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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes

Nebraska Library Commission

November 6, 2008


The Nebraska Library Commission held its regular meeting Wednesday, November 6, 2008, 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 Homepage.

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, and Mary Nelson. Staff present: Rod Wagner, Maria Medrano-Nehls, Richard Miller, Mary Jo Ryan and John Felton. Guests: Scott Childers.

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; and Mary Nelson - aye. Motion approved.

Approval of the Minutes (September 10, 2008):

A motion was made and seconded to approve the September 10, 2008, meeting minutes. Motion carried on roll call vote: John Dale - aye; Charles Gordon - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; and Jean Ahrens - aye. Motion approved.


Scott Childers commented that some libraries in the Southeast Library System region are changing automation systems from Follett to Apollo. Apollo is a system in which libraries do not need a local server because the system is hosted by the vendor and accessed remotely by the customer. The company (Apollo) has given scholarships to some librarians to attend conferences. The system is geared for small to mid-size libraries.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments

Chair Mary Nelson reported that she was very pleased with the NLA/NEMA conference and expressed appreciation that Commission staff had a strong part in the programming and other conference activities. It is a credit to the Commission for supporting the conference so well.

The Holdrege Area Public Library is beginning to organize focus groups to gather information on what library service needs will be in the future. The focus groups have been well attended. Mary stated she had also attended the future search task force meeting.

John Dale reported that he also enjoyed the NLA/NEMA conference and felt it was one of the best annual conferences. He attended a number of program sessions including the Notable Books program, Nebraska Libraries Future Search Conference panel presentation, Skype in the Library, and Kent Haruf's keynote presentation. All of the programs were well done. John mentioned that John Seyfarth did an exceptional job on his Skype in the Library presentation. On November 4, John attended the Nebraska Universal Service Fund Advisory Board meeting.

Charles Gordon reported that Dodge County voted on the county-wide library services ballot issue. The county-wide library services proposal failed by 400 votes. Charles observed that people had good feelings about the proposal but didn't want to be taxed. There are two job openings at the Keene Memorial Library, one is the children's library position and the other is a librarian I. The next Eastern Library System board meeting will be in Fremont in December. The library will be holding a Gaming Day @ your library on November 18.

Charles stated that he felt the NLA/NEMA conference was very good. Charles attended sessions on Outreach to Hispanics, Notable Books, Amazing Web Sites, Communication in the Workplace, reception at the International Quilt Center, and Kent Haruf's keynote presentation.

Jean Ahrens reported that the Scottsbluff City Council reduced city departments' budgets which resulted in the library cutting back on service hours. Jean stated that at a recent library visit all of the computers were being used by adults at 10:00 in the morning. There was a recent bond issue to update the middle school. The bond issue passed after failing twice before. Fundraising for the library has not been as successful as hoped. The library will go ahead with the first phase of the expansion and expect money will continue to come in. An architect has been selected for the project. A recent Scottsbluff library book sale was held raising $3,300.

Director's Report

Personnel - Rod Wagner reported that the Commission has two new staff members. Emily Dust Nimsakont fills the Cataloging Librarian position and Kathryn Brockmeier was appointed to fill the Special Projects Associate/Research Analyst position.

Rod stated that the Commission hosted ten librarians from Tajikistan on November 3. The Tajikistan contingent visited the Library Commission to learn about the Commission, its history, services, place in state government and its relationship with Nebraska libraries. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted the group for two weeks through an international program. The group met with representatives of several Lincoln area libraries. The librarians represented the Tajikistan National Library, National Medical Library, Department of Culture, and Children's Library. The following day, November 4, three of the Tajikistan librarians gave a presentation about their libraries. There are seven million people in Tajikistan and the country has four-thousand libraries. Tajikistan has a 99% literacy rate.

NLA/NEMA Conference - Rod Wagner commented that the conference went very well and included a number of excellent sessions. Next year's conference will be held in LaVista.

Nebraska Center for the Book & Nebraska Book Festival - Rod Wagner reported that the Nebraska Center for the Book will hold its annual meeting on November 8 in York followed by the Center for the Book board meeting.

The Nebraska Book Festival was held right after the NLA/NEMA conference. Kent Haruf was the evening keynote presenter. The festival well attended. Awards were presented during the noon festival luncheon. Book awards were presented to authors and publishers. The Geske Award was presented to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Special Collections and Archives located at Love Library. The Mildred Bennett Award was presented to Dr. Robert Manley who recently passed away. Robert Manley, Jr. accepted the award on behalf of his father. He read parts of different works his father had been working on. The festival ended with a reception and program honoring Dr. Paul Johnsgard, University of Nebraska Foundation Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences. The Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission and the Nebraska Humanities Council are the primary sponsors of the Nebraska Book Festival.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Library Programs and Grants - Rod Wagner reported that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced a library connectivity grant program. The program will help public libraries upgrade their internet connectivity. The Foundation's strategy for the next few years is to insure more libraries have and sustain high quality technology services for patrons by investing in connectivity hardware, training, advocacy and research. Their strategy is to help states increase and sustain high quality broadband services. A goal is for 85% of the nation's public libraries to have broadband capacity of a minimum 1.5 Mbps.

Devra Dragos and Christa Burns have been disseminating information to libraries about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's opportunity online grants. The Foundation identified Nebraska public libraries that are potentially eligible for grants by using census, unemployment and free lunch data to determine which libraries meet their criteria. Devra stated that 176 libraries were sent a letter informing them that they were potentially eligible for hardware grants and would need to complete computer inventories of their public access computers through a program named TechAtlas. Once information is entered it is collected and forwarded to the Gates Foundation to determine if the computer equipment the library has is sufficient to serve the community. Libraries that meet the Foundation's requirements will be offered grants to be used for computers and related costs. The grant process is spread over two years. The Foundation's grant program has a strong emphasis on advocacy to enable library representatives to acquire the necessary support to self-sustain and upgrade technology. Advocacy training is required and will be provided to participating libraries. The libraries will be required to raise matching funds for grant monies. After the first year libraries will again need to complete a computer inventory and also an internet access funding survey. Richard Miller stated that the Gates Foundation is focusing on sustainability and a goal is to have libraries build technology sustainability needs into the budget process. Devra Dragos stated that the Gates Foundation has said this will be their last hardware grant.

Open Source Integrated Library System Pilot Project - Devra Dragos reported that a meeting of the open source ILS project committee was held in September. There are libraries interested and ready to move forward on this project. The committee decided to contract with a local person who could download the open source software, set the program up on a server, load sample records from a few libraries and how the software can be customized. Participating libraries can have access to the system so they can add to it, test it and determine its suitability for use by a group of libraries working together within a shared system.

The group held a program on Open Source at the NLA/NEMA conference and there seems to be a lot of interest but there is also some libraries taking the wait and see attitude. Devra stressed to everyone that this is a pilot program and don't expect to bring everyone on at the same time. John Dale asked how this program progressed in other states. Devra stated that the program the group is interested in is called Koha. Many libraries around the country are using this program. Devra said the program will save the big libraries money but the small libraries probably would not save any money. It would depend on how the group was setup and how the support cost and operation cost would be spread out. The group will look at ways to help keep the cost down for small libraries.

Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) New Requirements - Devra Dragos stated that OCLC has chosen a model in which they will allow existing networks to submit proposals to be partners at three different levels. The first level is linked as a billing partner in which NLC/NEBASE would continue issuing invoicing of NEBASE libraries; however, there would be additional requirements in which NLC would need send OCLC quarterly updates on contact information for all NEBASE library members, make a yearly trip to OCLC, and be a marketing partner.

The compensation for being a billing partner would be limited to 2-3% of the invoice billings. The NLC would no longer be able to charge membership fees on anything related to OCLC products and services. And the NLC would not be able to assess a surcharge. Currently, NLC charges a minimal membership fee for small libraries of $5.00 a month and larger libraries are charged $35.00 a month. Full cataloging libraries are surcharged 3.5%. Income for OCLC services would drop from about $60,000 per year to as low as $18,000 per year. The significant drop in funding would not justify sustaining the level of support NLC provides for OCLC products and services.

The second level of partnership is marketing which is required if NLC continues to handle billings for Nebraska OCLC member libraries. This would include everything Christa Burns is doing currently, including promoting OCLC product and services, sending out messages, user meetings every year, maintaining web site information, pointing to OCLC product and services. The extra requirements include submitting 60 days in advance an agenda for OCLC's approval for any event or activity NLC/NEBASE has planned and every six months NLC/NEBASE would have to submit a revised and updated marketing and communication plan. The compensation for the marketing plan would be 3-8% of any new billing. Devra stated that in Nebraska every library that can afford OCLC products and services is already an OCLC member library. Thus, little of any additional compensation would be received for these additional responsibilities.

The third level includes training. Currently, Christa Burns provides training. NLC charges $10 for on-site workshops. There is no charge for online training. To meet OCLC's training requirements, NLC would need to have all classes pre-approved by OCLC. OCLC would require a minimum number of classes per year; trainers would need to attend at least one training session at OCLC per year. The only compensation to NLC would be whatever NLC charges for registration fees.

Devra stated that an apparent OCLC strategy is to reduce the number of OCLC affiliated networks (small and large). OCLC also wants to take over all support of products and services. Christa is currently supporting OCLC products and services but soon NLC/NEBASE will not have access to the behind the scenes information to respond to support requests. The funds NLC receives from libraries for OCLC product and service billings cover Christa's salary and NEBASE meetings if outside speakers are brought in. The $10 NLC charges for workshops can possibly cover the cost of meeting materials but no travel or others costs.

Devra stated that the Commission informed OCLC that we would not be able to continue as a network or any level of partnership based on the new partnership requirements. OCLC would prefer that Nebraska libraries be served directly by OCLC. There is some concern about Nebraska library members going straight to OCLC. In the past three months there have been several major billing problems. Christa Burns and Doreen Kuhlmann have spent several hours communicating with OCLC staff to resolve billing errors. Sometimes it takes OCLC up to three months to issue a credit. We expect to recommend that Nebraska libraries be served through one of the partners that will continue with OCLC and that is experienced in handling billing and other administrative issues. The continuing partnerships are yet to be determined. The Commission's contract with OCLC will end June 30, 2009. We will continue to offer WorldCat. Other services will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Christa Burns's position will be changed, after June 30, to reflect new responsibilities, including work with Gates Foundation grant programs.

Librarians for the 21st Century Grants - Rod Wagner stated that the Commission's IMLS Librarians for the 21st Century grant ended October 31. A new grant application has been initiated to seek funding for another multi-year IMLS grant. Mary Jo Ryan and John Felton have started work on the grant application. The application is due December 15. Mary Jo Ryan gave an overview of the completed grant program. The grant program included a number of significant accomplishments. Included were the mentoring component, the Now hiring @ your library® website, media campaign, 176 scholarships, and 45 high school or college student internships in 37 public libraries. Mary Jo and John attended numerous job fairs and provided recruitment packets to high school guidance counselors. Most of the scholarships were given to persons seeking an MLS degree. The original intent of the grant was to give more scholarships to undergraduates and LTA students.

Mary Jo stated that the Commission's grant program included an Hispanic outreach and diversity component. The Commission had just got started on in the latter phase of the program. The Commission worked with the Humanities Council's Prime Time Family Reading program by offering participating libraries funds to pay a Spanish-speaking teen to provide program assistance.

Mary Jo said the Commission's next grant application should include a greater Hispanic outreach component, including collaboration with community groups and organizations, and translation of materials in Spanish. Mary Nelson stated that businesses should be added too because cities with packing plants offer preschool in the packing plants. The preschool workers would be a good source to assist with this project.

Mary Jo stated that the grant program included a development component to help libraries that wanted to hire people who have completed their library science programs. The development component intended to help libraries find funding to create jobs and encourage people to stay in their home town after getting their degree or training. Mary Jo stated that the Commission addressed this component by offering Return on Investment (ROI) training. The intent was to aid libraries in communicating with local decision makers and funders the return on investment benefits of library funding. Documenting and demonstrating return on investment is expected to result in increased funding for libraries, better jobs and better pay for workers.

The grant program also included work with the Nebraska Community Foundation and participation in its Rural Philanthropy conference held in September. An effort was made to ensure that library representatives were represented because there were people from all across the state who are going to be working on endowments for community organizations. The library directors and foundation members from Nebraska City, Plattsmouth and Imperial attended the philanthropy conference.

Mary Jo stated that a final grant report is due in January that will document program activities, accomplishments and expenditures. The new grant proposal will feature recruitment activities as well as marketing, media development, internships and scholarships. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is expected to announce grants in March, 2009.

John Felton stated that the library technical assistant program was spread out among six community colleges and each one offered a course. The program will now be offered through Central Community College. Central administration and instruction is expected to improve course development, program promotion and effectiveness. This change should make it easier for potential students to learn about the program and make it easier to register for courses. Central Community College representatives are coordinating their efforts with Dr. Becky Pasco, UNO Library Science Education Program Coordinator, to make the program compatible with UNO library science courses and provide a progression of courses through each level of library science education. Coordination will also assure that the community college courses meet UNO library science requirements.

Maria Medrano-Nehls stated that she felt the program might get more response if the Commission promoted the program more with some details on how the program can assist the student in their current library job or assist a person looking at going into the library field.

Mary Nelson asked if we had a count of people completing the library programs that are staying in Nebraska after completion of the program. Mary Jo Ryan stated that the Library Commission doesn't have that information currently but is under investigation for the future. A survey of scholarship recipients is anticipated for the final program report.

Rod Wagner stated that if the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) had not become more restrictive on use of LSTA funds, the Commission could have used funds from Nebraska's LSTA State Program allocation for scholarships. Currently, that is not an allowable use according to IMLS staff. Mary Nelson asked if deficiency funding could be requested from the legislature if we could prove how many of the library science students come back or stay in the state to work. The legislature could be approached for scholarship funds, as have been previously appropriated.

Mary Jo stated that the scholarship proposal was something the Commission worked out with the State Advisory Council on Libraries. Mary Jo and John will attend next week's State Advisory Council meeting to provide a report and discuss plans with them for a new grant application.

Rod Wagner stated that the IMLS staff has recognized the effectiveness of the current program. Mary Jo said she has received a lot of feedback from the IMLS staff and hopes that they will remember this when they see our next grant application.

Public Library Trustees, Friends and Foundations - Richard Miller reported that there is new leadership in the public library, trustee section of NLA because of merger of the two sections. John Seyfarth is the current section president and Jean Hurst is the current vice-president. This is due to the fact that John took over the position of president early. Jim Connor withdrew from participation in the section activities due to a conflict of interest with his business activities. Richard is the section's secretary/treasurer.

Rod Wagner reminded that the FOLUSA newsletter is accessible online as part of Nebraska's statewide membership. Rod stated that the Library Commission recently received a video from the Wyoming State Library. The Wyoming State Library produced a trustee program titled Trustee Trouble: the Misadventures \of the New Library Board Member. Rod stated the Commission has a copy of the video and it can also be found online at:

Rod reported that the State Advisory Council on Libraries meeting will be held November 14 at the Omaha Benson Branch Library. It will be the last meeting of the year and there are three council members whose terms end this year.

Nebraska Libraries Future Search Outcomes and Initiatives - Mary Nelson stated that she, Mary Jo Ryan, and Scott Childers are part of the Future Search task force. Mary Jo distributed a recent draft of the recorded conference. The task force would like to take some of the components from the graphic and some of the photos taken at the conference and insert them into the report. This will make the report more descriptive and richer. Mary Jo expects to have this done in time for the Library Camp on November 19. Once the report is final it will be placed on the website. A print copy will be sent to conference participants and anyone will be able to download a copy from the Commission's website.

Mary Nelson stated said that the task force would like to keep the momentum and the interest alive. Mary said the Nebraska Libraries Future Search Conference wiki has been a great result of the conference. Mary Jo Ryan stated that the wiki has a section called "What's Next" in which ideas and recommendations from the report are matched with projects and actions that are taking place. Mary Jo also sent an e-mal to all the conference participants with a password to the wiki and invited them to list programs or workshops that relate to the items mentioned in the conference report.

Scott Childers reported that UNL is getting ready to enter their next strategic planning phase and are committed to taking some of the ideas from the conference and using them in the strategic plan. Scott also stated that the task force would like to develop up another wiki that can be used as a resource. The task force is also looking to the Library Commission, Nebraska Library Association and regional library systems for their support and contribution. Rod Wagner and Mary Jo Ryan concurred that the Library Commission is committed to the project and are working with others on several project ideas.

Rod stated that Lowell Berg, a Lincoln architect, offered to develop a "Ask a Design Professional" for timely information to specific facility design questions. Mary Jo Ryan stated that there is now a place on the Future Search wiki that will link to a web site for posting questions about facilities. Rod Wagner stated that it would be good to recognize libraries that are involved in activities that match with ideas from the conference. There is a lot of interest about libraries and energy conservation initiatives. It was mentioned that there is a traveling exhibit about climate change that could be placed in libraries.

Return on Investment (ROI) - State Legislative Districts - Rod Wagner stated that at the last Commission meeting there was discussion of matching up library projects/programs with legislative districts. John Felton distributed a document with information matching libraries to state senators' districts. The spreadsheet also shows how much local and state aid these libraries received.

Mary Jo Ryan stated that there are different ways to present the information depending on the audience. For example, the information can be presented to show what kind of investment is being made in the libraries within a senator's district. John said that we might try developing a map mash-up with state legislative districts. By clicking on a district information about the state senator and every library that is located in the district would be displayed.

Jean Ahrens stated that she found the per capita amounts interesting because it seems that it's the smaller towns that have the largest per capita income. Mary Nelson asked if there was a way to list all services that the Commission provides to the libraries. Mary stated that at the ROI training it was suggested that the library show the services it provides to the community so the same can be done to show what services and support the Library Commission provides.


Rod Wagner referred to the September financial report included in the meeting packet. Charles Gordon asked about the process for requesting funding from the Commission (who to ask and what's the process, who approves it, and when would funds be received). Rod Wagner stated that grant funding requests are made by public libraries and regional library systems. The Commission provides competitive grants to public libraries, regional libraries systems and other types of libraries if part of a cooperative project with a public library. Rod stated that the Commission provides Library Improvement Grants (from federal LSTA funds), continuing education and training grants, children and young adult service grants (Youth Grants for Excellence). Mary Jo Ryan distributed copies of the Commission's biennial report which includes information about Commission grant programs.

Rod Wagner stated that the future state tax revenue projections show a growth of about 1.3%. In contrast, as one major factor, state budget development will assume a 14% increase in state aid to education in the coming year per the statutory formula for determining education aid funding.


Deficiency Appropriation Request - Rod Wagner reported that the Commission will seek additional funds to cover the cost of converting the Commission's e-mail system to the e-mail system operated by Information Management Services (under the Office of the Chief Information Officer). Staff has calculated that to make the change in e-mail systems the Commission would incur additional expenses of $13, 721. There is included a one-time charge for licensing fees and an annual fee per workstation. Brenda Decker, the Chief Information Officer, has said that she wants all remaining agencies moved to the state's central e-mail system by the end of March, 2009. The Commission won't know if this appropriation request will be approved by March, 2009. Rod stated he would be inclined not to commit to making a change without assurance that the Commission will receive the requested funds.


Out-of-State Travel Request - Rod Wagner requested approval to attend the COSLA meeting, ALA Midwinter Meeting, and FOLUSA board meeting in Denver January 22-27, 2009.

A motion was made and seconded to approve Rod Wagner's out-of-state travel request. Motion carried on roll call vote: Charles Gordon - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye, and A motion was made and seconded to approve the September 10, 2008 meeting minutes. Motion carried on roll call vote: Charles Gordon - aye; Mary Nelson - aye; Jean Ahrens - aye, and John Dale - aye. Motion approved.

2009 Meeting Dates - Rod Wagner stated that based on the Commission's practice of holding meetings on the second Friday of every other month, the 2009 meeting dates would be: January 9, March 13 (usually a joint meeting with the State Advisory Council on Libraries), May 15, July 17 (changed due to the ALA Annual Conference), September 11, and November 13. Rod mentioned National Library Legislative Day to be held on May 12, 2009 in Washington, D.C. and encouraged Commissioners to consider participating.


Chair Mary Nelson adjourned the meeting at 12:00 p.m.

Sincerely, 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.