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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes

Nebraska Library Commission

July 17, 2009



Minutes subject to change at the September 11, 2009 meeting

The Nebraska Library Commission met Friday, July 17, 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.

Members present: Jean Ahrens, Steve Batty (by telephone), Diane Boyd, John Dale, Charles Gordon, and Carol Spencer. Staff present: Rod Wagner, Maria Medrano-Nehls. Public present: Barbra Hegr, Morton-James Public Library (Nebraska City), and Jenni Puchalla, Southeast Library System (Lincoln).

Vice-Chair John Dale called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. This meeting is in compliance with the Nebraska Open Meetings Act. John welcomed Diane Boyd and Steve Batty, newly appointed Commission members. Introductions were made around the table

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; Charles Gordon - aye; and Carol Spencer - aye. Motion approved.

Approval of the Minutes (May 8, 2009):

A motion was made and seconded to approve the May 8, 2009, meeting minutes. Motion carried on roll call vote: Steve Batty - aye; Diane Boyd - aye; John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


Jenni Puchalla passed around pictures taken during National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. and held in May. Jenni stated that the Southeast Library System recently held its annual membership meeting in Nebraska City.

Barbra Hegr introduced herself as director of the Morton-James public library in Nebraska City and current president of the Southeast Library System board. Barbara mentioned that the Morton-James library will host a NASA exhibit at the end of October. There will be activities for both adults and children. The library is working with schools in the region to attend the event.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments

Jean Ahrens reported that the Scottsbluff public library and surrounding area libraries are winding down their summer reading program activities. Scottsbluff and Gering will hold their annual battle of the bands event. Jean stated that a musician visited 90% of the panhandle public libraries to entertain the children during the summer reading program. The City of Scottsbluff contributed an additional $500,000 for the library expansion project to assure against loss of grant funds that have local match deadlines. There have been changes to the building plans. The expansion will be done in two phases. The floor plans have been changed to make the expansion smaller and the addition will be on the east not the west. A contributing factor is the increase in cost of building materials that has occurred since start of fund-raising and early planning. The children's, teen, computer lab and genealogy areas will expand as part of the building addition.

Jean Ahrens stated that due to excessive rainfall the library at Western Nebraska Community College suffered damage. This is the second year this has happened. Library books were not damaged but the materials circulation area was.

Carol Spencer expressed thanks to the Commission for the opportunity to participate in the 2009 National Library Legislative Day event and activities. Carol was impressed with presentations on library legislative and policy issues and stated that activities were well organized.

Carol said that Broken Bow's Chautauqua event has come and gone with no distractions other than the trains passing through the city. Megan Svoboda, assistant library director, will participate in the Nebraska Library Leadership Institute. The summer reading program for children, teens, and adults went very well this summer. Carol said that Ladette Randolph will be at the Broken Bow library to read from her book, A Sandhills Ballad. Ladette is from Nebraska and now is on the faculty at Emerson College in Boston.

Charles Gordon stated that the Fremont public library will close for four weeks this summer to restore the HVAC system. The project will cost nearly a million dollars. Unfortunately, asbestos was found in the building. Ann Stephens, the library director, is seeking facilities to house library services temporarily during the project.

Carol Spencer stated that she read in the Lincoln Journal Star that the two Lincoln branch libraries that had been targets for closing will now remain open. John Dale stated that the final decision hasn't been made because the city council hasn't passed the budget yet. The city budget won't be approved until the end of August. The mayor's budget does include funds for these libraries to remain open. There has been no information reported stating changes in public service hours for Lincoln's public libraries. John said that the new library attached to the new middle school in Arnold Heights should open soon.

John Dale asked about the State Advisory Council on Libraries meeting in Elmwood. Maria and Rod stated that the meeting went very well. There was good attendance, timely topics to discuss, and the church facility worked out well. The women who served food and beverages for the meeting did a great job.

Director's Report

Rod Wagner welcomed Diane Boyd and Steve Batty and thanked them for participating in the Commission meeting with such short notice. The message from the Governor's office about the appointments of Steve and Diane was received only earlier this week. Rod stated new members are usually provided an orientation before their first meeting but that wasn't possible this time with the timing of the appointments in proximity to the Commission meeting and his being in Chicago for the ALA annual conference earlier in the week.

Personnel - Rod Wagner reported that Travis Bossard recently replaced Jenna Smith in the Talking Book and Braille Service. Jenna Smith left the Commission to teach English in South Korea. Travis comes to the Commission with a journalism degree (broadcasting major) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also holds an associate in applied science degree in multimedia arts from the College of DuPage.

Wagner reported that Annette Hall, Talking Book and Braille Services Volunteer Coordinator, was selected as the Library Commission's 2009 Employee of the Year.

This weekend the computer services team will move the Commission's internally operated e-mail system to the state's central e-mail system. On the surface it may not seem a significant undertaking but it has been an enormous project. The Commission has operated its own e-mail system for many years resulting in years of accumulated messages and electronic files. Records, archived messages, systems and so forth had to be sorted, re-organized and positioned for transition to the state's central e-mail system. The planning, preparation and transition has taken substantial time and effort to accomplish. The computer team has done an excellent job executing a monumental project. Individual staff members also devoted much time and effort working through their own e-mail folders to prepare for the e-mail system transition. We owe our computer services team and staff much recognition and credit.

National Legislative Library Day - Rod Wagner reported that there were seven Nebraska library representatives who participated in 2009 National Library Legislative Day activities. Next year the event will be different because the American Library Association annual conference will be held in Washington D.C. and the ALA has decided to include legislative day as part of the annual conference. The conference will be held in July. This will provide the opportunity for many more to visit their state's senators and representatives to discuss library legislation and policy issues.

State Advisory Council on Libraries - Wagner reported on the State Advisory Council on Libraries meeting held on June 26 in Elmwood. The meeting was well attended. A major discussion topic was use of social networking technologies for library marketing, promotion and services. The Online Computer Library Center's recent marketing promotion "Geek the Library" was previewed and discussed. Following the meeting council members toured the Bess Streeter Aldrich home and museum

Librarians for the 21st Century grant - Rod Wagner stated that the Commission received the disappointing news that our application to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for a new three-year federal grant to support scholarships for library education was not approved. Staff had high hopes and expectations for a new grant but there was tremendous competition for grant funding. The IMLS approved 38 applications from among 110 applications submitted. Reviewers' comments indicated the Commission's application received highly favorable comments but this didn't overcome the factor of many other good applications and funding limits. It is expected that the Commission will submit a new application later this year (due date is in mid-December).

Aside from the library education scholarships the Commission funded from the 21st Century Librarians grant, funds were used to pay for 40 high school student library internships last summer. These internships provided opportunities for high school students to work in a library setting, gain library work experiences, and develop a better understanding of library services. Students were paid amounts up to $1,000. Only 10 student scholarships were available this summer from a private grant in which the foundation wished to remain anonymous. Internship funding requests were larger than the amount of funds available. A committee including Library Commission and Nebraska Library Association representatives chose the libraries to receive internship funding.

Gates Online Opportunity grant - Rod Wagner stated that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation issued yesterday a press release announcing grant awards for this year. Nebraska is among the states receiving a grant. Nebraska has 37 participating public libraries. Initially there were over 90 libraries identified as potentially eligible for grants. Various requirements lowered that number to the final 37. These libraries will share $238,000 in grant funding from the foundation to pay for public access computers and related expenses. Most of the funds will be used to purchase new computers for public use. Gates Foundation representatives have said that this will be the last time the foundation will provide funds to public libraries for computer equipment. The Gates Foundation will continue to work with libraries but in different ways. The foundation is currently involved in a pilot program with several states to improve broadband services in public libraries.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - Rod Wagner stated that the part of the economic stimulus appropriation that could have the most benefit for some Nebraska libraries is the broadband component. Two federal agencies are involved in administering funds for broadband development - the U.S. Dept. of Commerce and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Recently, a notice was posted to provide information, requirements and other details for applications. Funds will be distributed in three rounds with the first round applications due in mid August. The Commission has had a few contacts from telecommunications companies that are working on proposals and intend to include libraries in their application.

Commission staff has met on several occasions with Tom Rolfes from the Nebraska Information Technology Commission concerning the ARRA broadband funds. State governors will have a role in prioritizing applications. Schools, libraries, and health care providers are identified in the ARRA broadband support legislation as community anchor institutions and are intended to be priority institutions for support.

OCLC Transition Update -Wagner said there was good attendance at the NEBASE annual meeting held on June 25. This was the final NEBASE meeting since the Library Commission's contract with the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) terminated at the end of June. BCR, the Denver based multi-state regional library network, will handle OCLC products and services billings for Nebraska libraries. Wagner said he attended a meeting in mid-June in Chicago hosted by OCLC. OCLC invited state librarians to meet with OCLC representatives to discuss state needs and issues and OCLC initiatives. About half the states were represented at the meeting. During the meeting OCLC staff presented its new marketing program being piloted in the Savannah, Georgia, and Des Moines, Iowa, regions. The program is named "Geek the Library" and is intended to be a fun and effective advocacy initiative targeted to community leaders and political office holders.

The American Library Association annual conference just ended earlier this week in Chicago. Rod Wagner said that there were many conference participants from Nebraska. The Nebraska regional library systems arranged a bus to transport a number of Nebraska librarians to Chicago for the conference. The bus made it possible for some to attend who otherwise would not have been able to participate in the conference. The Library Commission provided grant support for the bus and the regional systems planned, publicized and made all arrangements for bus transportation.

Rod reported that a year ago he was elected to the board of directors of the Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) organization. FOLUSA has recently merged with the American Library Association's Association of Library Trustees and Advocates (ALTA). The new organization is named the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF). The new organization blends two different organizations with different cultures but common interests. It was a significant accomplishment to bring about the merger and was due in large part to the skill and tenacity of Sally Reed, and along with much help from leadership from both organizations. Reed served as the FOLUSA executive director and as the interim director of ALTA. Nebraska's statewide membership in FOLUSA carries over to the new organization. However, there will be new membership terms and those are still being worked out.

Rod stated that he is a member of the ALA Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) division and serves on the ASCLA legislative committee. The committee met during the ALA conference and discussed legislative proposals for re-authorization of the Library Services and Technology Act. One of the issues that has come up in recent years is the interpretation of LSTA purposes and the use of funds for general library development and continuing education activities. The legislative recommendations for re-authorization will address this issue to clarify that the state programs part of LSTA matches the overall purposes of LSTA.

Nebraska Center for the Book Events and Activities - Rod Wagner reported on the Nebraska Book Awards competition. The program is in its tenth year. Authors and publishers are invited to nominate books published the prior year and that have a Nebraska connection. Books are assigned to category teams and the teams make the award choices. The book awards are presented at the Nebraska Book Festival. Wagner said that the Nebraska Center for the Book board meets quarterly and will next meet in August in Scottsbluff.

Rod mentioned the Nebraska Library Association-Nebraska Library Media Association joint conference to be held October 29 & 30 in LaVista and encouraged Commissioners to attend if possible.


Rod Wagner referred to the May and June financial reports included in the meeting packets. Rod stated the budget is in line, overall, with budgeted revenues and expenditures. John Dale said he noticed that for the contractual services budget line item the percent used was 15.21% (per end of May report at 92% of the year elapsed) and asked what expenses are included in this budget item. Wagner responded that he would follow-up with Doreen Kuhlmann for details on this budget item.

Biennium Budget - Wagner said that with the beginning of the new fiscal year the operating and aid budgets have been adjusted to reflect biennium appropriations. Wagner referred to a report that indicated state tax revenues were up slightly the past month. A special legislative session isn't likely unless tax revenues fall significantly below projections over the next several months and before the 2010 legislative session.


There was no unfinished business presented.


John Dale stated that the July meeting includes the annual election of the Commission Chair and Vice-Chair. John requested nominations for these offices.

Election of Library Commission Chair - Charles Gordon nominated Jean Ahrens, seconded by Carol Spencer. A motion was made and seconded to approve the nomination for Jean Ahrens to serve as the Commission Chair. Motion carried on roll call vote: Diane Boyd - aye; John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; Jean Ahrens - abstain; and Steve Batty - aye. Motion approved.

Election of Library Commission Vice-Chair - Carol Spencer nominated John Dale, seconded by Jean Ahrens. A motion was made and seconded to approve the nomination of John Dale to serve as the Commission Vice-Chair. Motion carried on roll call vote: John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; Steve Batty - aye: and Diane Boyd - aye. Motion approved.

State Employee Pay Policies and Director's Salary - Rod Wagner stated that state employee pay policies for the 2009-2010 fiscal year provide an automatic 2.9% pay increase on July 1. However, pay increases for employees in non-classified positions, including agency heads, must have approval of their appointing authorities.

Jean Ahrens made a motion to approve a 2.9% pay increase for the Director beginning on July 1, 2009. The motion was seconded by Charles Gordon. Motion carried on roll call vote: Charles Gordon - aye; Carol Spencer - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; Steve Batty - aye; Diane Boyd - aye; and John Dale - aye. Motion approved.

Out-of-State Travel Request - Rod Wagner asked for approval to attend the Chief Officers of State Libraries and the Western Council on State Libraries meetings in Nevada (to be held at Incline Village), October 25 - 28, 2009. Motion was made to approve the Director's travel request by Carol Spencer and seconded by Jean Ahrens. Motion carried on roll call vote: Carol Spencer - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye; Steve Batty - aye; Diane Boyd - aye; John Dale - aye; and Charles Gordon - aye. Motion approved.

Next Meeting - The next meeting will be held September 11 at the Nebraska Library Commission and the November meeting will be held November 13.

Adjournment - Vice-Chair John Dale adjourned the meeting at 11:50 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.