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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes


Nebraska Library Commission

March 12, 2010



The Nebraska Library Commission met Friday, March 12, 2010, at the Grand Island Public Library, Grand Island, 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, John Dale, Charles Gordon, and Carol Spencer. Member absent: Diane Boyd. Staff present: Maria Medrano-Nehls, Richard Miller and Rod Wagner. Others present: Kate Borchman Hassebrook, Lyons; Pam Bohmfalk, Hasting public library and NLA representative; and Steve Fosselman, Grand Island public library and Chair, State Advisory Council on Libraries.

Chair Jean Ahrens called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. This meeting is in compliance with the Nebraska Open Meetings Act. Jean expressed appreciation to Steve Fosselman for use of the library for the Commission meeting.

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; John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Carol Spencer - aye. Motion approved.

Approval of the Minutes (January 8, 2010): A motion was made and seconded to approve the January 8, 2010 meeting minutes. Motion carried on roll call vote: Steve Batty - aye; John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


No public comments to report.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments

Jean Ahrens reported that the Scottsbluff public library recently held a ground breaking ceremony for the new addition. The contractors have said that the addition will be completed in September of this year.

Steve Batty reported that the City of McCook received 14 applications for the library director position. The city manager chose four people to interview which he conducted last week. As of yesterday no decision had been made.

Carol Spencer reported the Broken Bow newspaper had an article and picture of Joan Birnie, Broken Bow library director, and Birnie's report to the city council which included library usage statistics, programs completed and other projects and accomplishments. The city council commended Joan for a job well done. The Broken Bow library recently celebrated the 50th birthday of Dr. Seuss's book, The Cat in the Hat.

John Dale stated that Lincoln's Bethany branch library recently completed a remodeling project and reopened.

Charles Gordon stated that the Fremont library board is in the process of hiring a new director, and the city is attempting to change the library board from an administrative to an advisory board. The library will soon have a new HVAC system installed. The library will also receive new carpeting and paint. The library will be re-located for approximately one-month during the project.


Rod Wagner acknowledged the Nebraska Library Association (NLA) for another successful Nebraska Library Legislative Day (held on February 9). Wagner also expressed appreciation to the NLA and Pam Bohmfalk, 2009 NLA president, for its partnership with the Library Commission in obtaining and administering last summer's library youth internships. The program was a great success. The Commission's grant application to the Institute of Museum and Library Services includes funds for continuation of library internships. Grant awards will be announced in mid-June.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - Broadband Technology Opportunity Grant - Rod Wagner stated that the Library Commission's application for a broadband technology grant (U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration) will be submitted later today. The application involved hundreds of hours of staff work. Staff was overwhelmed by the response from libraries. Of approximately 170 eligible libraries, 140 agreed to participate. Eligibility included a number of factors such as community per capita income, broadband service availability in the community, a library's current technology inventory, hours open to the public, etc. Due to the short period of time to prepare applications libraries were on a tight schedule to respond to requests for information, provide letters supporting the project and agreements to grant requirements. Staff worked with public library directors to answer questions and obtain information needed for the application. Staff also worked with state level agencies and organizations to add program content to the project. 

Rod Wagner stated that Nebraska is one of fourteen states supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to prepare broadband technology grant applications. The foundation is pledging matching funds and consulting assistance for grant applications. The foundation will contribute $1.1 million in grant matching funds required contingent on a federal grant award. This represents nearly 30% of the total project funding.

If funded, about two-thirds of the grant money will be used to purchase additional computers (desktops and laptops) for participating libraries, projectors, scanners, printers, furniture to be used with the computers, and software. A portion of the grant would be used to upgrade broadband service, program expenses for work with partner organizations, marketing, promotion, and a "boot camp" for technology training. Some libraries were identified to receive assistance to install fiber connections. Grant award announcements are expected from June through August and possibly not until September.

Projects will be carried out over a three year period. Computer and related equipment will be purchased, delivered and installed over a period of time.

Nebraska Center for the Book

Rod Wagner stated that the Nebraska Center for the Book board met recently and decided that the book festival will be moved from November to May (2011). Since the Nebraska Library Commission has taken on much of the festival planning and arrangements May is a better time of year given many other involvements in the fall. This also works in favor of grants and allows more time for fund-raising. November will continue to be the month for the Nebraska Center for the Book annual membership meeting. The two events have been held together for the past few years. The November NCB annual meeting will also include presentation of the Nebraska Book Awards.

One Book One Nebraska

Rod Wagner stated the book selected for the 2010 One Book One Nebraska is Wright Morris's The Home Place. A Wright Morris book was selected in recognition of the 100th anniversary year of Morris's birth. The Lone Tree Literary Society has a number of programs planned to celebrate Wright Morris's birth year.

Rod stated that next year is the 50th anniversary of Bison Books (University of Nebraska Press). The first published Bison Book was Mari Sandoz's Old Jules.

Letters About Literature

Letters About Literature is a national program carried out with the assistance of state book centers. Nebraska has participated in the program for a number of years. Students are encouraged to write to and describe their reactions to the book. Wagner reported that the Nebraska student winners and alternates will be recognized on April 7 at a ceremony at the Capitol with a proclamation presented by the Governor Heineman. A luncheon program and visit the Jane Pope Geske room at the Bennett Martin Library will follow. There has been an increase in the number of entries each year. We have also had a national winner from Nebraska. Laureen Riedesel, Director of the Beatrice public library and former Nebraska Center for the Book president and board member, has served as the coordinator for Nebraska's participation in the program since the beginning of Nebraska's involvement. It was at her initiative that Nebraska began participation in the program.


Rod Wagner referred to the January and February financial reports. The Commission has made budget changes to accommodate state fund reductions based on the November special legislative session. Budget reductions have been made in the Commission's operating budget - communications, equipment, library science and reference acquisitions, contract services, travel and more. Appropriations were also reduced in the state aid to libraries program and expenditures will be reduced to reflect that appropriation changes.

Rod stated that 170 public libraries are receiving state aid payments this year. The total amount of state aid is near the same as last year. Unaccredited libraries that submit annual library statistical reports each received $250 under the "Dollars for Data" state aid component.

Rod stated that a report came out saying the appropriations committee will recommend an additional 2% reduction added to the 5% already cut. State employee's covered by the union will not have their salary froze even though the Governor had asked the union to consider the freeze.


There was no unfinished business presented.


May Meeting Schedule

Chair Ahrens asked that we consider changing the May meeting date due to a conflict in her schedule. It was agreed that the next meeting will be held May 21 in Lincoln.

Adjournment - Chair Jean Ahrens adjourned the meeting at 9:50 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.