From the Director...
Wanted: 21st Century Librarians
here is growing recognition that recruitment and retention efforts must be higher priorities. Far more attention is needed to assure that the nation's libraries have qualified and skilled personnel to provide Twenty-first Century library and information services. National projections indicate that nearly half of today's library directors will retire in ten years or less. Nearly sixty percent of today's librarians are age 45 or older. With already high turnover, library staffing is a prominent current and future issue.
With this need in mind, the Bush Administration recently introduced a proposal to appropriate $10 million for librarian recruitment. The proposal is part of the President's FY 2003 budget request for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Included are funds for scholarships, distance learning technology, and recruitment of librarians with diverse language skills.
The American Library Association created a task force to address librarian recruitment and retention. The ALA initiative addresses a current and more direct problem -salaries and wages. The Better Salaries & Pay Equity Task Force was introduced during the 2002 ALA Midwinter Meeting in January. While educational programs and scholarships are important and needed, recruitment and retention efforts will be unsuccessful unless significant improvements are made in library personnel salaries and wages.
So what about Nebraska? Nebraska faces the same library personnel challenges as other states. Add in the plight of rural communities and the challenge is even greater. The problem is shared among public, school, academic, and special libraries and among all areas of Nebraska. These national initiatives must have positive outcomes. Libraries must have qualified and skilled staff. Without adequate compensation, it will become increasingly difficult to attract people to library careers.
Happy Fiftieth Anniversary Talking Book and Braille Service
On January 1, 1952, the Nebraska Public Library Commission created a Division for the Blind to provide talking book service to visually impaired Nebraskans. That new division, now known as the Talking Book and Braille Service, began under the direction of Helen Dvoracek with a collection of four hundred titles. The new library circulated 454 books in February 1952. By July, the collection of 1,100 talking books, averaging twenty-two long-playing records per title, circulated to more than three hundred Nebraskans. A complete recording of the Bible required twelve boxes of records.
Nebraska became the twenty-eighth talking book library in the National Library Service/Library of Congress nationwide network of cooperating libraries.
Prior to this, visually impaired Nebraskans received service through a regional center at the Denver Public Library.
Today, with a collection of 49,000 titles, mostly on audio cassette, the Nebraska Library Commission's Talking Book and Braille Service provides books and magazines on cassette and in Braille to more than 4,600 Nebraskans with visual or physical impairment. We look back with gratitude to the hard work and vision of scores of staff members (including Helen Dvoracek, Dorothy Lessenhop, and former Executive Secretary of the Nebraska Public Library Commission Louise Nixon) for the crucial role they played in the development of this service. For more information see the Library Commission Web site, nlc.nebraska.gov, search on Talking Books, or contact Dave Oertli, Talking Book and Braille Service Director, 402-471-4005, 800-307-2665, e-mail: Dave Oertli.
legal issues, metadata creation, scanning, and project management. Liz Bishoff from the Colorado Digitization Project was the presenter. The following day, seventeen participants representing six of the participating institutions met with Bishoff to kick off the Nebraska Western Trails project. For more information contact Beth Goble, Government Information Services Coordinator, 402-471-4017, 800-307-2665, e-mail: Beth Goble.