Skip To Talking Book & Braille Service Content Skip Navigation

Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes


Nebraska Library Commission

March 14, 2008



The Nebraska Library Commission held its regular meeting Friday, March 14, 2007, at the Kearney/Buffalo Law Enforcement Center, Kearney, 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 9:35 a.m. Introductions were made around the table. Members present: Jean Ahrens, John Dale, Mary Nelson, and Carol Spencer. Staff present: Rod Wagner, Maria Medrano-Nehls, Kit Keller and Richard Miller. Guests: Debra Carlson, Jim Connor, Patricia Gross, Marjorie Harrison, Scott Kinney, and Marty Magee.

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 (January 4, 2008): A motion was made and seconded to approve the January 4, 2008 meeting minutes. Jean Ahrens stated that there were two corrections she would like made. Motion carried with correction on roll call vote: John Dale - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer -aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


Patricia Gross thanked the Commission for all they do for Nebraska schools.

Correspondence and Communication

Rod Wagner stated that he did not have any special correspondence to present.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments 

Chair John Dale reported that the Nebraska Library Commission was recently audited by the State Auditor's office. John attended both the entrance and exit meetings with Commission staff and the State Auditor's Office staff. The audit report will be discussed at the May meeting.

John reported that the Director's evaluation was discussed in an executive session at the January meeting. John completed the evaluation and Mary Nelson reviewed it. The evaluation was signed and sent to the DAS State Personnel Division.

John reported that he attended the Nebraska Library Association's Legislative Day on February 14. John stated that David Landis's presentation was outstanding. John also attended the Governor's State of the State address on January 15. John also visited with people in the budget office to see if there was any legislation that we need be aware or concerned about. John attended a book talk at Bethany branch library in Lincoln which his daughter conducted.  John passed around a copy of the Valley Talk newsletter which featured Mary Nelson.

Mary Nelson reported that Holdrege had a very good Library Friends drive. They sent out cards that said "Love your library, prove it." Mary stated that Holdrege is very thankful to Lincoln City Libraries for loaning books and books-on-tape for the Phelps County READ program. Mary attended the Republican Valley Library System board meeting and noted that the librarians are really excited about this year's summer reading program.

Carol Spencer reported that the Broken Bow public library received a $500 grant from the Meridian Library System for their gaming after-hours program. Becton, Dickinson and Co. donated money to the library foundation that will be used to update the Follett Destiny software. Bill Kloefkorn will be at the library on April 10 to discuss his book Restoring the Burnt Child.   

Jean Ahrens reported that she will be retiring in May. The Scottsbluff public library in their attempt to raise money for the library addition asked the community to donate in whatever amount they could. Each school has a project going on to raise money for the library. School children from a near-by grade school collected pennies for their Paving by Pennies project. The pennies were taken to the library where the children paved the floor of the meeting room. The projects are getting great media attention.

Director's Report

Personnel - Rod Wagner reported that the Commission has a new staff member in the Talking Book and Braille department - Anna Walters. Anna replaces Sara Follett. Anna is from Lincoln and has a library science degree from the University of Indiana.

2008 Legislative Session -Wagner stated that there were a couple of library related legislative bills. LB 768 would allow sanitary improvement districts to contract for library services. Sanitary improvement districts are usually in the metro areas. This bill will be especially helpful in Sarpy County. LB572 would allow the regional library system staff to participate in the state employee insurance program. This bill has been introduced a few times and this year was advanced from committee to general file. LB760 provides for a study of the Nebraska State Law Library facilities. The library is housed on the 3rd floor of the State Capitol. The library has some environmental problems (moisture and temperature) that place holdings at risk. The bill would create a task force to make recommendations to address the problems of the library. The Nebraska Library Commission was identified as one of the organizations to have representation on the task force.

State Budget Outlook and Actions - Rod Wagner reported that the State Revenue Forecasting Board has lowered Nebraska's tax revenue collection projections. As a result, the Governor sent a letter to all agencies under the Governor's control, and state boards and commissions requesting that agencies exercise restraint in travel and other expenses. Time will tell when the forecasting board meets again to look at the data whether they chose to make any changes in the revenue estimates. The revenue forecasts are important because the revenue projections determine the basis for enacting and maintaining a balanced state budget. Wagner stated he did not anticipate any changes in the Commission's appropriation for the current biennium but that could change later in the year depending on tax revenue trends.

Office Space Changes - Rod Wagner reported that the Commission's office space lease extension includes office space improvements with the major work being re-painting of many offices and public spaces. The considered changes on the first floor will not be done. Staff working in that area decided that they preferred to make minor changes to the counters in place rather than remove them and install modular furniture.

One Book One Nebraska - Rod Wagner stated the book, Restoring the Burnt Child, by Bill Kloefkorn, is this year's book for the One Book One Nebraska project. A paperback version is now available and can be purchased from the University of Nebraska Press. The book includes discussion questions for book groups. The Nebraska Library Commission and each of the regional systems have book kits which are available for loan. The kit includes copies of the book, as well as audio and large print versions.

Rod stated that the One Nebraska Book for Teens program has also had a good response this year. The book chosen is The Book Thief and also appeals to adults. The book kits are going out regularly to libraries and schools.  

Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and Affiliated Networks - Rod Wagner reported that the Nebraska Library Commission is one of the affiliated Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) networks. The Commission has been an affiliate since 1976. OCLC has recently contracted for studies to consider how OCLC should support and deliver services in the future. We don't have specific details at this time and OCLC has not announced its plans. It will likely be sometime this summer before we know what changes will be made. What this will mean to Nebraska libraries is that those that do their cataloguing, inter-library loan transactions, or receive other products from OCLC could see their expenses go up significantly. The Library Commission has subsidized those products and services to a considerable extent. Another organization providing administrative and support services would need to build those costs into their prices and fees.

Gates Foundation Grants - Rod Wagner reported that the Commission has some remaining Gates Foundation project funds. The Gates Foundation was recently contacted to determine whether changes could be made in how those monies can be used.  Possible uses include Web Junction training and wireless projects with libraries. The Foundation has been flexible in granting states permission to use fund balances toward projects that support Foundation purposes and priorities.

Statewide Open Source Integrated Library System Symposium - Rod Wagner reported that in the past few years the Nebraska Library Commission has held a Vendor Day involving representatives of companies that provide technology based products and services to libraries.  This year's event will be devoted to a full day program concerning open source software, particularly integrated library systems. This event will be held in Omaha on May 22, 2008.    


January and February Financial Report - Rod Wagner stated that expenditures for January and February are in line with the budget.


Public Library Trustees - Richard Miller reported that at the last Public Library and Trustee section (PLTS) meeting it was stated that the spring meeting will be a collaborative effort with the School, Children's and Young People's Section with sessions held on return on investments (ROI), how to effectively use Bibliostat data, behavioral issues with tweens and teens in the library, NLA Member Click system, and encouragement of librarians to attend Career Days and provide students with information about the library field and scholarships available from Nebraska Library Commission. PLTS will be discussing how to use the money transferred over from the Trustees, Users and Friends Section when it merged with the Public Library Section. A discussion was held to consider what to do with the 135 non-current Trustees, Users and Friends Section members.

Jim Connor reported that he is a former trustee with the Jefferson County library in Colorado. Jim said his concern with Nebraska library trustees is that they seem to have lost their drive. Mr. Connor said that the PLTS would like to rejuvenate the group and bring them back to productive and effective status. The effectiveness and productivity of trustees is vital to the survival of libraries. Unless there is a solid and productive group of trustees in Nebraska, funding and political support will be nil. Mr. Connor said that his interest in this project is stimulated by his involvement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in which he serves on the advisory council. Mr. Connor has drafted a letter which will be mailed to the non-current trustees as well as library directors asking them to become involved in PLTS and offer them an opportunity to work together on a select committee to find some productive programs to incorporate into the Nebraska Library Association that would be of specific interest to trustees. Mr. Connor stated that if you have not been a trustee or you are not currently a trustee; you do not relate to the problems and issues to be dealt with by trustees. Mr. Connor passed around a training video produced by the Wyoming State Library which is being used by many library trustee groups.


Audit Report- Rod Wagner stated that representatives of the State Auditor's Office will attend the May Commission meeting to present and discuss the audit report.  Wagner stated the recommendations are basically related to segregation of duties among staff who handle funds or inventory assets and to make sure checks and balances are in place.

Out-of-state Travel Request - Rod Wagner requested approval to attend the Western Council of State Libraries meeting in Salt Lake City and to attend a COSLA meeting and National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. A motion was made and seconded to approve Rod Wagner's out-of-state travel request. Motion carried with correction on roll call vote: Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer -aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; and John Dale - aye. Motion approved.

May Commission Meeting - John Dale stated the next meeting will be held May 9 at the Nebraska Library Commission and Vice-chair Mary Nelson will conduct the meeting in John's absence. 

Adjournment - Chair John Dale adjourned the meeting at 9:40.


Maria Medrano-Nehls, Secretary

All attachments ar 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.