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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes


Nebraska Library Commission

May 8, 2009



The Nebraska Library Commission met Friday, May 8, 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, Charles Gordon, Patrick Gross, Mary Nelson, and Carol Spencer. Staff present: Rod Wagner, Maria Medrano-Nehls, Mary Jo Ryan and Dave Oertli. Public present: Becky Baker, Brenda Ealey, and Kathy Tooker.

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

(March 13, 2009): Mary Nelson stated that she remembers asking Mr. Foley for a web link to our responses and he said yes. Mary would like Maria to listen to the recording of the last meeting to get exact wording and add them to the minutes. A motion was made and seconded to approve the March 13, 2009, meeting minutes. Motion carried on roll call vote: John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Pat Gross - abstain; Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


Chair Mary Nelson welcomed guests and asked if they would like to comment on what was going on in their library of library system.

Kathy Tooker, Eastern Library System Administrator, said that she is moving her office from an upstairs office to a lower level office. The Eastern Library System will hold its annual meeting on June 12 with Pat Wagner speaking on library ethics.

Becky Baker, Director of Seward Memorial Library, said that her library is holding a garage-sale for the next two days. The library has many items from their old building that weren't being used and they have other items for the sale including household goods from one of their million dollar donors.

Brenda Ealey, Southeast Library System Administrator, said that the SELS will hold its annual Spring Extravaganza on May 21 at Concordia University in Seward. The SELS annual meeting will be held on June 27 in Nebraska City. The SELS Board is saddened to hear about the death of Kris Rogge who served on the board for a number of years. Brenda stated the region has a librarian who is director for two libraries, Palmyra and Elmwood, both have very limited public service hours.


Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments

Chair Mary Nelson reported that former Library Commission member Kris Rogge had passed away resulting from multiple health problems. Kris's mother has decided that due to the great relationship Kris had with libraries and people working in the library world that memorial funds would go to the NLA legacy fund. Memorials can be sent to Julee Hector, Nebraska Library Association Treasurer.

Mary reported that she attended the Republican Valley Library System board meeting and will become a member of the board. Libraries in the RVLS area are preparing for summer reading program activities. Mary distributed a document with the names of the state senators and their contact information and a list of three or four things to promote to senators. Mary said that people seem intimidated to make contacts with senators without some direction. She would recommend other library boards do the same thing. Mary reported that she will be a mentor at the library leadership institute. Mary reported that she attended the NLA spring meeting in Lexington. The program included presentations on Skype, legal matters and board policies, and open source software. Mary ended by giving her thanks to the Commission and her fellow commissioners. Mary stated the six years she has served as a commissioner have been wonderful and she will miss it.

Charles Gordon reported that Maggie Harding and Mary Nelson inspired him in the issues of libraries. Charles attended the NLA spring meeting and enjoyed it. The Fremont library has been told that there will be no new facility projects in the foreseeable future so any additions to the library are on hold. However, the Fremont public library has an HVAC system that must be replaced at the cost of around one million dollars. Charles reported that the Fremont immigration issue is on hold again because the city council did not want to put it to a vote but to send it to court for a legal response. The court determined that the city could vote on this issue but the city council decided to appeal the decision to a higher court. Charles reported that the Dodge County Supervisors refused to approve funds in order to provide library services to all the children in Dodge County by providing library cards to non-residents. There are only five public libraries in Dodge County. The Fremont library searched for private funding which they were awarded and now have 640 children with new library cards. These are children who attend public or private schools in Fremont but live outside of city limits. The funding is for one year so efforts will continue to find funding to extend this arrangement.

Pat Gross expressed thanks to all for the opportunity to serve on the Commission for six years and for being exposed to wonderful people and different libraries across the state. Libraries share common goals and successes wherever they might be located. Pat stated that libraries are very dear to him and he is pleased that they are on-going and progressing. He will continue to be active in support of his city (Wayne) library.

John Dale stated that it has been a pleasure to work with Mary Nelson and Pat Gross and expressed amazement at Mary's capacity to keep track of things that are going on. John stated that for the last several years Lincoln public libraries has faced budget cuts and this year will be no exception. Due to this year's budget cuts, both South and Bethany branch libraries may be closed. The library director has said that if the two branches are closed that she wants the city council to understand they will not be reopened at a later date and the buildings would be turned over to the Lincoln/Lancaster Building Commission. John said there is a question about what was to be a new library branch that was to be built with the new middle school in Arnold Heights. The middle school will opened on schedule but the future of the library branch is uncertain. The city budget will be approved sometime in August.

Carol Spencer reported that Broken Bow is preparing for Chautauqua to be held June 17-21. The Broken Bow library will be hosting film and book discussions during the Chautauqua. The library is planning for summer reading programs with children, teens and adults. Carol stated that Joan Birnie, Broken Bow library director, reports every month to the city council. Carol said that this is good public relations and keeps everything going smoothly. The Broken Bow library participated in the national internet study that was supported by the Gates Foundation. The study will show how many people use free internet access offered by the library.

Jean Ahrens reported that she donated several bottles of wine to the Scottsbluff library to be placed in baskets for a fund-raiser raffle. Scottsbluff is still waiting to start the building expansion and with the economy the way it is there will be no extra funds from the city. Libraries are preparing for summer reading activities and every year the number of people who participate seems to increase. Many times activities are held outside due to space. Jean stated that she is very excited to be attending National Library Legislative Day in Washington D.C. with Carol Spencer, Rod Wagner and several others from Nebraska.


Director's Report

Personnel - Rod Wagner reported that Sally Snyder has served as the president for the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) since September 2007 and her term will end in June. CSLP is a national group which started a few years ago when a few states got together to collaborate on planning summer reading programs and publish materials for that purpose. The group has grown to now include 48 states and the District of Columbia. Sally has enjoyed serving in her current position but is ready to let someone else take over. Sally recently hosted the annual CSLP meeting in Omaha.

Rod also reported that Jenna Smith, who works in the Talking Book and Braille service department, will be leaving the Commission staff to teach English to high-school students in South Korea. We are very happy for Jenna but we will miss her because she has given the Library Commission a lot of very good help.

Rod stated that Debbie McCall, Panhandle Library System administrative assistant, is leaving the system and will be moving to Tennessee. Debbie has been with the PLS for over eleven years.

Wagner stated that in March the Commission's reference services staff had their highest month's transaction rate ever. While in many libraries reference activity is in decline, the Library Commission is experiencing a continuing increase.

Digital Talking Book Transition Update - Dave Oertli passed around two new talking book players that recently arrived from the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Every talking book network library received one of the standard machines and one the advanced machines. Beginning in August the Talking Book and Braille Service is scheduled to receive 160 standard and 40 advanced machines per month for four months. Beginning the first of January 2010 the TBBS will receive 120 standard and 37 advance machines until the transition is complete. Jean Ahrens asked how many clients were currently being served and Dave replied that there are approximately 4300 clients. Carol Spencer asked how long it will take for every client to get a new machine and Dave replied that the nationwide transition time is six years. The plan is to offer new players to new borrowers before that time because it is a harder task to introduce them to cassette and then change them to digital. Dave Oertli showed the new cases that the digital tapes will be used for mailing recorded books and magazines. Dave said that TBBS will be receiving books throughout the summer and we currently have about 3,000 retrospective titles which have been converted chosen from about 11,000 options. Oertli said that by the time the digital book players are received there should be several thousand digital books on hand. Dave also showed the memory cartridges that will be used for our own in-house recorded books and magazines.

The batteries in the new players are rechargeable and stay charged for approximately twenty hours. The machine has a built-in speaking manual and a USB port which allows a client to download from 14,000 titles offered from the Library of Congress Web site to a card which can be played in a Victor reader or Library of Congress NLS supplied player. Oertli said that younger readers will take to the direct downloads and do their own via the internet. Dave stated that the digital machines are costing less than the cassette players did.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - Rod Wagner reported that Commission staff is seeking information about federal programs that are receiving additional funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The one with the greatest potential for public libraries is rural broadband funding through the U.S. Department of Commerce (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Rural Utilities Service). These two federal agencies are working out the details, rules, and requirements for broadband stimulus funding. It is anticipated that these agencies will issue information about application requirements and procedures by the end of June. Wagner said that it appears likely that project applications will need to be collaborative and include a number of entities to have the best chance for funding.

Wagner said that the Nebraska Energy Office has significant additional funding to administer as a result of the stimulus appropriation. The NEO has a program that provides funding for home weatherization to qualifying lower income people. The Energy office has about two million dollars annually for this program. The NEO will receive additional funds over the next two years to reach more homes. Another energy program will aid local government facilities, including libraries.

Rod stated that the Legislature's appropriations committee held a public hearing regarding Nebraska's funding allocation from the ARRA and legislation needed to appropriate and administer these funds in Nebraska. Several people came and testified about needs. One was Matt Williams, Kearney public library director. His testimony was mentioned in a news article about the hearing. Governor Heineman has chosen to direct the discretionary portion of the stimulus funds to state aid to education rather than distributing funds among a number of different purposes. This approach should indirectly help a number of organizations and agencies including the Library Commission because the stimulus funds will replace additional state general funds for this purpose.

Mapping Nebraska Libraries - John Felton stated that he designed a map mash-up including all Nebraska public libraries. The map allows data to be viewed with a mapping orientation as compared to a spreadsheet format. The idea came from Mary Nelson who wanted to know if there was a way to show legislative districts with the libraries in them. The map shows the population served by each public library as well as the increase and decrease of the city's population. By clicking on the city/site an information bubble comes up that displays data about that city/site. Photos are also included if available. John stated that he added legislative districts and that all the data is from the last public library survey (2006-2007). John will update the information when the 2007-2008 library survey data is available. John will also be updating the population figures which haven't been changed in four years. The updates will come from current official census estimates. John showed the map Web page and the information which can be found on the mapping page: John stated his next project will be a map showing the internet speed of each Nebraska public library.

Student Library Internship - Rod Wagner stated that Mary Jo Ryan, John Felton and Kathryn Brockmeier have been seeking grant funds for student library internships. Last year the Library Commission supported internships with funds from the Librarians for the 21st Century grant. Mary Jo stated that the Commission and the Nebraska Library Association (NLA) are working together on grants for the program. Three grant applications have been submitted. One grant in the amount of $10,000 has been received from an anonymous donor. There has been no response to the other two grant applications. Applications for student interns will be available on May 15; deadline for submitted applications is June 5. Mary Jo and John will meet with the NLA Executive Board and will make a final decision on which applications will be approved. Library student internship grants will be announced by June 19.

Nebraska Book Festival - Mary Jo Ryan distributed copies of the festival announcement posted on the Commission Web site. The festival will be held on November 14 and will be a one-day event. The festival will be held in conjunction with the Nebraska Center for the Book annual meeting. Most of the events will be held at the Nebraska State Historical Society Museum. The Nebraska book award winners as well as the Mildred Bennett and Joan Geske award recipients will be recognized at the luncheon.


Gates Online Opportunity Grants - Rod Wagner reported that Devra Dragos and Christa Burns prepared the Library Commission's application to the Gates Foundation for the Online Opportunity Grants funding. There are forty libraries eligible to participate.

National Library Legislative Day - Rod Wagner stated that National Library Legislative Day will be held next week in Washington D.C. The Nebraska group will include seven participants. The Nebraska participants will meet with Nebraska's congressional delegation (senators and representatives) and their staff.


One Book One Nebraska - Rod Wagner reported that the Bess Streeter Aldrich Foundation has been especially helpful and a good partner for this year's program. Rod stated that he recently attended the foundation's annual spring banquet. The foundation recognized the winners of its short story competition. More activities are planned through the rest of the year. Mary Nelson stated that the North Platte Library Foundation is auctioning an embroidered tablecloth and napkins by Bess Streeter Aldrich.

Wagner stated that the Nebraska Center for the Book will meet on May 16 in Grand Island and will have a representative from the Lone Tree Society present to discuss with the board plans for next year's recognition and celebration of Wright Morris's 100th birthday anniversary. Morris, from Central City, wrote many fiction and nonfiction books but was best known for the photographs he took and used in his books. The Home Place is his most widely known book. The NCB board expects to choose one of Morris's books for the 2010 One Book One Nebraska program.

OCLC/NEBASE Updates - Rod Wagner stated that changes are on track with termination of the Library Commission's contract with OCLC and transition to BCR's taking over OCLC member billings for Nebraska libraries. The NEBASE annual meeting will be held on June 25. The NEBASE meeting will be the final membership meeting for NEBASE following 33 years as an OCLC affiliated network (from 1976 - 2009). The meeting will include coverage of transition issues and presentations from NLC staff, OCLC and BCR representatives.



Rod Wagner referred to April and May financial reports. Rod stated the budget is in line, overall, with budgeted revenues and expenditures for this time in the year.

Charles Gordon noted that as a board member for the Fremont library he is in charge of paying bills and noticed that there is frequently an amount of money for the Nebraska Library Commission and was wondering what service they were buying. Rod stated that the payments were for OCLC products and services billed through the Library Commission (NEBASE).

Biennium Budget Update - Rod stated that the appropriations committee's budget recommendations to the legislature were the same as the committee's preliminary recommendation issued prior to budget hearings. Reduced revenue projections were a significant factor in retaining the earlier amounts. The committee's recommendation for the Commission was, with slight variation, equal to the Governor's recommendation presented in January. Without any increase in state funds the Library Commission is faced with covering cost increases for employee pay increases and insurance, office space lease, Department of Administrative Services' fees (including e-mail service transition. Devra Dragos is working with vendors to keep the cost of database licensing at current or near current year amounts. For the most part, vendors are holding off on fee increases. Nebraska is in better shape financially than many other state libraries, many of which have taken major funding reductions. No funding was included for the digital talking book transition to cover the cost of equipment, memory cartridges and mailers. Mary Nelson asked if the Commission could make a separate request for TBBS funding. Rod stated that the Commission could submit a deficiency appropriation request next legislative session. Rod stated that state tax revenue collections for April were $30 million below projections. If that trend continues the Governor may call a special legislative session to take further action on the biennium budget.

LSTA Appropriations - Rod Wagner stated that the LSTA State Programs appropriation increased this year. The increase offsets the $60,000 reduction last year plus a little more. The President's FY 2010 budget recommendations include a slight funding increase for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Library Thefts - Mary Nelson stated that library theft is on the increase in the western part of the state. One person checked out videos and books and then went to Hastings and tried to sell them. This same person went to Grand Island and stole hundreds of dollars worth of library materials. The problem is that she is now in Kansas. The people she tried to sell the materials to turned the items over to the police and that is where they will sit until she is arrested and taken to trial. Other libraries are also having trouble with books being returned. This may be something we might want to be watching for and may want to develop a policy or procedure for allowing people to borrow arm loads of books. Some libraries are seeing materials being taken without being checked out. The items being taken include videos, magazines, cookbooks and bibles.



There were no unfinished business items on the agenda.


Out-of-State Travel Request - Rod Wagner requested approval to attend the American Library Association conference in Chicago from July 9-14. A motion was made and seconded to approve Rod Wagner's travel request. Motion carried on roll call vote: Charles Gordon - aye; Pat Gross - abstain; Mary Nelson - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; and John Dale - aye. Motion approved.

Next Meeting - The next Commission meeting will be held July 17 in Lincoln.



- Chair Mary Nelson adjourned the meeting at 11:38 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.