a newsletter of the Montana Library Association

[ October 2016 Vol. 34 Issue 5 ]



Are You Prepared?

by Jo Flick, Montana State Library
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October 24th 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Montana State Library, Helena, MT – Grizzly Conference Room

Registration is now open. Register by logging into the MT Library Directory.


  • To create a disaster-ready culture in all Montana libraries & cultural institutions.
  • To bring together librarians & emergency planners to discuss roles libraries can play to create greater community resilience.
  • To learn about disaster resources & products from the National Library of Medicine.

Outcomes (within 10 weeks following the Summit):

  1. Participants will complete a one-page disaster plan (participants may choose guided professional support to complete their plan).
  2. Participants will have made contact with at least one local emergency planner.

[Note: A follow-up webinar to discuss accomplishments and challenges will take place 10 weeks after the Summit – to be scheduled as part of the Summit.]

MT State Library certification – 6 credits - CE category:

library administration; 6 OPI credits (upon request)

The morning session will feature a panel of state & local officials that will offer a Montana perspective on how our state responds to disasters. This session will focus primarily on the role that libraries & cultural institutions may play in preparing communities, in responding to the human impacts of a disaster and in building resilience within a community. In the afternoon, the focus will shift to the process involved in creating a disaster-readiness culture and a specific plan that a library or cultural institution can use when it is needed.


  • Dan Wilson, MLS, former Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) Disaster Ready Initiative. He is currently the Associate Director for Collections & Library Services at the University of Virginia Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.
  • Susan Yowell. MIS, former Project Assistant for the NN/LM Disaster Ready Initiative. Susan is currently an independent information consultant.


(For more information about MSL Workshops or any of the professional development activities of you Montana State Library, contact CE Coordinator, Jo Flick

Montana Librarians Testify for All of Us

by Jennie Stapp, Montana State Library

Dear Montana Library Community,

Please join me in a hearty and heart-felt round of applause for John Finn, Jodi Smiley, Gale Bacon, and Dawn Kingstad for their passionate and thought-provoking testimony to the Education and Local Government Legislative Interim Committee about the impact of State Aid funding in their communities. The committee actually broke into applause when they concluded, something I have never seen before. One legislator said that State Aid is the best use of state funds. As you know, we will present legislation to the 2017 Legislature to ask that the Per Capita/Per Square Mile State Aid statutory appropriation continue beyond the current sunset of June 30, 2017. With testimony like what we heard today, and stories shared by all of you, we are well on our way to a successful outcome. To [hear] their testimony for yourself refer back to the committee archive. Forward to time stamp 2:26:40

(Jennie can be reached at


Whitefish Library Association hosts the Dorothea Johnson Book Celebration

by Alison Pomerantz, Whitefish Community Library Board

Whitefish, MT—September 2, 2016: In celebration of Montana authors for their literary contributions to local libraries and communities, the Whitefish Library Association hosted the literary gathering, “Chocolate, Wine, and a Good Book.” Held in early June, the event was an outcrop of the former Montana Author’s Celebration held at the Whitefish Community Library for nearly 16 years.

“We wanted to get outside of these four walls (of the library) to be more of a presence in the community,” said Joey Kositsky, WCL Director. “The event was designed to truly honor our local authors.”

Using money raised through the Whitefish Community Foundation’s Great Fish fundraising campaign, more than 30 authors enjoyed delicious food, wine and a shared love for literature at the Grouse Mountain Lodge rather than amidst the stacks at the library. Grouse Mountain generously donated discounted lodging, while local businesses and artists provided prizes to be auctioned off. Select area restaurants presented delicious chocolate desserts for a special judging as well.

One tradition that began at this year’s inaugural event, was to present a Dorothy Johnson Award to a writer who has multiple books published, fact or fiction, relating to Montana topics. The award is named after Johnson (1905-1984) who was an American author best known for her Western fiction, including more than two dozen fiction and non-fiction novels and short-stories, including Buffalo Woman, Hanging Tree, A Man Called Horse, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and When You and I were Young, Whitefish. In 1957, the Western Writers of America gave her its highest award, the Spur Award, for Lost Sister, a short story in "The Hanging Tree" collection, that deals with the reintegration into white settler society of Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been kidnapped by the Comanche as a child. In 1959, she was made an honorary member of the Blackfoot Tribe. In 1976, “the Writers” again awarded her the Levi Strauss Golden Saddleman Award, for bringing dignity and honor to the history and legends of the West. In 2005, a 30-minute documentary film on Johnson was aired on PBS in November 2005, titled Gravel in her Gut and Spit in her Eye. Then in 2013, Johnson was inducted to the Montana Cowboy Hall Of Fame and Western Heritage Center for the "Legacy Award" for her "notable contributions to the history and culture of Montana."

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The first recipient of the "Spirit of Dorothy Johnson" was the well-deserving author, Carol Buchanan, who exemplified Dorothy Johnson’s enthusiasm for storytelling about life in the American West. This award, to be given annually, rewards the author whose roots are in Montana and whose books reflect the courage, determination, and history of Montanans.

"I'm honored and humbled to receive this award," Buchanan said. "Dorothy Johnson has long been an idol of mine. She broke ground for women writing the West with the no-nonsense realism of her writing. To be honored with the award that carries her name is awe-inspiring." A plaque for the Dorothy Johnson Spirit Award hangs on the wall of WCL.

“We could think of no better way to honor a native daughter who was such a prolific author and educator than to establish an annual event in her honor and bestow an award to someone who so fittingly embodies Dorothy’s traits as a writer and a person,” said President of the Whitefish Library Association Donna Maddux. She said that Buchanan currently teaches writing and education in self-publishing at Flathead Community College and most recently released her fourth book in her Vigilante Quartet series. Buchanan is no stranger to accolades for her own writing, having previously been honored with the winning of the Spur Award, Women Writing the West and the Washington State Book Award.

Perhaps best capturing the essence of the celebration was a sentiment penned by WCL Director Joey Kositsky that was hung at the event to honor writers of the Treasure State: “Montana authors, through your words and photographs, you preserve our history, identify our trees, flowers and animals, you guide us through parks and wars, you entertain us with your stories. You educate us. You remind us we are unique and yet are still part of a larger world.”

To the authors throughout the state, Kositsky said, “We thank you for your contributions to our libraries and our communities.”

Stay tuned for next year’s event planned for the weekend after Mother’s Day and renamed the Dorothy Johnson Book Festival.

Visit for more information on hours, programs and other news about the Whitefish Community Library or Like WCL on Facebook. Stop by to browse WCL’s Montana collection, where works by Johnson, Buchanan and other local authors can be found.

( Image courtesy of Alison Pomerantz.
For more information, contact Alison at )

ImagineIF Youth Services Receives Friend of Literacy Award

by Lune Axelsen, ImagineIF Libraries
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Pictured: ImagineIF Youth Services staff

When the Northwest Montana Reading Council presented ImagineIF’s youth services the “Friend of Literacy Award” at the 2016 Back to School Conference in Kalispell, MT, we were thrilled! For the past 20 years, the award has been given as a way to honor organizations outside of the school district who promote literacy. The Northwest Montana Reading Council believes children should be exposed to materials and activities that generate interest in literacy at an early age, and is part of a cooperative that provides support for over 11,000 students and over 600 teachers and para-professionals.

Youth Services Librarian, Martha Furman, accepted the award on behalf of the ImagineIF’s ten-person team that provides programs and services to children and teens in Flathead County. Martha told the Council, "It means a lot to us to be recognized by teachers because so much of what we do is designed to prepare kids for school success.” The award has provided inspiration for ImagineIF’s Youth Services team to keep on doing what they do best: create young readers.

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Pictured: ImagineIF Youth Services Librarian, Martha Furman, accepts Friends of Literacy award

( Images courtesy of Lune Axelsen.

For more information, contact Lune at

Great Falls Public Library’s New Look

by Jude Smith, Great Falls Public Library
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Pictured: New mural in progress at GFPL

The next time you visit Great Falls Public Library, you’ll be in for a surprise. Over the Labor Day weekend a mural was painted on the southwest corner of the front face of the library building. The mural honors former Great Falls Public Library Director (1954 – 1973) and State Librarian Alma Smith Jacobs, not only for her work as a librarian, but also as a community leader and civil rights activist.

The Great Falls Public Library Foundation funded this project with monies from private donations. It was designed by members of the GFPL Foundation, the GFPL Board, and the mural artists, Jim DeStaffany and Andrew Fowler of DeStaffany Custom Art, Conrad, MT. They started the mural on the Friday evening before Labor Day working from 5:30 to 10:30 pm and finished it by evening of the next day. DeStaffany and Fowler work in the evening and night as they use projection to capture the image of their project. Prior to doing the library’s mural, they painted a mural of Charlie Russell on a nearby parking garage. This image was so striking it inspired a conversation amongst the library foundation members to do a mural on the library. Discussion for that mural’s subject, which centered primarily on various historical figures, concluded with what seemed the most obvious choice for this community’s library.

Alma Smith Jacobs was born in Lewistown in 1916 and grew up in Great Falls. She received her Library Science degree from Columbia University, married and returned to Great Falls. She lived at a time when discrimination against minorities was commonplace. She broke racial barriers when she became a Catalog Librarian at the Great Falls Public Library. Eight years later, in 1954, Alma was named Acting Librarian, going on to be named Chief Librarian within six months. The fact she was black was not pertinent to her job or life. In fact she has been quoted as saying, “I resent being thought of as a Negro librarian. I would rather concentrate on being a good librarian.”

During her almost 20 year tenure as director of Great Falls Public Library, Alma initiated bookmobile service to rural communities in Cascade County. In addition, she was instrumental in establishing the rural library service program throughout Montana. She also was the driving force behind the campaign to build what is today’s Great Falls Public Library, which opened in 1967.

Alma was named “Librarian of the Year” in 1968 by the Montana Library Association. She also served as the president of the MLA and the Pacific Northwest Library Association. She was also appointed to the Executive Board of the American Library Association.

Along with honors as a librarian, Alma also received recognition as an educator and leader in breaking down racial barriers both for the community of Great Falls and Malmstrom Air Force Base. She served on human rights organizations including the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Alma capped off her professional career by serving as Montana State Librarian from 1973 to 1981. She was honored with doctorate degrees by Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and Montana State College in Bozeman, Montana.

For more examples of work by DeStaffnay Custom Art, go to

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Pictured: A wonderful tribute to Alma Smith Jacobs

( Images courtesy of Jude Smith.
For more information about the new murals and Alma Smith Jacobs,
contact Jude at )

Lending Seeds at the Great Falls Public Library Seed Exchange

By Alice Kestler, Great Falls Public Library

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Pictured: Farm tour, Jacob demonstrates saving phacelia seed (photo: Alice Kestler)

On April 16 this year we opened the Seed Exchange at the Great Falls Public Library. The Seed Exchange lends open pollinated seeds to patrons and people from the community so they can grow their own food, herbs and flowers. We also offer classes on how to save seeds and other gardening topics. Although there is no requirement to donate seeds when people participate in the Exchange we do encourage people in our community to learn how to save seeds.

At our grand opening Mayor Bob Kelly unveiled the Seed Exchange furniture (draped in burlap and tied with garden twine) by cutting the twine with garden shears. Many oohs and aahs followed. The same day we held a seed swap where one of our volunteers offered many open pollinated seeds she had saved from her garden the previous year. Earlier in the month we held classes on seed saving, soil preparation and testing for seed viability. In the last half of April 236 packets of seeds were checked out. We were off to a great start!

This September one of our local organic farmers, Jacob Cowgill, led a tour of his farm. He showed us how to space different varieties of seeds for saving and how to harvest kale, tomato and zucchini seeds. In early October the Seed Exchange will offer another seed saving class taught by Jacob.

The GFPL Seed Exchange was initially funded by a $2000 grant from NeighborWorks. It was made possible by donations from River City Harvest, Staples, Triple Divide Organic Seed Co-op, and Westside Orchard Garden. We are also indebted to the invaluable help of Missoula Public Library for our cataloging procedure and for answering many questions during our startup.

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Pictured: Seed exchange volunteers at seed packaging party (photo: Alice Kestler)

(For more information on the GFPL Seed Exchange, contact Alice at

Summer Reading Programs Should Be For Adults Too!

by Tim King, Livingston Park County Public Library

Adults have complained to me at the front desk that there is too much in the summer for kids and nothing for them. “Kids have game nights and fun programs and we just get to work and read and we want to have fun too.” Usually I just want to ignore people who whine like that, but this time I decided to listen. And as I just got promoted to Programming Coordinator, it would help in my job if I were seen to be doing something, so it worked out for everyone.

I did some digging around and found some programs that just did not seem to fit my library or my budget; ski trips, river floating trips, trips in general. Or I found games that were very complicated; write an essay in Sanskrit about the book you just read. Then I came upon Letter by Letter. Fairly simple game, simple rules, very low cost, this was right up my alley. Based on a tile spelling game, that rhymes with rabble; this was just what I wanted. I had to make some changes to the categories to fit my location and I had to bend the rules just a bit for a few patrons, a hearing impaired person cannot listen to an audio book, for example, but everything came out great. I printed up the game boards and instructions and then just waited to see if my patrons would play.

Wow, did they play! Everyone has been very enthusiastic including the people who whined for something to do in the summer. We had a hardcore group of about 60 playing, and about 25 others who just casually play. I managed to get two prizes donated by Montana’s Rib and Chop ($50 gift card) and 12 swim passes to Chico Hot Springs. Most of the comments had to do with how much fun it was to read a genre that they usually would never look at reading. My personal favorite was an 80 year old woman reading a graphic novel and giggling. So find some things for your adults to do during Summer Reading, or they just may end of whining to you, too.

(Tim has kindly provided a set of "Basic Instructions for Players" as well as a "Letter by Letter Game Board" which you can download here at the link. For more information, contact Tim at

Coding in Rosebud

by Yvonne Redding, Rosebud County Library

Rosebud County Library in Forsyth, MT has started a code club called Rosebud County Coders, <RCC>. Launched at the beginning of the school year, <RCC> has 21 members and grows every week.

In our small community there are no computer programming classes offered. We thought there was need and maybe interest in our teens knowing more about computer programming, but our concern was that no one on our staff really knew very much about computer programming and we were unaware of anyone in the local community who would volunteer their knowledge either. So we felt like we really couldn’t do it. Until last summer I stumbled upon a webinar from WebJunction. It was Coding for Everyone by Kelly Smith, the founder of Prenda. Here’s the link,

It was great and really opened my eyes to the benefits of learning to code. Students not only learn computer programming, it’s also a wonderful way to build rational thinking skills and problem solving. Along with the webinar there was a Code Club Kit that you could download. So I got that downloaded and started reading the information and feeling like “I could do this!” The kit give great tips on how to get a code club started and what to expect once it gets going. I’ll admit, even with all my inspiration and newfound confidence, there was still a part of me that felt like, “I don’t know computer coding. How am I going to run a code club?” Luckily, there was also a link to a TED talk in the Code Club Kit to help me deal with that fear. It’s by Sugata Mintra, here’s the link, it’s really good and worth watching:

It shows many examples of how children can teach themselves anything with just a little opportunity and encouragement. He talks about a technique he calls “the method of the grandmother”. It’s basically where you just keep encouraging the students in whatever they are doing. So that’s what I do during our <RCC> meetings. I just keep moving, stopping by each member asking about their progress and saying things like “That’s awesome!” “Great Job.” “What do you think will work?” “Keep trying.” Etc. The kids just keep going and seem genuinely happy as they conquer each computer coding concept. Now the members are encouraging and teaching each other, which is amazing to see. They keep coming back every week and most of them usually bring a friend to join the club too. Overall, this a a great program and surprisingly easy to run every week. I would recommend all libraries, even the small ones give it a try.

( Images courtesy of Yvonne Redding.
For more information about <RCC>, contact Yvonne at )