October 29, 2015 Meeting of Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Charge and Membership

Time and Location of Meeting

October 29, 20159:30 am 141 Undergraduate Library – Conference Room

Agenda Details


I. Welcome and Introductions

II. Approval of the March 9, 2015 minutes

III. Reports and Updates

a. 2015 Lecture Recap

b. Grants: Gates SILL and IMLS proposal

c. 2016 Professional Development Programs

Link to 2015 Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4Fl4SogDK8

d. Recent and upcoming trips

e. Social media and outreach/promotion

IV. Mortenson Center Future Priorities Input

a. International advisory (voices from the field)

b. 25th anniversary celebration and new initiatives

c. Fundraising campaign

V. Other topics


1. March 9, 2015 Meeting Minutes

2. 2014-15 Mortenson Center Annual Report

3. October 2015 Newsletter


Minutes Details


Clara M. Chu (Chair), Lura Joseph, Joanne Kaczmarek, Rebecca McGuire, Barry Pittendrigh, John Randolph, Susan Schnuer, Scott Schwartz, Caroline Szylowicz, Steve Witt, Lindy Wheatley, Martin Wolske

Absent: Bill Mischo


The meeting began with introductions. The committee approved the minutes of the March 29, 2015 meeting without additions or corrections.

Reports and Updates

2015 Lecture

The 2015 Distinguished Lecture took place on Tuesday, October 27, 2015. 50 people were present in person. The lecture was also live-streamed for the first time, with 34 people in attendance virtually. The talk focused on disability issues in terms of equity of access. The topic coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Dr. Irmgarda Kasinskaite-Buddeberg from UNESCO gave the talk. She also met with library colleagues while on campus and toured the Division of Disability Resources & Educational Services facilities. Dr. Kasinskaite-Buddeberg gave a community talk on Monday for the local UNESCO Center for Global Citizenship and also gave a talk to Dr. Terry Weech’s class on international librarianship before she left on Wednesday, October 28th.

Grants: Gates SILL and IMLS proposal

Susan Schnuer gave the SILL update. The Strengthening Innovative Library Leaders Project, funded by a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, is underway. The aim of the project is to develop stand-alone materials that anyone can adapt to their local context. The first pilot program focused on Namibia. The Mortenson Center training team went first to train the trainers then went back to observe the 2nd phase – the trainers training other librarians. The Center team just finished the first phase of training in Myanmar (2nd pilot program location) and will go back to observe the 2nd phase. The third pilot program training will take place in Armenia. Rebecca Teasdale is the program evaluator. She observes the 2nd phase and measures discreet things about the training for improvements and changes.

Initial findings have been positive. The materials work, but it remains to be seen whether or not the trainers can pick them up and adapt them successfully. The materials are not just a 500-page manual, but also includes clips of past trainings and YouTube clips on how to run different modules of the training.

The Gates Foundation has been focused on high-level leadership training, but will refocus on regional offerings, possibly using the SILL materials in those regional leadership training sessions.

Lura Joseph asked if the materials have to be translated. Susan Schnuer explained that all the materials are in English, but the librarians in Myanmar translated them into Burmese. FOKAL, a long-time Mortenson Center partner in Haiti, wants to hold a training and will translate the materials into French and Creole. The next phase of the project will be to develop a website to keep all the materials in one place, so that as people translate and adapt the program, the changes can be tracked. The Center will look into closed-captioning for translation purposes. The intent is to get people to add their own version of what’s happening and adapting the materials to their local cultural context.

Caroline Szylowicz asked if there would be a script provided so people can create their own versions of the clips in their own language. Susan Schnuer said the idea would be for people to film their own training and talk about it. The Center team is still thinking about that aspect. They’ve been primarily focused on improving the materials and are just now transitioning to thinking about what this platform will look like. Librarians Without Borders (http://www.librarieswithoutborders.org/) is interested in the outcome.

Institute of Museum and Library Services Planning Grant

Clara Chu explained that when she lived in Greensboro, there was a large refugee community, and seeing the most recent cases of refugees, those communities need more and better access to information – they see it as an opportunity to bring those community members together with librarians to talk about the refugee experience and perhaps develop some sort of training or identifying services that might be needed for those communities. The first part would be to bring people together from different perspectives to figure out what those needs are. The international piece of this is that we’re aware that librarians in Europe have responded and are providing services. It would be an international discussion, learning from European and potentially other international librarians and seeing what we could do here to strengthen library services to refugee communities.

Caroline Szylowicz asked if Clara knew there were local groups in the area for refugees. Clara Chu said she knows of two groups in the area. The refugee group which provides services would perhaps be asked to join the meeting. Clara has spoken with the immigration forum group. The group said there are not many refugees, so the services that the refugee service center provides is more for immigrants, but it’s still very good to be able to engage them and see how they might be integrated in some way.

Susan Schnuer said they’re also looking for other organizations like the Urban Libraries Council, an association of large metropolitan libraries, to partner with the Mortenson Center on this project. If the Center is asked to submit a full grant proposal, there would be a lot of work to be done. IMLS will let the Mortenson Center know in December if they would like a full proposal for this project.

2015 and 2016 Professional Development Programs

Clara Chu noted content on programs described in the most recent draft of the Center newsletter, set for release in November. This year there were 12 Associates from 6 different countries. Rebecca McGuire put together a promotional video for the June faculty meeting. The committee watched the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4Fl4SogDK8.

Scott Schwartz asked where the music from the video had been sourced. Rebecca McGuire told him that the music was available through Creative Commons and a subsequent version of the video gave credit to the source. Scott agreed that crediting the source was important and then suggested bringing the music level down when people spoke rather than stopping it altogether.

Seeing the video reminded Clara how wonderful it is to have Rebecca McGuire on staff. It has allowed the Center to do more work that includes video and voice recording. The Center is preparing for the 25th anniversary in 2016. This year’s lecture was the 25th Annual Distinguished Lecture, because that was established before the Center was founded in 1991. During the day, the Center conducted interviews with Ray Mortenson, his wife Jean Wardle, and founding director Marianna Tax Choldin, that will enrich the documentation. Center staff learned a lot about the founding of the Center and the Mortenson family that gave the endowments.

Recent and upcoming trips

Clara Chu read through some newsletter highlights: Paula Kaufman’s term as Interim Center Director ended in June. Susan Schnuer won several awards this year, the IFLA Scroll of Appreciation and 2015 Outstanding Library Academic Professional. Longtime friend of the Center Ekaterina Genieva was remembered during the distinguished lecture by Marianna Tax Choldin. The newsletter also includes a special thank you to past advisory members who have since rotated off the committee.

Susan Schnuer traveled to a Gates Foundation gathering in May to discuss the Gates’ legacy in the field of library science. Clara Chu went on to say that she and Susan have been trying to leverage all of their trips to include outreach and opportunities to talk about the Mortenson Center and reconnect with those areas of the world where they may not have had Associate participation in recent years. The Center shared a booth with GSLIS at an IFLA conference this past September, where Clara and Susan were able to reconnect with past Associates. They asked past Associates for ‘Mortenson Center in 3 Words’ as part of the Center’s 25th Anniversary activities.

Clara and Susan will soon travel to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt. The library invited them to conduct a site visit to look for areas and ways to strengthen and enhance their professional development program. Clara and Susan will also attend a few conferences conducted at the library while they’re in Egypt.

Clara Chu will travel to China in December to meet with the Library Society of China, and public and academic libraries. There are opportunities to train Chinese librarians beyond the program run during the summer at the Fire Service Institute conducted in Chinese. Coordinator Lian Ruan has noted interest from the Chinese in attending a program delivered in English on the topic of public librarianship. Clara will be able to explore this opportunity further when she travels to China.

Another opportunity under discussion is with the Lemann Center to conduct a librarianship program or other trainings in Brazil.

Clara Chu revisited the 2016 Professional Development program topic to tell the committee about a partnership with the IAS Library – a program called Global Connections. Joe Lenkart of the International and Area Studies library suggested that the Center do a management development program for national and regional library managers to discuss policy issues and areas of training they need from a management perspective and to also bring in library managers in the U.S. to contribute to the discussion via Skype.

Social media and outreach/promotion

The Center has worked on increasing its social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, both great ways to promote the Center’s work and increase visibility.

Mortenson Center Future Priorities Input

Clara Chu solicited input and ideas from the committee. 

Possible International Librarians Advisory Board

Clara Chu started out by saying the current advisory committee is made up of members based on campus and pointed out that it might be a good idea to incorporate the perspectives of international librarians since the Center is focused on international collaborations. She asked the committee for ideas on engaging contributions to the advisory committee from librarians from other countries.

Scott Schwartz asked for more clarification, so Clara asked if the committee thought there were any voices they felt were missing from the advisory committee and if so, how to bring in those perspectives. Caroline Szylowicz suggested tapping the expertise of past Mortenson Associates via Skype or some kind of a meeting.

Steve Witt asked what the charge of this committee of international librarians would be, whether fund raising, or partnerships. John Randolph asked if this would be a stand-alone body or a less-formally organized panel of Mortenson graduates or past international partners – or both. Would this body advise the advisory board or weigh in on certain issues?

Clara Chu said the Vice-Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies, Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela, is also looking for an international perspective for the work she is doing, so wants to create a committee or panel to exist as a separate entity. Clara asked the committee if having a separate committee would be too time-consuming to be feasible, especially since the Mortenson Center is so small.

Scott Schwartz asked if the new diversified committee, acting in conjunction with the current advisory committee, would be tasked with identifying new needs that are not being met in the international community. Clara said we don’t know all the needs – some needs are known, some needs are presented to the Center, but we need more input from partners and committee members with their own needs that the Mortenson Center might be able to address.

Susan Schnuer said she saw a different need. The Mortenson Center is easily overlooked. International organizations are actually out there doing things on a larger scale and it would be great to have people from those organizations as advisors to the Mortenson Center so we’re on their radar screen. She thought that the new 2030 sustainable development goals have people scrambling to get on board and the Mortenson Center must find its way in there and raise its profile in the international community.

John Randolph clarified that the new committee wouldn’t have to include Mortenson Center graduates but people involved in international librarianship. Susan Schnuer went on to say that it didn’t have to be ‘librarianship’ but ‘development’. READ Global, IREX, etc. – some non-library groups would also be invaluable in an advisory capacity.

Joanne Kaczmarek reminded the committee of their charge – advising the Center Director on Center policy and procedures. It didn’t sound like what the Center needed, but more on awareness and development and programmatic issues. It sounded to her like the Center needed a committee with a separate charge.

Martin Wolske suggested getting to know people from the community informatics who might be valuable. Susan Schnuer agreed, and said that community is one where the Center’s penetration was not good. Since Champaign-Urbana is not a big city, the Center should learn how to get out to places where they’re talking about development or moving forward on big projects.

Caroline Szylowicz asked if there were any big conferences where some of these major players might be gathered around coffee or a meal to start a conversation. Susan Schnuer said yes, most of them are in Washington, D.C., but there are other places around the world. The Center could ask someone from Librarians without Borders to take part.

25th anniversary celebration and new initiatives

Clara Chu asked the committee if they had any ideas for interesting activities to include in the 25th anniversary celebration. Some of the current ideas include a web forum in different languages, maybe a larger video with Associates’ comments about the Mortenson Center. Martin Wolske explained an informatics trend called ripple effect mapping to measure the impact of a group or action in the surrounding community – to ask the Associates’ communities and library patrons how changes in training or library services have impacted their lives. “But for the local library, I couldn’t have…”

Joanne Kaczmarek simplified the idea into an action: gather the stories, create a visualization of the impact in affected communities then share the information with potential international advisory entities. Clara Chu suggested that Susan Schnuer and Rebecca McGuire could do some story gathering the next time they traveled for the SILL project. Wolske went on to suggest that talking to library patrons would be even more beneficial.

Caroline Szylowicz pointed out Haiti as another important impact story locale because of the last decade’s natural disasters in that region.

Fundraising campaign

Clara Chu has received permission from the Dean to run a fundraising campaign for the 25th anniversary. She’s beginning to work with Scott Koeneman for specific ideas and asked the committee for their input. Caroline Szylowicz asked if the Mortenson Center had a regular presence in the monthly newsletter. She suggested getting in the ‘Friendscript’ newsletter more often and to update past fundraising requests with sponsorship outcomes.

Joanne Kaczmarek asked how much Clara Chu wanted to raise during this program. Clara Chu thought $25,000 was a good goal with which to begin then perhaps securing a corporate match for any amount raised by the Center.

Other topics

Clara Chu invited the committee members to visit the Center’s at any time if they needed somewhere quiet to work. Caroline Szylowicz also invited members to visit the Rare Book and Manuscript Library to see the collections and use the space if needed.

There were no other topics to discuss so the meeting was adjourned.

Minutes prepared by Lindy Wheatley.