Mortenson Center for International Library Programs

University Library

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

1408 W. Gregory Drive

Urbana, IL 61801


(217) 333 - 2291

(217) 333 - 3085

Monday-Friday 8:00a-5:00p

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I. Mission

II. History

III. Staff

IV. Initiatives & Activities

V. Lectures

VI. Associates Program


The mission of the Mortenson Center is "to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians worldwide for the promotion of international education, understanding, and peace." The only one of its kind, the Center offers non-degree professional development programs to librarians from all over the world (outside of the United States).


The Mortenson Center for International Library Programs is named after C. Walter Mortenson and Gerda B. Mortenson. Thanks to their generosity, the Mortenson Distinguished Professorship for International Library Programs was created in in 1986, "the first named academic position of its kind in the United States." In 1991, the activities of the Professorship expanded to include additional programs that "seek to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians, regardless of geographic location or access to technology. "

  • More information on the Mortenson's and their contributions to the Center can be found on the Mortenson Center's About/History page.


The Mortenson Center has two staff members: Barbara J. Ford & Susan Schnuer.

Ford is the Director, as well as the Mortenson Distinguished Professor at the Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As ALA President in 1997-1998, her theme was "Libraries: Global Reach, Local Touch." Ford travels around the world to "address topics such as information literacy, government information, the future of libraries, the role of library associations, international cooperation among libraries, among other topics." Her full biography can be found here.

Schnuer joined the Mortenson Center in 1992. Since then, she has developed many new programs and initiatives reaching all over the world, including "Central America, Russia, China, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda," among others. The projects she manages "have ranged from helping university libraries to automate to developing strong leadership in a library association." Her full biography can be found here.

Initiatives & Activities:

I. Partnerships: Organizations and libraries which partner with the Mortenson Center "identify professional development needs, develop appropriate educational programs, and help find resources to sustain those programs." Funding to support these projects is awarded by organizations such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

II. Projects: Mortenson Center projects take place all over the world. Recent projects include the "Leaders and Innovators Training Program" in Latvia and Romania (2009-2011), as well as "Think Globally, Act Globally: China-US Librarian Collaboration" (2008-2010). 

III. Grants: Updates on various Mortenson Center grants, including the Gates, MacArthur and Carnegie grant awards.

IV. Reports: Final Reports and Updates on Mortenson Center projects.


Every year, the Mortenson Center hosts lecturers to speak about their professional LIS work all over the world, including Haiti, Latin America, India, South Africa, Russia, and Australia, among others. Topics have ranged from the role of libraries in society, information famines, digital libraries, and community reconstruction.  

Associates Program:

The Mortenson's Center Associates Program is a summer professional development program for 12-15 LIS professionals who work in countries outside of the United States. It is an opportunity to learn more aobut current issues in the field, such as marketing, digital collections, information technology, leadership, communication, and professional networking, among other trends and topics. 

The 2014 Associates Program, taking place May 29- June 24, is titled "Imagine, Question, Connect: A Professional Development Program for Library Leaders and Innovators." 

See Also

External Links