STATE ADVISORY COUNCIL ON LIBRARIES
December 8, 1995
Present: V. Bialac, P. Brunken, D. Crews,
S. Davis, D. Dragos, J. Leader, S. Person, R. Voeltz, S. Wise.
Staff: N. Busch, J. Minges, M.J. Ryan,
S. Snyder, R. Wagner.
Welcome and Introductions
The video-conference meeting was convened
by Sally Wise, Chair, at 10:10 Central Time. Introductions of Council members
at each site were given. Sites for the meeting were: Beatrice, Chadron,
Columbus, Kearney, Lincoln, Norfolk, Omaha, and Scottsbluff.
The agenda was approved as presented by
acclamation. Phyllis Brunken moved and Richard Voeltz seconded the minutes
be approved as received. The motion carried.
Federal Library Programs Status
Rod Wagner updated the Council on the status
of the federal library programs. There has been little change since the
last Council meeting. The House and the Senate have both passed versions
of the new Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). A committee has
been working on a conciliation of each version. We understand that the
version being developed is close to the one the library profession advocates.
Actual funding for LSTA is still unknown. It will probably lose the
and technology part of LSCA. However, funds appropriated for LSTA will
cover services and technology, and there will be leeway on how it is to
Funding for the current LSCA is still unknown.
The Library Commission received a partial payment of those funds. We must
now wait for a budget from the President and Congress before we receive
any additional funds.
State Budget Prospects
Rod Wagner reported on the state budget.
There are some indications that state revenues are below projection and
there may need to be some adjustments made. The Governor and the Legislature
may consider some budget reductions in January. The impact of the lack
of federal funds is also being considered. This is not yet a problem for
the Library Commission.
Rod Wagner updated the Council on activities
of Nebrask@ Online. The network manager is aware that some libraries
have had problems installing and using the software. They will work with
those libraries to resolve the problems. They are also hiring a new staff
member who will be responsible for customer support.
Work is underway by Nebrask@ Online
staff to convert the Legislative databases to a web environment. The statutes
will be converted first. A demonstration version of the statutes will be
ready in a week or two. Legislative committee calendars will be converted
second, then the bills and bill action. The Library Commission has authority
to provide that information to Nebraska libraries. The Commission considers
it a basic public offering and we plan no fee connected in using it. When
in demonstration form it will be available to libraries only, not for the
public. Anyone affiliated with a library will have the opportunity to access
it. We hope the Legislature will allow access by the general public after
the demonstration is proven successful, it is their decision.
Randy Moody, Overview of Property Tax
Randy Moody, lobbyist for the Nebraska
Library Association, (NLA), updated the Council on property tax initiatives
that are likely to be introduced in the next state legislative session.
There could be five constitutional amendments on the ballot in 1996 to
limit government spending or revenue raising in some way. Two efforts will
probably come through the Legislature, three probably by petition.
The two that will most likely come through
the Legislature are: 1) the resolution introduced in 1995, LR 93, puts
a levy cap on local government property taxes. It was introduced last year,
there were not enough votes to put it on the ballot. 2) Governor 's proposal
will probably be introduced by resolution by a senator. Randy Moody has
not seen it yet. It proposes freezing spending or reducing spending.
The three that will probably come via petition
are: 1) an effort just announced by Ed Jacksha, Randy Moody has not seen
it yet. It apparently proposes freezing spending at the 1997 level for
three years. After that, the budget could be increased. They are currently
2) the Trio Amendment would abolish all
property taxes. No replacement revenue is included in the amendment proposed.
One possibility is a transaction tax, for every transaction that takes
place, the buyer and seller each pay 1/2 percent in tax. 3) The Citizens '
Amendment, supported by the Nebraska Education Association and the Nebraska
Farm Bureau, contains levy caps of 1.80 for incorporated areas and 1.30
outside incorporated areas. This amendment contains protection for education
by guaranteeing the quality of education for each student. Randy Moody
is involved with this amendment.
The possible impact on libraries from these
proposals is substantial. There is no protection for libraries included
in any of the proposals. Government will have to look for other revenue
Criticism of levy caps include: 1) involves
a tax shift, property taxes are the largest. The Citizens ' Amendment balances
the three taxes more evenly, 2) spending freezes don 't reduce property
The teachers support the Citizens ' Amendment
since it is the lesser of the possibilities, and also to be proactive in
supporting an approach that will give relief and still protect schools
Some ideas for librarians to consider:
Libraries are always on the block for cuts,
we should look at the amounts being spent on libraries in the state and
ask for more state support for library service.
Broadening the tax base via county libraries
is a good approach and should be pursued.
There will be more competition from many
for state aid funds.
There will likely be some kind of property
tax relief because there is overwhelming support for it. Libraries need
to be prepared and work with city officials and the state to determine
other sources of funding. There may be two or three amendments on the
People will look at the different layers of
government and determine which is needed and which is not.
Current property tax levys vary throughout
the state. The range is probably 1.80-2.50. Caps were selected based on
what, in general, would be a relief. The Citizens ' Amendment proposed $400
If property tax is abolished, that will eliminate
1.5 billion dollars. The Legislature will have to look at other approaches
The Citizens ' Amendment includes language
that requires the Legislature to guarantee a certain level of education.
"Quality education " is defined by legislation in LB 994 passed in
The Governor is opposed to levy limits, he
proposes less spending.
The Legislature will adjourn April
If two or more amendments are on the ballot
and both or all pass, what happens? If they conflict, the one with the
most votes wins. If they do not conflict, the Supreme Court will have to
resolve the issue. It has never happened before.
For a constitutional amendment to pass, it
must have 35% of total voting in the election, and a majority of the
For Nebraska to have good and equal library
service across the state, we may want to look at more state involvement.
Local governments in some communities are unable to fund their libraries
adequately. State funds could ensure more equal service. Public opinion
is very supportive of libraries. People often don 't know what they are
missing if their library is underfunded.
- The federal government is saying it will give
some funds (not enough) and responsibility to the states. The states are
to determine where to spend the block grant funds. There are not enough
funds for everything so states are looking for other revenue sources. At
the same time, citizens are calling for less taxation.
State Aid Proposal
Nancy Busch stated she took the information
technology fund proposal and expanded it based on the Council 's last
The "Draft Document " included in the mailing prior to this meeting is a
skeleton of where the current aid is expended. Brackets at the end of each
section indicate whether state funds, federal funds or both are used. The
Council is asked to discuss the possibility of requesting major increases
in all areas of aid funding. An analysis of the sources of funding for
public libraries in Nebraska could be used to support the proposal.
The biennial budget is to be submitted next
September. We need to work extensively now until then for library community
and other support for the proposal.
We need to be proactive. The Council can help
to provide a direction and a document to get things under way.
There is a political dilemma, we don 't know
what the chances are for any agency to receive additional
We have to be able to tell the Legislature
and the citizens what they will get if this funding is
We also should develop some monetary amount
to allow non-accredited libraries to become accredited, as well as encouraging
larger service areas.
It could be awkward. The perception of
of services may be positive to some members of the Legislature. Consolidation
is not necessarily popular with the library community.
We can compile the numbers for what it currently
costs accredited libraries to run, then extrapolate it over the remainder
of the area to estimate service costs for a larger area.
Scenario building could be a successful approach
for this campaign.
Teachers do not have unanimous support for
the Citizens ' Amendment because some feel threatened. Administrators, in
general, are opposed. The NSEA 's mission is to protect its members. In
this era of budget cuts, many libraries may not survive. Consolidation
is one way that the citizens will continue to have library service, or
improved library service. It will take a lot of time to explain the plan
and to reduce fears.
We anticipate a lack of support in some areas
for the increase. Maybe if we emphasize equality of service and access
to information electronically, the campaign may be more
The support document should indicate the
of public libraries that are not accredited. It should also include information
on the requirements to be accredited. If there are standards, let the citizens
and Legislature know what they are. Three items: 1) get those below up
to standard 2) funds to keep those accredited from slipping and 3) to become
(or maintain) better than minimum standards.
We need to state what are the critical attributes
of libraries, or what are quality library and information services, as
was done with education in the Citizens ' Amendment.
Emphasize that currently public libraries
receive less than 2% of state tax dollars. So much more could be accomplished
with the increase.
Compare the percentage of local funds and
the percentage of state funds. Also show the source(s) of funds for each
library in the state.
Libraries are not now serving citizens based
on equal tax base. An example is the $25.11 paid in Chadron for library
service. People living outside Chadron pay $12.00 for an individual library
card, and $17.00 for a family card. It is not an equal amount.
Another emphasis is that libraries are a part
of government that is working. Reward the positive.
Some people assume that with the Internet
communities will no longer need libraries. Reassert to people what the
purpose of libraries is, and tie into new technology as a library service.
Electronic access is another method of delivery of
Randy Moody suggested we first conduct focus
groups or a poll to find out scientifically what people 's impressions are
of libraries. We can tailor our approach based on the response we receive
from it. We will find out what message to promote from gathering this
We also need to assess the library community
and the level of support for the campaign.
Look at the past: the library community had
a good message six years ago, funds were available, and so libraries were
successful in increasing state aid at that time. This campaign is different
because there are not excess funds available. There will be competition.
One advantage is that we are not large, and the total increase we ask for
is not going to be near as much as others.
Grassroots support is best: local librarians
promoting this proposal to their individual senator.
Meeting Wrap-Up and Adjournment
The next meeting will be a two-day, joint
meeting with the Commissioners. It will be held in Kearney on March
14 and 15, 1996. The Council will convene on Thursday
afternoon, there will be an evening program, and a joint meeting of the
Commissioners and Council will be held Friday morning. Separate business
meetings will be held in the afternoon.
It was suggested that focus groups be held
prior to the March Council meeting to use the information gathered to help
the Council plan strategies.
Phyllis Brunken moved: The Nebraska State
Advisory Council on Libraries major goal for 1996 is moving forward the
campaign "Bucks for Libraries. " Verda Bialac seconded the motion. The motion
Nancy Busch will work with a core planning
group consisting of Jeanne Leader, Phyllis Brunken, Sally Wise, Jeanne
Saathoff, and Verda Bialac. A January video-conference meeting will be
scheduled. Other key people may be invited to join the planning group.
The Library Commission will investigate
possible mechanisms for finding public opinion. We can search the documents
from the WHCLIS conference for information we can use in support of the
proposal. There are also some other sources we may wish to consider.
There being no further business, the meeting
adjourned at 12:00 noon.