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Meeting Minutes

Nebraska Library Commission, Lincoln, NE
November 19, 2004

State Advisory Council members present: Jim Bothmer, Steve Davis, Janice Boyer, Karen Drevo, Nancy Escamilla, Gretchen Healy, Theresa Jehlik, Diana Johnson, John Seyfarth, and Mary Anne Smith. Rebecca Pasco arrived later in the meeting. Commission members: Velma Sims-Shipley. Guests: Kathy Ellerton. Commission staff: Rod Wagner and Richard Miller. 

Welcome and Introductions 

Approval of the Agenda: Moved and seconded.  Motion approved. 

Approval of Minutes (July 16, 2004): Moved and seconded to approve the minutes as corrected. Motion approved. 


Federal Library Program Funding - Rod Wagner reported that there may still be a vote in the Congress this week and that it may have happened yesterday. There is additional money for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) including federal LSTA funding, with the House version of the bill being closer to the Administration's proposal (and lower than the Senate version). Both House and Senate versions, however, fully fund LSTA which would result in an increase to Nebraska of approximately $138,000 per year in the House version, and $200,000 per year increase in the Senate version.  Rod said he is not suggesting any action on the part of the Advisory Council. The main effort right now is to try to get Congress to act on the appropriations bills before adjourning for the year. If Congress takes no action, however, appropriations will continue at the current level. This is approximately $1.1 million per year for Nebraska.

Steve Davis reported that ESEA funding for libraries has been rolled into the "No Child Left Behind" omnibus bill, and that there is nothing left for media centers anymore. The Kearney school district is getting less now from all federal education funding; prior to this they received $25,000 to $30,000 per year, and this was primarily used for library materials. 

Library Commission Biennial Budget Request - In late January 2005, the Governor's budget recommendations go to the Legislature. It is hoped that he will not propose further cuts in agency budgets, as has happened the last three years. There is nearly always an increase in state aid for K-12 education. Some money will be for the low-level radioactive waste settlement. In NLC's request, additional funding was requested for:

  • Additional state aid for public libraries that attain higher levels of accreditation under the revised public library guidelines for accreditation -- $250,000.
  • Additional money for regional library Systems -- $60,000 (partly to catch up with cuts made in these budgets over the last several years).
  • Additional funding to add major on-line databases available to all types of libraries. Shannon Behrhorst is working on this to determine costs.

John Seyfarth mentioned that he and Kathy Tooker (ELS Administrator, and NLA Legislative Committee chair) have recently spoken to Sen. Lowen Kruse about his introducing legislation to add System staff to the state benefits package (health care, dental, etc.). Jim Bothmer asked John to send out a summary of the bill and talking points on this issue so that others can contact their senators. Rod Wagner indicated that, at this point, it would be premature to do this. The first step would be to talk to the committee handling the legislation, probably Banking, Commerce and Insurance. The former chair is no longer in the legislature.

Introduction of Interim President of Little Priest Tribal College - Louis Larose - Gretchen Healy introduced President Larose who spoke to the group about Chief Little Priest whose dying statement to his people was: "There is nothing more I can do for you; be strong and educate my children." So the College is dealing with the entire life cycle, from the womb until death. He spoke about how, when a young child is fussy, it can be calmed by a soft drum beat that mimics the mother's heartbeat. He noted that the College is experiencing growth pains, but that people, when they see the new building, are shocked, especially if they saw the shabby building in which it had been housed. President Larose noted that the two highest growth areas are in Winnebago and along Dakota Avenue in South Sioux City, and that both these areas are responding to minority populations. Unlike in the white culture, Native American families are growing. Also, when economic times get tough in the cities, Natives come home. He noted that the new library is the "showplace" of the College, at least until the new classroom building is completed. He said that the College's growth is directly related to how we work with out peers - in libraries, and in classrooms. 

President Larose was asked how the new college president will be chosen and whether or not he is a candidate. He noted that the College has gone through several searches which have resulted in candidates that were criticized or overqualified for the position. It does require a Ph.D., a degree Larose does not have. He indicated he would not mind being Interim President for another year. He said that the new President "must make the vision a reality," and that this vision can't become a reality "until it touches the earth." In response to questions, Larose said there are currently 153 students enrolled. Gretchen Healy said that the average student is 27 years old, female, has one or two children, and has transportation and baby sitting problems. So getting more male students is significant.

President Larose mentioned that the College is going to establish a new child care center on campus for evening child care to address the issue. It will provide services to other people in the community who also need this service. Larose noted his difficulties with the current administration in Washington, D.C., but then indicated that the most supportive U.S. President to Native peoples was a Republican - Richard Millhouse Nixon. 

Librarians for the 21st Century Grant Program - Rod Wagner briefly described the three-year grant from IMLS, "Librarians for the 21st Century," and distributed a description of it. This grant, subtitled, "Recruiting the Next Generation of Nebraska Librarians," includes additional support for LTA and MLS library education students. The program will also develop mentor/recruiters. The task force called together to develop the grant has not met for some time but will again meet sometime after January 1, 2006. The grant is for $343,682. Developing the marketing piece is the priority for the first year of the grant.  Steve Davis, MeMe Smith and Janice Boyer all asked for more discussion of the LTA program. Discussion clarified that plans include instructors traveling to closer venues for long-distance students when face-to-face sessions are required. 

Gates Foundation Library Program Grants - Richard Miller indicated that the ten training sessions in five venues (Norfolk, North Platte, Lincoln, Kearney, and Scottsbluff) had just concluded yesterday and that approximately 196 people had been trained in computer-related software programs. Training included: Basic PC Maintenance and Troubleshooting, FrontPage Basics (or Advanced), PowerPoint, and Teaching Patrons How to Use the Internet. Other resources covered during the workshop included: PAComputing, NebraskAccess, webjunction and TechSoup Stock. The training was delivered using a training grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $67,200 and via a contract for approximately $43,000 with SoliNet out of Atlanta. Our trainer was Max Anderson, a former Gates Foundation trainer.  Our grant was larger than Colorado's, despite our smaller population, because of all the people who attended the several Gates training sessions. (The count was 830; of course, most attendees came to more than one workshop.) Doing the math, this means that each attendance chalked up an additional $2,240 for training. We will be compiling the evaluations, which appear to be positive, as part of our report to the Gates Foundation, and plan to survey those who attended the sessions to help determine additional training needed. We hope to have annual computer-related training provided statewide.  

MeMe Smith commented that the instructor was "absolutely wonderful," noting that we librarians in Nebraska really have "come a long way" since the Gates computers were installed about two years ago. Diana Johnson reflected these same comments and noted the need to take some classes over and over in order to become proficient. 

Library Technology Support - Richard Miller reported that the task force formed to begin to address the issue of technology support for Nebraska's libraries has not met for some time, but that the Commission intends to call it together again in the future. He mentioned that the evaluations of the computer-related training just completed will help to inform that group's deliberations as will the completion of a phone survey of a number of states that is nearly completed. He also mentioned the "Staying Connected" grants which, if Nebraska receives them, will result in an additional $250,000 from the Gates Foundation over three years, and that one of these grants begins to address the technology support issue by enabling the Commission to hire a technology person. The intent is to bring someone on board who will look at the whole, changing picture and make recommendations on how to address this need. The person will not, however, offer individual tech. support to individual libraries since that approach could never begin to deal with the issue.

E-Rate Status - Rod Wagner mentioned that the program is undergoing some changes brought about by certain alleged abuses of this funding which is available to provide libraries, schools, and hospitals discounted rates on telephone and Internet access and on internal connections in some cases. Steve Davis said that a lot of these changes have come about from both vendor and user abuse and that some vendors, in particular, would like to see this program die. Richard Miller said that the major reason that current funding has been halted is that the FCC has ruled that, as with other federal programs, the Universal Services Administration Company (USAC) which administers the program must have the money "in hand" before it can send out Funding Commitment Decision Letters (FCDL) that tell a library how much money it can expect to save. In light of these and other changes, certain forms will be changed also, although the first form due, Form 470 will not be changed for next funding year. 

Nebraska Library Association - Theresa Jehlik gave the NLA report in Brenda Ealey's absence. She reported that last Friday the NLA Board met and heard that it had realized a very healthy profit from the last NLA/NEMA conference. John Seyfarth said that he feels Maria Medrano-Nehls had a lot to do with the increased attendance at conference because of the excellent pre-conference she helped to plan. Theresa Jehlik noted that "twenty people came from the Omaha Public Library to out-state Nebraska," probably a first. Theresa also noted that after two rounds of interviews to contract for an annual conference coordinator, NLA has changed the position description, limiting it to annual conference registration and exhibits and offering $3,000, the same amount as for the earlier, larger job. John Seyfarth suggested the NLA should talk with Linda Dickeson at NETA (Nebraska Educational Technology Association) since she has been doing this effectively for that organization for some time. Janice Boyer and Steve Davis both suggested that perhaps a recently-retired member of the library community would be willing and able to tackle this effectively.  Theresa Jehlik also noted that the proposed change in the fiscal year for NLA has been tabled due to confusion among the general membership and some NLA board members as well. MeMe noted that the wording on this issue was confusing. Theresa indicated that the next NLA/NEMA conference is scheduled for September 26 - 28, 2006 in Lincoln at the Cornhusker Hotel. 

Nebraska Educational Media Association - Steve Davis indicated that NEMA's start of fiscal year is July 1, so that does not coincide with NLA's. He also said that Gail Formanack, Supervisor of Omaha Public School's Library & Instructional Information Services, has been elected as the new NEMA president. He also reported that the NEMA executive board met the last day of conference. It has decided to offer another round of professional development programs in each of the System areas with the theme of advocacy and using the "@your library" slogan. Another issue of particular interest to school media people is academic integrity, in particular the problem of plagiarism of student papers. He noted problems with computer software claiming it can detect plagiarized papers. Steve also noted work with the Nebraska Department of Education to have a library media support person within the department. One approach, which has since fallen through, was to have a combined reading specialist/media specialist. A newer possibility might be a combined technology/library media specialist position. 

NCLIS Consumer Health Information Award -- Jim Bothmer and Rod Wagner told of how pleased they were that the McGoogan Library of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center won this award from the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), the first year of these awards. October 22 was the date of an awards ceremony at the library, celebrating this achievement. McGoogan will now be considered, along with other state winners, for the national award which has a $20,000 prize. Jim Bothmer noted that all Advisory Council members are probably familiar with the CHIRS program which offers consumer health information, and that the newer sections of available information are entitled, "Wired.MD", and "HealthHQ."  

National Institutes of Health and National Library of Medicine's PubMedCentral Database - Jim Bothmer reported that NIH, under the directorship of Elias Zerhouni, now requests that all research funded by it provide findings to the PubMedCentral database within six months. The question is whether or not publishers will do this as well since about one-third of all such information is grant funded. John Seyfarth said that contributing this information to the database ought to be a condition of the grant.  

Literacy, Learning and Libraries - Discussion

Rod Wagner offered a summary of the report, "Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America," sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, an attempt to address the decline in reading of serious literature by Americans. Velma Sims-Shipley said that as an educator, she has noticed a decline in reading related to too much watching of television. John Seyfarth cited the passivity of surfing the Internet. Diana Johnson wondered if there is a trend toward reading clubs, with television personalities and community-wide efforts popping up. Janice Boyer noted church book groups, with three in her church; she said that they are primarily made up of older women, rather than representing a broad spectrum of the population. Karen Drevo said there is too much going on with both parents in families working. Diana Johnson and Karen noted the prevalence of too much structure in education and other activities. Nancy Escamilla said that 80 children come to her library's weekly story time, and that participants are captivated by someone reading aloud to them. Richard Miller asked if there is still time for quiet reading in schools, something that appeared to be gaining ground before the "No Child Left Behind" push. Steve Davis said that this is still present in schools, if not daily, then weekly. Gretchen Healy said eighth graders in Winnebago have a teacher who reads aloud to them daily. This helps to address the disparity between the speaking vocabularies of Native and non-Native children. Jim Bothmer noted that the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of Omaha are recruiting volunteers to read to children. 

Rod Wagner distributed a brochure on the "One Book - One State" program under which the entire state will read My Antonia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Willa Cather's birth. Diana Johnson emphasized that we need to do what we can even if it is a "drop in the bucket." Gretchen Healy said that she hoped in the future that any statewide book program keeps in mind that there are Native American people who do not like to read pioneer stories.  

Library Tour - Gretchen Healy, librarian at Little Priest Tribal College library, led a tour of the new facility. This was appreciated by all as she described the challenges faced, the automated systems, additional staff, and other features of the library, as well as a bit of the history of the library.  

Council Roundtable --

Jim Bothmer reported that Omaha area medical librarians are beginning to plan for the joint meeting between the Mid-Continent and Mid-West regions of medical librarians encompassing sixteen states. This will take place in October 2005 at the Omaha Hilton and possibly at Gallup University. He also mentioned that Lola Gilbert, a UNO library science student, is serving a fifty-hour internship at Creighton University.  

Diana Johnson described her library's "Smart Card" campaign during which she went to elementary schools and kindergartens promoting the importance of having a library card. Stromsburg Public Library also took a reading bingo game to all K-4 classes. If a student won a bingo by a certain date, s/he received a fancy, animal bookmark. On September 22 the library served free ice cream cones to mark the first date ice cream cones were served in the U.S. The library also had a similar campaign for adults, offering first and second prizes of $25 and $15 dollars respectively to an upscale business in Stromsburg. Diana also took seniors to Barnes & Noble in the senior van and let them buy books there for the library. Finally the library had a pajama party for nine pre-school children and 23 elementary children; the "Swedish Cleaning Queen" read stories to the kids. 

Lunch - At this point in the Roundtable, the group adjourned for lunch. Lunch was brought in including delicious fry bread, prepared by the same individual who baked the wonderful cinnamon rolls provided in the morning.  

Following lunch the Roundtable resumed:

MeMe Smith said Schuyler Public Library, using a Humanities program, presented "Family Prime Time" during six successive weeks to promote family reading and discussion. Ricardo Garcia the storyteller was involved in this program. Seven families participated in the program, fewer than hoped, but there was good support from the Hispanic community. The library is continuing its basic computer classes. They declared an amnesty week for teens with outstanding fines. Both MeMe and staff member Richa Perkins went to the Gates-funded computer training. Among other things Richa offered a bedtime program. The library is also offering "¡Habla Con Mio!" a program for those who want to learn Spanish, and for those who want to learn English.  MeMe also said that beginning in January they would have a community volunteer to do Word classes in the library. Finally, she mentioned that the library is sharing cassette audio books with surrounding, smaller libraries and hopes for more such cooperative efforts. 

Jan Boyer discussed the wonderful program provided by Shaista Wahab who went to Afghanistan to interview women. The program, entitled, "Afghanistan Unveiled" will be on PBS sometime in the future. On November 16 there was on on-line chat on this program. 

Theresa Jehlik from Omaha Public Library said that library is doing Fahrenheit 451 for its "One Book - One City" project, with a series of programs related to this Ray Bradbury title including a dance interpretation by the UNO dance school as the last program. Theresa noted that OPL has started its strategic planning process, scheduled to be completed by April 2005. OPL's last big formal planning took place in 1996. The library has signed a contract with "Unique Management," a debt collection company that will contact anyone with fines totaling $25 and up. Everyone using the library must now pay off any accumulated fines each year instead of letting these add up. 

Nancy Escamilla, speaking for her library (Scottsbluff Public Library) and for Pat Gross who couldn't be at this meeting, described a series of public meetings in Scottsbluff to discuss the possibility of a new library there. The city mayor, who supports the concept of a new library, was re-elected. Wal-Mart contacted the city about possibly giving its former Wal-Mart to the city for a library. Ninety-nine percent of those who attended the meetings are in favor of putting an addition on the current building. In its first year separate from the summer reading program, 242 adults participated in the adult reading program. Nancy also noted that Scottsbluff was honored as the number one site in the state for people e-filing their taxes. She also spoke about "Family Prime Time," a family reading program reaching those with a "high reading risk." Storyteller Ricardo Garcia is involved in this effort. Nancy and one other person were hired to present this program, but $8,000 needed to be raised to present the program. It was raised in one day. The first night of the program 15 families comprising 39 people showed up. (Only 3 had library cards.) The second night 18 families with 54 people came. The third night will present Caldecott books. The bilingual session was not as necessary as thought; only seven people came who cannot speak English. For the library's "Mystery Night" their teen group performed a "murder in the stacks" original program. Thirty-nine teens came on a Saturday night. In its second year, the teen advisory council has really grown. The library now has a new "teen space." The "Battle of the Bands" program drew 300 students and 100 parents. It had to be moved into the library because of rain. A $50 prize for the winning band was joined by a sound system donated by a local merchant.  

Reporting for Pat Gross of Gering High School, Nancy mentioned that Gering Public Library has started a teen Gering Advisory Group (GAP). That library had the author of Free to Drink the Wind at the library as a program; this title was a Nebraska Best Book. Gering Public School has received a $1 million grant to raise reading levels in all elementary schools. Gering Public Library has Family Night at the library all summer, and the elementary school media specialist acquired grant money to work at Gering Public Library during the summer. Alliance Public Library has a new director, Dena Crews, whom Nancy praised.  

Karen Drevo from Norfolk Public Library described the library's really good Literacy Festival this year with authors Robert J. Blake, Elisa Carbone, and Will Weaver. The library has already lined up the following three authors for next year's festival that takes place July 30, 2005: Alma Flor Ada, Marion Dane Bauer, and Neal Shusterman. The library has new carpeting. "Be Lingual," bilingual training for the staff, has begun. The library's lap sit story time programs have grown to three or four per week. The library's teen area is being updated. Upcoming are a Children's Day Festival and a Multi-Cultural Festival. 

John Seyfarth reported that Papillion Public Library had a "cans for fines" program. He also reported that the library has switched from Fortress to Clean Slate, like the Gates computers, in order to clear off any unwanted programs, "cookies," etc. when the computer is shut down and restarted. John also reported a lot of business with flash drives in the library. 

Becky Pasco from UNO offered a very succinct report concerning library science students in Nebraska: "Standing room only; wonderful students; really busy." 

Kathy Ellerton of Northeast Library System mentioned the successful sock hop sponsored by the Systems at the NLA/NEMA conference. She also noted the Commission's grant to the systems for the bus to the MPLA conference. She is teaching the Basic Skills course in NELS this year which has about 20 participants. 

Steve Davis from Kearney Public Schools (and a public library board member) noted that Kearney Public Library has been planning for an addition and a remodeling. He sent around the library's promotional brochure. He said that the local newspaper, The Kearney Hub had a full-page kickoff for the campaign and that they have been to all the service clubs with a PowerPoint presentation. Among the statistics noted: the library had 208,700 users in 2003, about 700 to 800 a day. Circulation has gone up significantly the last five to six years. The library is trying for a ½ cent sales tax. The library was built in 1975 and designed to be adequate for 25 years.  

Gretchen Healy of Little Priest Tribal College Library said that the library, which also serves as the public library for Winnebago, has received a second Libri grant for children's materials. They have also received a small Wal-Mart grant. The library presented a "Spooky Stories" night, and number of participants was very gratifying. It has also begun a lap sit program for mothers and babies, and is going to take this to the pre-natal classes as well. The grand opening of the library was in September 2004. 

Adoption of Resolutions, Recommendations, Action Items (if any) - John Seyfarth moved, seconded by Diana Johnson, that a resolution concerning the impact of library funding on public libraries and schools be sent to the Congressional delegation. Motion approved. 

Rod Wagner noted that both Kathy Lute and Ruth Seward are going off the Advisory Council because they have been on for two terms. Also, Jeff Gilderson-Duwe resigned; therefore we have some slots to fill. Nancy Escamilla has completed her first term, but we expect she will be back since she is the new chairperson. The next meeting is scheduled for March 11, 2005, a joint meeting with the Commission. The meeting will be in or near Lincoln, perhaps Seward. 

Adjournment -  With no further business, the meeting was adjourned. 

For more information, contact Sue Biltoft.