As an International and Global Librarian

I’m regularly reminded of the phrase “Global Reach, Local Touch,” the theme of my colleague Barbara Ford, professor emerita of the University of Illinois Library, when she was ALA President in 1997-1998.

Engaging internationally has been a great joy of my career. I have had the opportunity to share my experiences with and to learn from librarians on every continent. Seeing libraries across the world has broadened my perspective, further strengthened my commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and enhanced my abilities to serve locally.

Leading a discussion on Education for Information Literacy Practitioners at IFLA 2014 with 150+ people attending.

I have been active in International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) since 2001, when I attended my first IFLA conference in Boston. I’m excited to welcome delegates to the IFLA Conference back to the United States this year for the meeting in Columbus, Ohio. I currently serve on the Standing Committee of the IFLA Information Literacy Section, to which I was originally appointed as a representative of ALA and ACRL. I have also served on the Standards Procedures Manual Working Group of the IFLA Committee on Standards. I have helped organize and have presented at multiple satellite and world congress programs.

I’ve also been internationally engaged through ALA. I currently serve on the International Relations Committee and enjoy using my expertise in global education and information policy in the context of the committee’s work. I am also a member of the International Relations Roundtable (IRRT). I served on the IRRT  International Reception Committee and contributed to the IRRT 60th Anniversary Endowment Campaign.

Locally, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a very international university and so too is our University Library. The campus has more than 10,000 international students as well as 2015 international faculty and staff. The University Library’s collections include nearly 2 million volumes in over 150 languages.

The University Library is also home to the globally-renowned Mortenson Center for International Library Programs, which aims to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians worldwide for the promotion of international education, understanding, and peace and has provided professional development programs to library workers from more than 90 countries. It has been a pleasure to meet with many of the groups who have visited our campus, to serve as a Mortenson Friend (local mentor), and to provide training at the University of Ghana through one of Mortenson’s international grants.

Conducting a week-long workshop on information literacy capacity for JULAC libraries in Hong Kong in January 2016.

My library colleague Lian Ruan, current president of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), hosts the annual Chinese Librarians Scholarly Exchange Program and it has been my honor to work with many of the groups as well as hundreds of other visiting scholars, members of delegations, etc. I am a life member of CALA and have found CALA resources useful in my work locally and in the information literacy professional development training that I have conducted in Hong Kong for ACRL and JULAC.

With my colleague Clara Chu, who is also affiliate faculty in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at Illinois, I have developed the course LIS590IIP: International Information Associations and Policy, which will be offered for the first time this coming summer.

Speaking on technology implications for libraries at the SLA Arabian Gulf Chapter Conference 2015 in Abu Dhabi.

My interest in global librarianship has also led me to take course in the Global Studies in Education program in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at Illinois.

I am currently working on a research project to examine the trends in international doctoral student enrollment in the United States and whether students return to their home countries when they complete their studies.

I have great passion for engaging internationally. I would welcome the opportunity to represent ALA to the global library community!

Some Thoughts on School Libraries and Librarians (IFLA Satellite, August 2015)

As an academic librarian, I’ve long been interested in K-12 education and how students are prepared for success in college and in life. As I have always worked in academic libraries at institutions that educate future teachers, I’ve also worked to ensure that future teachers understand the potential of partnering with their school librarians.

When I worked at Illinois State University, I founded the Central Illinois Library Instruction Group to bring together librarians concerned with student learning from K-College. During the two or three years that the group met, I became even more aware of just how challenging the school library sitution is in our state. Unfortunately, I know that the Illinois story is not unique in the United States. In spite of clear evidence that school libraries with a trained school librarian contribute to student success, school libraries continue to struggle for funding, staffing, and legitimacy, especially as technology makes information content accessible online. From my service on the ALA OITP Digital Literacy Task Force, as well as the ALA School Library Implementation Task Force appointed by then-ALA President-Elect Barbara Stripling, I also know that working together across library types helps to strengthen support for school libraries and to amplify the message of the importance of school libraries.

These reflections are prompted by the opportunity I had to attend the IFLA Satellite Conference on School Libraries & Guided Inquiry: Taking Stock & Taking Action in Cape Town, South Africa. The event was co-sponsored by IFLA’s School Libraries and Information Literacy Sections and as a member of the Information Literacy Section Standing Committee I was pleased to be able to participate as a delegate in the meeting.

The keynote speaker, Cameron Dugmore, presented an exciting vision for school libraries in the Western Cape, but the follow-on panel made clear how many challenges exist for bring that vision to reality. Ross Todd, LIS professor from Rutgers, spoke in the afternoon and reminded us all that “no is not an answer if we want to move forward.” The attendees were noticably lifted in spirits by Ross’ can-do attitude and passion for the importance of their work. On the second day of the conference, attendees could attend one of two workshops related to guided inquiry – one focused on curriculum integration and the other on digital technologies.

The challenges faced by school libraries and librarians have many commonalities across the globe. Coming together to share stories of obstacles, strategies, and successes is just one way to build the school library community of practice.