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Nebraska Library Commission - Minutes

Nebraska Library Commission
May 14, 2004

The Nebraska Library Commission held its regular meeting Friday, May 14, 2004, beginning at 9:30 a.m., at the Nebraska Library Commission. 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 Kristen Rogge called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. Members present: Richard Jussel, Patrick Gross, Kristen Rogge, and Wally Seiler. Staff present: Rod Wagner, Maria Medrano-Nehls and Kit Keller. Guest: Brenda Ealey.

Approval of Agenda:  A motion was made to approve the agenda. Motion carried on roll call vote: Patrick Goss - aye; Richard Jussel - aye; Kristen Rogge - aye and Wally Seiler - aye. Motion approved.

Approval of the Minutes (March 12, 2004): A motion was made to approve the March 2004 meeting minutes. Motion carried on roll call vote: Richard Jussel - aye; Kristen Rogge - aye; Wally Seiler - aye; and Patrick Gross - aye. Motion approved.


Brenda Ealey stated that the Southeast Library System recently held a Training Extravaganza and it went very well. On June 22, the Southeast Library System will hold its annual meeting. The NLA/NEMA conference will be held October 6-8 in Grand Island.

Correspondence and Communication

Rod Wagner stated that he included a couple of correspondence items in the meeting packet. One was a note from a scholarship recipient expressing appreciation. Another item was a letter from Pat Leach from Lincoln City Libraries thanking the Library Commission for a grant that allowed her to attend two out-of-state educational events.  As a result, Ms. Leach was able to qualify to apply for another grant to implement a local library project. A letter from Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, expressed his appreciation for a recent visit to the Library Commission for a meeting with Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service staff. Mr. Cylke and his assistant Jean Moss visited the Commission in April. Mr. Cylke and Ms. Moss plan to meet with state library representatives to discuss the National Library Service's plans for conversion to a digital talking book by 2008.

Chair's Report and Commissioners' Comments 

Kris Rogge stated that she attended National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. Kris said the topics and issues have greatly changed at Legislative Day since the first time she attended. Kris expressed her sadness to see Wally Seiler and Richard Jussel end their terms on the Commission.

Richard Jussel stated that it has been a good six years in which he has met many talented people and made many friends. Richard said that things are going well in central Nebraska, and that he has been following the Omaha public library's emergence. He has enjoyed reading articles by and about Omaha Public Library Director Rivkah Sass.  Richard commented that all libraries need lots of press.  

Patrick Gross stated that he attended a meeting at the Norfolk public library. Wayne public library has been busy with Lewis and Clark programs.

Wally Seiler stated that Karen Warner had recently visited the Alliance library and sent best wishes to all. The library board recently held a fundraiser in which they bought flower pots. People from the community volunteered to decorate them and plant them. An auction was held to sell the flower pots; the board raised over $1,700.  An NLA spring meeting will be held in Alliance on Monday, May 17. Wally received a phone call from people associated with the Hemingford library seeking advice. He referred them to Richard Miller. Wally brought a copy of the Hemingford newspaper featuring an article quoting Richard Miller speaking about state statutes regarding small town library boards.

Wally stated that at a past meeting he reported on the Alliance library board purchasing a statue to place in front of the library and that the city was going to contribute $30,000 toward the cost of the statute. The library board recently received a letter from the city manager notifying the board that the city funds won't be contributed. Wally has approached a city council member who has agreed to assist the library board in attempting to get city funds for the purchase. 

Wally stated that he regrets leaving the Commission. Wally said that the opportunity to meet and work with so many different people has been unbelievable. He will continue to be involved in the library world in some capacity.  

Director's Report

2004 Legislative Session - Rod Wagner stated that there will be some changes in the make-up and leadership of the 2005 legislature.  Several senators are completing terms and are not running for re-election. With term limits, by 2008 only a few current members will remain in the legislature. Additional budget cuts were made during the legislative session, but they were less severe than expected and they fell short of closing the projected gap between expenditures and revenues.

Chief Officers of State Library Agencies Meeting - Rod reported that he attended the COSLA meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, prior to National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C.  The COSLA meeting included a discussion of legislative issues and strategies. COSLA has had representation in Washington for several years for information and advice on federal library related legislation. That need has been lessened with the re-authorization of the Library Services and Technology Act. COSLA is now focusing on what kind of representation state library agencies want, the cost of representation and how much the association is willing to pay. COSLA has a good relationship with the American Library Association's Washington Office staff. While there are times that the ALA and COSLA may not be in agreement on legislation and policy, the ALA Washington Office significantly reduces COSLA's need for its own Washington representative.

Rod stated that a COSLA committee that he chairs (network committee) is planning a fall continuing education program on State Libraries and Digital Government. The COSLA meeting also included a number of topics brought up at the Legislative Day briefing. State libraries are very interested in what's going to happen with the federal documents depository library program. A new award to recognize libraries that provide consumer health information was announced at the COSLA meeting. The awards will be issued by the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS). NCLIS wants to partner with state library agencies in soliciting nominations and presenting awards. The Library Commission has issued a solicitation to libraries that are involved in providing consumer health information to describe their activities and be considered for the award. Rod said there are quite a few libraries in Nebraska that provide consumer health information.

National Library Legislative Day - Rod reported that there were 11 Nebraska library representatives who participated in Legislative Day.  Brenda Ealey and her assistant Jenni Puchalla produced cards with key points regarding Nebraska libraries. The cards were distributed to Nebraska's Congressional delegation. Rod noted that several issues were addressed during the office visits. The Nebraska library representatives thanked senators and representatives for the enactment of the LSTA reauthorization legislation. Other issues included copyright, intellectual property, the USA Patriot Act, the FY 2005 LSTA appropriation, school and school library concerns, and the E-rate. There were some people attending National Library Legislative Day for the first time: Sharon Anderson, Media Specialist, Elkhorn Public Schools, represented the Nebraska Educational Media Association; Jim Bothmer, Director of the Health Sciences Library at Creighton University, represented the State Advisory Council on Libraries, and Shelly Clark represented the Nebraska Center for the Book. Shelly was in Washington to attend the annual Library of Congress Center for the Book Idea Exchange.  

Library Technical Assistant Courses - Rod Wagner stated that the first course is planned for this fall. The course will be offered by Metropolitan Community College and taught by Dr. Becky Pasco. Jane Franklin, Metropolitan Community College, has been designated by the Nebraska community college instructional officers to be their representative in coordinating the cooperative program. A project steering committee has been appointed and recently met to address development of the other courses to be offered and recruitment of instructors.

The community colleges seem to be very positive about this program and interested in working with libraries to offer the library science courses. Still pending is the grant application the Library Commission submitted to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the Librarians for the 21st Centuries grant monies. The grant application requested funds for student financial aid for both students participating in the community college courses and students in master's degree library science courses.  Grants will be announced in September.

University of Nebraska at Omaha - University of Missouri - Columbia Library Science Masters Degree Program - Rod stated that Richard Miller was in Columbia, Missouri attending graduation ceremonies at the University of Missouri - Columbia. The ceremony includes the first group of Nebraska students graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha - University of Missouri - Columbia library science master's degree program. Jodene Glaesemann, Nebraska Library Commission and Lincoln City Libraries; Susan Franklin, Republican Valley Library System and Hastings Community College; Casey Kralik, Joslyn Art Museum Library; and Marty McGee, University of Nebraska Medical Center, are the first Nebraska graduating class.

NEBASE Meeting (West) - Rod stated that some of the Commission's Network Services staff traveled to Gering for the NEBASE Meeting West.

Spring and Summer Events - Rod stated that Nebraska Library Association sections are holding spring meetings this month. The Nebraska Educational Media Association is holding meetings in cooperation with the regional library systems. Commission staff members are involved in both the NLA and NEMA programs. The Commission's Network Services staff will be traveling to several locations this spring and summer to present their database roadshow.

Rod Wagner stated that the Library Commission has been working with the Attorney General's office concerning an anti-trust settlement involving music companies. As a result of the settlement, music CD's will be distributed to Nebraska schools and libraries. The distribution schedule isn't certain. Thirty-three thousand CD's will be divided among Nebraska schools and libraries. Public libraries will get about a third of the CD's, or about 40 CD's per library. The estimated value of the music recordings is $45,000.  

Financial Report

FY 2004 and 2005 State Fund Budget Reductions - Rod stated that an outcome of the legislative session was a 1% reduction in the Commission's operating budget and ½% reduction in state aid for the fiscal year starting in July. This is equal to a $22,000 reduction in operating funds and a $12,000 state funds reduction for state aid to libraries.

March and April Financial Reports - Rod stated that financial information was included in the meeting packets.  Despite the cuts, the Commission is operating within its reduced appropriation levels.  Operating cost reductions have been met largely by not re-filling position vacancies.

Personnel costs are the largest agency expense and personnel reductions are necessary when appropriations are reduced. The Commission has also reduced expenditures for library materials, equipment, travel, publications, and communications. Staffing needs will be addressed in preparing the next biennium budget request.

Library Services and Technology Funding (FY 2004 and FY 2005) - Rod stated the Commission received a $138, 000 increase in LSTA funds this fiscal year. The additional funds will be available for expenditure during the 2004 - 2005 fiscal year.

Unfinished Business

Public Library Accreditation Review and Revision - Kit Keller stated that the April 20th accreditation guidelines meeting via satellite conference had good attendance and participation. Several guidelines changes were recommended. One of the items that generated a lot of discussion was the vision statement from the 2003 library leadership institute. Objections were made to including the statement in the guidelines. The Commission staff recommendation is to not include the statement in the guidelines document.  The statement was the product of a library leadership institute and not broad based public input, as the guidelines are. The vision statement pertains more to librarians than libraries.

Kris Rogge stated that she felt some of the concerns were elevated because it says "library leaders" when in fact the way it was adopted by the Commissioners in September was a vision for Nebraska libraries.

Wally Seiler stated that he hoped the blessing that the Commission gave to the vision statement previously would elevate it enough for people to forget where it came from and accept it as a good vision for libraries. Rod Wagner stated that the Commission could continue to give recognition to the vision statement by finding ways to publicize it as a motivational piece. The vision statement could be worked into the long range plan and the certification program. Rod said the Commission will look for various ways to share the vision statement. The Commissioners agreed that the vision statement should not be a part of the guidelines but should be promoted as an individual document.

Kit Keller stated that another guideline that drew comment was the guideline that says "library provides public access to the Internet at no charge to all residents." Kit noted a Nebraska library that charges for public Internet access and collects significant revenue for the library. In order to get a broader background on this guideline, Kit polled data coordinators in other states. A majority responded that if it was not already required to be a free public service, they were working toward that requirement or had taken the position that public Internet access is a free public service. Rod stated that the staff recommendation is that free public Internet access should be a basic library service.

Kit pointed out that charging for Internet access would prevent lower income people from obtaining information such as government, educational and job information that may only be available online. Wally Seiler said that he has always felt that the great thing about computers is that they equalize the playing field and when you start charging you no longer have an equal playing field. Wally stated that the Commission should take the position that public Internet access is a basic service and should not be a fee based service. Commissioners agreed that public Internet access is a basic library service in which there should be no fee.

Kit said another guideline that received mixed feedback was the guideline about advisory versus administrative boards. Kit stated that she included language that wherever the guidelines conflicted with local board rule, statute or bylaws, then the bylaws would prevail. Kit said that one specific comment she got about boards was the requirement that boards be certified in accordance with the Library Commission's board certification program. Kit received comments from some that certification for advisory boards wasn't appropriate. Others took the position that the certification requirement was one way to get their board to participate in training. Wally Seiler said that he serves on an advisory board and feels the certification is valuable. Kris Rogge stated that it's dangerous to say that local bylaws would trump state policy. The Commissioners agreed to keep the guideline regarding boards and certification the way it currently reads in the draft.

The next guideline included financial details that pertained to differences between advisory boards and administrative boards. Kit stated that the recommended guideline addresses the differences between advisory and administrative boards. Concerns regarding financial reporting were addressed by removing the word "monthly" from a requirement for financial reporting at board meetings. The Commissioners agreed to keep the guideline as recommended.

Another issue concerned grants. A comment was made that the Commission shouldn't encourage grant applications just to be able to meet the guideline. The recommendation was made that it would be more useful if the guideline read "procured or secured at least one grant in a five year period." The grant would need to be one other than from the library's foundation. The intent is to encourage libraries to seek external funding for library service needs to supplement local income.  Wally Seiler asked if the Commission staff could go out to libraries and explain the guidelines to library staff and boards and say that the Commission isn't trying to make more work for them and explain the reasons for each guideline. The Commissioners agreed with the added recommendation.

Kit Keller stated that she received a phone call yesterday from a librarian who objected to the requirement that libraries subscribe to a commercial database. Her argument was that if a library already has a good collection development policy and the Commission databases met their needs, then why should they have to subscribe to a commercial database. Kit said she hasn't done any research on this issue. 

Kris Rogge asked why we are requiring libraries to subscribe to another database if no one is going to know it's there in addition to the ones they get for free. Instead, give them some evidence that what they are providing might not meet the information needs of the community and if they're not, what should they provide. Kit said maybe we should encourage them to do a community assessment and then they can apply for funding. Richard Jussel stated that it is important for the Commission to provide enough information about the databases so the libraries know how to provide databases to their people.

Rod thanked Kit for her hard work on the guidelines. Kit said once the guidelines were approved she will travel around the state to explain the guidelines at different meetings and libraries.

A motion was made to accept the accreditation guidelines with recommended discussion changes. Motion carried on roll call: Rogge - aye; Seiler - aye; Gross - aye, and Jussel - aye. Motion approved.

New Business

2005-2007 Biennium Budget Planning: Rod Wagner stated that staff has started discussion and work on the biennium budget request. Budget preparation will include a review of the current long range plan as an initial step. Many Commission staff will be involved in the process and there will be discussions with people outside the Commission such as regional library system administrators and the State Advisory Council on Libraries.  Rod said that one consideration for the budget request is additional funding for incentives to achieve the tier designations within the new public library guidelines. The biennium budget will be an agenda item for the July and September meetings.

EndowNebraska - Rod Wagner stated that at the last Commission/SACL joint meeting in March, there was discussion concerning the EndowNebraska initiative. The initiative is seeking approval of legislation to provide state tax incentives for donations to Nebraska non-profit organizations. The legislative bill did not pass this session. It was among many bills that were not acted upon before the legislature adjourned. The EndowNebraska promoters are seeking endorsements and plan to have legislation re-introduced in 2005.  Rod Wagner recommended that the Commission endorse EndowNebraska. A motion was made to endorse EndowNebraska. Motion carried on roll call vote: Seiler - aye; Gross -aye; Jussel - aye; and Rogge - aye. Motion approved.

Out-of-State Travel Request - Rod Wagner requested approval to attend the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies meeting and American Library Association annual conference in Orlando, Florida, from June 24-29. A motion was made to approve the Director's out-of-state travel request. Motion carried on roll call vote: Gross - aye; Jussel - aye; Rogge - aye and Seiler - aye. Motion approved.

Commissioners' Recognition - Rod Wagner thanked Wally Seiler and Richard Jussel for their years of service to the Nebraska Library Commission.


Chair Rogge adjourned the meeting at 11:40 a.m.

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.