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Meeting Minutes

June 12, 1998


State Advisory Council Members Present: Joan Birnie, John Dale, Stan Gardner, Michael LaCroix, Ken Oyer, Sandra Riley, Jeanne Saathoff, Tom Schmitz, Wally Seiler, Kathy Tooker, Richard Voeltz and Sharon Wiegert.

Nebraska Library Commission Staff Present: Rod Wagner, Nancy Busch, Richard Miller and Sally Snyder.

Welcome and Introductions

The meeting was called to order by Chair Sandra Riley at 9:32 a.m. Introductions were given around the table. Dr. Charlie Daughtery welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Approval of Agenda : Ken Oyer moved and Richard Voeltz seconded the motion that the agenda be approved. Motion was approved by acclamation.

Approval of Minutes of : March 19 and 20, 1998 : Ken Oyer moved and Richard Voeltz seconded the motion that the agenda be approved. Motion was approved by acclamation.

Library Commission Report

Federal Legislation and Policy Issues -- Rod Wagner: Rod Wagner updated the Council on federal issues. National Legislative Day was held recently in Washington DC. Several librarians from Nebraska attended. They met with Congressional representatives and discussed the E-rate, LSTA funding and copyright issues. We are also seeking additional funding for LSTA for upcoming federal fiscal year. A modest increase is expected. There is no information at the present on the funding level recommended by Congress.

There has been some controversy about the E-rate lately. Recently four prominent Congressional leaders wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair asking the collection of funds for the program be stopped. A major hearing was held a few days ago on the E-rate program. ALA has been keeping up with what is happening and sending information out on its listserv. Rod read a portion of a letter from Senator Bob Kerrey to the CEOs of AT&T and MCI which was included in a Molly Ivins editorial. Only about one third of money collected goes to the school and libraries fund. The FCC is to make some decisions today about the collection of funds to support this program.

Copyright legislation is another issue on the federal level. Some items important to librarians were left out of the legislation. One of those is the "fair use" issue, which is especially important to libraries.

State Legislation and Budget Status -- Rod Wagner: The Summit Initiative, to place a constitutional lid on state and local government expenditures, will probably be one focus of the Governor's race. The Library Commission along with other state agencies are working on budget requests for the next biennium. The Library Commission budget is to be submitted in mid-September.

LSTA Grants Program -- Richard Miller: Richard Miller distributed a list of recipients of the Grants for Excellence in Children's Services. A committee of Library Commission staff read the applications and awarded the grants.

Two video-conference sessions were held on the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant program and application process. A videotape of one of the sessions is available for loan from the library systems offices or from the Library Commission. Approximately $250,000 in LSTA grant money is to be distributed. Pages 5 and 6 of the application booklet give a summary of the types of grants available. This is the first year of the LSTA grant program and it is a considerable change from the LSCA (Library Services and Construction Act) program. LSTA allows all types of libraries to receive grants. Richard briefly explained the different types of grant categories and what types of libraries are eligible for each grant type. A 25% cash match is required for each LSTA grant. A strategic and/or technology plan is also required with the LSTA grant application. Applications for an LSTA grant are due at the Library Commission by 5 p.m. CDT on July 29. Grants will be award by October 15, 1998.

It was noted, in relation to local library budgets, that grant monies are exempt from the tax lid. This was determined by the State Auditor's Office.

Certification/Basic Skills Program Evaluation -- Richard Miller: The current basic skills program at the Library Commission has been in place for ten years. Five system administrators are working with the Library Commission staff on an evaluation of the basic skills program. Debra Wilcox Johnson from Wisconsin is being proposed as a consultant to help with this evaluation. The entire certification program and the basic skills program will be evaluated.

Libraries for the future: an advocacy program: The Library Commission will receive a grant for an advocacy project in Nebraska. Ellen Van Waart and Mary Jo Ryan are the primary staff members working on it. We are currently looking for communities to participate in this project. Planning and evaluation design will occur the first year of the project, and implementation of the advocacy programs will occur the second year.

Statewide databases: Jo Budler and the NEBASE staff have been working hard on the statewide databases project. The Wilson Select database increased from about 470 to 800 titles. To date about 450 libraries have signed up. Training will be held in late summer in various locations around the state.

"Libraries for the 21st Century -- A Year Closer" -- Council Discussion

1999 -2001 Biennium Budget Planning Strategies : Rod Wagner explained the goals and strategies for the 1999 funding request to be submitted to the Legislature and the Governor. He asked the Council members to consider the questions listed on the green sheet, entitled "Libraries for the 21st Century - A Year Closer."

Rod explained the background of the information on the salmon colored sheet, entitled "Libraries for the 21st Century: 1998 Campaign for Improved Library Service." This is the breakdown of planned use of the $4 million of state funds requested at the beginning of the 1998 Legislative session.

If the Summit Initiative passes, it appears that provisions would require the Legislature to go back in 1999 and reduce the 1998 budget by approximately $38 million. It is open to different interpretations. The courts will probably have to decide.

The Appropriations Committee indicated they expect us to come back next year to ask for the additional funds, with more documentation as to the benefits these will bring. If the Summit Initiative passes, however, the Library Commission will need to re-consider the level of funds requested.

Council ideas:

A meeting will be held next week with Rod, Maggie Harding, Kathy Tooker, and Jeanne Saathoff, to work on strategy. This group will want to meet with each of the candidates for Governor to learn their viewpoints.

The NebrasKard would allow anyone to use any type of library. Collection development money is only designated for public libraries. Should we be thinking about similar funding for other types of libraries, especially community colleges and academic libraries? Lender statistics show which are the major lenders in Nebraska.

Wayne State College Library will loan to anyone in the area (or state), but the person must have a community card (cost - $10) which gives the library the ability to track the person.

Issues concerning the NebrasKard will have to be worked out, but it is possible.

Need to collect success stories from libraries using FirstSearch and other databases; and write to our legislators about the success.

Also let the city or town council know about it (the databases available and the success stories) to build awareness and support.

Look at existing interlibrary loan statistics to give some idea of collection use to estimate NebrasKard impact.

Cannot give state grants to private institutions, but support could be provided through the lender compensation program. Could look at increasing the amount to support those institutions.

Tom Osborne as an advocate and supporter of NebrasKard.

NebrasKard idea dilemma is that some library directors have not yet embraced the concept.

NebrasKard as a "credit card" type of item that allows user to use any computer in library in state for Internet access, one hour limit for example.

Colorado's experiences could help us design a program acceptable to all.

It is wonderful PR for libraries.

Be careful not to over promise to politicians the impact of the NebrasKard.

A survey collected by the Library Commission showed that most people use their local public library first, then the nearby community college and/or academic library. This information needs to be compiled into a form to show trends. Also could ask libraries to let us know the statistics they collect concerning registered patrons (number from town, from county, etc.)

What are the benefits to the library customer? Think about it from their perspective.

Two part funding: #1 to address current trends, #2 for the future unknown use.

It would be a voluntary participation program; no library would be forced to participate.

County and local politicians are more reluctant due to the fact they are already dealing with "unfunded mandates." Lincoln and Omaha are stretched to the limit to serve current users. Need to demonstrate to local politicians and local library boards that this would not be a large increase in use for the library and staff; it would relieve some of the pressure. This is a practical reality which must be considered.

Use statistics from the public library profile to indicate libraries with nonresident fees and number of users.

Abbreviated bibliographic record of OCLC will allow small libraries to do cataloging. (copy cataloging).

Possible to look at providing some of the collection development funds for processing costs, for example. (This was discussed in regards to adding more funding for additional materials will not be very helpful when processing backlogs already exist.)

Day to day realistic problems the librarians will face - give them some suggested mechanisms to address those concerns so they can see the possibilities.

Request planning funds from the Legislature to make long range recommendations on the state's libraries; their funding; mission and goals; certification and personnel; and interlibrary cooperation.

Straight per capita funding has drawbacks. The materials themselves don't always meet the actual needs of the customers. Maybe there should be some kind of cooperative selecting and purchasing program in effect.

Concern was expressed about too much bureaucracy involved.

Nancy Bolt of Colorado will come to Nebraska Library Association conference and talk about the card in Colorado and the impact it has had.

A major structural change as to how libraries are funded will need to be in place before the concept will be considered possible by some.

County commissioners will have questions about it and we need to be prepared with a structure to address them.

The NebrasKard is a strategy to improve state aid to public libraries. The amount requested is not substantial enough to affect local control.

Must continue to request funds from Legislature or we will lose the ground we have gained. Talk about the needs of the citizens (not about the money we need).

Increase funding for and number of databases available (beyond the $400,000 already appropriated); this will serve the needs of many Nebraskans.

The usage pattern will not change significantly overnight; it will change over time, but not immediately. (NebrasKard)

It is important to justify and tell the political body how the funds are going to be spent, in a brief way they will understand (no library jargon).

The meeting recessed at 12:10 p.m. for lunch.

Sandra Riley called the meeting back to order at 1:03 p.m.

Council Roundtable - - Views From Council Member's Perspectives

Michael LaCroix - Everyone is very pleased with the newly renovated Law Library in the Law School at Creighton University. The Reinert/Alumni Memorial Library has noticed a change in the use of resources. The availability of full-text databases has significantly reduced photocopying of articles. This has had an impact on the library budget because the library keeps the revenue from the photocopying.

Jeanne Saathoff - "A Day in the Life of a Victorian Lady;" the library had a summer reading theme float in the local parade. The planning process is in progress; it is used with city budget process. The library is being penalized for operating efficiently - it has the lowest expenditure in any city agency. They requested an additional 8% in materials. Don't ever take out the 15% of materials required under certification. Computers must be within the lid now; prior to this, capital expenditures were outside the lid. They are very interested in E-Rate - they have substantial wiring planned.

The Community Council, of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission, has been talking about training issues. A 501(c)(3) has been established to provide training. Chris Hoy is in charge of this effort. The Community Council is trying to set up training in labs across the state. There is $250,000 of grants available for this.

Ken Oyer - The consumer health materials have been moved in with the rest of the collection. The library has a new ambiance, it looks more like a Barnes and Noble than in the past.

Stan Gardner - All 64 computers are to be upgraded this summer. The library is a little more crowded because the Social Sciences faculty have moved into the basement of the library while their building is renovated. A small endowment fund has been set up, by a former employee, for use of the library employees. The Northeast Library System's annual Institute was held last week at Wayne State College. Sometime next fall the college will select a new president.

Nancy Busch - The new electronic state budgeting system allows putting together up to nine different scenarios; this could be useful for other projects in the future. Rod Wagner - Annie Sternburg has left the Commission. She and her family have moved to South Dakota. Her position will be filled, and training will again be an important part of that person's duties. Two Commission members' terms will be completed at the end of June. Ron Norman and Frankie Lovell will complete their second terms and cannot be reappointed. Governor will name two new members sometime this summer. The Literature Festival, sponsored by the Center for the Book, is scheduled for Sept. 18 and 19, 1998 at Wayne State College.

Joan Birnie - Broken Bow has an active summer reading program; a lot of teenagers are helping with summer reading. The library received a Children's Services Grant for the Little House Club project. An active home schooling family developed the Little House Club, and writes curriculum for home schoolers. The library participated in the first year of Choices for the 21st Century; and will continue with it the second year. The library budget has been cut 15% over the last three years, and may be cut another 10% this year.

Richard Voeltz - The University has two new computer labs with an impressive array of software. A new student technology fee has been implemented, resulting in the ability to buy 61 new computers with the money. Concerning the library renovation, UNL discovered the rental space in the Haymarket area is not available; so new remote storage will need to be found. The formal garden south of main library is going to paved over for 2 or 3 years while renovation occurs; then it will be restored. Concerning the year 2000 computer issue - UNL will be ordering new software to make all computers compliant; and will also check to see if all other equipment (e.g., copiers) are compliant. The academic program review (self-study) by the university looks favorable. It was mandated by the University and included outside evaluators.

John Dale - Two sites have been selected for new branches (one northwest and one southwest) and await the passage of a bond issue. Lincoln Public Schools is trying to float a $78 million bond issue; there may be difficulty if both issues are on the same ballot. The City Council is pushing to get it on the ballot. Anderson Branch will be closed 3 or 4 months for major renovation during the summer; Deb Nerud is the leader for this effort. Omaha has construction going on at Benson and Millard. Omaha will be lowering their non-resident fee from $120 to $60 per year.

Wally Seiler - The new library, and community college resource center, in Alliance is scheduled to be completed by September. The building dedication will be held on September 20, 1998. An invitation was extended to the Council to meet in Alliance. It is a $5.1 million project; large for the Alliance area. There is a push to get the learning center completed to allow classes to begin in the fall. The City Council has approved a new technology assistant position for the library. When completed, the library will be open on Sunday, and will extend week hours to 8 p.m.on most nights.

Sharon Wiegert - Sump Memorial Library in Papillion is also busy with the summer reading program. It is overwhelmingly popular. The library will have to add additional staff for summer reading. There have been power problems several times this summer due to the weather. Not all of the computers had power to function, making checkout of materials a challenge. Ralston has broken ground on their new building. LaVista's new building should be up and running soon.

Kathy Tooker - The Eastern Library System held its annual meeting last week. A "Building and Bricks" workshop, sponsored by the regional library systems, is scheduled for August in Hastings. A bus trip to DeSmet, South Dakota, is planned for July 10-12 to visit "The Little Town on the Prairie." The systems are co-sponsoring an NLA Preconference session which will feature Eileen Dreyer. Unabashed Librarian picked up Maggie Harding's article, from the Eastern Library System newsletter, on advocacy for Libraries for the 21st Century.

Tom Schmitz - The seven Health and Human Service's libraries originally planned to apply for an LSTA technology grant, but after a series of meetings determined they should first apply for a cooperative planning grant. Right now, in the Mental Health field, the focus is on getting people out into the community, but there are no programs available for them in the communities. It depends on the community, but there is a definite issue here that needs to be addressed.

Public Library - School Library Mergers -- Council Discussion

Weighing the Pros and Cons, Identifying Policy Issues: Discussion was held on the concept of public/school library mergers. The Library Commission has been receiving many more inquiries in the last few years about this issue. Background information was gathered and supplied to those requesting it. At the March Meeting the Council noted this as an issue for discussion. An item from Stan Gardner concerning this issue was mailed to Council members.

Council discussion:

It was noted that the regional library systems are also receiving many more inquiries about it.

Kathy noted the interest in Springfield.

Does this tend to happen more in smaller towns?


Lincoln is dealing with this issue, too. School board members have been interested in it.

This possibility was considered when planning for the new facility in Alliance; ultimately decided against it. If you do anything jointly with the school, they become the owner of the project. In Alliance, the school is considered as part of the planning process.

Each community situation needs to be looked at individually; let's not be defensive, or appear defensive, when local politicians come up with this idea.

We need to consider people who have had unpleasant school experiences; they may be precluded from going to a public library located in a school.

When there are already two libraries, you can have real hard feelings from those who have worked on these libraries.

As we have said, it varies by each situation.

Often we use examples from other states; maybe we need to look to our own materials - for example, ask, "How are you going to meet these accreditation standards?"

Where I have seen it succeed is where there has been extensive pre-planning - money, etc.

The personalities of the two librarians are important.

In most cases it has succeeded when there has been only one librarian.

There may be some value for the Commission to come up with some way to help people through the planning process.

Don't start just with the premise that we will only look at school-public combos; do a planning process which looks at many options as part of that process.

In terms of the general criteria, Lincoln is doing something we said we shouldn't do - we are looking at combo library/park situations. Two 30,000 sq. ft. buildings. We didn't start out looking at joint use. Parks was looking for something; the library was looking for something, and their interests happened to converge.

Look at innovative ways of funding, for example a sales tax is funding the Alliance building. Sales tax is probably the only way they are going to get some services at a respectable level. They hope at the end of the 5-year sales tax (at which point the library will be done) the population will choose to continue the funding for another project.

What about censorship problems? That could be a major issue.

We may end up with a third type of entity here - not strictly a school or public library, but something new. It may be satisfactory in some areas.

The Commission and the Systems should come out with something that is consistent, so we're both saying the same thing.

These are a variety of ways to approach this - give Nebraska examples. Do not just present school-public idea; other types of joint facilities and/or collaborative efforts could be more effective depending on the community(ies); don't limit it to school-public.

Ask that a member come up with a resolution for the Commission for recommendation.

Offer guidelines that offer options for a variety of approaches.

Make sure combinations or mergers are in this as options also.

List several scenarios so that they get beyond the school-public merger issue.

This is one of the topics at the building workshop in August.

It was moved by Wally Seiler and seconded by Stan Gardner that the following resolution be presented to the Library Commission:

The Nebraska Library Commission has an educational role to play in developing tools for libraries and community groups to use in considering ways to provide library service, within the overall context of planning.

Resolutions, Next Meeting Plans : The next meeting of the Nebraska State Advisory Council on Libraries will be held in Lincoln at the Nebraska Library Commission on September 11, 1998. Wally Seiler extended an invitation to hold the final meeting of 1998 in Alliance on December 4th.

Special thanks to Michael LaCroix and Charlie Daughtery for their hospitality.


Ken Oyer moved and Tom Schmitz seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting at 2:46 p.m.. Motion carried by acclamation.

For more information, contact Sue Biltoft.