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Meeting Minutes

Grand Island Public Library, Grand Island, NE
March 13, 2009

Advisory Council members present: Patty Birch, Pam Bohmfalk, Deb Carlson, Ceri Daniels, Kathy Ellerton, Steve Fosselman, Pat Gross, Gretchen Healy, Karen Hein, Pat Leach, Trine McBride, MeMe Smith, Ellen Weed, and Glenda Willnerd. Commission staff: Maria Medrano-Nehls, Richard Miller, Mary Jo Ryan, and Rod Wagner. Guest: Matt Williams, Kearney Public Library.

Welcome and Introductions

Pat Gross welcomed new members to the meeting. Pat stated that this is her last term and she hopes that new members enjoy their time on the council as much as she has. Introductions were made around the table. Pat thanked Steve Fosselman, Council member and Grand Island Public Library Director, for hosting the Council.

Steve Fosselman welcomed everyone to the G.I. Public Library. Steve stated that he was pleased to provide meeting space for the Commission and Council, noting that the library is far better able to host meetings and other events due to the doubling of the library 's space with the expansion and renovation.

Mary Nelson stated that the Commission was delighted to have so many at its meeting (held prior to the Council meeting). Mary stated that the Commission is proud of the librarians in the state. Mary expressed appreciation and thanks for all that libraries and library workers do for our state and our towns.

Pat Gross stated that the State Advisory Council on Libraries was glad to support the Commission and that they are only as good as their leaders.

Approval of the Agenda: A motion was made by Deb Carlson and seconded by Gretchen Healy to approve the agenda. Motion approved.

Approval of Minutes (November 14, 2008): MeMe Smith stated that page 5 should read "Schuyler Public Library is completing a feasibility study and the library did not have a focus group but they did have a random survey. " Pat Gross stated that page 5 should read "Gering had a bond issue for the elementary and middle school which did not pass " and "The PLS workshop that is in conjunction with NEMA was very successful. " A motion was made by Ceri Daniels and seconded by MeMe Smith to approve the minutes with corrections. Motion approved.

Public Comments

Matt Williams, Kearney Public Library director, stated that he attended the meeting today to show his support and to learn about what is going on throughout the state. Williams expressed special interest in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and opportunities for libraries.


Nebraska Library Commission Reports

Federal Library Programs - Rod Wagner stated that Congress enacted an appropriations bill covering many federal programs for the current federal fiscal year which started last October. Appropriations have been distributed under a continuing resolution with amounts based on prior year appropriations. The appropriations bill that was finally passed this week included an increase in LSTA funds. The significant outcome was that the appropriation level for LSTA state program allotments reached the amount required to fully implement the base amount for each state. States receive LSTA funds according to a formula that includes a base amount and a per capita amount.

The most recent LSTA reauthorization took place five years ago and included an increase in the base amount that had not been changed for many years. A goal for the past five years has been to reach the appropriation level needed to fully implement the minimum state base allotment. The recent action of the Congress has finally succeeded in achieving this intent. Wagner said that last year was a setback in that LSTA funds were reduced. Because the appropriation was just approved Nebraska 's LSTA funding allotment isn 't yet known.

The federal appropriations bill includes a number of other library related programs including the U.S. Department of Education and other Institute of Museum and Library Services national programs such as leadership grants, and funding for the Librarians for the 21st Century program.

Library Improvement Grants - Richard Miller reported that the Library Commission had $181,500 available for library improvement grants. Thirty libraries applied and twenty-two libraries were awarded grants.

2009-2011 Biennium Budget Outlook - Rod Wagner stated that the Library Commission 's budget hearing will be held March 17. The Governor 's biennium budget recommendation for the Library Commission is based on the Commission 's current fiscal year state appropriation. This is in line with the Governor 's budget recommendations for most other state agencies. The appropriations committee 's preliminary budget recommendation for the Commission is, in total, equal to the Governor 's recommendation. One problem with no increase in funding is that the state and state employee 's labor union worked out agreements on state employee salary increases plus expected increases in health insurance premiums that will have to be funded without a funding increase. Wagner stated that the budget hearing will be an opportunity to make a case for additional funds to address specific cost increases that the Commission does not have control over such as the scheduled office space lease costs, Department of Administrative Services ' fee increases (including conversion to the state 's e-mail system), and transition to the digital talking book.

Wagner stated that the Commission 's request for the digital talking book transition includes funding exceeding $50,000 for purchase of flash memory cartridges, equipment and other supplies needed for the transition for those items not provided by the Library of Congress. The Commission 's Talking Book and Braille Service needs special mailers, recording and duplication equipment to be used with the new digital talking book media.

IMLS - 21st Century Librarian Program - Mary Jo Ryan stated that she, Kathryn Brockmeier, and John Felton have completed the final report for the IMLS-21st Century Librarians ' grant. Mary Jo stated that they were specific in reporting what the Commission accomplished with grant funds, what wasn 't accomplished, and what remains to be accomplished. The report also emphasized that there remains a need to recruit librarians to replace those who will be retiring in the future.

Mary Jo stated that the Commission has submitted another grant application to the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The new grant application is titled Cultivating Nebraska Librarians 2.0: Building 21st Century Skills. Mary Jo said the purpose of the grant is to provide scholarships and internships, encourage the use of 21st century learning skills to scholarships and internship recipients, and cover the cost of scholarship recipients and interns to attend the NLA/NEMA conference. Mary Jo stated that she would like to see the internship project expand.

Pat Leach stated that the Lincoln City Libraries started out with a Spanish-speaking intern for their Prime Time program and had a very successful experience with internships. The interns not only assisted with Prime Time but worked in the library generally. The interns were asked to complete a survey after they completed their internship assignment. Interns stated that they learned a lot about how "hip and cool " librarians were and that libraries were a fun place to work. Pat said she also found the internship program a good way to promote diversity to the staff and to people who visit the library. Pat stated that last summer the Lincoln City Libraries had quite a few high-school interns to help with the summer reading program. Pat said that one of the LCL 's teen advisory members became an intern and now works at the library as a shelver. The internship allows young adults to see what librarianship is about and encourages them into the field.

MeMe Smith stated that she received scholarships which have allowed her to work on her MLS degree. MeMe said a young woman is doing her practicum at the Schuyler public library and is a student in the LTA program. MeMe said she has observed that the young woman has learned a lot from the program.

Mary Jo Ryan said one of the challenges this year is that the grant guidelines have changed. The guidelines are rigid in defining whether the scholarship is for master 's level, undergraduate level, or for another educational purpose. The Commission 's application expressed the need to address all three levels. Mary Jo stated that she is excited about the scholarship program and believes it is an important component of library education. Gretchen Healy stated that The Winnebago tribal library had received a scholarship for an intern. The internship was a valuable experience for the intern and for the library.

Deb Carlson stated that the Scottsbluff public library also had a Spanish-speaking intern who assisted with the library 's Prime Time Family Reading program. The intern was assigned extra hours to assist at the library. Carlson said that the Scottsbluff public library had an exhibit at the Scottsbluff mall and the intern was present to help promote library programs and services offered during the summer. Deb said that the intern was interested in the library and what it offers, brought her sister to the library for a kindergarten program and got her a library card. While she may not pursue a library career she will be a library supporter and believer of what libraries can do.

Mary Jo Ryan stated a concern that the intern program has lost momentum since there are currently no funds to support internships. Kathryn Brockmeier, the Commission 's research assistant, is seeking funds from foundations and other private sources to support internships for this summer.

Patty Birch stated that she is a volunteer for the mentor program and has a good relationship with the mentee she was assigned. Patty said that the mentee has a lot to offer her school.

Chair Pat Gross stated that librarians are known for their acronyms and now there is a new one called ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). Governor Heineman has initiated creation of a Nebraska website which details the distribution of the federal funds from the ARRA. The site address is

Mary Jo Ryan stated that the American Library Association distributed information about education funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The education block grant for Nebraska will be about $234 million. The funds will be distributed based on existing funding formulas and can be used for preventing budget cutbacks, preventing layoffs, and for school modernization.

Pat Gross thanked Mary Jo for her work on the grants and for distributing valuable information to libraries. Pat stated the people who work for libraries or who support libraries should pat themselves on the back because they have placed Nebraska in the forefront in what is good about libraries. Pat expressed the importance of recruiting people to library careers so they can continue for those who have laid the foundation.

Nebraska Library Association (NLA) - Pam Bohmfalk reported that the NLA is focusing on sectional spring meetings and the fall conference. Pam distributed information concerning spring meeting plans, dates and locations. Pam said she has had the opportunity to visit NLA section spring meetings and it has been a joy to meet and visit with the leaders and members of the sections. Bohmfalk said that the NLA is in the process of recruiting a new executive director. Kathy Thomsen, who held the position, resigned effective the end of February. The person chosen for the executive director position will also be the annual conference secretary. The conference will be held October 28-30 at the new conference center in La Vista.

Nebraska Educational Media Association (NEMA) - Glenda Willnerd stated that she wished to congratulate the NLA on their fantastic Legislative Day and for recognizing and honoring student volunteers. NEMA is making plans for the fall conference. Glenda also reported that NEMA collaborates with the regional library systems to hold workshops during the spring and summer.

Future Search Conference - Steve Fosselman stated that the placemats that were distributed at the beginning of the meeting is a format for his report. Steve stated that the drawing on the placemat was created by Paul Hoffman at the Future Search conference held in June, 2008. The placemat portrays topics that were discussed and visions of things that can be accomplished by libraries. The visions discussed at the conference require grassroots participation and initiative on the part of individuals and institutions. A Future Search task force was formed and the task force plans to develop some avenues for individuals and groups to see the future together. One of the visions came to life at a very impressive Nebraska Library Legislative Day.

Steve stated that if libraries face the future alone, are despondent about it, or are relying on others to solve their problems, that they will experience an unsuccessful result. If libraries work together there is an opportunity to have a better future. Future Search is a process, a learning organization model.

Steve stated that a wiki has been developed and hopes that eventually there will be a toolbox with helpful ideas and information. Steve hopes that librarians will take the time to visit the wiki and read the Future Search conference report. Steve stated that when he refers to "toolbox " he means a developed structure where all pertinent information will be easily found to provide libraries with the energy to move forward on their goals and plans for a better library.

Mary Nelson stated that the "toolbox " concept is an interesting spin-off from the Future Search conference. The wiki is available to everyone and the Commission has included many articles on the wiki.

Nebraska Libraries 2009 - In introducing the discussion topic, Patricia Gross related her own experience. Pat said that she had been informed by her school principal that she would be assigned responsibility for another school library in addition to her current library. Her principal said that there will be no additional paraprofessional staff to assist with the extra workload. He implied there is questionable need for media specialists and librarians due to the information available via the internet. Pat expressed that the principal is obligated to a substantial reduction in the school 's budget and staff positions are the means to meet that requirement. Pat hopes to make the two libraries project a success and looks forward to the challenge.

Commissioner Carol Spencer asked Pat Leach if Lincoln 's potential budget cuts will result in closing of branch libraries. Pat responded that the Lincoln City Libraries was asked to come up with a budget at 91 percent of its current funding level. Given a sizable budget reduction, the library board and staff have decided to not only close the two branch libraries but also reduce public service hours of remaining libraries by 4 hours a week to meet the 91% funding level the mayor requested. Pat stated that once the two branch libraries are closed they will not be opened again.

Pat Leach stated that the Lincoln public library system has experienced reduced funding each year for the past several years. The Lincoln library system has nothing left to cut back on except to close the two branch libraries. The Anderson branch library is due to move into the new school facility this fall. The library will only be open when the school is closed due to security issues at the school. Pat stated that budget reductions may result in the loss of staff. This is in addition to people lost last year due to budget reductions. Pat said her staff is getting older in experience and the intern program brings new people and energy into the library. That is a positive atmosphere for older staff because it renews the excitement they have for the library.

Pat Gross stated that she has noticed that as the economy gets worse the more people visit the library. Pat passed around a copy of Woman 's Day magazine (March 3, 2009) which includes an article "Beyond Books: How Libraries Can Help " about the answers readers gave when asked "how have libraries impacted you in any way with health issues. " The magazine selected four responses by women. One person said that the library assisted her when her husband was hospitalized in an intensive care unit. She went to a library close by and checked out a book of poems and a special poem in the book helped her get through the waiting for her husband. Richard Miller remarked that the article is based on collaboration between Woman 's Day magazine and the American Library Association. Woman 's Day is publishing a four part series about how libraries influence people.

Glenda Willnerd stated that she recently heard at a conference details of a study that compared children 's exposure to vocabulary. The study found that a child living in a home with professional parents is exposed to eleven million words; in contrast, a child in a welfare home is exposed to about three million words. Unfortunately, the child with the lower vocabulary will never bridge the gap. This is one of the reasons why families and the public know how important it is that children get exposed to vocabulary and how libraries can help.

Council Roundtable

Rod Wagner stated that Marty Magee was unable to attend today but she sent cards that highlight some programs that are coming up and she would like to encourage you to be aware of and take advantage of the programs.

Mary Jo Ryan stated that Marty was recently a guest on the NCompass Live. You can view Marty 's program by visiting the Commission 's web site. Next week, her colleagues, Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, will present on the CHIRS program and Go Local.

Pat Gross reported that the Gering public library is working with its teen advisory group, and preparing for its summer reading program. Scottsbluff continues to focus on fund-raising for its library building project. The Gering high school library is doing well, as is the high school 's noon book club. Pat received a grant from a utility company which will allow her to purchase some new books. Pat said her book group has read The Book Thief, Marley and Me, and is currently reading A Tale of Two Cities.

Ellen Weed reported that she is the Norfolk Regional Center librarian. Ellen said that the library has been very busy and seems to be using interlibrary loan almost every day. Her library needs new material and she continues to do programming with her patrons. It is important for her patrons to have reading materials, programs and games because they have mental problems and the programs and games help them learn how to interact with others.

Trine McBride reported that that the Ord public library has not had a reduction in funds but has received small funding increases `each year. The city has not had to raise taxes to cover any projects or expenses. Trine said that Ord 's population has declined by 500 people from a town of 2500. Trine stated that many people are coming in to use the library 's computers to prepare resumes, learn interview skills or look at job listings.

Mary Jo Ryan reported on the 2009 One Book One Nebraska program featuring Bess Streeter Aldrich 's book A Lantern in her Hand. The Library Commission has added book kits to support requests. Mary Jo stated that she started work at the Library Commission in 1986 under a project grant to promote the Education and Job Career Information Center. The project involved working with libraries to create job and career information centers. The project was a success and very unique at the time when we were experiencing a similar economic downturn. Mary Jo said that we are again promoting the skills librarians have in assisting people that are in job or career change situations.

Patty Birch reported that her challenge is to teach the staff how to read the Omaha World Herald online since paper copies are no longer available to purchase in North Platte. Patty stated that since the North Platte Telegraph is owned by the Omaha World Herald they have made the paper smaller to reduce costs. Patty stated that Central Community College will be the main register college for the LTA classes starting the fall of 2009.

Karen Hein reported that the UNO library science program is booming and it 's exciting to see all the new faces coming into the program. Karen said their challenge is how to bring these people in that are facing their own economic hardships. Karen stated that she and Becky Pasco continue to tell the students and future students that an IMLS grant is coming which might be able to assist them with a scholarship. Karen stated that the UNO library science program has a good working relationship with the Nebraska Library Commission as well as various community colleges because they all serve many people and touch many lives.

Pam Bohmfalk reported that Amy Greenland is the new director at the Hastings public library. Amy is a Kearney native but came to Hastings from Colorado. The Hastings public library has just completed a year long process with consultants to obtain recommendations for the library. The Hastings library foundation continues to raise money for a new building. The budget is an area of concern as it is in every library. The library has had some budget reductions during the past ten years. When the library has had an increase it has been 1% or 1.5%. If the library is expected to reduce its budget this year, they will have to reduce funds for library materials and/or staff.

Pam Bohmfalk expressed the importance of recruiting library trustees into the Nebraska Library Association. Pam stated the importance of library trustee involvement in the NLA and their participation on committees.

Ceri Daniels - Ceri reported that she is the librarian for the Cline Williams ' law firm (Lincoln). Her job is much different in comparison to other library jobs. Her clientele is the attorneys and their staff. The firm is invested in the law library and they choose the materials to be purchased. Ceri purchased software to place the library 's collection online.

Pat Leach reported that Lincoln City Libraries Foundation will host some fundraising events in the near future including the annual adult spelling bee which raises money for the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors. The other is a Wine and Wii event. Pat stated that the Lincoln public library system works with the federal programs department at Lincoln public schools in a couple of ways. They have an Even Start Family Literacy program with twenty women that attend class four-times a week and a parenting class on the other days of the week. Their children are in school or daycare. The library has helped them to get a library card and encourages them to visit the library which they do in between classes. A similar program is provided with two schools that have Spanish, English, and bilingual preschools. Once a month the branch library program will include storytelling, singing and food. Both programs allow students to get together out of a school setting and encourage them to return to the library.

Pat Leach stated that Facebook has been a presence in the library closing and budget situation. Facebook has two groups on it right now; one is named Save South Branch Library and the other is called Save Bethany Branch Library. The Facebook group for the South branch library is a younger, upscale neighborhood which has 1200 registered members; the Facebook group for Bethany branch library has 120 members. Pat stated that these two branches were chosen to be closed because their closing would affect fewer people. Combined, the two branches provide about 7% of the library 's circulation.

Glenda Willnerd reported that the Lincoln public school district has a staffing challenge. Lincoln has two new schools opening and is moving two schools while they are being renovated. The new school standards were recently released and everyone is waiting for more information on the implementation of the standards and guidelines. Glenda stated that the school district 's enrollment has increased past 24,000 students. Glenda stated that part of her job is to bring in authors and storytellers. Last week Jack Gladstone, storyteller, visited schools and did a wonderful job of intertwining storytelling and music. Jack Gladstone is a Native American from the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana. Glenda said that Rosemary Wells will visit the schools on May 7 to speak with students, teachers, media specialists and parents to reinforce the importance of reading. She will also give a public presentation at Lincoln 's North Star high school.

Deb Carlson reported that the Scottsbluff City Council approved a contract with Leo A. Daly for architectural services. The architect will begin work with library staff soon even though the Scottsbluff public library is $1.2 million short of the total needed for the building project.

Deb stated that all but 5 of 30 libraries in the Panhandle region attended the recent Summer Reading Program workshop. Deb stated that two years ago the Delta Kappa Gamma Society approached the library concerning a project so with the help of the Delta Kappa Gamma, the library, and the Birth and Infant Center at the hospital the program has grown and now allows parents to take their free coupon to any of the libraries in the panhandle system. The goal of the project is not only to get the parent to read to the infant, but to begin using the library and making it a lifelong habit. They also received Youth Grants for Excellence funding to allow this project to grow.

Deb stated her library 's challenge is the budget. In October the library was required to submit a 4% budget reduction. To reduce the budget the library changed its schedule to close one hour earlier and close on Sunday afternoons. The budget reduction included a reduction of twenty hours of staff time per week. Further cuts may be made in the city budget.

Gretchen Healy reported that when she retired the Winnebago library was working on a grant and providing video gaming. Gretchen said that library space was preempted for a remodeling project taking place in the main college building. As a result some faculty members were assigned office space in some of the library rooms and the student lounge took over the only other available space. This made it difficult to hold library programs so programming was put on hold. Since retirement Gretchen has observed the library 's staff grow in professionalism and sophistication.

Kathy Ellerton reported that she has been visiting libraries this past month. There is uncertainty about local economies. Kathy said that there are businesses that are laying off employees but it 's uncertain whether this trend will continue and the affects. On a positive note, Kathy stated that she had two libraries in her region that hadn 't submitted library statistical reports for many years but submitted a report this year.

Kathy stated that the Lincoln Township library in Wausa is building a new library. People in the community did not want to see the Carnegie building torn down so they are going to build around the old building and use it for meeting rooms. Shelby will be breaking ground soon for their new combined school and library facility although they will be in two separate buildings. Plainview is also considering a new library.

MeMe Smith reported that the Schuyler public library held a program for Teen Week. MeMe stated that the library has a practicum student working for them. MeMe stated that LTA course instructors are doing a good job because their practicum student came with good library knowledge and a good attitude.

The Schuyler public library will participate in a community expo next week. MeMe stated that their challenge is the library building project and fund-raising. A feasibility study was completed and a result was failure to identify major donors. Library representatives are now considering how to revamp building plans. MeMe expressed concern that a smaller facility will not meet the community 's future needs.

MeMe stated that Schuyler has not felt the economic decline as severely as other places. MeMe said one of the factors that will affect Schuyler in the future is an expected population decrease. A decrease in population will affect Schuyler 's state aid funding (for the city as a whole). This will make things tough to qualify for economic and state funding which are based on city size. MeMe said that it was just a few years ago that Schuyler 's population growth resulted in its reclassification to a class one city (over 5,000 population). Future projections place Schuyler at under 5,000 population.

Carol Spencer stated that Broken Bow will host Chautauqua. The program will be held June 17-21 and will include five historical presentations from the 1930s. The Broken Bow public library will host film and book discussions relating to the Chautauqua program.

Jean Ahrens said that she has enjoyed her appointment on the Library Commission and is a "lover of librarians. " Jean said she remembers the first time she attended a joint meeting of the Commission and Council. At that meeting the group was divided into smaller groups for discussion on assigned topics. Jean said that she was impressed with the initiative taken by council members in taking responsibility within the group for their assignment. She said that in her experience in teaching that kind of initiative isn 't the usual case. She complimented librarians for their dedication and their leadership.

Maria Medrano-Nehls stated that she completed her LTA program and is currently studying for the Graduate Record Exam and hopes to move on to the MLS program within a year. Maria said that this is the first year since 1999 when she begin working at the Commission that she has not been involved in the Nebraska Library Association in one form or another.

John Dale commented that during Nebraska Library Legislative Day it has become a tradition to recognize volunteers. This year 's recognition may have been the first time a volunteer group was recognized. This year an award was given to Lincoln 's Gere branch library teen advisory board. John said that it was exciting to see all the kids in attendance. The teen advisory board represents a success for Lincoln in terms of young adult programming and attracting young adults into the library.

Steve Fosselman reported that Patsy Arnold received her MLS degree and was promoted to assistant director (Grand Island Public Library). Steve stated that with Patsy 's help they organized a program called "Moving Forward in our Learning Organization Adventure " which will incorporate objectives the library staff has been working toward in doubling the size of the facility. Their strategy is to effectively manage the larger facility and at the same time have more staff participation in ideas and decisions. Steve said the library has been organized into zones and staff are assigned to work and monitor their assigned area. Steve mentioned an article he had read about senior spaces becoming more common in libraries. Steve said that Patsy Arnold adapted the senior space idea to use as a project in her MLS program. Patsy rearranged an area in the library for a comfortable and inviting space for older adults. Steve said almost all the ideas and implementation for the library came from the staff and don 't require a lot of money.

New Business

Election of Vice-Chair - Patty Birch nominated Steve Fosselman to serve as the Council vice-chair / chair-elect. The motion was seconded by Deb Carlson. The council voted unanimously to approve the motion.

Recommendations and Resolutions - A motion was made by Gretchen Healy that the State Advisory Council on Libraries send a resolution to the Legislature 's appropriations committee supporting the Nebraska Library Commission 's work with libraries. The motion was seconded by MeMe Smith. Motion was approved.

July and November Meeting and Dates - It was decided that the July meeting will be moved to June 26 due to a conflict with other meetings and events in July. The June 26th Council meeting will be held in Elmwood if facility arrangements can be made.

The November meeting will be held November 20. The Commission will check to see if the meeting can be held at the Lexington public library.


A motion to adjourn was made by Steve Fosselman and seconded by Kathy Ellerton. The motion was approved. The meeting adjourned at 1:55 p.m.

For more information, contact Sue Biltoft.