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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes


Nebraska Library Commission

January 4, 2008



The Nebraska Library Commission held its regular meeting Friday, January 4, 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 Web site.

Chair John Dale called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. Members present: Jean Ahrens, John Dale, Charles Gordon, Patrick Gross, Mary Nelson, and Carol Spencer. Staff present: Rod Wagner , Maria Medrano-Nehls, Lisa Kelly and Vern Buis.

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; Pat Gross - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; and Carol Spencer - aye. Motion approved.

Approval of the Minutes (November 9, 2007): A motion was made and seconded to approve the November 9, 2007 meeting minutes. Jean Ahrens stated that there was a correction she would like made. Motion carried with correction on roll call vote: John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Pat Gross -aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer -aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


Katy Tooker, Eastern Library System Administrator, and Brenda Ealey, Southeast Library System Administrator attended the meeting.

Kathy Tooker reported that the ELS is planning a full day of library training on March 1, 2008, for metro area media specialists. The six regional systems are collaborating to conduct an automation workshop the latter part of January. A meeting will be held on February 29 at UNO including representatives of libraries and organizations that provide continuing education for librarians and media specialists. The meeting is intended to seek collaboration in planning and scheduling educational activities and maintaining a calendar of educational events for Nebraska library workers.

Brenda Ealey stated that the Seward public library is 100% debt free after building their library 5 years ago. Brenda mentioned that the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Libraries is facing a 20% cut in its periodicals' budget. The UNL Libraries has not seen an increase in its materials' budget for 12 years. The NLA Legislative Day is scheduled for February 12.

Correspondence and Communication

Rod Wagner reported that he received a letter from Lisa Olivigni, president of the Nebraska Library Association, thanking the Commission for its support of the October, 2008, NLA - NEMA joint conference. The Commission provided financial support for several conference sessions including pre-conference programs, and Commission staff were among conference presenters.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments 

John Dale stated that he recently attended a Nebraska Universal Service Fund Advisory Board meeting. The board is advisory to the Public Service Commission. The major issue at the recent meeting was properly funding distance learning education. The advisory board passed a resolution recommending that the request made with regard to distance learning be funded if at possible. The Public Service Commission staff feels that this request can not be funded at this time without reducing funding support for something else. John expressed that the legislature will likely become involved in this issue at some point. John stated he attended the fall colloquium hosted by the Eastern and Southeast Library Systems. Michael Stephens was the colloquium speaker.

Charles Gordon reported that the Fremont public library has outgrown its space. Library supporters are seeking a building addition to meet library space needs. The library board will meet with city officials on January 14 to consider plans and strategies for a library addition including financial options from private and public sources. Fremont is anticipating an expansion of 44,000 square feet with a cost of $9 to $11 million. The city gave the library $40,000 for architectural services.

Carol Spencer reported that Joan Birnie, Broken Bow public library director, received the NLA public library section's Excalibur award. The award was announced and presented at the October NLA - NEMA conference. The Broken Bow public library received a large endowment from a local citizen. The Broken Bow library's teen program is going very well. The library has applied for a youth services grant from the Meridian Library System in order to purchase a Nintendo Wii game system for the teens. Carol stated that a recent USA Today article reported that a recent study showed that young adults, 19-30 years of age, are increasingly noted for using the library.

Pat Gross reported that a member of a long-time Wayne family has beneficiated $200,000 to be specifically used to purchase books and periodicals for the public library. Pat stated that he's not sure how the city will view this large amount of money for the library but the library board will address the issue of private sources and public funding when the time comes.

Mary Nelson reported that North Platte is completing the public library's remodeling project. Mary will be visiting McCook to see their Nebraska Memories setup. Michael Sauers, Nebraska Library Commission staff, helped develop a new Web site for the Republican Valley Library System. The Holdrege library and Holdrege Chamber are collaborating on a Nebraska Memories project for their 125 year celebration next summer. The library is also working with the community college in their adult learning outreach program to develop One Book One City-County for the 125 year anniversary celebration. The book chosen is Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time.  Holdrege formed an ad hoc disaster committee that has been working since the 2007 ice storm to upgrade the city's disaster response procedures and materials. The library will present a booklet by the Council of State Archivists on preserving historical records in hopes the city will work with the library's friends group on a project.

Director's Report

Rod Wagner noted an article included in the meeting documents - Local Government Managers and Public Libraries: Partners for a Better Community (International City/County Management Association, 2007). The article was sent to municipal government administrators to encourage them to work closely and cooperatively with their public library director and public library. Also distributed were documents regarding library trustees and library friends' organizations and the most recent report for the IMLS grant.

Personnel - Rod Wagner reported that John Felton will join the Commission staff on January 7. John was appointed to the research analyst position recently vacated with Cynthia Taylor's departure.

Nebraska Library Commission Web site - Lisa Kelly and Vern Buis reported on the Commission's Web site. Lisa stated that a Commission staff team has been working on improvements to the Web site for the past few years. The team has given priority to the underlying organization, functionality and content. The team has investigated many other Web sites to get ideas. The team has sought a methodical development of the Web site rather than a quick fix.

Lisa stated that the team inventoried the entire Web site which had 40,000 pages. They began looking at web pages that were no longer needed. Vern Buis stated that he created metatags that will generate a periodical reminder to the "owners" of the page to review content to determine if it remains relevant.

Lisa stated that the Commission administers several grant programs so a page was created with links to each grant to make it easier to find grant information. They also developed a training portal so that listings of all training events/workshops being offered by the Commission can be accessed at one site. People can also register for the training/workshop on the portal. The goal is to put like items together and make the Web site easier to find the information sought. The team has sought to divide the Web site into two different sites. One site will be specific for the public and the other will be for librarians. Vern stated that the public searches the Commission Web site looking for information about the state's libraries. To address this, Vern developed a search engine so it can detect requests for library information. A link to the requested library Web site will show up at the top of the search results. Library information can also be found by clicking on the homepage library directory tab.  Lisa stated that the Now Hiring @ Your Library Web site is one of the upgraded Web site sections. The site lists library jobs available in Nebraska and other places. The site also provides information about scholarships and financial aid for library science education, along with career information and mentoring. Library workers can also check their continuing education record and their library board's continuing education records. The Commission's Library 2.0 resources are included (Flickr, Twitter, Wiki's, and Second Life). And an internet chat function is available.

Vern stated that a strong search engine is necessary to make the Web site easier to find information. Many hours were spent reviewing logs to see what kind of things people search for and what they are finding or not finding. Based on this research, the search mechanism was overhauled.  Vern said that many people visiting the NLC Web site are looking for legal information. Many times they will enter words or statutes that won't result in a find so he introduced logic into the search mechanism. This upgrade will allow a better search result and provide several links that might provide the information needed. People also attempt to search with numbers such an ISBN or phone numbers so he introduced logic to the search engine that will recognize and list several links to sites that might provide the information needed. If a word used in the search is misspelled the search engine will find links to what it thinks the word should be. If a search is made for what the search engine believes is a government document or library science information it will take them to the Commission's online catalog link. Vern noted that the search engine is also set to recognize library acronyms.

Public Library Trustees, Library Friends and Foundations - A document was distributed listing Commission activities related to public library trustees, library friends and foundations and listing potential further actions. Rod Wagner asked Commissioners to list issues they felt the Commission should address including inviting officers of the Nebraska Library Association, library trustees, and library directors to a meeting to discuss some issues. Rod referred to an article from the Friends of the Libraries USA (FOLUSA) newsletter which is sent to every Nebraska public library. A recent newsletter included an editorial about library friends, board members and trustees. Commission activities during the past few years have included publication of a new library trustee manual (in collaboration with the NLA Trustees, Users, and Friends Section; FOLUSA statewide membership, regional dinner and dialogue sessions in partnership with the NLA Trustees, Users and Friends Section (with invitations to trustees, library directors, and municipal government officials); and Gates Foundation training for public library staff and trustees. The library trustees' topic will be on future Commission meeting agendas including the March meeting in Kearney.

Library Science Education Scholarships - Rod Wagner reported that the Commission awarded 24 scholarships during 2007: 3 LTA students, 2 BLS students, 5 MLS students, and 14 MEd students for a total of $52,500. The IMLS grant funds for the scholarship program will be coming to an end later this year.

2008 Legislative Session - Rod Wagner mentioned that the legislative session begins on January 7 and is expected to end mid-April. Among many issues is the state budget surplus. Some of the surplus is expected to be taken as a result of the formula for determining public school aid. Application of the formula will result in a distribution of $32 million more than expected in the coming fiscal year. A number of states are reporting budget cuts as a result of economic factors.

One Book One Nebraska - Rod Wagner reported that this year's book is Restoring the Burning Child by State Poet William Kloefkorn. Mary Jo Ryan is working with the University of Nebraska Press on publicity for the project. The Commission is working with the University of Nebraska Press to produce an audio-book version. The University of Nebraska Press is publishing a paperback edition that will include a book discussion guide.

Future Search Conference Update - Rod Wagner stated the conference will be held June 9 & 10. Planning committee members have contributed recommendations for participant invitations. Their effort has been to seek broad-based and geographical representation including  librarians, media specialists, government officials, attorneys, teachers, school administrators, non-profit organizations and community leaders. Invitations will be sent out soon for the event.


November and December Financial Report - Rod Wagner stated that the November financial report was included in the meeting packet. Rod stated the December report was not available yet but would be mailed to Commissioners once it is available.

FY 2008 LSTA Appropriation - Nebraska Allotment - Rod Wagner reported that Congress enacted an omnibus appropriations bill at the end of the year. One of the results was a reduction in the state programs portion of the LSTA appropriation. While the official allotment figure is not yet available, the estimate for Nebraska is $57,000 less than last year's LSTA allotment. Last year's LSTA allotment was at slightly less than the previous year.  


Office Space Lease Update - Rod Wagner reported that workstations on the first floor will be reworked. The workstations will be new and will open up space for the walkway. New carpeting will be placed in the central area. Many areas will be repainted and additional lighting will be added to the lower level Crane room.


March Meeting with the State Advisory Council - The joint meeting will be held in Kearney and will be held at the Law Enforcement Center, Community Room. The Commission meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. followed by the joint meeting with the State Advisory Council. Marty Magee is the new chairperson for the State Advisory Council this year. Customer service and marketing will be among the agenda topics.

State Advisory Council on Libraries Appointment - Rod Wagner stated that Nancy Escamilla, Scottsbluff public library, has completed her two terms. Wagner recommended that Debra Carlson, Children's and Public Services Librarian for the Scottsbluff public library, be appointed. Deb has agreed to serve if appointed. A motion was made to approve the appointment of Debra Carlson to the State Advisory Council on Libraries.  Motion carried on roll call vote: Charles Gordon - aye; Pat Gross - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; and John Dale - aye. Motion approved.

Directors Annual Performance Review - Chair John Dale will send a written performance review to Rod Wagner.  

Adjournment - Chair John Dale adjourned the meeting at 11:53.


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.