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Tag Archives: Staff
Meet Cynthia Nigh who joined The Library Commission staff this past August as a Project Assistant for the Library Innovation Studios Grant. Cynthia was born in Reedsburg, Wisconsin where her father worked for Amour Meats and later Dubuque Pack. Every morning he would receive a call with the market prices on the party line early and neighbors on the same party line soon learned what valuable information was being conveyed. Cynthia attended West Delaware Community High School in Manchester, IA and because of an influential Art Teacher named Mr. Renfrow, she applied for and was awarded an Art Scholarship to attend the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Cynthia also attended Hawkeye Technical College for Commercial Art in Waterloo, IA.
As a young girl, Cynthia describes her reading habits as constant. She remembers fondly the number of scholastic books she and her sisters would order. A childhood favorite was Once and Future King by T. H. White. A Course in Miracles is another important book to Cynthia as her copy was given to her by her father. The value of this book for Cynthia is that “it helped me look at the world more peacefully.”
Cynthia says the best thing about working in a library is being amongst the stacks. She describes her own house as a library so close proximity to a collection of books is a comfort. The most challenging thing about this position is learning to operate each machine acquired for the grant; what supplies each machine requires; and writing operating manuals for library staff. Apart from work, Cynthia enjoys working in her garden, cooking, and canning with the bounty from her labor. If she could have dinner with anyone she would like to dine with Oprah but not at Cynthia’s house, in a neutral location.
If she won the lottery and no longer had to work, she might pursue more fully her interest in mycology – the study of mushrooms. She might also enjoy fully implementing a craft studio where she could be creative and perhaps a small business could emerge for selling her projects. Cynthia shares her home with her two sons, Dylan and Paul in addition to two rescue cats named Bonnie and Chloe. Because of her Iowa background, I asked what distinguishes life in Nebraska and she answered, Nebraskans are a little wilder and exhibit more freedom in their choices compared to the tucked in manner of Iowans. A perfect day for Cynthia would be laying around watching movies and binge watching Netflix titles. Welcome to Cynthia!
JoAnn McManus (nee Jedlicka) was recently selected as a co-recipient of the Library Commission’s state of Nebraska Excellence in Leadership recognition award. She joined the Nebraska Library Commission in 2010 to work on the Library Broadband Builds Nebraska Communities Project funded through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Currently, she is working with the Library Innovation Studios Project (funded through an IMLS grant) with a team of Library Commission staff.
JoAnn grew up on a farm just outside of Schuyler, NE and is one hundred percent Czechoslovakian. She graduated from Schuyler Central High School and is the youngest of thirteen children. Her mother was also from a family of thirteen. JoAnn was named after her first cousin, who was a child movie star named JoAnn Marlowe (Mares) who’s most famous picture was Mildred Pierce amongst the ten to her credit.
JoAnn earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and is a Graduate of the Economic Development Institute from the University of Oklahoma. She also completed coursework in Grant Writing and Research from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. JoAnn has held various positions, many in the economic development field and almost all in the area of project or grants management. Most of the organizations JoAnn worked for served counties throughout the state including NPPD, Nebraska Departments of Economic Development, and the Nebraska Department of Labor so JoAnn has done her share of traveling to Nebraska communities. JoAnn says the most challenging thing about her current assignment is that there is so much to do in a concentrated amount of time especially in the first few months. Luckily there are others on the team that are going through these same challenges to move the project forward. The best thing about working with librarians is serving Nebraska in a different way than in her former jobs,
If JoAnn could have dinner with anyone she would like to dine with Warren Buffett and should a winning lottery ticket find its way to her possession, she would retire and begin traveling with Hawaii and Ireland being top of her list. When she is not working at the Commission, JoAnn enjoys going to estate sales and is drawn to buying pretty objects. She has one case and two booths at the Aardvark Antique Mall and her family is always surprised when what looks like a useless purchase actually sells. JoAnn won’t be quitting her day job anytime soon, selling ‘treasures’ pencils out as more of a hobby.
JoAnn is married to Brian McManus and together they have a son Daniel. They also share their home with one cat named M&M. A perfect day would include spending time with her family enjoying adventures together. Congratulations JoAnn!
Jan was born in Corsicana, Texas and is a graduate of Corsicana High School. Jan then attended the University of Houston in London, study abroad program, and was able to travel throughout Europe and Great Britain studying French, Literature, and Architecture. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, she was en route to Peru to become an archaeologist but she opted for marriage and children instead. In 1990 she began working towards her MLS Degree at Texas Woman’s University in Denton while she was expecting her first child. She still has the signed poetry book given to her by one of her first children’s literature professors. She completed her degree in 1993. She found her way to librarianship by applying the same principle that brought her to anthropology, a desire to work in the community with cultural groups; a librarian could offer a great deal to all age groups and sectors.
As a young girl, Jan attended James L. Collins Catholic School in Corsicana which had its own thriving library. She read the Little House books and all the classic children’s titles. One of the first books that captured her heart was Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Her teacher read this book aloud to the class and from that time on, Jan was a captive library user. As a librarian, Jan has read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory many times and has used it for several book club discussions. As an adult reader, she lists the authors Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, and Diana Gabaldon as some of her favorite authors. Because she shares a birthday (June 6th) with Cynthia Rylant, and YA Authors Sara Dessen and V.C. Andrews, those are also favorites. Her favorite genre is historical fiction and will read anything history related regarding London and Europe. Jan describes a perfect day as one that is stormy outside while she reads inside next to a fireplace in a comfortable chair.
Jan has worked in various jobs from the library at Frito Lay to small publics and very large school districts in the states of Texas and Washington. Jan credits her director at Ennis, Texas Independent School District, Kay Weathers, for teaching her the nuts and bolts of librarianship. In 2010, Jan moved back to Texas and was contemplating Law School. She took paralegal courses for 2 years and volunteered for an Immigration and Bankruptcy Attorney at El Centro Community College in Dallas. This got her a position at L.G. Pinkston High School, a school with a Law Magnet Program, and later transferred to Skyline High School with 4,500 students.
How did Jan get to Nebraska? When she was 17 years old, she visited Scottsbluff with Pat Jolliffe, a dashing young pilot from Scottsbluff that she met at age 16, when he had attended flight school in Corsicana where his uncle was an aeronautics instructor. She knew that Scottsbluff was where she wanted to live when she saw the Wildcat Hills. Thirty-two years after their first meeting they reconnected, Jan and Pat were married this past December. She says she knows this is where she was always meant to be. As she says: “this area called my name.” Of course, she misses her family and friends who are still in Texas and also misses the euphemisms, most especially y’all which is properly, all y’all.
When Jan isn’t working in a library she enjoys tennis and is learning to play golf. She has 2 grandchildren and they are a big part of her life. She describes herself as an artsy-crafty person and loves to create photography books because they document history. She enjoys traveling and looks forward to someday returning to that Edwardian era home that doubled as her college/dorm in Maida Vale, west London.
Jan says the best thing about working in in a library is the relationships that you make with the people, not just the ones you work with but also with the patrons you serve. It can be babies through the older generation, and when you make connections, they’re for life. When you work in a library it’s always a new day, no two days are the same. It’s amazing you get paid to do this, it’s not a real job, it’s more of a lifestyle, it’s who you are. Welcome to Nebraska Jan!
We are reintroducing our staff member Christa Porter, who changed both her name and her job title since joining the Library Commission staff in 2000.
Last September, Christa (Burns) married John Porter and effective April 4th, Christa also will become the new Director of Library Development. So many congratulations are in order. Christa was born in Albany, New York. She earned her BA in English with a Specialty in Literature and Irish Folklore, from SUNY Binghamton and her MLS from SUNY Albany. As a young girl, her dad would take Christa and her sister Sarah to the Saratoga Springs Public Library every Saturday and she read her way through the Black Beauty and Narnia Series as well as many other science fiction and fantasy novels. She found her way to a career in libraries in a rather serendipitous route as her dad found a work study position for her where he worked at SUNY Central Administration in Albany – specifically the OCLC offices of Nylink. This led her to enroll in Library School where she was fortunate to be assigned Bill Katz as her work study professor who was a helpful and considerable influence on her career.
Christa’s job at Nylink would prove an interesting segue for her first position at the Library Commission as NEBASE Member Services Coordinator. Most recently her role as Library Development Consultant involved speaking to many of you about E-rate among other topics. Christa is also the host of the Commission’s weekly NCompass Live online program and she assists organizations in the state to hold virtual meetings with GoToWebinar. In her opinion, the best thing about working in libraries is solving problems and finding answers to questions. “It’s always a treasure hunt. The best skill a librarian can have is the ability to say I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
When Christa isn’t working, she enjoys being at home with John, spending time with family, relaxing, playing video games, or reading. Without hesitation, her all-time favorite author is Isaac Asimov. If Christa could switch careers, she would love to own a book or comic store combination coffee shop that served pastries and food, provided someone else was doing the books. Christa and John share their home with three cats: Logan, Luna, and Nushi. Despite being far from home, Christa says Nebraska offers friendly people, open spaces, and friends and family.
Meet Holli Duggan (pronounced: DUG in) who joined the Library Commission earlier this year as our Continuing Education Coordinator.
Holli was born and raised in North Platte and attended UNK where she received degrees in English and Spanish. She received her MLS from the University of Missouri in addition to an MA in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education from UNL. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Educational Studies at UNL.
Growing up, Holli was always at the library and a favorite childhood author was R.L. Stine. She aspired to be a librarian at a young age and has a resume that includes working at Waldenbooks, the UNK and UNL libraries, the Gere branch library in Lincoln, and Concordia. The most satisfying thing about her current position is helping people find resources to assist them to perform their job better and in turn, help their patrons more efficiently. When I asked Holli what she thinks of when I ask her about the Library Commission, she says it is awesome. She enjoys working together with others to better libraries in Nebraska. If she could switch jobs, she would be a Spanish translator or something science-y. If she won the lottery, the first thing she would do is go to Costa Rica.
During non-work hours, Holli is most likely doing classwork for her Ed.D. In the rare free hours, she enjoys reading, watching shows on Netflix, or doing Crossfit. If she could have dinner with anyone she would pick the author Lin-Manuel Miranda because it would be so much fun to talk to him. She fondly remembers that Stephen King’s Pet Sematary was the very first book she checked out of her library from the adult section.
Holli shares her home with her husband Zac, a chocolate lab mix named Kyrie, and three cats named, Loki, Beowulf, and Mei Mei. If she could choose two words to describe herself they would be driven and patient. It’s wonderful to have Holli on our team!
Sam collects and gathers statistical data about public libraries and produces a variety of products. A large portion of the data collected is from the annual IMLS Public Library Survey. Sam was born and raised in Northeast Lincoln and is a graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University where he received a BA in Philosophy. Since philosophical jobs were in short supply, Sam worked at a law firm in Lincoln and discovered that he would rather devote his time to public service as opposed to private practice. Sam then became the public services librarian at the Nebraska State Library, better known as the Nebraska Supreme Court Law Library in the capitol building. After staff elimination from budget cuts (Sam got RIF’d), he became the librarian at the Nebraska State Penitentiary and later the Library Coordinator for the Nebraska Correctional Libraries. He obtained his MLS from the University of Missouri. Sam says the most satisfying thing about working in libraries is finding information, helping people with projects, and serving the public
When I asked Sam what he thinks of when I mention the Library Commission he responded: Its laid back, there is support for new ideas and ways of doing things, and a great group of people. When Sam isn’t working at the Commission, he enjoys light workouts, chen style tai chi, gardening, fixing things, visiting botanical gardens, and ballroom dancing. He is the father to a daughter (age 9) and a son (age 5). If he could choose any other profession he would like to found and run non-profits supporting the local community. Likely these would be bringing a large scale botanical Garden or an Asian Cultural Center (tai chi and Asian botanical garden or self-realization center) to Lincoln. Sam describes himself as non-fiction reader and a lowbrow fiction reader, with his favorite authors including John Waters, Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Albert Camus, and Larry Brown. It’s not uncommon for Sam to have 40 or more items borrowed from the Lincoln City Library at one time, including kids’ books and DVDs. A perfect day might include a favorable climate, sleeping late, drinks, napping, dinner, and late night salsa dancing. It’s wonderful to have Sam at the Library Commission after he has served other Nebraska State Agencies so well.
Meet Amanda Sweet who joined our staff in August as a Library Reader’s Advisor for our Talking Book and Braille service.
Amanda was born in Milwaukee, WI and was raised in the small town of St. Francis, near Lake Michigan. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English with an Emphasis in Publishing from Carleton College. After a brief stint with a literary agency in New York City, she decided to veer away from the making of books and shifted to the circulation of books in the library. As long as she is near a book, she is happy.
It was while working for Beyond Vision, a nonprofit that employs 85% blind and visually impaired individuals, that she began her Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. At Beyond Vision she heard tell of some difficulties in raising awareness for TBBS services and she decided it was time to get more involved with the service as a whole. Here at the Commission, she loves the personal interaction she gets with patrons and will be completing her degree in December. If all else fails with the library career, she will content herself as a professional Dorito taster.
Amanda is a lifelong user of libraries and generally has at least one book in her oversized purse at all times. Some of her favorite authors include Sherman Alexie, Patricia Briggs, Dean Koontz, Richelle Mead, and many others. In her spare time she makes jewelry for the Etsy site she shares with her father- Sweetwater Creations. She lives with her boyfriend Sean and, since their move, they both have a craving for Oakland Gyros Greek Restaurant back in Milwaukee. The silver lining is that Amanda loves the people here in Lincoln as well as the new bead store/ art gallery she stumbled upon. Ideally, she would spend her entire weekend holed up with a gyro while reading, watching movies, making jewelry, and mindlessly surfing the web. We are grateful Amanda has joined us.
Meet Craig Lefteroff, who joined the Nebraska Library Commission as our Technology Innovation Librarian a year ago this month. Craig was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi and attended college at Delta State University, in Cleveland, Mississippi, graduating with a BA in English. After graduation, Craig taught English and speech for one year in a Mississippi Delta town with one store and a prison. This experience encouraged Craig to seek new employment, so he moved to Versailles (pronounced ver-say-elles), Kentucky, where he cleaned computers for Walmart. Next up was a job as an accountant for a Holiday Inn in Lexington, Kentucky. This job afforded him some flexibility so, affirming his love for books and literature, he enrolled in library school at the University of Kentucky.
Craig’s first professional library job was as a reference librarian at St. Tammany Parish Library north of Lake Pontchartrain after Hurricane Katrina. A tipping point occurred during this chapter of Craig’s life and it was time to try living closer if not north of the Mason-Dixon Line. To fill a job title of Reference and Electronics Librarian, Craig moved to West Virginia to work for the Kanawha City Public Library where he lived at the top of a hill. When Craig was selected by the Nebraska Library Commission, it was a priority to be able to walk to work as this was never a possibility in Elkview.
It is typical for librarians to have eclectic interests and Craig fits this description. He surrounds himself with a variety of people and enjoys movies, music, and reading. Some of Craig’s favorite authors are Thomas Hardy, George Elliot, Herman Melville, Cormac McCarthy, and Mary Roach. A book that Craig has read at least five times is Stoner by John Williams owing to the theme of a young man growing up in the south who falls in love with literature. If money were no issue, he would spend his time reading and traveling first to Italy. When asked what other profession he would like to practice, Craig would be a writer and when I asked him to comment on his associations about his workplace, he responded: food day.
We’re grateful Craig has made the Midwest his home and is willing to share his skills and interests with those of us in Nebraska libraries.
Holly began working at the Library Commission in 2010 in a temporary grant position and proved invaluable so we hired her as a permanent employee. Holly is one of the very few Commission employees who is a non-Nebraska native. She was born in Bad Hersfeld, Germany and adopted by an American family living in Paris, France while her father was serving as an aide-de-camp to the General in charge of NATO. She became a naturalized citizen at the age of 3. As the daughter of a career Air Force officer in the intelligence field, Holly lived in Annandale, Virginia; Oahu, Hawaii, and Ramstein, Germany. She graduated from High School in Hawaii and as her parents had Iowa nativity (which allowed in-state tuition for dependent children), she attended the University of Iowa where she received degrees in both Computer Science and Political Science. Her first job was as Systems Analyst at UNL. She met her husband Wayne at the Zoo Bar in Lincoln although unbeknownst to both of them, his father had worked for her father in Vietnam and both swam competitively at some of the same competitions in Hawaii. Together Wayne and Holly have three children: Weston age 26; Dylan age 24; and Cara age 22; and live on an acreage north of Lincoln. Wayne is a professor of Biosystems Engineering at UNL. He told their children they could major in anything as long as it was engineering because they’d always be able to find a job with that degree.
What makes Holly the right person for this job is that she has a love for technology and a passion for teaching how computers can be useful. Holly has been to many of your libraries to help unpack boxes and install computers and adaptive technology. During this time, many of you have become friends and Holly has learned about your libraries and your communities. She’s heard stories of how these computers have made a difference to your library customers as she continues to be a source of help with these services. Holly is in awe of librarians and their tenacity in serving the needs of their community. As Holly thinks about retirement in San Antonio, she would like to teach water aerobics to her neighbors in her 55+ Community. We’re grateful Holly is part of our library community
Allison is a fifth generation Montanan and comes to us with what she describes as a homestead work ethic: hardworking, rarely sedentary, and not taking modern conveniences for granted. She worked at several Montana institutions including the Montana State Library and the Montana State Historical Society. She most recently worked at the Montana Office of Public Instruction doing cataloging, interlibrary loan, collection management, and reference assistance. She received her BA in History from Rocky Mountain College and an MA in History from the University of Montana Missoula. While working as a historian for a research firm, she encountered library catalogs that weren’t particularly helpful nor were they the most efficient pathfinders so she started thinking about becoming a cataloger which required an MLS. Her choice for this education was the University of North Texas in Denton which could be achieved mostly online with a few in person classes.
When Allison is not at work, she is quite happy at home sitting on her deck, reading, watching television, or taking a walk. She also enjoys cooking and baking. One of her signature items is butter brickle bars for which all of the ingredients are always on hand. Which books have influenced Allison the most? Two titles come to mind – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen because of Jane’s ability to see inside the human character and Isabelle Allende’s House of the Spirits. She read it the first time in high school and with each subsequent reading gleans something new. Allison feels books are like old friends worth reading again and again. When I asked Allison how she describes her workplace she said she feels like she’s always worked at the Library Commission and that it is a natural fit with the staff. There is an ease and respect amongst her colleagues. We are pleased to have Allison in Nebraska and at our library.
Chances are, you’ve already met Aimee – but just in case …
Meet Aimee Scoville Owen who joined the Nebraska Library Commission in the Talking Book and Braille Service in December 2013. Aimee is a native of Elwood, NE and a graduate of UNO where she received a BS in Management Information Systems and two master’s degrees; the first in Information Technology and the second in Library and Information Science. Aimee and her husband of nearly 10 years, Lowell, share a home in Omaha with their two children – Asher, age 5, Margot, 6 months, and Ryker the 12 year old miniature schnauzer. In June of 2015, Aimee joined the Information Services Team and is a voice you’ll hear answering the Library Commission phone or calling you for updates for our library directory. Aimee came to us from the Omaha Public Library and has been well-connected with NLA, so many of you have already worked with her, but did you know she has a gaggle of relatives in Nebraska that also work in libraries?
This group currently includes: Alicia Lassen – Media Specialist at Overton Public School (2nd cousin); Barb Keep – Media Specialist at Elm Creek Public School (aunt); Shawna Lindner – Librarian at Kearney Public Library (2nd cousin’s wife); and Karrie Huryta – Director of Ravenna Public Library (cousin’s sister-in-law).
In her rare spare time, Aimee participates in the Raqs Awn Bellydance Troupe, the NLA Paraprofessional Section (secretary), and the GirlFriends volunteer guild board for Girls Inc. of Omaha, as well as reading the Golden Sower nominees for primary and intermediate level, and striving to meet an annual reading goal of 120 books, all while taking kids to violin, soccer, and basketball.