Skip To Talking Book & Braille Service Content Skip Navigation

Meeting Minutes

Grand Island Public Library, Grand Island, Nebraska
July 16, 2010

State Advisory Council members present: Patty Birch, Pam Bohmfalk, Kate Borchman Hassebrook, Deb Carlson, Ceri Daniels, Steve Fosselman, Jayne Hlavac, Pat Leach, Marty Magee, Trine McBride, Todd Schlechte, Ellen Weed, Merrillene Wood,

Commission Staff: Maria Medrano-Nehls, Richard Miller, Mary Jo Ryan, and Rod Wagner.

Welcome and Introductions

Chair Steve Fosselman opened the meeting with a welcome and introductions of those present.

Approval of the Agenda

Steve Fosselman asked that an addition be made to the agenda allowing Pat Leach to speak about Open Source. A motion was made by Ceri Daniels and seconded by Merrillene Wood to approve the agenda. Motion approved.

Approval of Minutes (March 12, 2010):

A motion was made by Pam Bohmfalk and seconded by Kate Borchman Hassebrook to approve the minutes. Motion approved.

Nebraska Library Commission - Rod Wagner

Federal Library Programs Update

  • No action on the federal budget for fiscal year 2011 (beginning October 1).
  • No budget action is expected until after the November elections.
  • No increase in Library Services and Technology Act funds is expected.
  • There is a proposed funding freeze for many federal programs including LSTA.

Broadband Technology Opportunity Grant Program Update

  • Grant application submitted on March 15 - $3.6 million (including about $1.2 million from the Gates Foundation in grant matching funds).
  • New and replacement computers, software, networking equipment, broadband service upgrades, e-government services, consumer health information, online courses, and much more involving 140 Nebraska public libraries and a dozen or so partner organizations.
  • NLC was notified on May 19 that its application had moved through merit review and had entered the due diligence phase.
  • NLC received subsequent questions, requests for additional information, and for revisions to some application documents.
  • The Commission is in a good position for a grant award and an award could be announced at any time.
  • Some second round BTOP grants were announced a few weeks ago. The Commission 's application moved into the due diligence phase a few weeks after those applications.
  • The project team has continued to work on the project with the expectation that a grant will be awarded.

State Biennium Budget Planning Process

  • Budget outlook is dismal - a projected $650 million plus budget gap
  • State tax revenues have been below projection in most recent months
  • Continuation of this trend could result in a special legislative session later this year
  • 9.5% state funds reduction this year
  • Agencies asked to submit budget modifications of 10% (10% reduction from current year appropriation level - this is the new normal
  • With a recovering economy it is not expected that appropriation levels will be restored to earlier levels - the new, new normal

Nebraska Library Association

Pam Bohmfalk reported that the NLA spring meetings were very successful. This year 's conference will be in Grand Island October 13-15. The NLA board is developing a strategic plan. In August, NLA will hold officer elections for NLA board, sections and roundtables. This will be the second year of electronic voting.

Nebraska Education Media Association

Glenda Willnerd was not able to attend the Council meeting. Rod Wagner stated that the NEMA board met yesterday and held its annual strategic planning event (among other business).

Program Prioritization, Budgeting and a New Normal Survey Approach

Steve Fosselman stated that at the last Council meeting he gave a demonstration of how the City of Grand Island is addressing city program prioritization. As Steve prepared for this meeting he sent a blog entry called Resetting Normal.

Tough economic times are indicating that budgets are getting slashed, libraries are being closed and government is asking for a discussion of the new normal. Libraries are out front on this trend because libraries were addressing these changes before government was. These policies and practices are going to be with us for many years and may be permanent.

Under the new normal we will see fewer staff, staff focused on essential activities, technology used to create additional efficiencies, services and public service hours cut, locations consolidated, and physical pressures transforming the library system market place. This may not be a bad thing depending on how we respond. Refocusing efforts on where libraries add value and by adding value for library users and funders. The sooner we take control and make our operations compatible to the new normal the more likely we will find the new normal to be acceptable and we will flourish.

Steve pointed to an article in American Libraries magazine titled "New Normal for Libraries." Steve stated that Merrillene Wood, Kate Borchman Hassebrook and he have discussed the activities of the Advisory Council and thought a survey for the whole library community was needed because all libraries are experiencing the same kind of problems.

Steve, Merrillene and Kate will develop a survey method that will encompass all libraries and NLC 's efforts to contain and maintain their own budgets. Rod Wagner mentioned that there is an article about this topic in Library Journal and an activity called "Losing Libraries" which seeks information about budget cuts and library closings. Laura Johnson stated that NLC has had three programs on different methods of surveys which might be helpful. The webinars can be viewed online from the Commissions website.

Steve stated that he hopes that after the survey is completed that the State Advisory Council on Libraries group will discuss it at the November meeting. He also hopes that the survey information could be used in future years by the Commissioners when discussing NLC 's budget.

Merrillene Wood asked that State Advisory Council on Libraries members send questions and suggestions to herself, Steve or Kate via e-mail so they can be incorporated into the survey.

Education for Nebraska Library Workers - Focus on 21st Century Skills

Mary Jo Ryan stated that the Commission recently received an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian three-year grant for $730,000. The grant is to be used for scholarships, stipends and internships. The Commission has struggled to provide money for these areas since the earlier IMLS grant ended.

After the previous IMLS grant ended, the Commission worked with the Nebraska Library Association to obtain a small grant from an anonymous Nebraska foundation. The grant allowed the Commission and Association to provide for a smaller number of internships.

The new IMLS grant funds a three-year project which will start in November. The project will funds scholarships, stipends and internships. New policies and criteria will be developed for financial assistance. The new grant project is titled Cultivating Rural Librarians ' Technology Skills and the idea and belief behind this grant is that 21st Century learning skills are not only important to library customers but to library workers as well. A marketing campaign will be designed for recruitment.

Steve Fosselman stated that the conversations he has been having with other librarians points to a need for technology assessments for libraries. Mary Jo stated that with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation the Commission plans to provide technology planning "boot camps." The training program is in association with the Commission 's library broadband project but is funded separately by the Gates Foundation. The BPOP grant, if funded, will allow some provision for people who can assist in the library to get computer centers up and running. There will only be one person hired to assist the 140 libraries participating in the project.

Todd Schlechte stated that we are talking about cutting services but at the same time need to add value and librarians are going to figure out how to be more technology savvy.

Laura Johnson stated that IMLS awards grants in various categories and one of them is continuing education. Laura stated that a continuing education survey has been completed and the results highlighted grant writing, budgeting, marketing, and fundraising. The Commission has attempted to address these topics with webinars and will continue to respond and have workshops and continuing education opportunities. Laura stated that without additional funding we will be limited in offering continuing education programs to the extent needed. Laura stated that the Commission is considering an LSTA grant application to support continuing education. Laura asked the State Advisory Council on Libraries members to offer ideas they might have for a statewide continuing education program. The program should include development of technical skills; help library users develop 21st century learning skills and help libraries re-design library services.

Pam Bahmfolk stated that the Commission could follow the Nebraska Educational Media Association 's model Standards for the 21st Century Learner in which they spent a large amount of time and emphasis trying to get school librarians to understand what is meant by 21st Century Learning Skills in the public and academic arenas. The first component that needs to happen is a very clear interpretation of what we mean by 21st Century Learning Skills.

Pam stated that first we need to translate things that librarians traditionally do into 21st century learning skills or skill language. An example would be story hours that many libraries offer. This program has many 21st century learning skills that could be teaching the 21st century learning language. Unfortunately we do not put the story into that language. We need help as librarians to translate the programs we are already doing into 21st century skill language.

Merrillene Wood asked if another component should be added to the basic skills courses. Laura Johnson stated that Commission staff is making changes to the basic skills program.

Mary Jo Ryan stated that 21st Century Skills are a major emphasis of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The IMLS website includes documents which have been uploaded to the State Advisory Council on Libraries wiki. Laura Johnson stated that one of the documents lists the skills as critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, visual literacy, scientific and numerical literacy, cross disciplinary thinking, basic literacy, flexibility and adaptability, technology skills, life career skills, initiative and self direction, and cross cultural skills. Laura stated that Commission staff came up with the program components featuring:

  • Presenting information about new technologies
  • Showing new technological devices
  • Providing information on how new technologies can improve services (for audiences including customers, library workers, library boards and foundations and government officials).

Another idea is to show librarians how to retrieve and refer social services information. Examples of social service information would be child support, senior care facilities, medical resources, job bank, homeless shelter, food banks, etc. A program could also be provided on ecological and environmentally safe library buildings (also highlighted from the Library Futures conference in 2008).

Pioneer Project

Steve Fosselman stated that by the November council meeting there should be a clearer picture of how the Pioneer project is proceeding. Steve stated that the Commission 's Library Improvement Grant for the Pioneer project will end the last day of September. The completed project will demonstrate the feasibility of an open source software integrated library system would work for Nebraska libraries of different sizes.

Through much discussion and different perceptions the Pioneer project group narrowed the choices down to two paths that could be used. One path would be using free software and would develop a system using technicians and infrastructure which would house the server at a library in Nebraska. The second path would be to work with a third party and have it manage the software, setup the participant libraries that would be joined together in a union catalog and manage the system on a yearly basis. The group chose the second approach.

The Pioneer project group retained a technical assistant while going through the planning process and determined that for the foreseeable future the best approach would be to rely on an experienced company that has the resources and capability to manage the system. The Lincoln, Grand Island, Gretna, Holdrege and St. Paul libraries will work together to decide how they will migrate and whether they will have a contract so that they can handle the migration for the group. The Pioneer group hopes to get other libraries on board in the future.

New Business

Recommendation and Resolutions

There were no recommendations or resolutions.

November Council Meeting

Rod Wagner and Steve Fosselman will work together to determine a time and place for the November meeting. Rod suggested that the November meeting be a face-to-face meeting. Ceri Daniels stated that she had November 19 as the date for the meeting but noticed the minutes said November 12. Maria Medrano-Nehls will check the recorded March minutes again to determine the date chosen for the November meeting.

Council Roundtable

Todd Schlechte reported that the Pioneer project will be a major activity for the Gretna library. Todd stated that as the libraries operate through challenging situations they must continue to provide good service while cutting costs. The Pioneer project will be one of the ways to make this happen. Gretna will be providing eBooks to patrons that are just being introduced to Nebraska 's Overdrive Library Consortium. Todd is waiting for Overdrive to introduce software for the iPad.

Deb Carlson reported that the Scottsbluff public library is wrapping up their summer reading program. The program was shorter this year due to the library 's building expansion and renovation project. The library had 1,645 children sign up for the program with 75% of children reading 5 or more books. There were 115 young adults involved in the Teen summer reading program.

Deb Carlson said that asbestos was found in the library which put things on hold while the asbestos was removed. October 31 continues to be the planned grand re-opening date for the library. The Job-a-like project continues to meet and during the last meeting they discussed the new normal changes and challenges.

Merrillene Wood reported that the library at WNCC Sidney campus recently completed a major weeding project. Merrillene will now go to the Scottsbluff campus to help with their weeding project. The college faced budget cuts and had to cut many of their library subscription databases. They will be reducing magazine subscriptions too.

Merrillene stated that she attended the Nebraska Library Leadership Institute reunion. There was discussion about the new normal too. The speaker was Jamie LaRue, director of the Douglas County Libraries (based in Castle Rock, Colorado). At one time the Douglas County Libraries were rated the worst in Colorado and now they are second in the nation. LaRue also started a grass roots project to support the library which can be seen at Part of this program is intended to recruit people from the community who are passionate about libraries and have them go out to the community and give presentations on what the library can do for them.

Merrillene stated that she will complete her master 's program in September. The class she is currently taking has had an in-depth discussion on the lack of librarian jobs in the nation. It might be because people are not retiring as was predicted or because library budgets have been cut with the result that librarian positions have been reduced.

Patty Birch stated that the 2010 Heartland conference was very successful. There were over 200 school librarians from Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa. Speakers included Cassandra Barnett, president of the American Association of School Librarians and Pam Burger, a guru of web 2.0 technology.

Marty Magee stated that Medline Plus released a new design and encouraged everyone to look at. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) holds monthly webinars. This month the NLM topics will be Twitter and Mobile PubMed. The NLM also offered service continuity classes for disaster preparedness. New books have been added to NetLibrary. WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) is a mobile application designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents. You may download WISER for the iPhone/iPod touch. Please share this information with your local fire department and police department. Marty stated that on September 8, 2010, she and Siobhan Champ-Blackwell will host three programs at the Nebraska Library Commission. The programs are Outreach Panel Discussion, Beyond an Apple a Day, and No Comprende? Spanish and other multiple language resources for health information.

Ellen Weed stated that the state institutional libraries are experiencing the same new "normal" conditions that everyone else is experiencing. There is less money for travel, workshops, and many other things.

Ceri Daniels stated that she has completed a weeding project for the law library at the Cline, Williams ' law firm.

Pat Leach stated that she attended an Urban Libraries Council conference. The Urban Libraries Council is addressing how libraries could do a better job of promoting what they do and leading people to value what they do by connecting to education. They are stressing connections between libraries and schools. This should transition into a stress on being very present, forward, and assertive within your community. The Urban Libraries Council adopted a resolution which states that libraries need to promote and ensure fair use and access information.

Kate Borchman Hassebrook stated that the Lyons public library was able to increase service hours. The library has taken on the job of scanning historical photos and people from the community are bringing in their photos. On July 4 the library had a humanities speaker that presented on Nebraska stories and songs.

Jayne Hlavac stated that she is the librarian and media specialist at Schuyler Central high school and is looking forward to a new school year. A major focus is Teen Read Week and this year the theme is "Books with Feet." She always has a pep rally to get kids excited and interested about reading. Jayne and one of the English teachers will be going to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. for a seminar on primary sources.

Pam Bohmfalk stated that the Hasting public library had Karen Hyman present staff training on customer service. Karen encouraged approaching customer service with a touch of generosity and how this approach can make change people 's lives. Changes in library policies and services include offering a fax service, reduced fines on videos, and fine free Friday 's during the summer. These things are a stepping stone to getting the staff to look at customer service at the next level.The Hastings Friends of the Library book sale raised over $23,000. Between now and August 20 the library staff will read both the adult choice and the teen choice for One Book One Nebraska then on the 20th and 21st the staff will hold a discussion about these books.

Steve Fosselman stated that council members can read about activities at the Grand Island public library by visiting their website The library created a Facebook page and is working with and they have added content for the library. If you scroll down the libraries website you will see Word Map which they have tagged as sincere words of appreciation.

Steve has been working with the supervisors and the supervisors have been working with the front line staff on coaching all of the staff to use sincere words that they have for each other, for the public and for the library services. The hope is that this will translate into how staff will provide services and how the library staff operates as an organization.

Next Meeting Date

Rod Wagner stated that an e-mail message will be sent out with the correct meeting date.


Chair Steve Fosselman thanked everyone for attending the meeting and hopes are next meeting will be a face-to-face meeting with more time for discussion. Meeting adjourned at 12:00 p.m.

For more information, contact Sue Biltoft.