September 23, 2014 Meeting of Mortenson Center Advisory Committee Charge and Membership

Time and Location of Meeting

September 23, 201410:00 am 141 Undergraduate Library – Conference Room

Agenda Details


I. Introductions
II. Search for Mortenson Center Director and Distinguished Professor

a. Update
b. Interview Schedule – Advisory Committee’s Role

III. Arabella Advisors and Mortenson Center Evaluation (recommendations attached)

a. Update
b. Discussion of priorities and strategies for addressing recommendations

IV. Mortenson Center Future Priorities

a. Engagement with non-public library sectors (e.g., academic libraries)
b. Brainstorming ideas about how to better engage Mortenson Associates within the University community

i. Workshops (e.g., “Preparing for Summer Research Abroad”)?

ii. Reception for campus faculty and students?

iii. Other ideas?
c. Increasing financial resources – update and brainstorming

V. Reports and Updates

a. FY 2014 Annual Report and FY 2015 goals
b. 2014 Mortenson Associates Program/plans for 2015 program
c. Grants/grant proposals
d. New and potential partners
e. Recent and upcoming trips

VI. Other topics

Minutes Details


Paula Kaufman (Chair), Atoma Batoma, Harriet Green, Lura Joseph, Joanne Kaczmarek, Susan Schnuer , Scott Schwartz, Caroline Szylowicz, Steve Witt


Introductions were skipped.

Search Committee Update

Paula Kaufman gave an update on the Director Search Committee. After aggressive recruitment, the application review process closed on September 15. A small, qualified pool of applicants were selected. The Committee indicated that it wanted to meet with the candidates separately from the customary presentations in order to share their vision for the Center’s activities. Screening will begin the last week of September, but no timeline was yet in place for interviews. The search committee will try to schedule interview when Susan Schnuer will not be traveling and can be involved in the selection. Susan said there were questions about the position from international applicants which arose from cultural differences concerning the position description and translation of skill levels from one country to the next. Non-U.S. citizenship shouldn’t be a problem for international candidates.

Arabella Evaluation

The Mortenson Center began implementing some of the smaller proposals included in the Arabella evaluation of the Center. Based on the report, the Center required that the last group of Associates develop an Action Plan outlining short and long-term goals to take back to their home libraries. The Center will check in with the Associates in 6 months to gauge the progress.

A structure for future evaluations is in place, but time and travel have not allowed implementation just yet. Arabella suggested that the Center become more visible, so Susan and Paula recently met with Heather Murphy to determine an effective marketing strategy moving forward. Heather is working on a plan.

Past years’ IFLA poster sessions were not the best way to engage with conference attendees, so this past year, in addition to participating in the poster sessions, the Center helped staff the GSLIS on a booth at the 2014 IFLA conference, where Susan, Paula, and Barbara Ford were able to meet with and speak to many more people than in the past. The Center plans to continue in that vein by sharing a booth with GSLIS in 2015 rather than doing a poster session. The Center will also have new Alumni pins to give away to future Associates as well as to past Associates that Center staff might see.

Further changes under consideration based on the Arabella report included the possibility of offering smaller, focused programs of 1-2 weeks, tailored to the needs of the intended group. Workshops in preservation and disaster management were discussed along with sessions on Big Data/research data support services. The Center will be looking into grant funding from the Mellon Foundation for these workshops. Paula asked the committee if they had ideas for other potential program topics, which led to an explanation of the difference in training needs for librarians from public libraries versus academic libraries. Public libraries have less available funding for these development opportunities. One question for consideration was how many of these small programs could the Center handle?

Museums and other cultural institutions are a potential untapped market. Also regional funding from countries like China and India might be possibilities.

Future Priorities

The committee members were asked if they knew of any other potential grants or funding opportunities. The Center is always in search of international partners. Susan explained that the Center is already aware of the University’s international partnerships and is currently working with or investigating the possibilities of working with a few of them.  Many university partnerships focus on student exchanges.

As noted above, the Center is interested in expanding beyond its leadership training programs into Big Data and disaster management. They’re in search of collaboration partners in these subjects. Other colleges on campus was suggested for partnership, namely the College of Education, which is developing new international programs.

Joanne Kaczmarek asked what set the Center apart from other international leadership and library training programs. Susan said that the Mortenson Center’s strength is its quality as well as the potential for ongoing assessment. She stressed that it was important that the Center be proactive rather than reactive to the needs of libraries and librarians. There has been more call for on-site needs assessments. Susan recently went to Namibia for this purpose. She suggested to her hosts that they use local resources to build capacity rather than relying on outside consultants. Being consultants and facilitators in this area could be a fruitful way to expand the Mortenson Center’s impact. The Center could help libraries assess their needs, develop a plan, identify goals, and point out other resources for development.

Associate Immersion

Paula asked the committee for their ideas for how to engage summer Associates into the university library community and tap their knowledge base. Some ideas from the committee were to ask the Associates to give presentations to students and faculty on how to prepare to conduct research abroad. Steve Witt mentioned a white paper that he authored and suggested an arrangement with the program he’s in the process of organizing with area Centers on campus – International Summer Workshops at Illinois – to create a salon atmosphere that would draw scholars to the U of I. Caroline Szylowicz suggested that the Associates be given a menu of participation options to choose from before they arrive – one or two could give a talk to visiting RMBL scholars, or share their expertise with RMBL on international collections from their home countries, for example, or working with IAS to partner with the foreign language department: the Associate could visit a class and give a presentation in their native language to students studying that particular language.

Departmental friends might be another option – informal discussions about the department with Associates in a similar job. Scott Schwartz asked for a clarification on the role of the library friend – would it be more of a “grip and grin” arrangement, or are more substantial conversations encouraged? He suggested that it would be more beneficial if a deeper conversation could be arranged after an initial meeting of the Associates with their library friends.

It was agreed that more “organized free time” was necessary for the Associates to reflect on things they’d learned. Debriefing was also important. Breaking the group into smaller, more focused areas of interest was also suggested.

Steve Witt asked if Blackboard could be utilized pre-arrival or post-departure to engage the Associates in activities. Susan explained that some countries had more access to those sorts of programs than other countries, but that Survey Monkey was at a level of technology that was generally accessible to all. Other technical capabilities easily utilized by international librarians include LinkedIn and Facebook. Most have cellphones, but usually connect through some sort of online community.

Susan reported although the Center now required an Action Plan to continue the Associate’s work at home, it would be useful to do something with the Associates that allowed them to shine individually while they were at the Center – more opportunities for immersion.

Scott Schwartz asked where the Associates were able to experience music locally. He has fielded a lot of questions from past interactions about local music and where to go to experience the U.S. culture. The committee thought a guide to the arts would be a nice addition – maybe someone could lead a group to a concert or on a bar crawl or some kind of outing. Atoma Batoma told a story about inviting African librarians to meet a Ghanaian friend of his over coffee at his home. The group of librarians eventually expanded to include 16 Associates in an informal setting over coffee at Atoma’s home. It was a good way to continue earlier conversations, but it was difficult to separate the group for smaller, informal meetings.

New Financial Resources

Paula remarked that finding private funding for the Center was challenging, since it was already named. She asked the committee again if they knew of any other resources or grants. Caroline suggested approaching consulates’ cultural services departments prior to accepting applications in order to solicit funds to support the development of citizens of a particular country or region. IPS brings consulate members to campus all the time, which might be the easiest way to approach them. Another place might be the SOKOL or Knight foundations. Knight has a current library initiative underway.

Reports and Updates

Susan told the committee about a proposal she’d recently submitted to develop a stand-alone leadership program and set of training materials that could be adapted to a specific library’s culture or needs, depending on the situation. If funded, the center would hire a media person to create training videos. It will be a 3-year project and she will find out if the grant is approved in October.

Upcoming travel for Center staff includes another trip for Susan to India, Nepal and Bhutan to observe training sessions given by the READ Global staff that visited the Center this past summer. After the training, they will have a debriefing session and together, they would plan the organization’s next steps.

In January, Susan and Paula will travel to Silchar, India, with Bill Mischo and Jeff Schrader, to participate in a library conference and workshop hosted by NIT, Silchar (a new University partner). While they are there, they will help with planning for the institution’s new library.

Paula will travel to Abu Dhabi in mid-March to give a talk and host a panel of speakers at a conference there.

In closing, Paula mentioned that IFLA 2016 will take place in Columbus, OH, which presents a unique opportunity for in-country marketing. The Center is considering offering a short post-conference program on a specific theme; participants would have to be bussed from Columbus and back there again.


Minutes prepared by Lindy Wheatley.