April 4, 2016 Meeting of Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Charge and Membership

Time and Location of Meeting

April 4, 20169:00 am 141 Undergraduate Library – Conference Room

Agenda Details


I.             Welcome and Introductions

II.            Approval of the October 29, 2015 minutes

III.           25th Anniversary

a.    Communications: Friendscript, brochure, International Leads article, LIbGuide, MC in 3, videos

b.    Fundraising initiative

c.    Celebration activities (University Library Pedometer Challenge, Associates program, IFLA, Lecture reception)

IV.          Reports and Updates

a.    Grants: Gates SILL and IMLS proposal

b.    2016 Professional Development Programs

c.    Recent and upcoming trips

d.    Partnerships in-progress (Lemann Institute, BA)

e.    Social media (Instagram) and outreach/promotion

V.           Mortenson Center Initiatives

a.    Policy briefs, Peace Action, Strategic Alignment

VI.          Other topics

a.    Recognition of Advisory Committee members


October 29, 2015 Meeting Minutes


Minutes Details


Clara M. Chu, Lura Joseph, Joanne Kaczmarek, Rebecca McGuire, Emily Purcell, Susan Schnuer, Scott Schwartz, Lindy Wheatley, Martin Wolske

Absent: Bill Mischo, Barry Pittendrigh, John Randolph, Caroline Szylowicz, Steve Witt


Clara Chu began the meeting with welcome and introductions, followed by approval of the October 2015 meeting’s minutes.

25th Anniversary

The Mortenson Center is in the midst of its 25th Anniversary year. Some of the current and on-going activities include a library ‘Friendscript’ publication featuring the Center and a summary of the last 25 years and an opportunity for giving.

Creative Services is finishing a brochure for the Center – not an extensive history, just anniversary highlights. The Center also plans to slowly build a LibGuide and photo archive similar to one the Undergraduate Library did for its 40th anniversary. http://guides.library.illinois.edu/c.php?g=347445&p=2343564

The Center will submit an article to International Leads. The ‘Mortenson Center in 3 Words’ campaign is ongoing. Rebecca McGuire and Eric Kurt are working on two videos, a short promo ready in April and a longer history including interviews with past deans and directors, ready for airing in October/November.

Friends of the Library Bob and Kay Merrick have agreed to match fundraising up to 25,000 to kick off the Center’s fundraising campaign. Past directors and Clara Chu have contributed. Advancement is working on identifying other large donors. Chu asked for the committee’s ideas on fundraising, and if they knew of any donors. The Center will invite past associates and other visitors to donate.  The Center’s focus will be fundraising for the Associates program. Identifying activities for increased engagement and connection, and creating information resources for greater impact through the policy brief publications.  Joanne Kaczmarek suggested tapping politicians for donations. She pointed to the current Illinois budget situation and said, with state funding eroding and persuasion to find private donations, maybe the governor or other local lawmakers would want to support the ideals of the Mortenson Center.  Lura Joseph suggested student groups like sororities might do a campus fundraising drive. International student groups would also be prime targets for fundraising toward the Associates program.  Kaczmarek asked, when contacting past Associates, will it be for sponsoring one of the initiatives or individuals? Chu said she’d been in contact with Library Advancement concerning the best way to conduct the fundraising drive, so there are sponsorship levels involved.  Scott Schwartz asked if the Center had a specific funding target level? He wanted to frame the discussion to include anticipated outcomes.  Clara Chu replied there was no hard target for fundraising. Advancement thought it best to leave the target undefined. Obviously raising 25,000 for the Merricks matching donation was a goal, but the Center hoped to raise as much as possible and Advancement thought a defined amount might discourage donations beyond that amount.  Schwartz responded that 50k is a drop in the bucket compared to yearly appropriations. He asked what is the long view for the campaign? To endow a fund?  Chu said the fundraising framework would be on two tiers – Matching to encourage smaller donations and the identification of larger donors for continuing support.

The next agenda item concerned the Center’s anniversary celebrations. The University Library’s annual pedometer challenge this year features a walk around the world to Mortenson Center partner libraries in Colombia, Nigeria, Russia and Nepal. A bulletin board in the Undergraduate Library illustrates the libraries and the Center’s work in each area.

During the Associates program in June, the Center has invited a community group, the UNESCO Center for Global Citizenship, to host or sponsor an event with the public to engage the Associates in a dialogue while they’re here.

The Center will propose to the American Library Association to adopt a 25th anniversary tribute to the Center at the 2016 Annual Conference. At the IFLA conference in Columbus, the Center will once again share a booth with GSLIS and hold a 25th anniversary celebration activity.  Clara Chu then introduced a preliminary list of potential lecture speakers for this year’s Distinguished Lecture, to coincide with an October conference hosted by the International and Area Studies Library. Steve Witt and the IAS Committee are very receptive to the idea. Chu’s list focused on women on the front lines of women’s education and empowerment in developing countries.  JoAnne Kaczmarek asked if there would be a benefit to tying the international topic to similar situations on a local level. State funding crises and budget cuts to women’s shelters and family support present a familiar lack of financial support that the lecturer could create parallels to in their own experience. Would that help convince a lecturer to come to Urbana?  Chu said that in the past, the lecture has had a focus on libraries. Marianna Tax Choldin, the first Center director, encouraged broadening campus discussion to how libraries impact society. The Center would not attempt to bring such esteem lecturers to campus on its own, but to involve more campus partners and units. Local ties make sense, in order to involve the most people.  Scott Schwartz suggested adding a local speaker, Bruno Nettl, to discuss music as a bridge between cultures, since he has extensive experience in multicultural ethnomusicology. Schwartz will forward contact information.  Martin Wolske suggested Robin Wall Kimmerer as another speaker with local ties. Her book, “Braiding Sweetgrass” explores the tension she felt as an English-speaking botanist with her experiences as a member and student of the more verb-oriented language of the Potawatomi.

Clara Chu thanked the committee for their suggestions.

Reports and Updates

Susan Schnuer gave a recap of the progress on the SILL project. Center staff just returned from observing trainers in Myanmar actually give the training after translation and adaptation to the Burmese language and culture. The master trainers are engaging more with community librarians – volunteers. Additional SILL money has been freed up for trainings in Haiti; READ Global libraries in India, Nepal, and Bhutan; IFLA regional offices and one country in Africa.  Armenia is the next country in the original grant list of countries. The end product will have staff simply hand over the SILL curriculum, which will be trainer-focused, with easy-to-follow outlines and training resources.

Eric Kurt will accompany Center staff to India, Bhutan, and Myanmar for behind-the-scenes footage of Mortenson Center training and travel. He will also create content for the Grainger Engineering Library Informatics, Design, and Data Visualization ( GLID2) Center. When the screens are not in use, the library will need content to extend their usefulness to others.  Martin Wolske said that in his experience training the trainers, additional time for orientation and an “on-boarding” process were essential for successful trainers. An additional day for reflective questions helps to promote a culture of leadership.  Susan Schnuer agreed, saying the SILL project’s third day of training was one of reflection. They go through the curriculum and ask the trainers where they would change the program and give them permission to make those adjustments.  Wolske said it’s not always appreciated how much the little things help give a sense of freedom for adaptation and improvement.  Susan Schnuer pointed out that they have a very valuable colleague involved in the project, Rebecca Teasdale, who went along as an evaluator. Teasdale offers advice for more effective trainer development.  JoAnne Kaczmarek asked about the SILL project training videos. Where would those be accessible?  Rebecca McGuire responded that the videos would be available on YouTube and the Media Commons’ Media Space, as well as eventual links to a website.  Susan Schnuer added that since the SILL curriculum was changing so much from one iteration to the next, they wanted to wait and develop a web platform concept before making the materials available online.

The meeting continued with updates on upcoming visits. The OCLC group will visit the Center on April 26th for the day. The Associates program numbers are down this year – only 10 plus a possible two interns from Egypt.

There were not enough applicants to the proposed Global Connections program, so it was cancelled. Center staff will make it a point to seek out national librarians and library representatives at upcoming professional conferences to ask for more information in order to address higher-level leadership training needs.

In regards to Mortenson Center partnerships, the Lemann Institute has just completed a 5-year review. They want to begin a program with school librarians in Brazil. After a fact-finding program with local libraries in Brazil, it is the institute’s intention to make schools libraries into digital literacy centers.  Partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is currently mired in contract negotiations. It could take six months or more to have everything in place.  There is an opportunity for a partnership with libraries in Sierra Leone concerning global health issues. The University is currently building an agreement with Njala University in Sierra Leone.

Clara Chu told the committee about the Center’s upcoming leadership training trip to Costa Rica, and the possibility of future collaboration. The Qatar Library Association has also extended an invitation to the Center for training.

Chu briefed the committee on the Center’s social media and internet outreach. The University Library is in charge of unit-level website refresh and will hopefully get to the Center’s website in the fall.

Mortenson Center Initiatives

One of Chu’s new program goals for Center outreach is to provide libraries with more informational resources on specific topics. The Center is planning to implement a policy brief publication as another way to impact international libraries and provide guidance. Emily Purcell, GSLIS student, will assist with the project. They will work with GSLIS faculty to enlist students in writing policy briefs, with a minimum of two publication series each year. The project is based on a similar UCLA publication from the Center for the Study of Women. The GSLIS Intangible Cultural Heritage group will identify a theme for the first publication.

Chu went on to highlight another initiative garnering the Center’s renewed focus: libraries promoting peace. The Center will identify resources and key organizations through an International Peace Day initiative.

The Center will also refocus on its alignment with the University Library’s Strategic Plan. A review of the Center’s work in this regard is ongoing.

Scott Schwartz wanted to explore the issue of peace further by asking if there were ways the Center could connect with other types of initiatives on peace. September is a Peace Action month. Are there other programs doing events or projects with peace elements? Music and peace naturally coincide, crossing cultural boundaries. He believed the current political climate emphasized the need for other tie-ins to peace initiatives.

JoAnne Kaczmarek agreed, saying a month-long focus on a subject brings more awareness. Are there other ties the Center could identify to broaden the impact and reach for their peace activities?

Schwartz suggested looking for other avenues to promote peace. The Brazilian project with school children mentioned earlier with the Lemann Institute could be a prime example for peace through informational access.

JoAnne Kaczmarek said the Mortenson Center stands for diversity and the broadening of horizons. The lack of peace stemmed from too narrow of focus. September’s peace initiatives could act as a central point with more threads in the community for peace-related activities at other times.

Chu explained that she and Emily Purcell have researched other programs with international efforts throughout the year. They want to recognize and measure how libraries promote peace by consulting the international peace Indexes and using International Woman’s Day as a model. She asked the committee if they could recommend other outlets for promoting peace through the development of projects that local libraries and librarians could participate in or help to develop a project of their own by implementing programming within the library.

Other Topics

The meeting concluded with recognition of service to JoAnne Kaczmarek, Lura Joseph, and Steve Witt as outgoing members of the Advisory Committee. Chu passed out thank you cards and pens. Martin Wolske suggested the Center send an email to committee members about special Center social media posts or tweets to be retweeted or shared by the committee. There were no other topics, so the meeting was adjourned.


Minutes prepared by Lindy Wheatley