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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes


Nebraska Library Commission

January 29, 2010



The Nebraska Library Commission met Friday, January 29, 2010, at the Nebraska Library Commission offices, Lincoln, Nebraska. The meeting notice was submitted to local newspapers (Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha World Herald) and posted on the Nebraska Library Commission Web site.

Members present:  Jean Ahrens, Steve Batty, Diane Boyd, John Dale, and Carol Spencer. Member absent: Charles Gordon. Staff present: Maria Medrano-Nehls, Dave Oertli, Mary Jo Ryan and Rod Wagner.

Chair Jean Ahrens called the meeting to order at 9:27 a.m. This meeting is in compliance with the Nebraska Open Meetings Act.

Approval of Agenda:  A motion was made and seconded to approve the agenda. Motion carried on roll call vote: Jean Ahrens -aye; Steve Batty - aye; Diane Boyd - aye; John Dale - aye; Carol Spencer - aye. Motion approved.

Approval of the Minutes (November 13, 2009): A motion was made and seconded to approve the July 2009 meeting minutes. Motion carried on roll call vote: Steve Batty - aye; Diane Boyd - aye; John Dale - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


No public attended the meeting.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments

Jean Ahrens reported that the Kimball public library has a library director opening.

Carol Spencer reported that Broken Bow's book donation project for children was a great success with 360 books donated. The books are added with food and toys for families in need at Christmas time. There were twice as many people requesting assistance this year compared to last year. The Broken Bow library received a $1,000 Youth Services grant which will be used for Family Night. The program features a family reading night held once a month at the library. Approximately 14-15 families (40 people) attend the program. Carol stated that there are many home schooled children in the community who use the library and they attend many of the library programs.

Diane Boyd reported that the large amount of snow in the area this winter has resulted in meetings and programs being canceled. Diane said that the South Sioux City area also has many home schooled children.

John Dale stated that he was interviewed as part of the Library Commission's Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program grant application. John met with the project consultants (from Cambridge Strategic Management Consulting Group) in his role as a Commission member and as the library representative on the Nebraska Universal Service Fund Advisory Board.

Steve Batty stated that the McCook public library director retired in November and recruitment is underway to fill the position. As of yesterday there were 9 applicants. Steve stated that the last Republican Valley Library System board meeting was held via phone conference in an attempt to reduce expenses.

Steve said that Holdrege public library had problems with health insurance coverage for library staff. The city was covering library employee insurance but decided to discontinue coverage. The Holdrege library board, the library director, Mary Nelson, and other concerned community members met with the city council and the payment for staff insurance was reinstated. Mary Nelson continues to attend both the city council and county commissioners' meetings to educate them on different aspects of the library, usage reports and children issues.

Steve stated that Bertrand is attempting to develop a combination school/public library since the community does not have a public library. Steve said that Deb Polacek, media specialist at Harvard Public Schools, has stated the importance of interlibrary loan to her and her students. She says she doesn't know if the librarians in bigger places realize how important the Library Commission and library systems are to small libraries. Steve stated that he is interested in seeing how public librarians and school media specialists can work together to encourage students to use the public library more often.


Opportunity Online Broadband Grant Program

Rod Wagner stated that the Nebraska Library Commission is one of fourteen state libraries that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation chose to support in preparing federal economic stimulus broadband grant applications. The Gates foundation approached state library agencies to offer its assistance to those interested in applying for broadband service project grants. State libraries were asked to send a letter of interest to the foundation to describe their project proposal. Not all were selected for support. Part of the Gates foundation's assistance for state library applications is providing consulting organization support. The Library Commission is receiving application development support from Cambridge Strategic Management Consulting Group (CSMG). The Gates foundation is providing the cash match portion for the Library Commission's application.

Project grant applications are due March 15. The task that has been consuming a lot of time is determining the eligibility of libraries that can participate in the project. The eligibility criteria are being completed and eligible libraries will be contacted next week to inform them about the project application and request their participation. Rod Wagner stated that approximately 170 or more out of 279 libraries are expected to be eligible to participate in the project. A revised project plan is due at the Gates foundation by mid-February. The revised plan will be reviewed by the foundation for determining whether the foundation will commit matching funds for the application.

Along with recruiting libraries for inclusion in the project, the project team is reaching out to other state agencies, organizations, colleges and schools to request their support. In addition to upgrading library internet connections and acquiring additional technology, the grant will emphasize use of public library computers for accessing government information and services, training and course work, job information, and health information.

Talking Book & Braille Service

David Oertli, Talking Book and Braille Services (TBBS) Director, provided an update on TBBS service activities. A video was shown that describes the TBBS. The video was produced by Bill Ansley, Scott Scholz, and Gabe Kramer, in collaboration with Michael Sauers. The video provides information about the TBBS, from how to apply for services, the types of titles offered, how recordings are produced in the Library Commission's recording studio, the skills needed by the narrator, and the new digital book machines. Dave stated that an average magazine read and recorded takes two recording sessions which would be two weeks and another week or two to clean it up and place it on a tape before the magazine is available for checkout. The staff's goal is to get a magazine into people's hands before the next print issue is available. Dave said approximately 500 to 600 books and several hundred magazines are mailed out in a typical week.

Oertli stated that a counterpart in Wisconsin worked with Colorado and Washington State to put together all of the NLS retrospective e-books unbarred which numbers 17, 334 titles. They placed the titles on a 2-teratybe USB drive which we can borrow as long as we provided the software. Dave stated that the new recorder will hold two 2-teratybe drives to hold the NLS collection found on Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). The site now contains 17,334 audio books. Dave stated that using an extension, such as Down Them All (for Firefox) patrons could update the computer drives once a week so they contain newly added digital books. The digital books can be stored unzipped. This will allow some time-saving efficiency, though the full outcome is not known. For the staff, this project is an experiment.

The TBS obtained software and license for the Telex Low Complexity Mastering System to drop markers for navigation points within audio files. Opening announcements, preface, introduction, chapters, subsections, and so on. The mark-up language enables borrowers to move around more easily within a book. It is mostly nonfiction books where a person may need to access material by chapters or headings.

Oertli reported that the TBBS received encryption software from the Library of Congress several weeks ago. The software was created exclusively for the Talking Book and Braille Service. The software is important due to the fact that it allows TBBS staff to duplicate talking books onto cartridges in a way that protects the copyright holder.

Dave stated that the TBBS received two shipments from the multi-state center in Utah that will provide staff with enough labels to start labeling cartridges. The shipment included approximately 1,500 labels and paper labels for large print characters and Braille overlay. Dave stated that the TBBS is waiting for the revised software that will allow production of the labels. Delivery is expected within a few weeks.

Commission members thanked Dave and other TBBS staff for their great work and for the great service they provide.

Nebraska Book Festival

Rod Wagner thanked Mary Jo Ryan for her leadership and work on a very successful Nebraska Book Festival.

Mary Jo Ryan stated that the Book Festival is a great opportunity to bring people together and talk about books, about authors and other related topics. There were approximately 375 people in attendance plus 30 presenters and 32 vendors. Mary Jo passed around a notebook with materials used for advertising, newspaper articles about the festival, and budget information. Mary Jo noted free advertisement from the Prairie Fire newspaper.

Mary Jo acknowledged Kathryn Brockmeier, NLC Research Analyst, for her many contributions and success in obtaining grant funding for the festival. Mary Jo stated that without the grants there would have been a very small festival or no festival this year. Contributors to the project included the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Humanities Council, Nebraska Library Commission, Nebraska State Historical Society, Nebraska Arts Council, Duncan Family Trust, Lee Booksellers, University of Nebraska Press, and Woods Charitable Fund.

Mary Jo stated that Peter Worth, who has worked for the Commission as a part-time graphics design intern, did all the graphic design work for the festival. Peter did a wonderful job on all the graphic design which is striking, modern, but still portrayed the message we wanted to send. Kathryn and Peter also worked on a Facebook page and website for the festival and both were very successful. Mary Jo stated that the festival was a huge success and helped to build a relationship with the public who will spread their experience with others and make further book festivals a success.

Mary Jo stated a video recording was made of some of the programs featured at the festival and is available to cable access. The recordings will also be available in the Commissions collection and available for loan.

One Book One Nebraska 2010

Rod Wagner state that the 2010 One Book One Nebraska selection was announced during the November Nebraska Book Festival. The 2010 book is Wright Morris's The Home Place. A proclamation ceremony was held on January 20 at the Capitol. Partner organizations were represented at the ceremony. The Lone Tree Literary Society is the host organization is offering events in 2010 in recognition of the 100th anniversary year of Wright Morris's birth year. Plans include a Wright Morris conference to be held on October 9.

Rod Wagner stated that the Commission was fortunate to have had some funds left from a Nebraska Humanities Council grant. The Humanities Council allowed the Commission to use the remaining funds to buy books for the Nebraska One Book One Teen program, featuring Unwind by Neal Shusterman, and books for the One Book One Nebraska program. The teen and adult books will be used for book kits that libraries can borrow for book discussion groups. The book kits will be available from the Commission and from regional library systems. If grant funding can be secured, the Commission will bring Neal Shusterman to Nebraska for visits and presentations at libraries and schools. A similar statewide author tour  last year, with Ellen Klages, was a great success.

21st Century Librarian Grant Program Application

Rod Wagner stated that applications for 21st Century Librarian grant program are due in mid-December. Mary Jo Ryan is the team leader for planning and preparing the Library Commission's grant application.

Mary Jo Ryan stated that the project is called "21st Century Librarian Skills." The project will help people who either want to work in a library or who work in a library and want to improve their skills. Mary Jo stated that much was learned from the Commission's pervious IMLS project grant. Funds will be requested for scholarships, internships, and stipends to support students with their education and to do community development projects as added learning skills. Many of the community development projects will involve technology.

Commission staff will develop marketing strategies and resources and design a campaign to reach young people to promote library jobs. One of the more successful activities from the Commission's previous grant was a student internship project. The internship project provided grants to libraries to pay for student interns. Participating libraries hired student interns to work in the library and experience library purposes, services and the different types of work involved in library jobs. Participating libraries and student interns reported great experiences from the intern project. When grant funds were no longer available other sources of funds were sought. A grant was secured for $10,000. While far less than the amount available from the original project grant, this privately funded grant allowed for 10 interns. Only half of the library applications could be funded due to the reduced amount of funds available.

If funded, the 21st Century Librarian Skills project will be administered over a three year period.

2010 Legislative Session 

Rod Wagner stated that are no library specific bills currently before the legislature. The League of Nebraska Municipalities had presented a draft bill proposal that would require public library administrative and employee policies to be in line with those of their municipal governments. The Library Commission sent the draft proposal to public library directors to seek comments. Responses were mixed. Some didn't believe the proposed change would have much effect. Others had concerns that the change would not be helpful to library employees. The League chose not to request introduction of a bill. Wagner commented that he had recommended not having a bill introduced and, instead, bringing together library representatives along with municipal government and League representatives to address issues and concerns. Discovering and addressing the concerns of each could lead to solutions, with or without legislative changes. Given the League's many other legislative interests during the session it isn't expected that anything will happen on the library employee policy proposal until after the legislative session.

Nebraska Library Legislative Day

Rod Wagner stated that Nebraska Library Legislative Day will be held on February 9. The day will begin at the Capitol with a meet and greet with senators. A briefing and presentations will follow at the Lincoln Women's Club and a luncheon for participants and senators at the Cornhusker Hotel. Beth Goble and Devra Dragos will give a presentation on Nebraska Memories following the luncheon.


Rod Wagner referred to the November and December financial reports. The December report reflects budget changes enacted as a result of the legislature's November special session. Rod stated that overall the Commission's expenditures are in line with the revised budget. Wagner stated that some of the Commission's operating expenses are paid early in the fiscal year such as dues and subscriptions.

Wagner stated that no changes in personnel are required at this time but that may change next fiscal year. The Governor has expressed his request that state employee salaries be frozen for the coming fiscal year but it will be up to the union to decide if they will go along with the request. It is expected that salaries for non-union personnel will be frozen. Rod stated he would prefer a salary freeze to furloughs or layoffs.

Rod Wagner stated that Congress has approved an appropriation bill that includes funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) for the current federal fiscal year (October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010). The President signed the appropriations bill. Nebraska's LSTA allotment is nearly the same as last year. The President proposed a three-year funding freeze for many federal domestic programs. This would include funding for the LSTA.


There was no unfinished business presented.


State Advisory Council on Libraries Appointments

Rod Wagner asked for approval of new appointments to the State Advisory Council on Libraries. Individuals recommended for appointment to three-year terms are: Kate Borchman Hassebrook, Jayne Hlavac, Todd Schlechte, Susan Warneke, and Merrillene Wood. Recommended for re-appointment to a three-year term are Steve Fosselman and Frank Zimmerman.

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

Out-of-State-Travel Request

Rod Wagner asked for approval to attend the Western Council of State Libraries meeting March 21-23, in Portland Oregon. Travel expenses will be paid by the Western Council of State Libraries.

A motion was made and seconded to approve the travel request. Motion carried on roll call vote John Dale - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; Jean Ahrens -aye; Steve Batty - aye; and Diane Boyd- aye. Motion approved.

Meeting Schedule

The 2010 meeting schedules:

  • March 12 in rand Island (joint meeting with the State Advisory Council on Libraries)
  • May 14 in Lincoln (there may be a date change due to Jean Ahrens's schedule)
  • July 9 in Lincoln
  • September 10 in Lincoln, (biennium budget discussion)
  • November 5 in Lincoln (to be in proximity to the Nebraska Book Festival)

Directors Annual Performance Review

The Commission met in a closed session for the Director's annual performance review.

Adjournment - Chair Jean Ahrens adjourned the meeting at 11:33 a.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.