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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes


Nebraska Library Commission

May 9, 2008



The Nebraska Library Commission held its regular meeting Friday, May 9, 2008, 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.

Vice-Chair Mary Nelson called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. Members present: Jean Ahrens, Charles Gordon, Patrick Gross, Mary Nelson, and Carol Spencer. Staff present: Rod Wagner, Maria Medrano-Nehls; Guests: Krista Davis, Auditor-in-Charge, and Don Dunlap, Assistant Deputy, Auditor of Public Accounts.

Approval of Agenda: A motion was made and seconded to approve the agenda. Motion carried on roll call vote: Jean Ahrens - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Pat Gross - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; and Carol Spencer - aye. Motion approved.

Approval of the Minutes (March 14, 2008): A motion was made and seconded to approve the March 14, 2008, meeting minutes with corrections. Carol Spencer observed that there was an error on Commission members who attended the March meeting. Motion carried with corrections on roll call vote: Charles Gordon - aye; Pat Gross -aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer -aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


No general public was in attendance.


Krista Davis and Don Dunlap from the State Auditor's Office reviewed points of interest from the final report of the recent audit conducted of the Library Commission. Don Dunlap stated that in their opinion, the schedule of revenues, expenditures, and changes in fund balances are accounted for on the NIS system, except for one adjustment approved by the Director. Don noted that it is common to see an increase in the general cash fund. He noted that in NIS there was a negative balance on the NEBASE fund and this is where the adjustment was made. The manual record recorded the correct information so it was requested that they work with NIS to reconcile the amounts to read correctly in both reports. 

Mr. Dunlap reported on the deficiencies of internal control compliance. The area of deficiency is in the segregation of duties. 

Ms. Davis reported that auditors noted that there were not two individuals assigned to open the mail together. Ms. Davis said that money donated to the Talking Book & Braille Service was sent to the TBBS Director instead of going to the accounting department and recorded; one person was able to prepare invoices and apply cash received. It was recommended that all invoices be reviewed by another individual to insure their accuracy. Two staff members of the Commission are able to perform alternate actions with NIS. It was recommended that another individual be trained to perform this job. Also, no one independent of the function of processing revenues reviewed the invoices, documents or reports generated on NIS to show that all monies where properly deposited. 

Ms. Davis stated that there were some issues with the segregation of payroll duties. It was noted that there is one employee who did all functions of payroll processing with no independent review to insure the employees pay and hours worked were accurate. There are only two employees in the Commission who are able to perform payroll processing. It was suggested that another person be added to assist in this area. 

Ms. Davis stated that only one person is able to perform all functions of capital asset processing including processing on NIS and performing the annual inventory. There also wasn't a timely complete inventory of the Library Commission's cataloged library collection preformed. It was recommended that there be a periodic independent management review or training of an individual independent of the capitol asset processing to review some of the reports generated in NIS. Ms. Davis stated that the audit report is on the State Auditor's web site and available to the public.

Carol Spencer asked that when the report states "prior year comment" did it mean this issue had showed up on a previous audit report. Ms. Davis stated that the issue of segregation of duties was also listed in the 2005 audit report.

Rod Wagner stated that all of the issues in the audit report are being addressed and changes have been made in staff responsibilities and procedures.    

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments 

Vice-Chair Mary Nelson stated that there are several library building projects going on in central Nebraska. Kearney public library is planning an expansion. Hastings is starting a building project and Holdrege is considering building changes. The Phelps County READS program started in March and 260 books or CD's of The Worst Hard Times have been checked out. The grand finale will be during the Phelps County 125th anniversary in Holdrege. Mary shared a book about the food product, Spam. The book was written by the son of one of the Holdrege library board members. Mary also stated that Phil Soreide, husband of Pam Soreide, Holdrege Public Library Director, has an article in Nebraska Life magazine this month. His article is about the "Chicken Dance Trails" (bird trails located in the western part of Nebraska).

Carol Spencer reported that Bill Kloefkorn attended a One Book One Nebraska book discussion on his book, Restoring the Burnt Child, at the Broken Bow public library. There were approximately 40 people in attendance.  This summer the library will host a teen and adult reading program. The Broken Bow public library was one of 3,000 in the United States to receive a We the People bookshelf, which includes a set of classic books for young readers from kindergarten through high school. The grant is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities to promote among youth the fundamental value of human equality.

Patrick Gross reported that Wayne public library held its annual book sale. Lauran Lofgren, Director, Wayne public library, sent Rod Wagner a letter thanking the Library Commission for a continuing education grant. The grant allowed her and two staff members to attend the Public Library Association conference in Minneapolis.

Charles Gordon reported that he attended the Public Library Association conference. Charles had sent documents and notes for NLC meeting packets concerning conference programs. Bill Kloefkorn will teach a writing workshop in Fremont on how to write about your past. Charles stated that the Fremont public library has been trying to get an addition built for the last few years but is again placed on the back burner since the high school is seeking an addition. Mary Nelson suggested contacting Steve Fosselman, Grand Island public library director. Mary said that Mr. Fosselman had an interesting approach for an effective approach to making the case for a library building addition.

Jean Ahrens stated that the Scottsbluff public library is also having difficulty in getting city funds for its building project. City officials are reluctant to spend money for the library addition so their suggestion is to use an empty building that the city owns. The City of Gering got involved and suggested that the library be split and an adult library could be placed in an empty grocery store in Gering and a children's library could be housed at the current Scottsbluff public library. The people in Scottsbluff want the library kept in the current location. Jean stated she was glad to see that one of the city administrators will be attending the Nebraska Libraries Future Search conference. Alliance public library is having a Mother's Day program called Read Around the Posies.  Planters with flowers will be used for a silent auction. Public libraries are gearing up for summer reading programs.

Director's Report

Rod Wagner reported that the Library Commission received a thank you letter from Wayne public library staff for a continuing education grant to attend the Public Library Association conference. Recently, the Library Commission and the regional library systems arranged for Ben Mikaelsen to travel around the state and give presentations at public libraries and schools. Mr. Mikaelsen was well received. Suzann Christensen, Media Specialist at Hastings Middle School, had students, teachers, and parents write notes about Ben Mikaelsen's visit to the Hastings school. Ms. Christensen sent copies of the notes to the Commission.

Rod Wagner distributed folders with information on Return on Investment (ROI): Measuring the Value on Your Public Library. Kit Keller, Mary Jo Ryan, and John Felton have been presenting this information at the Nebraska Library Association public library spring meetings.

Personnel - Rod Wagner reported that Shannon White will be leaving the Commission in early June. A reception will be held for Shannon on May 28. Kit Keller is also leaving the Commission staff.  Kit has accepted a position as Director of Library Services for Nouveau University. Kit's last day at the Commission will be June 13. A farewell event will be held for Kit on the evening of June 13. Both positions have been posted for applications.

Karin Dalziel, a University of Missouri - Columbia library science student, is serving an internship at the Library Commission. She is working on a re-design of the NebraskAccess website.

Office Space Changes - Rod Wagner stated that re-painting has been the major activity for much of the Library Commission's public areas and offices. Building work has also included sound proofing improvements in the downstairs studios. It was decided not to do the extensive changes on the first floor.

2008 Legislative Session - Rod Wagner stated that with the 2008 legislative session ending a few weeks ago eight state senators finished their final session due to term limits. Rod stated that the bill to permit employees of regional library systems to participate in state employee insurance coverage did not come up for final action before adjournment. The bill to allow sanitary improvement districts to contract for public library services passed earlier in the session.

Western Council of State Libraries Meeting - Rod Wagner stated that he recently attended the Western Council of State Libraries meeting in Salt Lake City. The main discussion item was the new policy interpretations that the IMLS has presented to state library agencies for administration of the LSTA State Programs. Another major topic was the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped's change to digital talking books. The National Library Service has a new service that allows borrowers to download books directly from the NLS web site.

National Library Legislative Day - Rod Wagner stated that Judy Henning, NEMA president; Pam Springer, NEMA past-president; Jenni Puchalla, NLA legislative committee chair; Patricia Gross, State Advisory Council on Libraries vice-chair; and Rod Wagner will represent Nebraska at National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. Michael Cartwright, Nebraska Book Festival Director, and Garry Alkire, vice-president of the Nebraska Center for the Book, will be attending the annual Idea Exchange for state Center for the Book affiliates at the Library of Congress, and may join the group for some of the activities.

Appointments have been made with the Nebraska Congressional offices. The issues are similar to those in the past - funding for the Library Services and Technology Act, federal funding for school libraries, e-Rate policies for schools and libraries, and copyright issues.

Statewide Open Source ILS Symposium - Rod Wagner stated that the Commission's Network Services staff has planned and arranged a symposium on open source software developed for integrated library systems. The symposium will be held May 22 at Bellevue University. There has been hope and prospect for collaboration among libraries to install integrated library system software offered through an open-source license.

Future Search Conference - Rod Wagner stated the Nebraska Libraries Future Search Conference will be held June 9 & 10, at the Saint Benedict Center near Schuyler. Rod stated that from 85-90 participants are expected to attend. People were invited from different types of libraries, city council members, mayors, one state senator, teachers, school administrators, representatives of non-profit organizations, the business sector and others.


Rod Wagner referred to the March and April financial reports included in the meeting packets. Rod stated that the budget has been updated to reflect some additional funds that were added to the Commission budget due to salary increases for state employees covered under the labor contract and some funds appropriated for employee health benefits. The operating budget is in line with expectations for this point in the fiscal year. This being the first year of the biennium budget, funds remaining at the end of June 2008 will be carried over into the next year's budget.  Rod stated that state agencies will be using new software to prepare budget requests this year.


Jim Conner attended the March State Advisory Council on Libraries meeting and gave a short presentation. Carol Spencer asked about Jim Connor's title. Mary Nelson stated that Jim is an independent businessman who speaks about issues related to library boards and foundations. He also has a lot of experience since he has served on library boards and serves on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, library program advisory group.

Rod Wagner stated that trustee issues is a topic that will continue as an agenda item for future meetings. 


Out-of-State Travel Request - Rod Wagner requested permission to travel to Anaheim, California, to attend the ALA annual conference and Friends of Libraries USA Board meeting on June 27 - July 1, 2008.  A motion was made and seconded to approve Rod Wagner's out-of-state travel request. Motion carried with correction on roll call vote: Charles Gordon - aye: Patrick Gross - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer -aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.

A retirement party for Jean Ahrens will be held May 16, 2008, 2-4 p.m., at Western Nebraska Community College.        

July Meeting - The next meeting will be held July 11, 2008, at the Nebraska Library Commission offices.

Adjournment - Mary Nelson adjourned the meeting at 11:30 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.