Author Archives: Richard Miller

Library Improvement Grants for 2017

The Nebraska Library Commission announced approval of the following Library Improvement Grants from those submitted. Note that money for these approved grants currently is not available since the funding for these grants is contingent upon LSTA funding and action on the federal budget which has not yet been approved. Libraries with approved grant applications should not commit to contracts, agreements, or expenditures unless they can fully cover those costs should the Library Improvement Grant monies be delayed or denied.

Following are the approved grants with brief notes about the projects proposed:

Brunswick Public Library:
$3,327 to join the Pioneer Library Consortium

Central City Public Library:
$3,000 for updating of the library’s meeting room presentation equipment

Goodall City Library (Ogallala):
$4,760 for a library humanities-related programs to address specific community target audiences including widows

Schuyler Public Library:
$14,126 for acquiring equipment and software to improve communication with the public in the library’s new building

Sidney Public Library:
$20,400 for digitizing of local newspaper from 1875 to current year

South Sioux City Public Library:
$5,250 to acquire up-to-date microfilm reader/scanner for local historical documents


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Library Improvement Grants Now Available for 2017

Library Improvement Grants Now Available for 2017

The 2017 Library Improvement Grants, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) from Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant monies, are now available. Nebraska accredited public libraries and certain state-run institutional libraries are eligible to apply for these competitive grants to help facilitate growth and development of library programs and services by supplementing local funding with federal funds designated for these purposes.

In keeping with the goals of the Library Services and Technology Act, the Library Improvement Grants are intended to help libraries meet the goals of the Nebraska Library Commission’s LSTA Five-Year Plan 2013 – 2017. To be funded projects must meet one or more of specific LSTA Purposes listed at the following link. Funding to help libraries join the statewide Pioneer Consortium will receive priority consideration as grant applications are evaluated.

Other requirements include a 25% local match. At least 10% of this match must be in cash. Federal LSTA grants involve meeting certain other requirements which are outlined at the link above and in grant agreement documents for approved projects. The minimum grant amount is $500.

Libraries submitting grant applications will notice that the application form has been changed quite a bit from those used in the past. However, the only changes made from last year’s grant form are the addition of spaces for an Executive Summary of the grant and for an explanation of budget amounts proposed.  The changes made on last year’s and this year’s grant form meet federal reporting guidelines which will allow IMLS to present cogent and cohesive reports on the use of federal LSTA monies to Congress as part of its efforts in support of continuing this funding for library services nationwide.

NOTE: Availability of federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant monies for the Library Improvement Grants are contingent upon LSTA funding and federal action on appropriations not yet determined for the current federal fiscal year. This means that the Commission will need to wait until decisions have been made at the national level to know if these Library Improvement Grants can be funded. We do not know the dates these decisions will be made.

This link will take you directly to the grant application form.

Pertinent dates to remember:
• December 6, 2016 – Application form available
• January 24, 2017 – Applications due by 11:59 PM Central Time
• February 14, 2017 – Grant recipients announced

NOTE: For more information be sure to tune in at 10 am CT (9 am MT) for the NCompass Live session on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 for the “Library Improvement Grants for 2017” session.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the Commission:

Richard Miller

Nebraska Library Commission

The Atrium, Suite 120

1200 N Street

Lincoln, NE 68508-2023

800-307-2665 or 402-471-3175


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Friday Reads: The Tenth Man: A Novel, by Graham Greene

22944771One advantage I have had over the years with the Nebraska Library Commission is that of being able to visit libraries all over the state – primarily public libraries, but a few other types as well. Often the public libraries have ongoing book sales of both weeded and donated books, usually on a shelf or sale table with suggested prices for paperback, hardbacks, or magazines, sometimes with statements such as, “Donation accepted.” On one fairly recent swing through the western part of the state to do a strategic planning workshop, I paused briefly at a book sale and purchased The Tenth Man, a short novel by Graham Greene.

Of course it was the author’s name that intrigued me, and the recollection of a film based on one of his novels, The Third Man, that caught my attention since I had never heard of a book by him entitled, The Tenth Man (and since the title so closely resembled the more well-known one). A summary of the novel itself is fairly easy and straightforward. The setting is a German prison camp during the World War II era in which political prisoners are forced to draw lots to determine which of every ten men will be executed – a “decimation” order that is apparently similar to what happened in Spain during its Fascist years.

This short novel (about 30,000 words) moves quickly, with the action and dialog quite spare, yet effective. The primary story concerns that of a wealthy attorney who is among the prisoners and who draws one of the marked papers indicating he will be executed (following orders of the prison masters who allow the prisoners themselves to determine who will be sacrificed). The crux of the story is that the attorney desperately offers all his wealth, his home and his land to any other prisoner who will take his place and be executed. He has a taker, and, being an attorney, knows how to put the proper papers together to bring this about to make the destitute man temporarily rich, at least until his death, with his family provided for.

The substitute is executed, and later, after the war has ended, the attorney returns to his former home, passing himself off with a different name and identify. He is, of course, penniless, but he is befriended by the executed prisoner’s sister and her crotchety mother, and is given caretaker-type work there since the family is in a somewhat precarious position. Yet another imposter – as it turns out, an unemployed actor — shows up, claiming to be the surviving attorney and ingratiating himself to the sister.

The story is fairly sparse, as I mentioned, but very well-written. What was most interesting to me, however, was not so much the novel itself, but more how it came about. According to the author, he wrote this novella sometime in 1944, based on an idea he had had in 1937. In 1983 Greene was contacted by an agent in America, telling him that The Tenth Man was being offered by the movie giant MGM for sale to an American publisher. Graham’s memory of the novel was so vague, that he thought he remembered writing a two-page summary of the story idea, not the 30,000 words it turned out to be. Apparently Greene had sold the rights to the novella to MGM under what he deemed a “slave contract” to ensure security for his family’s income.

Graham Greene himself worked for MI6, England’s spy agency. His travels for the agency took him all over the world, and he used many of the settings from his travels in his novels. The Tenth Man is not considered among Greene’s greatest work, but this author’s prolific career of writing novels, short stories, travel books, essays, plays and screen plays bears looking into. The Tenth Man is my introduction to an author I always meant to, but never had read, before this.



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Friday Reads: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

What do the following have in common?

  • An outrageous, irrepressible drag queenA piano-playing attorney who stays one step ahead of creditors by serially squatting in local mansions
  • An antiques dealer tried for one murder four times over nine years who enlists the help of a local voodoo priestess in his defense
  • The gravesites of song writer Johnny Mercer and poet Conrad Aiken
  • A college bulldog mascot dressed for game day in suit and tie
  • A local debutante whose mother hires Peter Duchin and his orchestra for her party
  • A failed inventor who reportedly possesses a poison powerful enough to spike the water supply and kill everyone in town
  • A pianist/singer who knows 6,000 songs by heart and recognizes no speed limit when driving from gig to gig

All of these characters and situations – and more – appear in the novelized, non-fiction book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. The author, a magazine writer in New York City for decades, discovered the magic of airline supersaver fares in the early 1980s which offered travel to U.S. cities for less than the nouvelle cuisine restaurant meals he critiqued. Through cheap travel to a sampling of continental U.S. cities, the author finds himself drawn more and more to Savannah, Georgia with its charms and eccentricities, so much so that he finally ends up living more of the year there than in NYC.

This title happens to be the one our Nebraska Library Commission book club will be discussing at its August session (and we have a book club kit in case your local group would like to read it). From shocking, to laugh-out-loud funny, the book manages to draw in the reader into the lives of the characters. Ultimately, Savannah itself becomes a character. Its history is fascinating. One example is that fact that, through southern charm and good manners, the then-mayor managed to talk the union general Sherman out of burning the city to ground in his march across the south.

The city itself, however, is not all charm and hospitality, with its beautiful squares that form the basis of the “old” Savannah. The city has traditionally stiff-armed any attempts to bring in local economic development and any chain stores. Such entities moved on up or down the road to Augusta or Atlanta. But the lack of economic opportunity, the still-present stratification of society along black and white lines certainly contributed to Savannah being named “Murder Capital of the U.S.” at one point.

Give it a try. I think you will be charmed, shocked and tickled with Mr. Berendt’s loving yet dispassionate treatment of Savannah. It certainly has led me to put the city on my list of must-see places sometime in my life.


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Friday Reads: A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy

Talk about “johnny-come-lately,” just last week I picked up a paperback copy of this title at a used-book sale at Greenwood Public Library. I had gone there on a trip back from Papillion to see the renovation completed in Greenwood, partly with money from the Kreutz Bennett Donor Advised Fund. I’d been meaning to read something by Maeve Binchy for years but hadn’t, fascinated as much by her name as anything. I’m sure Binchy fans are probably appalled that I’d waited so long. Now, as it turns out, this title is the very last one she wrote; she died shortly after finishing this book.

A Week in Winter tells the charming story (actually many stories) of a host of eventual guests at Stone House, a new guest house located in what had been a run-down mansion on the west coast of Ireland, high overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Three elderly sisters, had lived a “beans-and-toast” existence there, with Queenie the only survivor. The proprietress of this venture is a former resident of Stoneybridge, the town in which the place is located. She has returned from a long stay in the States with some money to invest in her hometown. Her story is that she is returning following the death of her spouse in a car wreck. As with many of the characters in this story, however, her biography is not quite as presented to the world.

A cast of characters descends upon Stone House during its first week in business, from many venues – the U.S., Sweden, England, Ireland (of course), and so forth. The author sets the scene with each one coming to this “restful place for a holiday by the sea” for quite different reasons. One guest couple wins second place in a travel contest (and they’re not happy about not going to Paris instead). One of the staff is sent there following a reform school stint. Another guest arrives following a devastating affair. (She’s the librarian!) Another received her stay as a retirement gift from teaching. (She is probably the only character who is not rejuvenated by her stay.) Still another — the one from Sweden – is faced with taking over his father’s button-down business, while he’d rather be playing music in local Irish pubs.

My guess is that Binchy fans will love this book. It felt to me a bit like what one of the characters says: “Problems don’t solve themselves neatly like that, due to a set of coincidences.” It does appear that the circumstances in which each character finds herself or himself are too easily “wrapped up” in the story. However, the author is such a good writer that I think I’ll try at least one more title. Any suggestions out there about which of her other nineteen titles is worth a go?

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Library Improvement Grants Announced for 2016

Library Development Director Richard Miller announced today that 14 Nebraska libraries — 13 public libraries, and one state-run institutional library — would be receiving Library Improvement Grants this year.  These grants are funded with federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds made available through the Institute of Museum and Library and Services and administered by the Nebraska Library Commission.. The grant review team consisted of Scott Childers (Southeast Library System), and, from the Commission, Rod Wagner, Allana Novotny, Christa Burns, and Richard Miller.

Here are the libraries,  brief descriptions of their projects, and grant amounts. For those libraries receiving grants for AWE Work Stations, the amounts of those grants are pending, to be determined following discussions with the company which sells these work stations. (Note: As with the last round of Youth Grants for Excellence, this will be the last year AWE Work Stations will be eligible grant projects under the Library Improvement Grants.)

Axtell Public Library — Outdoor Movie Night — $2,013

Beaver City Public Library — AWE Work Station — TBD

Blue Hill Public Library — Central Nebraska Digital Consortium membership; iPod Touch units — $636

Brunswick Public Library — CatExpress; two computers — in preparation for joining the Pioneer Consortium — $4,359

Fairbury Public Library — AWE Work Station — Spanish-Language — TBD

Franklin Public Library — 2 computers; Pioneer Consortium membership preparation — $4,587

Fullerton Public Library — AWE Work Station — TBD

Lincoln City Libraries — Mobile Maker Spaces — $6,721

McCook Public Library — Join Pioneer Consortium — $8,657

Norfolk Regional Center Patient Library — Creation of reading/learning nook for patients — $500

North Bend Public Library — Computer classes; author visits; storytelling; ADA Update — $3,920

Plainview Public Library — Computers; whiteboard; smart TV for new library building — $13,500

Springfield Memorial Library — Digitizing of historical photos; scanner; cart; camera kit — $2,670

Yutan Public Library — IPads; technology & social media training; Maker Space activities — $2,416

For questions concerning the Library Improvement Grants, please contact Richard Miller.


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Library Improvement Grants Now Available

The 2016 Library Improvement Grants, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) from Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant monies, are now available. Nebraska accredited public libraries and certain state-run institutional libraries are eligible to apply for these competitive grants to help facilitate growth and development of library programs and services by supplementing local funding with federal funds designated for these purposes.

In keeping with the goals of the Library Services and Technology Act, the Library Improvement Grants are intended to help libraries meet the goals of the Nebraska Library Commission’s LSTA Five-Year Plan 2013 – 2017. To be funded projects must meet one or more of specific LSTA Purposes listed at the following link. Funding to help libraries join the statewide Pioneer Consortium will receive priority consideration as grant applications are evaluated.

Other requirements include a 25% local match. At least 10% of this match must be in cash. Federal LSTA grants involve meeting certain other requirements which are outlined at the link above and in grant agreement documents for approved projects. The minimum grant amount is $500.

Libraries submitting grant applications will notice that the application form has been changed quite a bit from those used in the past. These changes meet federal reporting guidelines which will allow IMLS to present cogent and cohesive reports on the use of federal LSTA monies to Congress as part of its efforts in support of continuing this funding for library services nationwide. This link will take you directly to the grant application form.

Pertinent dates to remember:
• December 4, 2015 – Application form available
• January 28, 2016 – Applications due by 11:59 PM Central Time
• February 17, 2016 – Grant recipients announced

For questions concerning these grants contact Richard Miller 800-307-2665.

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Friday Reads: Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar

bookgreatrailwaybazaar_Why would a person be interested in reading a book published forty years ago? It doesn’t seem that is old enough to be considered a “classic,” and, to a degree, the author is not one of current list of “hot” authors that everyone wants to pick up. Still, there are often reasons to read a book not on a current best seller list that have less to do with the author, the subject, the title, the whatever. In this case it was a “waste not, want not” situation. I’d purchased this book over two years ago on a trip out of the country (It cost 187 “I-don’t-know-whats,”), I’d had it sitting around and had recently run across it again while winnowing my book collection to decide what to give to Lincoln City Libraries as donations.

A little history here — I’ve always been interested in trains. Our first home (my twin sister’s and mine) was an apartment a couple of stories above the local public library in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, with the back “yard” a steep bank falling away to railroad tracks on which heavy rail cars clanked their way by. Our second home was an old place (Built in 1879 by A. & H. Hoerhammer) on Railroad Street, with those same railroad tracks now a narrow street and a less-steep bank away from our front door. So, you see, I couldn’t help but be, if not interested, at least steeped in the noise, smells, etc. first of steam locomotives, then diesel monsters as their rushed or crawled by our house.

But back to the book. The Great Railway Bazaar recounts author Theroux’s four-month journey, mostly by rail (with a few legs of the journey by ship and plane) all the way from Great Britain, to Japan and back. Most critics consider this book Theroux’s greatest achievement, but he has also written fiction — Jungle Lovers, Saint Jack, and perhaps more famous, The Mosquito Coast, several of these having been made into films.

If you choose to read this book, you will find the author highly entertaining (of the “laugh-out-loud” variety) at times. Other times he comes across as too critical of an entire culture (a little too much generalization at times), and at other points in the book very incisive. He doesn’t shrink from controversy and tackles just about anything, not excluding himself from criticism when he feels it is needed.

I do not doubt his sometimes shocking descriptions of life in a number of the countries he rides through. The most interesting feature of the book, however, is seeing how his descriptions of life on the various trains he takes reflect the countries and cultures they are riding through, and how he is affected by those forces. (“The railway bazaar, with its gadgets and passengers, represented the society so completely that to board it was to be challenged by the national character.”) But at other times the train travel itself, especially on journeys that lasted for days at a time, the author expresses his pleasure: “Train travel animated my imagination and usually gave me the solitude to order and write my thoughts. I travelled easily in two directions, along the level rails while Asia flashed changes at the window, and at the interior rim of a private world of memory and language.”

Of course, so many years later his descriptions are probably woefully out-of-date for a number of the countries he passed through, although I have to admit that some of them still appear quite incisive today. (For example, the Shah is still in power in Iran; the U.S. is just pulling out of the war in Vietnam. In Saigon a local woman tries to get the author to take a “half-American” baby with him. In Japan he experiences a noodle soup (“ra-men”) for the first time, probably one of the earliest mentions of that ubiquitous food in American writing.)

One of the most entertaining aspects of this book for me was that it dragged me decades back to my time as a not-very-good English major in college. The book is loaded with literary and historical allusions, making me want to go back to books I missed (or didn’t finish reading) all those years ago, and savor them with the passage of time and their relationship to this book. The author also captures the essence of really long-distance travel, especially to foreign countries when he says, “. . . the scenes changing in the train window from Victoria Station to Tokyo Central are nothing compared to the change in himself; and travel writing, which cannot but be droll at the outset, moves from journalism to fiction, arriving . . . at . . . autobiography.” And in this he is in good company with both Mark Twain and Henry James.

Try it. I think you’ll like it!

Richard Miller

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Friday Reads: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski

Sometimes we choose a book; sometimes a book finds us. The latter is what happened with David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. An elderly neighbor who had recently lost his wife and who was cleaning out the house before moving to Florida offered me two books including this one. Sawtelle

This novel tells the story of Edgar, son of parents who raise and train a breed of dog named after the family. For no explicable reason Edgar can hear but is unable to speak. Because of this he trains dogs using signs (and sign language), while his mother uses voice commands.

The story revolves around the death of Edgar’s father (in which Edgar suspects his uncle, Claude) and the accidental death (in which Edgar had a part) of a beloved veterinarian who cares for the family’s dogs. The latter event impels Edgar to run away for two months with three dogs he has raised. His survival in a wilderness area, the appearance of another character who helps him, and his eventual return home to confront his uncle all lead the story along at a good pace for the reader.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book is when the author, employing the “omniscient” voice, tells part of the story from the dog’s perspective. This is especially poignant when Almondine (present at the birth of Edgar and with whom Edgar has a special bond), is facing the end of her life, wondering why her beloved Edgar has left and not returned. It is heart-breaking, but then I am a lover of dogs, so that may have something to do with it. (Note that the author read up on canine cognition in preparing to write the book.)

This book was a 2008 selection of Oprah’s Book Club. (All of us in the library field owe Oprah a debt of gratitude for her support and promotion of book clubs.) If you like dogs and a good mystery, you’ll enjoy this book.

If you are interested in this title for your book club, the Commission has it available for check out. Go to following link to accomplish that:

Richard Miller

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Friday Reads: The Grammar Lady: How to Mind Your Grammar in Print and in Person

BookCoverThe Grammar LadyOK. I admit it – I’m a bit of a grammar snob. I know I’m opening myself up to criticism if I were to make a mistake. [Notice how I used the subjunctive – “were” not “was,” just now.] I ask for your sympathy. I attended a high school in eastern Pennsylvania that, in English classes from grades 9 through 12, we learned grammar, spelling, diagramming sentences, and vocabulary every year. The point I’m making here is, we had all this drummed into our wee heads, so we could not help but become somewhat obsessive about it. However, when I taught ninth-grade English in a high school in western Pennsylvania just  four years later, there was no place in the curriculum for grammar – that’s how quickly matters had changed. (I taught some grammar anyway.)

If you are interested in learning more about English grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and usage – and learning about these in a way that is perhaps more fun than the methods my classmates and I were exposed to – you couldn’t do much better than acquiring a copy of The Grammar Lady: How to Mind Your Grammar in Print and in Person, by Mary Newton Bruder.  Starting a Web site in Pittsburgh entitled, “The Grammar Lady,” the author set herself up to answer any question that might be thrown at her related to grammar, whether directly or tangentially. I think she realizes that she is a bit of a grammar snob too, but she delivers her message in amusing ways with laugh-out-loud examples of how grammatical, spelling, vocabulary, and language usage mistakes can get in the way of communicating what one really wants to get across.

Bruder begins the book by laying out why grammar is important. Some of the major reasons:

  • It can save time by keeping us out of situations (through misunderstanding or offense) that we later have to apologize for. [Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition – excuse me!]
  • It enhances communication.
  • People are judged on the basis of their grammar (especially important during job interviews).

The author makes the point that students should be taught the basics of grammar by the third grade, and after that spend time refining that knowledge and learning vocabulary and more complex sentence structure. She also says it’s a waste [not “waist’] of time diagramming sentences. I disagree with that. [I really enjoyed learning to diagram sentences. I learned parts of speech by that method which, I think, helped with foreign languages too.]

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the amusing examples she offers of unintentional mistakes she sees in advertisements, company memos, school assignments, with many of these sent to her Web site. Here are a few:

  • From a government-contract proposal: “We have ascertained that the project will require 66 man-moths of experience.”
  • “The guest book is in charge of Mary Jane,” rather than as it should be, the other way around.
  • “They referred a woman with a broken exhaust pipe and three flat tires.”
  • “Hopefully it won’t rain tomorrow,” rather than “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow.” [Later in the book she describes this development as a battle that may already be lost.]
  • The bugaboo of the parts of speech related to the verbs “lie” (meaning to recline), and “lay” (meaning to place something on a table, for example).
  • A sportscaster and weatherman on a local television station described what they called a “heart-rendering” story.

In one sense I do the author a disservice. She may be a bit of an elitist, but she does allow for the fact that the English language does change, and that there is a difference between the written and the spoken language. However, there are some things she cannot abide, one of them being overuse of the word “like,” in a sentence such as, “It was . . . like . . . cold.” She refers to this as, an “inarticulate stutter,” all the while admitting that she has never seen it in print since it is mostly a bothersome habit of some speakers.

I recommend that you pick up this book – if you want to learn about grammar, spelling, vocabulary, language usage, and so forth, or if you just want to be amused at the many ways that we can mess up what it is we are trying to say to each other. For those who are interested, you may also want to look up another related book – Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.


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Funding for Small-Town Libraries: Kreutz Bennett Donor Advised Fund Grants

The Nebraska Community Foundation has recently announced that this year’s Kreutz Bennett Donor Advised Fund Grants are now available for public libraries in communities of fewer than 3,000 residents. The three types of grants are:

  • Planning Grants (leading to public library Accreditation)
  • Enhancement Grants (for improving library services and/or programs)
  • Facilities Grants (to contribute toward new facilities, or renovation, restoration or rehabilitation of current libraries)

The process requires submitting an initial “short application” — due by October 1, 2014. This application is reviewed and used as a basis for whether or not to invite the library to send in a “long form” application which is used to determine which libraries will receive grants during this grant year.

For details on the grants, including match requirements, levels of funding available, and many more details, contact: Reggi Carlson, Nebraska Community Foundation Communications Director, (402)323-7331 or or go to the following link to review the guidelines and to see the application procedures including the short application:

Nebraska Community Foundation is a statewide organization using charitable giving to build prosperous communities. NCF works with volunteer leaders serving more than 200 communities by providing training, strategic development, gift planning assistance and financial management for its affiliated funds located throughout the state. In the last five years more than 35,000 contributions have been made to NCF affiliated funds, and more than $122 million has been reinvested to benefit Nebraska communities. For more information visit

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Kreutz Bennett Grants to 8 Public Libraries

nebraskafoundation_logoThe Nebraska Community Foundation recently issued a press release announcing the eight Nebraska public libraries that received Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund grants for 2014. Reggie Carlson, Communications Director of the Foundation, sent the following information to most newspapers in Nebraska. The recipients are:

Auld Public Library in Red Cloud received $20,000 in matching funds to construct an addition to the existing library, add an elevator and restrooms that are ADA compliant, and complete a number of renovation and repair projects, including the installation of new plumbing and HVAC system.  

Culbertson Public Library was awarded $20,000 to construct and furnish a new 3,000-square-foot library. The community has already raised more than $300,000 for the project.

The Deshler Public Library Foundation has launched a $1 million challenge grant fundraising campaign for the construction of a new library. The Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund is assisting with a grant of $20,000.

The Elgin Public Library will use $3,275 in matching funds to purchase microfilm of The Elgin Review newspaper from 2005 through 2012, and to digitize 50 reels of microfilm and purchase a searchable external hard drive.

Exeter Public Library is using its Kreutz-Bennett grant of $2,545 to create and furnish a “Tech Lounge” to increase accessibility to the Internet, computers and other electronic devices for library patrons.

Hruska Memorial Public Library in David City will use its grant of $6,335 to increase accessibility by installing automatic swings with push plates and push/pull handles for the library’s main entry doors and three interior doors. The project will also replace three exterior doors to prevent moisture damage and unauthorized entry.

Jensen Memorial Library in Minden will use its $7,000 grant to install new shelving and a dual book drop. The current utility shelving is not designed for books.

Walthill Public Library will use its planning grant of $2,500 for salary support to extend library hours of operation, as required by accreditation guidelines, and to support the library director’s efforts toward achieving accreditation.

The Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund grants are decided upon by the nieces and nephews of the late Shirley Kreutz Bennett who left a legacy in support of public libraries in Nebraska towns with 3,000 or fewer residents. Grant monies of about $70,000 to $80,000 are distributed each year in three grant areas:

  • Planning grants leading to accreditation
  • Enhancement grants to improve library services
  • Facilities grants for new construction or the renovation, restoration or rehabilitation of current libraries

The Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund is an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF). For more information contact:

Reggie Carlson, NCF Communications Director, (402) 323-7331, or

or go to the NCF website article on the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund for information on the 2015 grant cycle.





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Regional Library System Configuration Task Force

Funding for Nebraska’s regional library systems has been limited for a number of years due to reductions in federal LSTA monies and in state general fund monies, as well as rising operations costs. The Commission has appointed a task force to make recommendations to the Commission on how to address this issue, in particular, how the current number of systems might be reduced. The first meeting of the group occurred Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at Lexington Public Library.

Rod Wagner appointed the following members to the Regional Library System Configuration Task Force with the charge that it make its recommendations sometime during the first calendar quarter of 2014. Members of the task force are:

Francine Canfield, Baright Public Library, Ralston (representing State Advisory Council)

Deb Carlson, Lied Scottsbluff Public Library (representing State Advisory Council)

Jessica Chamberlain, Norfolk Public Library (representing Northeast Library System)

John Dale, Wayne (representing State Advisory Council)

Gail Formanack, Eastern Library System (representing Eastern Library System)

Denise Harders, Republican Valley Library System (representing Republican Valley Library System)

Vickie Retzlaff, Grant County Library, Hyannis (representing Panhandle Library System)

Kathy Thomsen, Lexington Public Library (representing Meridian Library System)

Dorothy Willis, Pawnee City (representing Southeast Library System)

The task force will continue its work with Rod Wagner and Richard Miller to develop its recommendations.

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Take the new Accreditation Guidelines for a Test Drive!

A number of Nebraska public library directors have asked if they could try out the new Accreditation Guidelines even though their libraries are not up for reaccreditation this year. The answer is, yes! In particular they were interested in seeing how their libraries stack up against their “peer libraries,” that is, libraries with populations 15% lower and higher than theirs. Until recently this was not possible because we were only able to add in statistics from the peer libraries for those libraries up for accreditation in 2013. However, due to the good work of Vern Buis, Computer Services Director at the Commission, the comparative statistics are now drawn automatically from Omnibase, on which the annual data submitted via Bibliostat Collect are displayed. So, have a go at it. Please keep in mind a few things:

  • If your library did not submit statistics for the last full year — i.e., 2011 — 2012 —  there will be no comparable statistics for you to look at.
  • You should not submit the application form itself if your library is not up for re-accreditation in 2013 (or if you are an unaccredited public library that did not submit statistics for 2011 — 2012 — see the first point above).
  • These data change each year, reflecting the statistics submitted for that year. Therefore, you cannot necessarily draw conclusions from the data for this year if your library is applying for accreditation in a different year.

Please let Richard Miller ( , 800-307-2665) know if you have any questions about the Accreditation Guidelines, and happy driving!


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2013 Nebraska Public Library Accreditation

The 2013 public library accreditation process is underway, and a number of libraries have already begun to fill out the new application form — or at least have taken it out for a “test drive.” You may want to take a look at the application also (although it is interactive only for those 50 libraries due for reaccreditation in 2013, and for 40 additional unaccredited libraries that submitted their annual statistics for 2011 — 2012). To see what the application looks like go here.

Here are some of the changes in the new guidelines:

  • Some guidelines are “pre-filled” with statistics your library submitted on the annual report.
  • It is now possible to work on submitting the guidelines, then save them to return later to complete the process (any number of times up until the October 1st deadline).
  • The library must have an up-to-date strategic plan in order to apply for accreditation (and incidentally, in order to successfully complete the accreditation application).
  • There are 12 minimum qualifications a library must meet before it can begin to fill out the accreditation application. Among others these include: the legal establishment of the library; a governing or advisory library board; a certified board; a certified librarian; and an actively used e-mail address by the director.
  • The three levels of accreditation attainment are bronze, silver and gold.
  • There is a total of 275 points possible to accumulate — bronze (175 points); silver (200 points); and gold (250 points).
  • Libraries are compared with their “peer libraries” that serve populations within 15% of their service populations, for a fairer comparison with like libraries.

The development, or updating, of a strategic plan for the library is also an essential part of the accreditation process. Such a plan helps to ensure that the services the library offers are wanted and needed by its community. How long has it been since you determined the needs of your community? This planning process enables you to do that and helps to ensure that you enjoy continued support from your community. For more information on strategic planning, go to “About the Strategic Plan”  here.

For any questions about the public library accreditation process, contact Richard Miller via e-mail, or call 800-307-2665, or 402-471-3175.


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Application for Nebraska Public Library Accreditation Now on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Website

July 1, 2013 has arrived, and, as promised, the on-line application form to apply for public library accreditation is now active.  Go here to begin the application process:

Fifty Nebraska public libraries are due for reaccreditation in 2013. Forty additional public libraries (in the Dollars for Data category) that submitted their annual statistics for the Public Libraries Survey are also eligible to apply for accreditation. These two groups of libraries have received an e-mail today with details on how to initiate and go through the process.

Workshops on how to write a strategic plan — a requirement in order to apply for accreditation — are occurring or have occurred in each regional library System area. Stragegic planning templates, explanatory videos, and how-to guides are also available at the above link. Libraries may contact their System Administrator for additional information.

For questions concerning the public library accreditation process, contact Richard Miller — (800)307-2665; (402)471-3175.



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Planning workshops — the new Accreditation Guidelines

The Nebraska Guidelines for Public Library Accreditation which the Nebraska Library Commission will begin using in July require that a library have an up-to-date strategic plan in place. The  new guidelines are community-based, so libraries need to know what their communities’ needs are in order to provide appropriate library services that meet those unique needs. That’s where planning comes in.

The Commission and the regional Library Systems have put together  materials to help libraries in this effort.  These resources include:

  • Six print worksheets  related to steps in the planning process to fill out in order to create a plan — Plan to Plan; Community Profile; Community Needs; Take Stock; Develop Goals & Objectives; and Evaluate Programs & Services
  • Explanatory videos to be used with the worksheets to review and help get the discussion going for the planning process

In addition each System area will be scheduling planning workshops in their regions. So far the following two have been scheduled:

  • Northeast Library System (Wed., June 19, 2013) — Norfolk Public Library: Sarah Warneke and Richard Miller will present at this 6 to 8 PM workshop. See the calendar for registration information.
  • Panhandle Library System (Wed., June 26, 2013) — Western Nebraska Community College — Sidney: Eric Green and Richard Miller will present at this 9 AM to 3 PM workshop. Contact Panhandle Library System for more details.
  • Watch the Commission’s calendar for details from other Systems for upcoming planning workshops.

For questions about these workshops contact Richard Miller or Laura Johnson at the Commission, or your regional System Administrator.

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Grants for Small-Town Nebraska Libraries — the Kreutz Bennett Donor Advised Fund

Grants of up to $20,000 are again available to Nebraska public libraries in towns with populations of fewer than 3,000. Shirley Kreutz Bennett left a legacy in her estate that allows the Nebraska Community Foundation to make these funds available each year. There are three types of grants:

  • Planning Grants from $500 to $2500 per year to help unaccredited public libraries earn public library accreditation. A 1 to 1 match is required.
  • Enhancement Grants from $2500 to $20,000 per year to enhance library programs and services. A 1 to 1 match is required.
  • Facilities Grants from $5000 to $20,000 per year to improve library facilities (new construction, renovation, or expansion). A 3 to 1 match is required.

If interested, be aware that the application due date to apply is October 1, 2012. A short application which is quite simple to complete must be submitted by that date for your library to be considered for the 2013 grants. If you are not quite sure about some of the details of your project, at least fill out the short application so that you have the opportunity to complete the more detailed application later.

For more information contact Ms. Reggi Carlson, Nebraska Community Foundation Communications Director, (402) 323-7331, or

To see more details about these grants, go here.

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Public Library Accreditation 2012

Last Friday, July 20, 2012 Nebraska public libraries that are eligible for reaccreditation in 2012, and currently unaccredited public libraries that submitted their 2010 — 2011 annual statistics to the Commission in a timely manner, received an e-mail. This message explained the steps to follow to complete the accreditation process, noting that the library’s application is due by Tuesday, September 11, 2012 and that it must be submitted electronically.

As in the past number of years, there are three levels of accreditation attainable — Essential, Enhanced, and Excellent — depending on which guidelines the library is able to meet. Go here to see a copy of the current guidelines. To check the accreditation status of any public library, go here. If your library is not up for reaccreditation in 2012, or if it did not submit its annual statistics, then you need not be concerned about this process.

2013 marks the first time new accreditation guidelines will be available and used. These guidelines will be previewed for the first time at the annual NLA/NEMA conference in the fall and will be used for that year’s process.

If you have any questions about the public library accreditation process, contact Richard Miller at the Commission  at 800-307-2665, or

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Building Common Ground: discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion

The American Library Association has $2500 grants to give to 30 public libraries in the U.S. The money is from the Fetzer Institute, one of the sponsors of Krista Tippet’s program, for those of you who listen to NPR. But time is short for applying for this grant. It is due November 18, 2011, and the programming related to the grant has to be fully developed and planned (including speakers engaged, bios submitted, venues scheduled, etc.), so you’ll want to look at this immediately if you are considering applying.
Building Common Ground’s goal is “to engage the public in contemplation and discussion of the importance of community, civility and compassion in their daily lives.” It is intended to bring together adult audiences in the library for events and programs including reading, viewing, reflection, discussion and civic engagement in order to enhance the quality of life and learning in the community. Libraries are required to present from four to eight programs with this grant and must develop these under one or more of three programming templates: Reflection; Engagement; Action. The information presented for these grants is comprehensive and offers multiple programming ideas which will be helpful to any library planning programs (e.g., a panel on civility plus discussion; using books and videos as discussion starters; hosting a service fair). Two webinars have been scheduled to help applicants as they write their proposals. The first of these takes place Thursday, October 17, 2011 at 3 PM Central time and is entitled: Creating Common Ground Community Tours. The second, entitled Programming with the Charter for Compassion including Creating Reading Groups Focused on ‘Twelve Stops to a Compassionate Life’ by Karen Armstrong, is scheduled for Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 12 noon Central time.
Grant notification is scheduled for December 16, 2011. The programs will need to take place between February 1, 2012 and November 30, 2012.
The resources offered for applicants are excellent including even the criteria upon which applications will be judged. But the time to apply is very short (and you need to register to create an application account before you start), so, if you are interested, you’ll need to get cracking.

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