. Namibia was the first pilot site for the materials. The Mortenson Center trained 15 trainers during this session.  As part of the project we are capturing all the training on video, this material will be used to help others understand how to deliver the training.

  • The 2015 Mortenson Associates Program focused on the future of libraries and librarians as strong advocates. The theme of the program was “Innovative, Engaged, and Responsive Libraries,” which ran from May 28 to June 23, 2015. The twelve Associates came from libraries Barbados, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, and Pakistan. This year we were able to capture in a video the Associates learning together, sharing their cultures and engaging with librarians and community members during their various field visits. See their experiences in the video filmed and edited by Rebecca McGuire at: Graduate Associates

The video was shown as part of the 2015 Associates Program presentation at the Library Faculty meeting on June 23, 2015. The video is being further edited and will be used for fundraising and marketing purposes, and as a Mortenson Center 25 th anniversary celebration resource. Five Associates attended the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco after the program.

As always, the Mortenson Center is grateful to the UIUC and local library colleagues who help deliver the training for the Mortenson Center programs. In 2015, 18 colleagues agreed to offer sessions; they include John Wilkin, Linda Smith, Kate McDowell, Meg Edwards, Andy Cougill,

Jennifer Hain Teper, Josh Harris, Kyle Rimkus, Tom Teper, Jen-Chien Yu, Crystal Sheu, Sarah Crissinger, Eric Kurt, Heidi Imker, Jim Dohle, Bill Ingram, James Whitacre, and Martin Wolske.

In addition, the Mortenson Center ran its successful Friends program. Colleagues from the university agree to “friend” one of the international librarians and commit to spending time with them. Over 83% of the 2014 Mortenson Associates indicated that the Friend experience was “extremely satisfying.” The 2015 Library Friends were Steve Witt, Mara Thacker, Lynne Rudasill, Laila Hussein Moustafa, Paula Mae Carns, Josh Harris, Amy Atkinson, Joe Lenkart, Rand Hartsell, Lisa Romero, Sue Searing, and JJ Pionke.

SILL Training

In September, Susan Schnuer, Rebecca McGuire, and Rebecca Teasdale, the SILL evaluator, traveled to Namibia to observe the SILL leadership training delivered by the Namibian trainers.  Over 50 librarians participated in the training and the trainers did an excellent job.  The Mortenson Center team observed the training and is currently revising the SILL materials based on lessons learned during the trip.

  • Global Connections is a new development program for national and regional library professionals in management practices, initiated by Joseph Lenkart, International Reference Librarian and Manager, Slavic Reference Service. This partnership with the International and Area Studies Library, is a ten-day program designed for management professionals to engage and learn about innovative practices and services that will be offered during October 9-19, 2016. More information here. 

Professional Engagement

  • In March, Susan Schnuer participated in a library leadership training in the Philippines with public librarians from all over the country. This training was organized by Beyond Access, http://beyondaccess.net/ , an organization that has worked with the Mortenson Center to deliver training to public librarians. This training was also part of the work leading to the development of materials for the Gates Foundation project: Strengthening Innovative Library Leaders.
  • In May, Susan Schnuer was invited to participate in the Global Networking meeting of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. This meeting brought together experts from around the world to discuss next steps in maintaining a global library network once the Global Libraries program of the Gates Foundation ceases to operate.
  • In June, Clara Chu made two presentations in Spain. The first on “Online Library and Information Science Education in the United States and Canada: Student Experiences and Preferences” at the III International Seminar on Library and Information Science Education and Research (LIS-ER), Barcelona, 4-5 June 2015 http://bd.ub.edu/liser/ in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Faculty of Library and Information Science at the University of Barcelona. The second addressed “Profesionales de la información en Estados Unidos: formación y ejercicio profesional” (Information Professionals in the United States: Training and Practice) and was presented in Spanish at the University of Salamanca on June 8, 2015. http://bibliotecas.usal.es/en/evento/profesionales-de-la-informacion-en-estados-unidos-formacion-y-ejercicio-profesional She also attended the “Reordering Ranganathan: Impacts of the Changing Research and Learning Environments on Library Services” seminar at the University of Salamanca on June 9th.
  • In July, Clara Chu was the official IFLA representative at the Ugra Global Expert Meeting on Multilingualism in Cyberspace. http://www.ifla.org/node/9604 . The conference took place on July 4-9th at Khanty-Mansiysk and was organized by the Russian National Committee for UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP), Government of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug-Ugra (Russian Federation), Interregional Library Cooperation Center (Russian Federation) in cooperation with UNESCO and MAAYA World Network for Linguistic Diversity.  She presented on “IFLA Advancing Multilingualism in Cyberspace: Trends, Policies and Practice,” which will be published in the conference proceedings.
  • In September, Clara Chu was invited to give the keynote speech at the National Conference on Thai Information Science Education (TISE2015), 10-11th September 2015, Khoen Kaen (Thailand).  Her presentation focused on “The Future of Library and Information Science Education: A Global Perspective.”
  • Susan Schnuer attended the NextLibrary conference in Aarhus, Denmark in September.  This small but powerful conference focuses on innovations in the public library sector.  Of particular interest was the opportunity to talk with European colleagues about how libraries are coping with Syrian refugees.



  • In August, Clara Chu and Susan Schnuer attended the 2015 IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town. Holding IFLA leadership positions, they were busy with association work and/or presentations. However, a key focus of their activities was coordination and staffing of the shared booth with the UIUC Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and meeting with grant funders and potential new partners. At the booth. We recruited applicants to our programs, promoted the work of the Mortenson Center, and reconnected with Mortenson Center alumni.
  • In September, Clara Chu promoted the two 2016 Mortenson Center programs and Mortenson Center activities to the National Library of Thailand, the Thai Library Association, the Department of Library Science at Chulalongkorn University, and LIS educators from ASEAN countries. These activities were in coordination with her keynote presentation at the Thai Information Science Education Conference (TISE2015), Sept. 10-11, 2015.



  • In May, the 2015 IFLA/OCLC fellows from Serbia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Philippines, and Pakistan visited the Mortenson Center for a day hosted by Interim Mortenson Center Director, Paula Kaufman. Russian Visitors
  • The Mortenson Center hosted a group of seven librarians from Russia in July. The group was here to study how libraries can become community centers.
  • In September, the Mortenson Center hosted the 5th cohort of the University of Pretoria Carnegie program. This group of 16 librarians are from Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana are enrolled in a two-year master’s program in library science. The three-day visit included lectures, a visit to the Fab Lab, a workshop on communicating, creating “elevator speech” videos, and visiting the remote storage facility. They all enjoyed a dinner at the Schnuers’, the first time they were invited on this trip to visit an American home.
  • The Mortenson Center welcomed individual national and international visitors. Most have been from China and are visiting scholars at the University.



  • October 13, 2015 A Dialogue with Marta Terry González on Cuban Libraries , moderated by Clara M. Chu, Mortenson Center Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor, and Antonio Sotomayor, Librarian for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, at the International and Area Studies Library (321 Main Library) on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 11 am-noon. Dr. Terry González is the subject of the book Roots and Flowers: The Life and Work of the Afro-Cuban Librarian Marta Terry González , written by Abdul Alkalimat and Kate Williams (Library Juice Press, 2015). http://libraryjuicepress.com/marta-terry.php
  • October 27, 2015; 4 pm. 25 th Annual Mortenson Distinguished Lecture by Dr. Irmgarda Kasinskaite-Buddeberg, a programme specialist working at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Communication and Information Sector, Knowledge Societies Division in Paris, France. Title: Right to Accessible Information for Global Citizenship: UNESCO’s Programme for Persons with Disabilities. Tuesday, October 27; 4:00pm CDT; Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Room 126.
  • 2016 is the 25th Anniversary of the Mortenson Center – We have begun planning the celebration.
  • Applications are open for the 2016 Mortenson Center programs at the Center’s website

Mortenson Center in 3 Words

Mortenson in 3 Words Celebrate 25 years of the Mortenson Center in 3 Words! We invite you to share with the global library community what the Mortenson Center means to you in 3 words, with a photo (or video) of you with your 3 words We will compile your 3 words to show what makes our community special and express our common bonds. Email your submission to Lindy Wheatley lawheatl@illinois.edu. We will be creating a slideshow/video presentation which will be available at the Mortenson Center website.

This project is inspired by http://abcnews.go.com/US/words-live-event-good-morning-america/story?id=14469378 . Past Mortenson Associates at the 2015 IFLA World Library and Information Congress have already begun to participate:

Keep connected with us on social media via Facebook and Twitter, and with alumni news on our website.