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Jane Meyers

Jane Meyers is a professional librarian with over 30 years’ experience working and living in Africa, consulting, teaching and working with scores of libraries throughout the continent and participating in the formulation of National Information Policies of Malawi and Zambia. She developed a network of research libraries for Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture as a technical advisor on a World Bank project and pioneered CD-ROM applications for Africa in the mid-1980s. She was instrumental in establishing the first positions for professional librarians in Malawi’s civil service and has promoted the principles and practices of special librarianship in Africa, consulting for FAO, Unicef and other international agencies. Prior to this she worked at the U.S. National Agricultural Library, then for Costabile Associates, Inc. on over 20 projects at the U.S. Agency for International Development. She subsequently developed agricultural information services at the World Bank which led to the establishment of the World Bank Library.

Ten years after her work in Malawi Jane returned to neighboring Zambia, accompanying her husband for a three-year posting. There, as she worked on projects for the American Library and for Johns Hopkins University, she became increasingly involved with services to street children offered by the Fountain of Hope, a drop-in shelter in Lusaka. She established a reading program, served on the Board, raised funds, and created a library for the children, among her many contributions to the center. On her return to the U.S. in 2001, she developed the concept, approach and organization of the Lubuto Library Project, based on the success and impact of the library in Lusaka.

It was becoming a mother, volunteering in her children's schools and with an organization to support child survivors of the Rwanda genocide, and working at the Cheshire Cat bookstore that prepared Jane to go in a different direction professionally when she moved to Zambia. She had taken perhaps 1,000 good children's books with her, knowing (from the Malawi experience) how precious and inaccessible books are in Africa. So it was natural that, when she first visited Fountain of Hope, she asked if she could read to the children. Recognizing the great unmet need in helping those children, her career is now focused on making books and libraries available to the most vulnerable children in Africa.

Most of Jane’s professional career has been involved with libraries and information for international development, particularly in the agricultural sector. She worked in that capacity at the World Bank and the U.S. National Agricultural Library, for USAID, and as a consultant to a number of international organizations. During her seven years living in southern Africa, as well as on numerous other trips to Africa, she taught and spoke to many library groups in Malawi, Zambia and other African countries, and has visited scores of libraries throughout the continent. In 2006, she was awarded honorary lifetime membership by the Zambia Library Association. As a leader in the library profession, her “leadership lessons” were profiled by the 2008 American Library Association’s “Emerging Leaders.”

Jane earned a BA with a major in English literature from the University of Arizona in 1976 and her MLS from the University of Maryland’s College of Library and Information Studies in 1978. The Special Libraries Association awarded her the Dow Jones Factiva Leadership Award at its 2007 annual conference, and she received the Washington, DC SLA Chapter’s Board of Directors Award for 2005-2006. She was honored as the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by the University Maryland’s College of Information Studies,the 2009 ALA President’s Citation for International Innovation and the 2010 International award from the International Library and Information Group of the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and the 2012 Fastcase 50 Award. She is the recipient of ALA’s 2012 John Ames Humphry/OCLC/Forest Press Award for International Librarianship.

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