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Meeting Minutes

June 18,1999
Gering, Nebraska


State Advisory Council Members Present: Susan Baird, John Dale, Stan Gardner, Michael Herbison, Mo Khomouno, Michael LaCroix, Kathy Lute, Ken Oyer, Jeanne Saathoff, Tom Schmitz, Ruth Seward, Kathy Tooker, and Sharon Wiegert.

Nebraska Library Commission Staff Present: Rod Wagner, Sally Snyder, Richard Miller and Maria Medrano-Nehls.

Guests Present: Shirley Flack, Scottsbluff Public Library and Nadine DiBacco, Gering Public Library.

Welcome and Introductions

The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. on June 18, 1999. Council Chair Susan Baird welcomed the Council to Gering, and introductions followed.

A motion was made by Key Oyer to approve the agenda, seconded by Michael LaCroix. Motion approved.

Panhandle Libraries and Issues

Susan Baird reported that Pam Scott, Panhandle Library System Administrator, could not attend the meeting due to illness. Susan reported that the Summer Theater program is underway. This is a cooperative effort of the Panhandle Library System and the Western Nebraska Community College.

An author tour with Ben Michalson was recently completed. Mr. Michalson spoke to approximately 2,500 students and was well received.

The Alliance Public library will host an open house on June 27 to celebrate its new library facility.

The Panhandle Library System held its annual meeting on June 11 in Alliance.

Library Commission Report Council Resolution

Rod Wagner reported that he received a thank you note from Verne Haselwood for the Council resolution honoring him upon his retirement from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

1999-2001 Biennium Budget

The Legislature appropriated an additional $300,000 per year in state aid to libraries as part of the Library Commission's biennium budget. However, Governor Johanns reduced the appropriation, through line item veto, to $150,000.

The Legislature approved LB 362, which permits the creation of library federations. A federation allows a municipal library to retain its autonomy, while joining the cooperative entity.

Senator Schellpeper, Chair of the General Affairs Committee, passed away during the session. Senator Janssen replaced him as the Chair of the General Affairs Committee. January 2000 will begin the Legislature's short session; budget issues are intended to be limited to deficiency and emergency appropriation issues.

Public Librarian Certification and Basic Skills Evaluation

Richard Miller reported that Dr. Debra Johnson, the consultant working with the Basic Skills and Public Librarian Certification program evaluation, was recently in Lincoln and met with Commission staff and several of the regional library system administrators. A draft report should be received by the week of July 5.

Dr. Johnson stated that the Certification program, particularly the Basic Skills program, is working well, but that a number of ideas and issues surfaced which will lead to recommendations for consideration and improvements. There are some areas that have been identified that may be problems (e.g., the cataloging course; a number of people mentioned that there was too much information in too short of time, and that the Administration course content is too "overwhelming").

Another idea that was noted was that there be core classes, with more specific classes later for different areas of interest. Another comment is that in Nebraska's one staff libraries it can be very difficult to get away to attend training. A recommendation was made that an arrangement be pursued that might, for example, find a substitute librarian to work the one-person library while that librarian attends training.

Library Advocacy Project

Richard Miller gave an update on the Library Advocacy Project. A report was previously mailed to council members. The advocacy project is being conducted in conjunction with the Libraries For The Future and the Friends of Libraries USA. A kick-off meeting was held March 30 and 31. The follow up meeting will be on August 16. Communities will be working on their plans and will report on them at the August workshop.

Rod Wagner reported that Mary Lankford met with representatives from the South Sioux City and Bellevue public libraries. South Sioux City held a vote for a new library and lost by less then 10 votes a few years ago. They plan to renew their effort for a new library facility.

Richard reported that Jeff Yost, Vice President of the Nebraska Community Foundation, approached the Commission about providing fund-raising training. There is a real need to look at a more comprehensive approach to this situation. The Commission is working with Mr. Yost to provide regional training related to the services of the Nebraska Community Foundation and fund raising strategies and approaches.

Richard also reported on discussions with the regional system administrators about training for library Friends organizations. The library systems plan to hold regional training later this summer. The Friends group training should relate well with the advocacy program.

LSTA Grants

Richard reported that a list of the 1999 LSTA grants was included in the packets. There is a short detailed summary of grant projects on the Library Commission website. Richard noted that Health and Human Services (HHS) librarians' proposal was successful this year and will provide funds for the purchase of library hardware and software for their cataloging and other purposes. Another funded proposal was from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Library (Curtis) for an automated system. The Saunders County Library Cooperative application also received a grant. Kathy Tooker noted that the SCLC representatives worked very hard on this grant and made phenomenal strides to receive this funding.

Public Library Finance Task Force

Rod Wagner reported that the Public Library Finance Task Force has met four times and plans to complete its work by September. The Task Force has invited Lyn Ziegenbein, Executive Director of the Peter Kiewit Foundation, to talk with the Task Force about issues from a private foundation perspective. The Task Force sent out a list of "Guiding Principles" and has asked library representatives to offer comments and to endorse the principles. The principles are intended to define some common ground for development of policy and, perhaps, legislative proposals.

Nebraska Information Technology Planning

Rod Wagner noted that the Nebraska Information Technology Commission (NITC) documents were included in the meeting packet. Jeanne Saathoff has served as the library representative on the NITC Community Council. A current activity of the NITC is to develop a statewide information technology plan. Rod indicated that the Council may wish to discuss the state technology plan and offer input.

Stan Gardner stated that the technology plan seems to focus on technology and not on information. Jeanne Saathoff stated that in the planning process there is a timeline for the project. The Community Council has discussed four goals. The Council goals are the need for information, how to share the information, the software, and the cost of the project.

The Community Council has recently received approval of a new charter. Under the new structure, the Council will include four library representatives. The individuals appointed to represent libraries on the Council are Jeanne Saathoff (continuing member), Ron Heezen, Ted Smith, and Ann Stephens. Kit Keller, Library Commission Technology Coordinator, will attend meetings as a Library Commission representative but not as an "official" member of the Council. Stan Gardner asked if we could send the Libraries for the 21st Century material to the NITC.

Jeanne Satthoff stated that a library sub-committee should be formed and that the sub-committee should channel our needs and issues to the Council as they are identified. It was also suggested that representation be sought on the Government Council of the NITC and that representation also be pursued on the Intergovernmental Data Advisory Committee. The meetings are open meetings and people are encouraged to attend. The NITC homepage is:

Gates Library Initiative

Rod Wagner stated that Nebraska will be included in the last group of states to participate in the Gates Library Initiative. The Gates Learning Foundation works with states based on a set of poverty criteria. Some other states that will be among the last group with Nebraska are Iowa and Kansas. The starting point for participation is the preparation of a state plan. We have heard that the training is excellent, and they have fine-tuned it based on their experience working with other states. The package includes hardware, software, training and technical support.

Council Roundtable

Michael LaCroix -- Creighton University continues to work on library automation plans. They have had three vendors visit in May to demonstrate their products. In the last two weeks vendors have returned to make sure their system will satisfy the University's needs. Some twenty-five percent of the staff will be changing in the next twelve months, most because of retirements.

Stan Gardner - The new Wayne State College President will start work in July. The Vice-President of Academic Affairs and the Vice-President of Administration and Finance will be leaving their positions in July. A new module on the library's automated system will be installed this summer. The new module will be set up as a proxy server. Students will be able to access databases from other sites. The Basic Research skills course will be offered to both graduate and undergraduates this fall.

Kathy Lute - The Ogallala Public Library is looking at expanding or building a new facility. A new program named JAWS has been added so that the visually impaired can access the Internet. Two Internet access computers have been added to the Children's room. The library now has a total of six workstations with Internet access. The Board is considering whether to remain a governing board or become an advisory board. If they decide to become an advisory board, they want the city to provide them with job descriptions.

Ruth Seward -- The Building a Bridge Technology grant was received from US West. The library has held 6 computer class training sessions in Spanish, with 8 persons attending each class. Two training sessions have been held in English with 6 persons attending one class and 5 in the other. The Hispanic Leadership group named Nuestro Futuero is attending classes this summer and will become mentors.

The Middle School ESL class also attended the library training and chose to continue to meet during the summer vacation. Ruth encouraged all libraries to apply for a U.S. West foundation grant. The library is currently a beta test site for Follet library software. The library was given a printer for being a test site and will also receive a year's maintenance contract free of charge.

KN Energy has a KN for Kids program that donates $3 for every meter in the community for kids projects. If your town has a KN provider, you might want to check in to the program for your library. In the near future, a phone survey will be conducted to determine if there is a need for a new library building.

Nadine DiBacco - Gering Public Library has experienced a staff change. Susie Baird left the library (to join the staff of Panhandle Community Services), and a new person was hired. Last year a CD-ROM network was added, and a new workstation will soon be added for simple reference. The library is considering a building expansion in order to address space needs

As with most small communities there is concern for money and unfortunately this is causing communities to look at barriers instead of opportunities. There is group named People for Honest and Open Government formed recently, and they attend every City Council meeting trying to be as involved as possible and placing barriers wherever possible. This has made the Council function in a defensive mode and they are looking at ways to collaborate to do cooperative things, cut spending, and generate revenue. The library comes to mind because we are one of the places which does not generate revenue. The city councils from Gering and Scottsbluff have collaborated to charge non-resident fees. Persons from Scottsbluff or Gering are allowed to use either city's library, but anyone else will be charged a non-resident fee.

Shirley Flack - Shirley confirmed the fact that Scottsbluff and Gering are collaborating on efforts for their libraries. Shirley welcomed everyone to Gering and hopes to see everyone in Alliance later this summer.

John Dale - Lincoln is working on the design for the two new branch libraries, Clark-Enerson Partners was selected as the architects. Library representatives have been educating the new mayor and new city council members on library issues. The mayor's new budget should be out the second week of July. Wiring for the new wide-area network is completed between the main library and all the branches. The system is not actually running yet.

Susan Baird: The Oregon Trail Days event is July 8 -11. Susan is now employed at Panhandle Community Services. She is currently working on three major projects (1) adding on to the Family and Child Resource Center, (2) Affordable housing and (3) a mini park in Bayard. Susan is also involved in assessment of rehabilitating a hotel in Kimball, perhaps converting it into senior housing.

Mike Heribison - The University of Nebraska is reallocating budgets and is purchasing a $17 million computer system for Y2K compliance. UNL and UNO have a number of library positions frozen right now. The University of Nebraska at Kearney is considering leasing computers for students rather than buying them.

Mo Khamouna - Mo reported that the college library received a LSTA grant at a critical time. The building issue is still being addressed. The projected cost for changes to the building has increased from $25,000 to $50,000. This move will be the first since 1912. It will take a week to ten days to move to the new location.

Tom Schmitz - The HHS library grant award will be very helpful. The HHS librarians met with Martha Gadberry, project consultant, yesterday for closure and to discuss the steps for next year.

Jeanne Saathoff - The Kearney Public Library had 2,700 books checked out the first day of the summer reading program. An Internet project is underway, and the library is currently working on a contract with the Internet service provider. Keno funds are down significantly in the community, so the library will not receive any Keno funds this year. The library will begin to look at building needs and explore potential approaches to handling them.

Ken Oyer - A change in his e-mail address: the new address is Other sites of interest are and

Ken reported on ICON. ICON started in the Omaha area 10 years ago and is a multi-state organization. ICON began with a $12,000 federal grant to explore library user access improvements. They have received several grants recently to upgrade equipment to get all libraries at the same level, and to develop a web site for ICON. They will submit an application in July for a $40,000 grant to work in the 7 counties of the Eastern Library System area and to help librarians learn to work with medical and consumer health information requests.

Ken also reported that Boys Town is closing its library at the end of the month and will contract for research.

Kathy Tooker - Kathy reported that she had just attended the Mountain Plains Library Association conference in Montana. The Eastern Library System held its annual meeting on June 2. There will be a workshop on library Friends groups sometime in August. The Omaha Public Library is setting up a teen library in the Crossroads Mall.

Sharon Wiegert - Their computer support staff member is offering computer classes for youth this summer. Some 1600 books were checked out the first day of the summer reading program. The library will be upgrading Follett to the Windows version in July or August. Ralston opened their new public library on Tuesday, June 15.

Review of Council Issues for 1999

Council issues generated at the last two meetings were reviewed. Additional suggestions were made:

* Work with senators during the fall and early winter prior to the session regarding library service funding and issues.

* Inform library boards, mayors, city councils about the database licenses that are now being provided through the Nebraska Library Commission and available through libraries.

* Educate the public concerning library services and library needs.


No resolutions were introduced.

Future Meeting Plans and Arrangements

September 17 at the Alliance Public Library. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. The Nebraska Literature Festival will be held Sept. 18 in Chadron. The December 3 meeting will probably be held at the Ralston Public Library. (Ken Oyer will work on arrangements for a meeting location.)

Thanks to Susie and other Panhandle librarians for their hospitality.


The meeting was adjourned at 1:07 p.m.

For more information, contact Sue Biltoft.