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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes

Nebraska Library Commission

January 9, 2009



The Nebraska Library Commission held its regular meeting Wednesday, January 9, 2009, at the Nebraska Library Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska. 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 Mary Nelson called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. This meeting is in compliance with the Open Meeting Law.

Members present: Jean Ahrens, John Dale, Mary Nelson, and Carol Spencer. Staff present: Rod Wagner and Maria Medrano-Nehls.

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

Approval of the Minutes (November 6, 2008): A motion was made and seconded to approve the November 6, 2008, meeting minutes. Motion carried on roll call vote: John Dale - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


No public was in attendance.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments

Chair Mary Nelson shared an article from the Kearney Hub and Holdrege newspaper about the Holdrege Library Gamers Day. Holdrege is beginning to feel the pinch of the economy; the state has closed the local Work Force Development office. The library was recently asked by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to provide free access workstations to assist their clients. Mary said that these things bring new demands to the community and the library and library representatives are looking for ways to address them. The Holdrege library has completed its Nebraska Memories project and Pam Soreide, Holdrege library director, will be giving a presentation to the local Historical Society on February 10. 

John Dale reported that Lincoln City Libraries received excellent coverage from KOLN/KGIN 10/11 news regarding the increase in library usage when economic times are down. Vicki Wood is the new Lincoln City Libraries Youth Services Coordinator. John has asked Dave Oertli, the Library Commission's Talking Book and Braille Services Director, and Annette Hall, the Commission's Volunteer Services Coordinator, to present on TBBS services at the Lincoln Volunteers Partner board meeting in February.

Carol Spencer reported that in October the local Broken Bow Runza restaurant gave $520 to the library foundation. Runza chose the library to receive a percentage of their one-day sales income. The library assisted in collecting over 500 books to give low income people with their holiday basket. The library has completed the conversion to Follett's Destiny library automation software. Broken Bow has been accepted as a Read- Aloud city. This is a family oriented program. The library also received new children's books through the Libra program.

Jean Ahrens reported that the Scottsbluff public library has raised $800,000 for its library building project. The city has agreed to provide $1.5 million for the project. This amount is down from the original amount the city said it would provide. A local movie theater will host a fundraiser for the library. They will have raffles and ask for donations. Money from fundraisers will be used to match challenge grants that the library has applied for. The theme for the fundraiser projects is "The Library is the Community's Living Room." The Scottsbluff newspaper will assist the fundraiser by taking pictures of people reading on a red sofa. The Scottsbluff public library will host another Prime Time Family Reading program in February. Scottsbluff has hosted the Prime Time program twice and Alliance once. Rod Wagner stated that the Nebraska Humanities Council manages the program and that the Library Commission has provided funds for libraries to hire a teen intern to assist with the program.

Director's Report

Personnel - Rod Wagner acknowledged Maria Medrano-Nehls for completing the Library Technical Assistant (LTA) program. Rod stated that Central Community College is taking over the program to provide administration, coordination, marketing and instruction. This new arrangement will provide consistency and should make it easier for students. The change should also help the Commission should there be scholarship funds available. Scholarship award management has been difficult due to the differences among Nebraska's community colleges in their procedures for administering financial aid.

State Legislative Issues and Outlook for 2009

Rod Wagner mentioned the convening of the 2009 legislative session on Wednesday, January 7. As has been the case in recent years, there are many new members; all but a few of the 49 senators have served less than six years in the legislature. Opening day activities included election of committee chairs. Sen. Lavon Heidemann returns as chair of the appropriations committee. New appropriations committee members include Tom Hansen (North Platte), Heath Mello (Omaha), and Jeremy Nordquist (Omaha).

The Governor will make his state of the state presentation later this month. His budget recommendations will also be introduced at that time. Agency budget hearings will begin February 24th and continue through March 26th. The Library Commission's budget hearing is scheduled for March 17.

The state is in a better financial position now, at least in terms of cash reserves, than in 2001 when several rounds of budget cuts began and continued into 2004. The current state general fund balance should help avoid severe budget cuts. But a lean budget is likely. A current news article indicated that forty-one states are dealing with budget deficits.

Federal Library Programs and Issues (LSTA and Economic Recovery Initiatives)

The future of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is uncertain - both its re-authorization and funding. There was intent to introduce re-authorization legislation early in the 2009 congressional session but that strategy has likely changed given the attention to economic issues.

The American Library Association is promoting inclusion of funds for library projects in an economic stimulus appropriation. A major component is library construction. Staff has been collecting information from Nebraska libraries to determine which might be in position to use federal funds for a construction project (from new buildings to additions, renovations, remodeling and energy savings improvements). There has been a good response from libraries. Federal funds would be significant in moving these projects along. They would help create jobs and aid local and state economic development.

Nebraska Center for the Book & Nebraska Book Festival

Garry Alkire (Scottsbluff) is the new President of the Nebraska Center for the Book (NCB). Garry is an administrator at Nebraska Western Community College.

Mike Cartwright has served as Nebraska Book Festival director the past three years. He has decided to end his contract. The Center for the Book, Library Commission and Nebraska Humanities Council (as the festival's primary sponsors) will consider options for the future of the festival. Mike has done the ground work for the next festival and has left things in a good place. And he has agreed to be available to provide information and advice for those who will be assuming responsibility for the festival. The NCB board will next meet on February 7 in Lincoln.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Library Programs and Grants

Christa Burns has been working with Nebraska libraries to complete the technology inventories that need to be done as a step toward determining library eligibility for the foundation's Opportunity Online Hardware Grant program. The Gates Foundation's connectivity pilot program with seven states has begun. Participation by other states will be determined based on the results from the pilot program.

Librarians for the 21st Century Grant Application - "Cultivating Nebraska Librarians 2.0: Building 21st Century Skills"

The grant application was sent for delivery on December 15. Mary Jo Ryan, John Felton and Kathryn Brockmeier put in many hours and did a great job planning and preparing the application. Many factors are involved in funding decisions. Grant awards will be announced mid-June.

Youth Grants for Excellence

The Nebraska Library Commission awarded a total of $40,000 in grants for 25 libraries and two regional library systems to assist in providing improved services to children and young adults, and to provide continuing education and training opportunities for children and young adult librarians.

Library Improvement Grants

The Commission received 30 grant applications requesting $343,500 in grant funds. The Commission has about $180,000 available for grants. Grants will be awarded in March.

NLC Weekly Webinars - NCompass Live

On Tuesday morning this week Commission staff presented the first of what is planned to be a weekly one hour webinar. The January 7 session was titled "Meet the NLC, Part 1." Part 2 is scheduled for this coming Wednesday. Additional sessions are scheduled through February 18 and are open for registration. Named NCompass Live each webinar is held live and also recorded for availability to anyone at any time following the live presentation. Information about webinars can be found on the Commission's website at:

Nebraska OverDrive® Libraries (digital audio-books program)

Nebraska Overdrive Libraries is a shared, growing collection of digital audio-books available through Digital Library Reserve. The content is available to patrons of participating libraries through the Overdrive/DLR system. The site is designed for remote use by library patrons or by download to Overdrive Download Stations at the library. Users access the digital materials via the web. Materials may be checked out for a limited period of time, downloaded to a patron's computer or other device and are then automatically returned to the collection when the checkout time expires. Statistics, reports, training and marketing materials from Overdrive are available for all participating libraries. There are currently 33 participating Nebraska libraries. For further information:

Rod stated that the LSTA annual State Program Report was due on December 30 but the Commission received an extension to January 9. The report was sent yesterday.

John Felton and Kathryn Brockmeier are working on the final report for the completed grant. Kathryn sent out a survey to all scholarships recipients and is receiving good response.


Rod Wagner stated that the December financial report was included in the meeting packet and the January report was distributed this morning. John Dale asked for information concerning the education services operating expenditure, which was significantly higher than the budgeted amount. Wagner stated he would check with Doreen Kuhlmann, business manager, to determine expenses for this item and report back to Commission members. John also asked about the personal vehicle mileage that was two-thirds spent to this point. Wagner stated that the November State Advisory Council on Libraries meeting resulted in significant mileage reimbursement expenses.

LSTA Appropriations Status - Rod Wagner stated that we will receive LSTA allotments on the basis of the congressional continuing resolution. Our federal allocations are at last year's level.


No unfinished business.


State Advisory Council on Libraries Appointments - Rod Wagner recommended that Kris Rogge and Cindy Gitt be re-appointed each for a three-year term.

Rod Wagner recommended Ellen Weed (Norfolk Regional Center), Ceri Daniels (Williams, Wright, Johnson and Oldfather LLP), Trine McBride (Ord Township Library), Robin Bernstein (Freeman-Lozier Library, Bellevue University), Pat Leach (Lincoln City Libraries) and Karen Hein (UNO Library Science Program) for appointment each for a three-year term.

A motion was made and seconded to approve the recommended State Advisory Council on Libraries appointments. Motion carried on roll call vote: Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; and John Dale - aye. Motion approved.

Director's Annual Performance Review - Commission members conducted the Director's annual performance review.

National Library Legislative Day will be held May 11 & 12. Commissioners Jean Ahrens, Carol Spencer and either John Dale or Mary Nelson will participate.

Next Meeting - The next meeting will be a joint meeting with the State Advisory Council on Libraries to be held March 13, 2009.

Adjournment - Chair Mary Nelson adjourned the meeting at 11:40 p.m. 



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.