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Meeting Minutes

Benson Branch Library, Omaha, NE
November 14, 2008

Advisory Council members present: Patty Birch, Janice Boyer, Deb Carlson, Kathy Ellerton, Steve Fosselman, Patricia Gross, Theresa Jehlik, Diana Johnson, Marty Magee, MeMe Smith, and Frank Zimmerman. Commission staff: John Felton, Maria Medrano-Nehls, Mary Jo Ryan, and Rod Wagner.

Welcome and Introductions

Marty Magee welcomed everyone to the meeting. Introductions were made around the table.

Approval of the Agenda: A motion was made by Jan Boyer and seconded by Theresa Jehlik to approve the agenda. Motion approved.

Approval of Minutes (July 11, 2008): Jan Boyer stated that page 5 should say all Elsevier subscriptions were canceled not all subscriptions. Deb Carlson stated that page 4 should say teen summer reading participation was 151. A motion was made by Steve Fosselman and seconded by MeMe Smith to approve the minutes with corrections. Motion approved.

Welcome from Theresa Jehlik, Manager, Benson Branch Library

Theresa welcomed everyone and stated that Benson branch library has been a part of the Omaha Public Library System since 1923 when Omaha annexed Benson. The new part of the library was renovated about ten years ago. Theresa stated that the Benson branch library serves the most diverse community in Omaha taking into account the range of household incomes and ethnicity.


Nebraska Library Commission Reports

Federal Library Programs Update - Rod Wagner reported that there is intention early in the calendar year to introduce legislation to reauthorize LSTA. It will be interesting to see how it proceeds with the new administration and new congress. One of the elements of the legislative proposal is intended to address the recent policy interpretations of IMLS which have become more restrictive on the uses of LSTA state program monies. States used to use LSTA monies for training, marketing, and library development purposes. Now all expenditures must support the six priorities for the state programs portion of the LSTA appropriation.

LSTA funds will continue to be distributed under the congressional continuing resolution until congress acts on appropriations for the full federal fiscal year. The continuing resolution allocates funds based on last year ' s appropriation funding levels. There is expectation that congress will finalize appropriations after the new calendar year begins.

Rod stated that this is the time of the year when the Commission prepares the annual State Program Report for LSTA. The report is due the end of December.

IMLS - 21st Century Librarian Program - Mary Jo Ryan stated that the State Advisory Council on Libraries contributed to the recently completed three-year LSTA funded recruitment project. The project proposal and grant request followed Council meetings and discussion concerning the Nebraska library workforce and future recruitment and retention needs. At that time, the UNO/Missouri MLS program was just getting started. This brought a concern of being able to fill the positions of retiring librarians and how to recruit people into the MLS program.

The Commission received the grant and over the last four years has sought to make a difference in the recruitment pitches for librarians across the state and for both library service professionals and paraprofessionals. The grant came together as a pre-professional program with scholarships and internships at any library education level. The program included the mentoring program for students. A web site was created that has addressed public needs. Council members told the Commission that the job bank the Commission maintained was difficult to use. After researching other job banks and speaking with people who found jobs Commission staff re-designed and organized the library jobs web site. A library careers public service announcement was created which organizations in other states have adapted to fit their needs. The project has been successful in reaching out to the intended target audience - young people who hadn ' t made up their mind about career and work choices.

John Felton distributed a document with information about scholarships. Scholarships were awarded to 176 students with a majority of them for master ' s level education. There were fewer in the Library Technical Assistant program. Student internships were popular. The purpose of the internships was to introduce high school and college students to library careers. Students were allowed to work in different areas of the library so they could get a good idea of library jobs. Some MLS students worked on marketing projects, some by designing summer reading program materials, and some working on library websites. Forty-fine internship grants were given to libraries. John stated the internship component of the project was especially popular and one the Commission wants to repeat.

John stated that a lot of marketing was done with a public service announcement being shown in movie theaters across the state. John and Mary Jo distributed materials at nine career fairs. Mary Jo attended a high school counselors ' conference and distributed marketing materials.

Mary Jo stated that the Commission worked sustainability into the grant. Sustainability is based on the concept that if we are training young people, whether they are getting advanced library degrees or undergraduate degrees, they will all be looking for library jobs and library jobs often don ' t pay enough to recruit them back to their home communities. The Commission began considering ways to help libraries tell their story to the community in order to obtain added support for library personnel.

Two different approaches were taken. Return on Investment (ROI) training was provided by the Commission. The ROI training was provided regionally and offered information and ideas on how libraries can develop a compelling return on investment statement. The Commission contracted with Keith Lance to conduct the training. In all, 38 teams made up of library directors, staff, library board and foundation members, and some community members participated in the training sessions.

The second project was conducted in partnership with the Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF). The NCF held a rural philanthropy conference in which teams from across the state came and worked on the priorities in their communities for which they wanted to seek private funds. Commission staff worked with the NCF staff to provide scholarships to communities that would include a library team. Imperial, Plattsmouth, and Nebraska City received grants to support attendance. Library participants were part of their community development team. Mary Jo stated that Nebraska City ' s library foundation would seek funds to be used for staff training and for scholarship assistance for staff to pursue library science education. Mary Jo said that what she hoped to see was an endowment that allowed the library to hire a person such as a children ' s librarian or technology librarian, or whatever is needed at the library.

Mary Jo stated that John Felton, Kathryn Brockmeier and she have begun to work on an application for another LSTA grant. John Felton stated that the Commission is intending to build on the success of the previous grant and continue on a similar approach. The project would begin with recruitment activities to get students into the paraprofessional programs and also target those who want to pursue master ' s degree library science programs. The final report for the completed grant project is due on January 29.

Mary Jo stated that since the first grant was completed on October 30, 2008 the Commission does not currently have funding to support scholarships or internships. Staff time to work on the website will continue to go on. Federal funds received by the Commission through the LSTA State Programs allocation cannot be spent on scholarships, internships or training. The state monies the Commission receives are all committed so there is currently no money available for scholarships and internships. Mary Jo stated that she hoped the State Advisory Council on Libraries would support the new grant funding application and would continue the role as the advisory group for the grant.

Mary Jo stated that many libraries don ' t have someone with technology skills to do what needs to be done to move the libraries into the technology world. Mary Jo stated that she would like to see part of the grant require library students to work on a project similar to what Becky Pasco has her MLS students do.

Steve Fosselman stated that he believed it was important that we recruit ambitious people into the library education programs. He would also like to see students work with and on the Future Search project goals.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Library Grant Program - Rod Wagner reported that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering a connectivity grant program which is just getting under way. This program will allow libraries to 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. The Foundation ' s strategy is to help states increase and sustain high quality broadband. Their goal is for 85% of all public libraries to have broadband service at the minimum rate of 1.5 Mbps by 2010.

Wagner reported that Commission staff members Devra Dragos and Christa Burns are working with public libraries that have been identified by the Gates Foundation as potentially eligible for participation in the Foundation ' s Hardware Opportunity Online Grants program. The Gates Foundation identified libraries by using census, unemployment and free lunch data to determine which libraries met their eligibility criteria. Of Nebraska ' s more than 270 public libraries 176 were sent a letter informing them that they were potentially eligible for hardware grants and would need to complete computer inventories to be considered further for eligibility. Libraries meeting the Foundation ' s grant eligibility requirements will receive funds to upgrade library computers. A significant program element is advocacy training for participants to improve their skills in seeking matching funds for the grant and for sustaining technology in the future. The Gates Foundation has expressed that this will be their last library hardware grant.

Nebraska Library Association - Diana Johnson reported that Pam Bohmfalk is the new NLA President and Scott Childers is the new Vice-President. Emily Dust Nimsakont is the NLA ' s new Internet Coordinator. Diana said that all membership voting will now be conducted online. The Trustees, Users, and Friends Section has merged with the Public Library Section to become the Public Library and Trustee Section. Ken Winston, NLA Lobbyist, attended the Lawyers and Libraries conference.

NEMA - No Report

Future Search

Steve Fosselman reported that the Future Search ad hoc committee will be developing another website separate from the current wiki hosted by the Library Commission. He would like people to list the success and learning adventures had by library staff, boards, and friends groups. Steve Fosselman stated that he has enjoyed being able to share information on the wiki and hopes others will also contribute to the site. Mary Jo Ryan stated that anyone can post on the Future Search wiki. She encourages posting information about activities that meet the future search vision or goals. Steve stated that this project is a version of a toolbox; it ' s all about partnerships and working together.  

Zing Training and Customer Service @ the Omaha Public Library 

Theresa Jehlik reported on a staff training program funded with assistance from a Library Commission grant. Theresa said that last spring the Omaha Public Library conducted a Zingerman ' s Training and Customer Service Workshop for Omaha Public Library staff. The workshop was conducted over two days with the first day held for the leadership team. They begin by looking at the " Big Picture " which consisted of: visions, ethics/values, processes, and personality. If all are aligned you have a great company. The questions asked were " How do you bridge the gap between what it should be and how it really is? " The group also talked about the leaders ' responsibilities which are teach it, define it, live it, give great service to customers, give great service to staff, measure it and reward it.

On day two, all of the OPL staff attended the training. Discussed were three steps to great service which consist of figuring out what the guest wants, get it for them (accurately, politely, and enthusiastically), and go the extra mile. Also discussed were the five steps to effectively handling customer complaints. The five steps are acknowledge the complaint, sincerely apologize, take action to make things right, thank the guest for giving you the opportunity to correct the complaint and document the complaint.

Theresa stated that staff divided into assigned groups for discussions on what has worked and not worked to satisfy customers. Discussion was held on empowering staff to resolve customer complaints and problems, maintaining an open forum on staff concerns and work team meetings to determine goals and actions. They also focused on the 10/4 rule, standard telephone protocol, and action steps by branch. The 10/4 rule states that when a customer gets within 10 feet you should acknowledge them, when they are within 4 feet the customer should be greeted.

Rod Wagner stated that he believed the Omaha Public Library ' s staff training event was a good and appropriate topic because the Future Search project has brought out a lot of enthusiasm for the idea of the library hospitality and front porch concept. Rod sat in on part of the training and felt it was an excellent program. The customer service training program is also a very good match for the ideas that came out of the Library Commission ' s public meetings held for development of the LSTA Five-Year plan.

A discussion was held about computers being used more during economic downturns. While increased use is good for the public and libraries, increased use also poses problems for library workers spread too thin to meet increased service needs and for libraries lacking sufficient computers for those who need them.

Council Roundtable

MeMe Smith reported that the Schuyler Public Library is completing a utility study. The library sent out a random survey and held a focus group to gather information. The information will be used in an attempt to receive more funding for a new library. The library did not have any budget cuts this year. Her library has $4,000 set aside for technology upgrades but she will still complete the Gates grant application.

Jan Boyer reported that the University of Nebraska at Omaha library ' s renovation project continues. Jan said that the library ' s lower level is now open. The project is expected to be completed by spring break.

Pat Gross reported that Gering had a bond issue for the elementary and middle school which passed this time. The CLS workshop that is in conjunction with NEMA was very successful. They want to thank the Commission staff that attended the workshop. The group is already preparing for next year ' s workshop. Marjorie Harrison, Panhandle Library System Coordinator, is contacting vendors for libraries to meet with about library automation systems. Almost all of the public and school libraries in the Panhandle area use Follett software and the software is no longer affordable for many libraries. Pat said that one of the challenges for media specialists is the testing responsibilities they have with students.

Deb Carlson reported that during the month of October, author Natasha Friend visited the Panhandle Library System. The schools and libraries worked very hard to bring the kids by bus to a central location so that all students, in all schools, in the Panhandle System got to meet the author. Natasha visited six different locations in the panhandle and students were bused in from different areas. Natasha did a fabulous job.

Deb Carlson said that the architect has been chosen for the Scottsbluff public library building expansion. Although they are still about one million dollars short of their goal for the building expansion they decided to move ahead with the architect because they believe they will find the money needed. Deb also stated that the city has enacted a 4% across-the-board budget cut. The library decided to reduce public service hours instead of laying-off staff.

Kathy Ellerton reported that Overdrive (downloadable audio-books) seems to be very popular. The Northeast Library System will hold an Arctic Blast workshop on February 20, 2009. As with most libraries, funding is always an issue for small libraries.

Frank Zimmerman reported that things are up and down in Auburn. Every month he looks at the attendance numbers and has noticed that attendance has shown a significant increase over last year. Frank stated that he ' s not sure where all the people are coming from because the size of the community has not grown. The library is having problems raising the funds for the Auburn public library addition so the project is temporarily on hold.

Diana Johnson reported that Stromsburg is installing Wi-Fi in the library. The Cross County Schools built a new school which was supposed to be ready to move into at the beginning of the school year but that didn ' t happen. The staff has all their property packed up ready for the move which put a crunch in the books available at the school library. Since the public library is close by they have supplied the school library with books. The plan is to move into the new school building in the next few days.

Diana Johnson said her assistant, Kathy Nelson, has done a lot of genealogical research on Dr. George Flippin and has provided programs to the County Historical Society, Northeast Library System winter retreat, Norfolk, State Historical Society, and at the NLA/NEMA conference. Diana said there is a concern with funding because she had to cut $7,200 from the library budget. She was afraid that her work hours might be reduced to part-time this year but she and her board president worked on the library budget and decided to give up a new server and froze salaries so that she could stay full-time.

Steve Fosselman reported that the Grand Island Public Library was named " Multicultural Business of the Year " and received an award from the Grand Island Multicultural Coalition. Steve said that the award is very important to the library. It shows that they are serving their entire community. Steve said he knows the library is not serving some of the people to the extent the staff would like, but the community is very grateful for what is provided and recognizes that the library staff tries very hard and that the library is a very welcoming place. Steve said the challenge for the library is providing good customer service.

Maria Medrano-Nehls reported that she is taking the last class required for completion of the Library Technical Assistant program. She will complete the program on December 20 and then will begin studying for the GRE so she can begin work on her MLS.

Patty Birch reported that the school library received two donations from a past high school librarian. Patty said her challenge is making time for the " 23 things " offered by the Commission. Patty stated that she is working on updating the LTA class to incorporate more technology features. Her challenge at school is technology because the school is all about technology. Patty offers training using different technology features and programs to staff and students.

Marty Magee reported that family health histories can be mapped by visiting the following sites:,, and Marty distributed a document with information about upcoming consumer health training. Medline Plus offers medical information in various languages on their web site. Marty had a student doing a practicum during the summer and he developed a program called Around the Network. It is a power-point that covers Medline Plus, CHIRS, and Go Local Nebraska. The site can be accessed at: Marty stated that representatives of the National Library of Medicine will be coming to Omaha to evaluate her department in midpoint of their five-year contract. Marty said that messages can be posted about National Network of Libraries of Medicine MidContinental Region (NN/LM) services at

New Business

Recommendations and Resolutions - It was moved by Pat Gross and seconded by Jan Boyer that the State Advisory Council on Libraries supports the Nebraska Library Commission ' s application for a Librarians for the 21st Century grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and agrees to serve in an advisory capacity for the project. Motion was approved.

Deb Carlson recommended that customer service training be provided. Rod Wagner stated that Commission would be receptive to a program on customer service. Mary Jo Ryan stated that the Commission is considering offering a weekly hour long web broadcast and with two-way communication capability. Customer service could be among the topics. The broadcast would be archived so it could be viewed anytime after the live broadcast. Marty Magee offered to do a program in the future.

Special Recognition

Rod Wagner stated that Jan Boyer, Theresa Jehlik, Diana Johnson and Becky Pasco have completed their second term on the State Advisory Council on Libraries. Rod presented certificates of appreciation and Nebraska Admiralships signed by the Governor. Rod thanked them for their service on the Council. Rod also thanked Marty Magee for doing an excellent job as the 2008 Council Chair.

2009 Meeting Schedule

Rod Wagner stated that the next meeting will be on March 13. The March meeting is usually held jointly with the Nebraska Library Commission. No suggestions were made for the meeting site. Pat Gross, the incoming chair, will work with Rod to arrange a meeting site. The future meetings will be held in July and November.


A motion to adjourn was made by Jan Boyer and seconded by Theresa Jehlik. The motion was approved. The meeting adjourned at 1:45 p.m.

For more information, contact Sue Biltoft.