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Recent past president of ALA to head Mortenson Center

Andrea Lynn , Humanities Editor
(217) 333-2177;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Barbara J. Ford, a recent past president of the American Library Association (ALA), has been selected to direct the C. Walter and Gerda B. Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Currently assistant commissioner for central library services at the Chicago Public Library, Ford will be the second director of the Mortenson Center. She also becomes the Mortenson Distinguished Professor at Illinois.

Ford will begin her duties in mid-January. She succeeds Marianna Tax Choldin, who is retiring after 32 years with the University Library.

The Mortensons provided gifts in 1989 and 1991 to establish and nurture the center, which seeks to strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians regardless of their geographic location or access to technology. Since its inception, the center has hosted more than 600 librarians from more than 76 countries who have traveled to Illinois to participate in training programs.

Ford directed the ALA from 1997 to 1998, and also was president of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

She previously was director of libraries at Virginia Commonwealth University, associate director of libraries at Trinity University in San Antonio, and the head of the government documents library at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ford is the author of several dozen journal articles and a co-editor of "Libraries: Global Reach – Local Touch," published in 1998 by the ALA.

Ford is a former Peace Corps volunteer with service in Panama and Nicaragua. She earned her library degree at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the Urbana campus. She also earned a master’s degree at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Ford has spoken about library issues in Argentina, China, Cuba, Denmark, Hungary, India, Mexico, Peru, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.