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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes

Nebraska Library Commission

November 9, 2007


The Nebraska Library Commission held its regular meeting Friday, November 9, 2007, at the Nebraska Library Commission, Lincoln, NE. Notice of the meeting was submitted to local newspapers (Lincoln Journal-Star, Omaha World Herald), and posted on the Nebraska Library Commission Homepage.

Chair John Dale called the meeting to order at 9:31 a.m. Members present: Jean Ahrens, John Dale, Charles Gordon, and Mary Nelson. Staff present: Rod Wagner, Maria Medrano-Nehls, and Shannon White.

Approval of Agenda:

A motion was made and seconded to approve the agenda. Motion carried on roll call vote: Jean Ahrens - aye; John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; and Mary Nelson - aye. Motion approved.

Approval of the Minutes (Sept. 21, 2007):

A motion was made and seconded to approve the September 21, 2007 meeting minutes. John Dale stated that there was an error on page three in which polo should be polio. Motion carried with correction on roll call vote: John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


No public in attendance.

Correspondence and Communication

Rod Wagner reported that he received a letter from Anne-Imelda Radice, Director of the IMLS, congratulating the Commission for an excellent five-year plan. Wagner also referred to letters from George Smith, IMLS Associate Deputy Director for State programs, and Laurie Brooks, IMLS Senior Program Officer, concerning Ms. Brooks' site visit to Nebraska.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments

John Dale stated that he attended the NLA/NEMA conference. John observed that the workshop on media relations was well done and the business meeting for trustees and public libraries was very good. The Trustees, Users and Friends Section has merged with the Public Library Section. John stated that a future Commission meeting should include a discussion of things the Commission could do to encourage participation beyond the local level by those who are public library trustees or board members. Charles Gordon suggested inviting Nadine DiBacco, immediate past chair of the Public Library section and Nancy Chmiel, the current chair of the Public Library and Trustees Section.

Jean Ahrens reported that the Scottsbluff Public Library friends group made a few thousand dollars at their book sale. There were many books left over so they will hold another book sale this winter. Jean said that Bev Russell, Scottsbluff public library director, has an article in the local newspaper every Sunday.

Charles Gordon reported that the Fremont public library receives over $12,000 from its annual book sale. Charles acknowledged Ann Stephens's work as library director and her proactive efforts on behalf of the library. Charles also recognized the good work of the Fremont public library board.

Mary Nelson stated that Laura Johnson did a great job with the Thinking Outside Borders Institute. Mary said that since information is global it is important to make connections with librarians from other countries. Mary stated that she came away from the Thinking Outside the Borders Institute participant session at the NLA-NEMA conference with three things in mind. One, we should be thankful for our public libraries; when you talk to librarians from other countries and measure their libraries against what we have it makes you very grateful. In other countries, libraries can be funded by local government, banks, or the legislature. They know little or nothing about citizen volunteerism or citizen oversight. These libraries are not true public libraries. We should also be grateful that we can provide library services to our visually impaired and that we have associations and networking, and professionalism is shared among librarians.

Mary reported that she attended the NLA-NEMA preconference in which Alexis Sailisiam presented. Mary said that she talked with several others about a statewide marketing campaign. Mary believes it's time to change our marketing campaign from @ your library™ to something new. She believes we should focus on more than technology. Mary stated that a few people expressed to her that the Commission should update its website. They would like to see greater audience appeal and easier usage of the website.

Mary stated that the Holdrege Area Public Library Friends group is using FOLUSA resources. They just had their Friends of the library week and used ideas and information that Sally Reed, FOLUSA executive director, provided them. The Friends made $800 at a morning coffee using Reed's ideas. Mary stated she recently attended an RVLS board meeting. Tony Anderson, RVLS board member and county extension educator, was present with a portable computer lab (Nebraska BIT Mobile) that the county extension people are using for educational programs.

Director's Report

Rod Wagner reported that he hosted the Chief Officers of State Libraries (COSLA) and the Western Council of State Libraries meetings in Omaha October 14 - 17. Attendance was very good, with only a few states not represented. Many of the participants had never been to Nebraska before.

Thinking Outside the Borders Institute - Wagner asked Laura Johnson and Richard Miller to report on the institute. Rod thanked Laura and other NLC staff for their good work in planning, arranging and conducting the institute. Laura and Richard offered observations about the institute.

Laura Johnson said that she and Richard Miller prepared for the event by attending similar Thinking Outside the Borders institutes held in Illinois and Arizona. All three of the Thinking Outside the Border institutes were funded by an IMLS three-year grant awarded to the Illinois State Library. The Illinois State Library asked the Arizona and Nebraska state libraries to be partners. A key partner was the Mortensen Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Barbara Ford, the Mortensen Center Director, serves in a leadership role for the institute program and traveled to Nebraska with the international librarians group. A purpose of the project was to develop an educational module that could bring together librarians from the United States and librarians from foreign countries to explore commonalities and differences and to teach leadership skills. A goal for the Nebraska project was to assure that all participants took away new ideas and experiences that they found worthwhile, and to have the international participants have a good feeling about Nebraska. Laura and Richard observed that the institute speakers were especially good. The institute included fine people and librarians both from the several foreign countries and Nebraska.

Laura Johnson recruited a group of ten Nebraska librarians that participated in the institute and seven librarians from Latin American countries. All the visiting librarians spoke English, were enthusiastic and fun. The institute participants were provided a lot of information and also some entertainment. The Southeast Library System was especially helpful in arranging and hosting a welcome reception for the institute participants at the James Arthur Vineyards near Lincoln. The group spent two days in Lincoln and participated in the sessions provided by the Commission. And they visited the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and saw some of the things UNL librarians are doing there. On Thursday, the participants traveled to Kearney to attend the NLA/NEMA conference. The international librarians led a program session at the NLA/NEMA conference with information about their libraries in their home countries. A wiki was created for the institute and may be visited to find information about the photos of the participants. The address is:

Now Hiring @ your library - Mary Jo Ryan reported that the Commission received a one-year extension on the IMLS project grant. The project is in its third year. Mary Jo stated that due to the aging workforce in Nebraska libraries it is important to recruit young people into the library field. One of the challenges to recruiting the younger generation is to overcome the perception of young peoples' ideas of what library work is and offer information and images of what library work is really like.

The Commission is at the phase of the project where the public service announcement (video) is presented in movie theaters. Posters have been created and will be placed in theaters that agree to show the video. The poster includes a tear-off postcard that interested people can complete and mail to the Commission. When postcards are received, the sender will be called to ask about their interests concerning scholarships, internships, educational options and job opportunities.

Internships are currently being arranged for high-school and college students. Public libraries have been informed that if they have projects that would be aided by the help of an intern they can request a $1,000 grant from the Commission to pay an intern. The internship will provide work experience and the possibility of interest in future library employment. Scholarships are still available with the next deadline being February 1. Many have applied for scholarships and the Commission has been able to provide them to those who have applied and who have met the requirements. When grant funds are depleted, the Commission will either need to find alternate funding or substantially reduce the number of scholarships.

Ryan stated that the Commission has partnered with the Nebraska State Historical Society and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications on the "Saving Nebraska's Treasures" project. The program will be re-broadcast on November 18, and the program can be viewed anytime online from the NET website. At the end of this grant project a copy of the broadcast will be sent to every public library in Nebraska.

Mary Jo distributed bookmarks featuring astronaut Clay Anderson, who is from Ashland. She stated that Clay is a remarkable man and that he kindly posed for the photo. The photo was made into a READ poster on CD so that libraries could make their own posters. The CD was distributed to 150 libraries upon request.

Wagner referred to the final project report from the Youth Grants for Excellence that was submitted by the Axtell public library. A copy of the library's report was included in the Commission meeting packet. The report is one example of how grant monies are used and an example of a report that offers anecdotal comments on the value of the grant funds.

Rod Wagner stated that he would ask staff members involved in the Commission's website to attend the next Commission meeting. Rod stated that a team of Commission staff members has been methodically working on the website's functionality and updating the website. The team sets development priorities and one of the first things they did was make substantial improvements to the search function. Other more noticeable changes have included the calendar and training components that allow for online registration.

Rod reported that Cynthia Taylor will be leaving the Commission staff at the end of November to begin a position as a wildlife biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Cynthia's position was created to assist with the IMLS grant project and to assist with research and analysis in support of NLC programs and projects. Cynthia has two master's degrees and has wanted to get back to her professional interests. Cynthia has a biology background and has worked for the National Park Service.

Rod stated that as of October 15, during the most recent round of scholarship applications, the Commission received 24 applications (2 for bachelor's degree programs, 3 for the Library Technology Assistant program, 11 for the Master of Education school librarian program, and 8 for the Master of Library Science program. The Commission is at the point where IMLS grant funds will soon be depleted and the Commission will not be able to support scholarships at the level of the past few years (during the period of the IMLS Librarians for the 21st Century grant).

NLA-NEMA Conference - Rod Wagner noted that Beth Goble, NLC Government Information Services Director, completed her one year term as Nebraska Library Association President at the conclusion of the NLA-NEMA conference. Wagner observed that the conference was well attended. The Library Commission contributed approximately $15,000 for conference speakers and programs. Next year's conference will be held in Lincoln and will be followed immediately by the Nebraska Book Festival. The location and dates offer a good opportunity for collaboration on speakers and program sessions for both events.

IMLS Visit to Nebraska - Rod Wagner reported that Laurie Brooks, IMLS Senior Program Officer, wrote in her letter following her state visit to Nebraska a couple of recommendations. She noted that Nebraska does not have a written procedure for handling complaints related to its LSTA program administration. Brooks also recommended that an LSTA procedures manual be compiled. Procedures manuals are being recommended by the IMLS with the view that there have been and will continue departures of state library staff with LSTA responsibility and their replacements. With their departure will go much knowledge and experience. Procedure manuals are a way of documenting practices that will be helpful for new staff. Kit Keller, whose responsibilities include coordination of Nebraska's LSTA program, has begun work on an LSTA procedures manual.

IMLS Conference for State Library Agencies - Rod Wagner reported that he attended the IMLS conference for state library agency representatives in Washington D.C. October 31 - November 2. The IMLS staff chose to devote the conference program to covering a full range of policies and procedures related to administrating the LSTA state based programs. In part this was due to the large number of staff in state library agencies who are new to LSTA administrative responsibilities (both chief officers and LSTA state program coordinators). The conference covered law, policies, reporting, evaluation, auditing, allowable costs and many other items.

Future Search Project - Rod Wagner stated that the Future Search project came out of the recent library leadership institute. The leadership institute facilitators, John Shannon and Becky Schrieber, also facilitate Future Search conferences. Future Search is a process for bringing together a group of people to find common ground on a range of needs and issues. The Nebraska future search conference will bring together a group of people representing libraries, some public officials, library trustees, library users, educators, and others involved with a variety of public services. The conference will have value not only for the Nebraska Library Commission but also for the Nebraska Library Association, Nebraska Educational Media Association, and all Nebraska libraries. The Future Search conference is scheduled to be held on June 9 & 10, 2008, at the Saint Benedict Center, near Schuyler. Commissioners will be invited to participate. There is a fourteen member conference planning committee.

State Advisory Council on Libraries - Rod Wagner stated that the next State Advisory Council on Libraries meeting will be held on November 16 at the Grand Island public library. This meeting will be the last for Nancy Escamilla who is completing her second-term.


Rod Wagner stated that the September financial reports were included in the packets. The October reports were distributed before the meeting.


There was no unfinished business to report.


Office Space Lease Extension Agreement - Doreen Kuhlmann distributed an updated version of the office space lease extension agreement. Rod Wagner said that discussion with building representatives, including their architectural firm, and the State Department of Administrative Services Building Division, have been held over the past few months. Discussions have covered updating of office space and improvements in some work areas. Some of the more significant work needed is requested for the ground level and first floor. First floor staff has concern that visitors feel intimidated walking between the TBBS counter and the Information Services counter. The plan is to remove the two large counters and replace them with different furniture set farther back to make the isle wider. These changes will require some new carpeting in that area. Some areas and surfaces will be re-painted. The building owners want the state to enter into a long-term ten year lease agreement.

A motion was made to approve the building lease agreement extension as presented. Motion carried on a roll call vote: Charles Gordon - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; John Dale - aye. Motion approved.

January 2008 Meeting Date - Rod Wagner asked if the meeting date could be moved from January 11 to the 4th or 18th. Rod stated the American Library Association Midwinter meeting and the COSLA meeting will be held beginning on January 11. It was decided to move the meeting to January 4, 2008. The March meeting will be a joint meeting with State Advisory Council on Libraries on March 14.

A motion was made to move the January meeting date from January 11 to January 4, 2008. Motion carried on roll call vote: Mary Nelson - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; John Dale - aye; and Charles Gordon - aye. Motion approved.

Out-of-State Travel Request - Rod Wagner requested approval to attend the American Library Association Midwinter meeting and the COSLA meeting in Philadelphia on January 10-15, 2008. A motion was made and seconded to approve Rod Wagner's travel request. Motion carried on roll call vote: Jean Ahrens - aye; John Dale - aye, Charles Gordon - aye; and Mary Nelson - aye. Motion approved.


Chair John Dale adjourned the meeting at 11:38.

Maria Medrano-Nehls, Secretary

All attachments are available upon request. If you would like a copy, please contact Sue Biltoft at the Nebraska Library Commission, 800-307-2665 or 402-471-2045.

For more information, contact Sue Biltoft.