a newsletter of the Montana Library Association

[ October 2016 Vol. 34 Issue 5 ]
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This Issue Sponsored by NCCE

Providing year-round professional development opportunities

for K-12 administrators, educators and support staff.

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Click HERE for the full-size image!

**NCCE now offers a full service E-RATE program for schools & libraries!**


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Mrs. Ruzicka, Missoula, and Me.

by Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson, Interim President of the Montana Library Association

Today was a good day. I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Montana Book Festival in Missoula which is this amazing multi-day event featuring workshops, author talks, book signings, and so much more. Prior to that gig, I picked up my “Yes For Our Library” sign that is going in my front yard in support of Missoula Public Library’s request for a bond in November to build a new library. I am excited about the possibility of Missoula Public building a new library! It is needed and I know it will be a heralded addition to the community. It’s definitely time for a new library in Missoula and I remain optimistic that it can happen.

The emphasis in this issue of FOCUS is school librarians. Likely the first encounter that some of us may have had with a professional librarian. I really like school librarians and have often thought I missed my calling by not becoming one. All the kids love the school librarian and school librarians generally have such fun spaces with excellent methods for incorporating the library into the curriculum the students are learning. Plus, school librarians do the best bulletin boards! I love making bulletin boards! My girls’ school librarians, Mary Griel at Chief Charlo Elementary and Brenda Gillhouse at Meadow Hill Middle School, both in Missoula, have been excellent librarians and have encouraged Anja and Rane’s love of reading. I understand that the PACE hour allowing the middle school kids to go to the library and read is one of the most popular electives of the day. Ya’ gotta love that!

I still fondly remember my high school librarian. Her name was Mrs. Ruzicka. She was small and sassy and ever-so-classy. She was the best dressed teacher in my little high school in Minnesota. She got my attention with that, but she kept my attention with her teaching style and love of books. I am sure she is part of the reason I became a librarian. She was encouraging, she was clever, and she challenged us to think outside the box. I remember one assignment Mrs. Ruzicka had us do where we had to create a children’s book using non-traditional material. I made a book using Scotch tape. It was an adventure involving Scott Tape (a precursor of things to come perhaps—my husband’s name is Scott. Not Tape though). I made a wooden cover which I woodburned a design on. Actually, pretty ingenious for a high school kid. Mrs. Ruzicka loved that book! She asked me if she could keep it to show to future students as an example for that assignment. Of course, I said yes. Years later I ran into Mrs. Ruzicka when I was visiting my family in Minnesota. She was still tiny and pretty and fun. And she told me she was still using my Scotch Tape book as an example. Talk about making a kid feel good. That’s what school librarians do. School libraries, and their caretakers, provide a safe place for all students to create, think, collaborate, and grow. They do amazing work and my hat is off to Mrs. Griel, Mrs. Gillhouse, Mrs. Ruzika and the hundreds of other school librarians like them. Thank you all for the great work you do with students every day!

I hope you are all looking forward to the ASLD/PLD Retreat at Chico Hot Springs Oct. 16 and 17. Specifically, I am looking forward to meeting with the group that will be picking programs for the 2017 MLA Conference. I am excited to talk about all the great program ideas submitted by our Montana librarians, as I know there will be many marvelous ones. Also, the next MLA Board meeting is Monday, Oct. 17, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Livingston Public Library. If you have anything you wish to be brought before the MLA Board, please do not hesitate to let me know. And remember—yes for libraries—always!


News From Our Affiliates :

- Eileen Wright: Updates from MPLA

- Carmen Clark: News from PNLA

- Sarah Kahn: Humanities Montana is asking for "Letters About Literature"

- Kim Anderson: Commemorate the Bill of Rights with Humanities Montana

News From MLA :

- Cara Orban: “What IS ASLD/PLD?”

- Debbi Kramer: Calling all School Librarians!

- Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson: Congratulations, 2016 Cates Scholarship Winners!

- Heather Dickerson: Upcoming Children's & YA Interest Group Meeting & Webinar

News From MSL :

- Jo Flick: Are You Prepared?

- Jennie Stapp: Montana Librarians Testify for All of Us

Programs, Promotions & Projects :

- Alison Pomerantz updates us on the Dorothy Johnson Book Celebration

- Let's celebrate ImagineIF's receipt of the Friend of Literacy Award with Lune Axelsen

- Jude Smith takes a moment to show off Great Falls Public Library's great new look!

- GFPL is also launching a seed bank, and Alice Kestler gives us the details

- Tim King reports how Livingston-Park Co Public Library played the summer away

- Yvonne Redding tells about Rosebud County Library's groundbreaking coding club

Features & Articles:

- Debbi Kramer talks advocacy and the importance of MLA

- A Spotlight on Displays in our Montana School Libraries!

- The Montana State Library is developing a strategic plan, and wants your input!

- Survey Says... A Spotlight on School Librarians & Media Specialists

- Brittany Alberson explains why Indian Education for All is a matter of social justice

Marginalia :

- Micro-Review

- From the Editors


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by Eileen Wright, Montana State University Billings Library

There is still time to register for the upcoming MPLA/CALCON16 conference. MPLA has joined with Colorado Library Association for an exciting conference: Innovate, Inspire, Connect. It is set for Oct. 20-22, 2016 at the Embassy Suites in Loveland, Colorado. Keynote presenters are Nina Simon, Stephen Bell, and Donna Scheeder. Click HERE to register today.

MPLA Professional Development Grants are Available!

Have an idea for a great program at your state library association conference, but don’t think you can afford to attend? Or is there an upcoming regional or national library program that would enhance your professional development, but you need a little extra funding in order to attend?

Have no fear! The Professional Development Committee of MPLA is here to lend a hand. Just a quick click to our website: will put applications for two different types of grants right at your fingertips. We have funding to assist you, for state associations and individuals. Here are the upcoming deadlines for submission:

State Association Grant Application Deadlines:

  • Feb 1st (2017) for 2017 Spring Conferences

Individual Grant Application Deadlines:

  • Sept 28th
  • Nov 30th
  • Jan 27th

What’s been happening in the MPLA region? Check out the latest newsletter:

(Eileen can be reached at


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by Carmen Clark, Bozeman Public Library

The 2016 PNLA conference in Calgary was a rousing success. Along with learning, collaborating and line-dancing a good time was had by all. Attendance was a bit on the low side, but the conference still made a profit for the association.

Great sessions, great speakers, a fun evening in the Ranchman’s Bar across the street as well as tours of a few newer branches of the Calgary Public Library were included in this years’ lineup.

Please consider coming to the 2017 PNLA conference in Post Falls, Idaho!

Save the date: Next year’s conference will be August 2nd-August 4th.

During our annual membership meeting the gavel was passed to the next PNLA President Jenny Grenfell. Jenny is a Library Manager for the North Mason Timberland Library.


Calgary Branch Libraries

During the 2016 PNLA conference in Calgary, Alberta, I had the opportunity to visit several of the Calgary Public Library branches. The libraries I visited were either newly renovated or newly built. I hope you enjoy my "photo tour."

Quarry Park Library

The Quarry Park Library shares the building with the Remington YMCA. There is a running track as well as a pool.

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Fish Creek Library

The Fish Creek Library is a newly renovated library with an enormous Early Learning Centre.

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Nicholls Family Library

The Nicholls Family Library is located in Westbrook C-Train Station.

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( All photos courtesy of Carmen Clark.

Carmen can be reached at )


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Letters About Literature

by Sarah Kahn, Program Officer for Humanities Montana

Humanities Montana will be carrying out Letters About Literature again this year. Letters about Literature is a national competition that invites students to submit letters written to the authors of their favorite books. Students in grades 4-12 can submit letters to the competition; there will be state and national winners. LAL is a great way to get students engaged in literature, and the Library of Congress provides schools with a teaching guide to help get kids writing. Students can enter themselves or teachers can send in their submissions using these guidelines. Entry deadline for grades 9-12 is December 2, 2016. Entry deadline for grades 4-8 is January 9, 2017.

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Click HERE for the full document, including deadlines & entry coupon!

(For more information about Letters About Literature, contact Sarah Kahn at

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Reserve your FREE Bill of Rights Commemorative Display!

by Kim Anderson, Director of Programs & Grants at Humanities Montana

December 2016 marks the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, which the National Archives is commemorating in part by developing a pop-up kiosk exhibit suitable for display in such venues as libraries.

To request a Bill of Rights exhibit, send an email to Lisa Teberg-Johnson at Humanities Montana with the subject "Bill of Rights" and the following information in the body:

  1. Your library’s full name and complete mailing address

  2. Name, phone & email of contact person at your library


  • Requests for a Bill of Rights exhibit must be submitted by Oct 14

  • The Archives will deliver exhibits by mid-November

  • Host libraries are asked to have the exhibit on display by Dec 15 - the Bill of Rights anniversary date, through the end of December.

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( Image courtesy of Lisa Teberg-Johnson.

Questions? Please contact Lisa at Humanities Montana,

or call 406.243.6022 )


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by Cara Orban, Montana State Library

Good question! It is an acronym for Academic & Special Libraries Division / Public Libraries Division. Each year, these two divisions of the Montana Library Association join forces for a small but lively conference in the fall.

This year, we have a great lineup of sessions (listed below) as well as a wonderful Sunday evening speaker, Angela Weikert, Director of Operations, Education, & Public Programs at the Museum of the Rockies. Please join us October 16-17 at Chico Hot Springs for engaging discussions, useful information, and good community!


  • Sonia Gavin (MT Legislative Reference Center) getting you session-ready with an overview of the Montana Legislature's website

  • John Finn (Lewis & Clark Library-Helena) introducing us to a real, live Montana legislator and explaining how to make contact with our own legislators

  • Stephan Licitra (State Law Library) telling us about the Law Library's resources

  • Mary Kay Bullard (Bicentennial Library-Colstrip) helping us keep our staff happy and productive

  • Kate Zoellner et al. (Mansfield Library-UM) getting us fired up about the Montana Information Alliance

  • Sara Groves (MT State Library) showing us how to grow our minds

  • Pam Henley (MT State Library) expounding on how to use the Digital Public Library of America for genealogy

  • Beth Boyson (Bozeman Public Library) inspiring us to adapt our reference desks for the 21st Century

  • Matt Beckstrom (Lewis & Clark Library-Helena) navigating the tricky world of internet security

Registration info is online at

(Want to add some event planning to your resume? Please contact your PLD Chair, Mitch Grady [], or your ASLD Chair, Cara Orban [], to join in the fun!)

Calling all School Librarians!

by Debbi Kramer, Executive Director of the Montana Library Association

Would you like to help out a great organization? MLA needs you! Recently our School Library Division Co-Chair Lynde Roberts resigned her position to move out-of-state with her husband. Dianne Mattila the SLD co-chair has stepped up to the plate to take over Lynde’s duties, but would like someone in the school library world to help by being a co-chair for the remainder of this MLA year (2016-17) and co-chair for the upcoming year. (2017-18). This position is usually selected at the School Library Division meeting at annual conference in April. If you are interested, please contact me directly at

Selection of SLD co-chair will be chosen at the October 2016 MLA Board meeting.

This is a great opportunity to help out your organization and make it stronger and more effective. Thank you.

(For more information, you can reach Debbi at

Congratulations, 2016 Cates Scholarship Winners!

by Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson, Interim President of the Montana Library Association

Jacqueline Frank (MSU Renne Library - Bozeman), Carole Harris-Carlstrom (Alberton School District), Kourtni McHugh (Heights Elementary Library - Billings), and Hannah Mundt (Bozeman Public Library) each received a $2,000 scholarship--due to YOUR generous giving at the Cates Silent Auction & Cates evening fundraising event held each spring at the MLA Annual Conference.

We raise these funds in the memory of Sheila Cates, a long-time Montana librarian who passed away from cancer in 1993, leaving behind an amazing legacy for the rest of us to emulate. The Montana Library Association instituted the Sheila Cates Scholarship in 1994 to provide financial support to Montana Library Association members seeking a graduate degree in library and/or information science, a graduate school library media program, or seeking a school library endorsement.

The Cates Scholarship Committee is so proud to play a small part in the future of these four exemplary Montana librarians. You should be too! Thank you so much for your support of the Cates Scholarship fund. And a huge congratulations to Jacqueline, Carole, Kourtni, and Hannah!

Our Award Winners:

( Not pictured: Carole Carole Harris-Carlstrom.

All images courtesy of the Cates Scholars portraited. )

MLA Cates Committee:

  • Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson, Chair
  • Bobbi deMontigny
  • Della Dubbe
  • Jo Flick
  • Mary Guthmiller
  • Mary Anne Hansen
  • Jim Kammerer
  • Anita Scheetz
  • Lyn McKinney

(For more information about our current Cates winners as well as the history of the scholarship program, contact Lisa at

Upcoming Children's & YA Interest Group Meeting & Webinar

by Heather Dickerson, Lewis & Clark Public Library

Kids in the library? Teens in the stacks? The Children's and Young Adult Interest Group is ready to meet in Billings for a productive, engaging, and super interesting hour! Do you have suggestions for our meeting? Topics you'd like to see covered? Board games and beverages you'd care to sample? Please send an email (as short or long as you'd like) to Heather Dickerson at

Teens + Poetry = Good Stuff!

Webinar, October 25. 2 pm.

Join Jo Flick, Amy Andreas, and Heather Dickerson for an upbeat hour devoted to hosting your own teen poetry event! You'll walk away with a template for the event, plus a host of supporting resources. Look for registration information on WIRED soon!

(For more information about programming at the Lewis & Clark Public Library, get in touch with Heather at

NCCE Full Service E-RATE Program Available Now

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Click HERE for the full-size image!

**NCCE's 2017 conference will feature keynote talks by Jaime Casap & Kevin Carroll!**


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 )


We’re All Advocates!

by Debbi Kramer, Montana Library Association

Who is an advocate? Merriman-Webster states: a person who works for a cause or group.

Today I’m going to talk to you about being an advocate for the Montana State Library and the Montana Library Association. I know as I say these words a hundred different things are going through your mind. Everything from “I can’t speak in public” to “I don’t have what it takes to be an advocate.” I remember early in my career I was visiting with a library patron and told him “if I had to sell used cars for a living, I’d starve to death.” He started laughing and said you sell me a used car every time I come into the library. At my puzzled look, he explained “When I look at the books on the shelf and can’t decide what I want to read I ask you for a recommendation. You pick out several books and tell me a little bit about them. From your enthusiasm I decide which book or books to check out. You’ve sold me another used car!”

So it is easier to be an advocate than you think.

The Montana Library Association’s Purpose Statement reads: “The purpose of the Association is to promote library interest and development and to raise the standards of library services in the state of Montana.”

How can we do this? We can write or speak with our Legislatures, County Commissioners, City Councils, speak to our patrons, our community leaders, testify at legislative hearings, send stories, pictures and anecdotes about your library services to the Montana State Library and legislators, take a governing role in the Montana Library Association and most important: Join the MLA.

So, why should you join MLA? I think our purpose statement says it all. “The purpose of the Association is to promote library interest and development and to raise the standards of library services in the state of Montana.” The mission statement is why the Montana Library Association is a persistent advocate for the Montana State Library.

How does MLA accomplish this task? In many ways! Our major initiative in this area is the MLA Government Affairs Committee. The committee chair is John Finn, Library Director at Lewis & Clark Library in Helena. As committee chair, John’s task is to keep all Montana Librarians and Trustees informed about legislative bills, etc. that will impact the library community for better or worse. John contacts us through many different channels to keep us informed and updated as bills work their way through Montana and the United State legislatures. He asks for your help also. When you see an email that asks to you to contact your local legislator, please take the time to contact them. As library workers, we should know our legislators. As this year is an election year, what better time than to speak to the senator or house of representative candidate or previously elected legislator. Introduce yourself to them. Tell them a little bit about your library and how important it is to your community. Thank them for their previous support or ask them for their support in the future. “Sell them a used car!”

This is the year that House Bill 203 which was sponsored by the Montana Library Association sunsets. This bill called for a statutory increase in the amount of state aid funding for public libraries to .40 cents per person -- an increase of .30 cents per person from the state aid amount prior to this biennium. This increased funding was badly needed and warmly received by all public libraries, but it’s time to continue working on this task.

According to Montana law, it is not illegal for State Agencies to lobby on their behalf, but most state agencies don’t as they would have to pay a lobbying fee. This is where the Montana Library Association steps in. MLA lobbies on behalf of the Montana State Library. This is a practice that has been going on for decades. The Association hires the lobbyists who carry legislation for the State Library as it did with HB 203 in 2013.

For the past six years the Montana Library Association has had full-time lobbyists at work. The Association found that lobbyists were needed to work with Interim Committees on non-legislative years. I found it very interesting that a lot of ground work is accomplished during the Interim year and without lobbyists to continue their work for the Montana Library Association on behalf of the Montana State Library valuable time was being lost. Whether you believe in the work of lobbyists or not, it is a fact that they are needed. In order to continue the excellent projects and programs from the State Library, legislative money is needed. MLA lobbies for Montana State Library regular funding and also for special funding as HB 203. MLA has lobbied for increased funding, new staff positions, money for special projects and special funding.

During each legislative session, the Montana Library Association sponsors a Legislative Reception. The evening is devoted to expressing our appreciation to our legislators. It is also when the “READ” poster photos are taken—hopefully you all have these hanging in your libraries. Nearly every legislator has his or her picture taken at this event. It’s great publicity for them and a wonderful opportunity for librarians and trustees to visit with their legislator in a relaxed setting. When the invitation to attend the reception is announced, please make plans to attend the evening reception. I’ve attended several and found them to be very educational and a wonderful opportunity to get to know legislators from all over the state. It is another example of your membership dues at work with the printing of the “READ” posters.

Now that I’ve covered how MLA advocates for the Montana State Library, please keep in mind that MLA will need you during the upcoming legislative session to continue our support for State Library funding. You may be asked to testify in Helena at a legislative hearing, write a letter of concern to your legislator or speak with your local legislators. The needs are endless, but just as importantly MLA needs your financial support. The money raised from membership dues pays for our lobbyists. This year MLA will spend almost $15,000 on lobbying fees.

MLA wants to return the amount of your yearly dues back to you in many monetary as well as non-monetary ways. As not all libraries are able to pay their employees dues, these dues come out of your pocket. I understand I paid my dues myself for years. I felt it was my duty to help MLA to promote library services in Montana. After all, if it weren’t for my library, I wouldn’t have had a job. (By the way, your dues are tax deductible)

Have you spoken with your Library Board about the benefits of membership in the Montana Library Association for you and your trustees? After they understand how vigorously MLA works to support Montana libraries, perhaps they will also be willing to pay or renew your MLA dues and join or renew themselves. After all it is very important your trustees have training as well. Frank Martinelli wrote in “Building an Effective Board” article on his Create Your Future website:

“Every Public Library must have a Board of Directors. But, beyond this legal requirement, a well-informed and well-trained board is absolutely essential. An effective board of directors has a clear understanding of its roles and responsibilities.”

MLA offers it members many, many wonderful benefits for their membership.

  • Membership discounts for all MLA retreats and conferences.

    • Educational opportunities: SLD Summer Retreat, ASLD/PLD Fall Retreat, Offline and the annual conference. (What a wonderful way to network with other librarians!)

  • Travel grants to help members attend conferences, retreats and Offline.
    • These grants are available for members who want to attend the Association's annual conference. Fifteen $150.00 grants are available. Up to five of the grants will be made available to those members who are new to the profession and to the Montana Library Association and grants are available to members who want to attend their division’s retreat or Offline. There is one $50 grant available for each retreat and two $50 grants available for Offline. The deadline for applicants is one month before the event.

  • Professional Development Grants provide members with the opportunity to further their education.
    • These grants are available to those Association members who want to further their professional development by attending a national or regional conference or professional development event. The Association budgets $1,600.00 annually for Professional Development Grants to qualified members; the maximum that can be awarded is $800.

Cates Scholarship funds are available to assist MLA members who are pursuing a Masters in Librarianship or a school library certification.

  • Membership fees for the Collaborative Summer Library Program in conjunction with the Montana State Library. MLA pays the membership fee and the State Library pays the cost of the manuals.

  • Sponsor representatives to regional and national library associations.

    • Covers the travel costs of representatives to represent Montana in the American Library Association, Mountain Plains Library Association and the Pacific Northwest Library Association.

  • Leadership training by serving as Division Officers, Interest Group Chairs and members, or Committees chairs and members.

  • New MLA members receive a complimentary breakfast at the annual conference and great networking opportunities for library staff, trustees, and friends at annual conference.

  • Intellectual Freedom: MLA is front and center to help all Montana librarians and libraries that experience a book challenge or other intellectual freedom concern. If any school librarian or school district needs help, MLA is there to help until the problem is solved.

I hope that I have been able to express to you how important the Montana Library Association can be to you as an individual librarian, library worker or trustee and to your library. I don’t know how to indicate to you more clearly that the Montana Library Association needs you as a member. We need your passion, your experience, your education, and your leadership ability. Please join or renew your membership so together we can promote library interest and development and raise the standards of library services in the state of Montana.”

Thank you,


(Debbi can be reached at

A Spotlight on Displays

by Montana School Librarians, Far & Wide
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EDITORIAL NOTE: We had so many beautiful submissions in response to our call for submissions that we decided to feature them all in this one eye-popping collage! Each display is numbered for ease of identification.

[[ Click the image for full resolution. ]]


  1. Tricia DesJarlais, Arlee Elementary School Library
  2. Margot LaFountaine, Medicine Crow Middle School
  3. Alison Boone, Franklin Elementary School
  4. Brittany Alberson, Billings West High School
  5. Jodi Oberweiser, Drummond School & Community Library
  6. Anya Smith & Polson Middle School students @ North Lake County Public Library
  7. Aarica Phillips, Flathead High School
  8. Mary Griel, Chief Charlo Elementary School
  9. Mattila Dianne, Rose Park Elementary School
  10. Melissa Bockting, Dillon Middle School
  11. Ann Gentry, Frenchtown School and Community Library
  12. LaVonne Limpus Jurack, Lewistown Public Library
  13. Nicki Young, Meadowlark Elementary School Library
  14. Lisa Lykins, Glacier High School Library

Thank you to all of the librarians who loaned us their images for this issue!

MSL is developing a strategic plan, and wants your input!

by our State Librarians!

Montana State Library (MSL) is committed to strengthening libraries and information services for all Montanans through leadership, advocacy, and service. For nearly the past five years, staff of the State Library have been guided by a long range plan that was adopted by the State Library Commission in April, 2012. That plan helpfully identifies the focus of our work in areas of collection development and access, training, collaboration, consultation and leadership, and working to sustain MSL as an excellent organization. However, we have found over time that the plan itself is not strategic and does not serve to provide us direction in times of change and uncertainty. For this reason, MSL is undertaking a strategic planning process under the guidance of facilitator Ned Cooney. Ned was selected to help the State Library to develop a strategic plan that:

  • Reflects the needs of identified stakeholders;

  • Delineates strategic from tactical components of the plan;

  • Identifies a course through which programs, projects or practices may be strategically abandoned; and that

  • Reflects an awareness of scale with regard to resources available to and through the State Library.

Over the course of the summer Ned, the State Library Commission, and staff worked together to develop a draft plan that is based, in large part, on the work of the 2015 Library Development Study Task Force, structured interviews with key stakeholders, and facilitated work sessions through which MSL developed the following draft vision:


  • Connected Community Partnerships - connecting and building communities through MSL's work. Working with other agencies and libraries to create community partnerships that benefit our respective end users. Engaging our end users in building a community around engaged, crowdsourced, and curated information.

  • New and Diversified Funding - it takes financial stability to provide quality service and meet the needs of our end users.

  • Useful Information Infrastructure - it takes high speed internet access and high quality/open data to meet the needs of our end users.

In order to achieve this vision, the suggested plan sets forth the following suggested strategic directions:

Strategic Directions

  • Engagement, Advocacy, and Story Telling - engage stakeholders in envisioning the future; tell the story for MSL and our partners; Commissioners advocate for libraries.

  • Culture and Impacts - be willing to say no; think end user first; think forward to 2025

  • Information Infrastructure - work on broadband for libraries; be a role model for open data

  • Partner Organizations - reframe and re-examine the role of key partners

Staff is also defining specific, timely, actionable items to move each strategic direction forward. Examples of specific action items include:

Actionable Items

  • Engagement, Advocacy, and Story Telling

    • Map MSL stakeholders

    • Cross-train staff

    • Deliver a clear and consistent message about MSL services

    • Train ourselves and librarians on how to tell our story

  • Culture and Impacts

    • Clarify parameters for pilot projects include a fail forward option

    • Find routines and processes to aid with internal collaboration

    • Help libraries measure impact

  • Information Infrastructure

    • Develop a plan to get local support focused on broadband

    • Optimize web search results

    • Research options for creating an “open data culture”

  • Partner Organizations

    • Revitalize advisory committees and workgroups

    • Take training on communicating and engaging advisory groups

    • Define how to better align our goals and our partners’ goals

Because the purpose of MSL is to serve our partners and users, whether or not MSL achieves our mission is largely dependent on whether or not you, our stakeholders, believe that through this strategic plan, we will meet your needs, and will thereby, strengthen libraries and information services across Montana. For this reason, it is extremely important that we hear from you.

Our Questions for You:

  • Do you see value in working towards any of the strategic directions?

    • connected, community partnerships;

    • new and diversified funding;

    • useful information infrastructure

  • If yes, what value do you see in working towards that specific strategic direction?

  • How would you rank the following barriers – strong barrier; we can overcome; not a barrier?

    • Challenging geography

    • Non-strategic resource allocation

    • Divergent expectations

    • Risk-Averse library culture

    • Limiting political climate

  • What other barriers should the Commission consider?

  • How strongly do you agree or disagree with the strategic directions selected?

    • Engagement, Advocacy, and Storytelling

    • Culture and Impacts

    • Information Infrastructure

    • Partner Organizations

  • What other strategic directions should the Commission consider?

  • What other concerns, comments, or questions do you have about the draft plan?

Will you help us?

Review the plan

The draft strategic plan is on our website at:

Share your thoughts


We asked school librarians what they wished more people knew about their work or library. The following represent some of their responses.

We encourage you to find out more about what our school librarians & media specialists love about their jobs, what they do outside the library, their recommended life hacks and much more -- please visit the full Focus survey results page here.

Special thanks to all who participated in the survey!!!
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Indian Education for All Implementation in Montana School Libraries: Answering the Call of Social Justice

by Brittany Alberson, West High School (Billings Public Schools)

To those of us who have been teaching in Montana for a few years or those of us who completed our own teacher education programs in-state, the concept of Indian Education for All (IEFA) grows increasingly familiar with each passing year. For those who have not had that advantage, a brief explanation is in order. In 1999, twenty-seven years after the State of Montana recognized “the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and committed to provide education preserving the cultural integrity of each Montana tribe” (Elser 1), the Montana legislature passed House Bill 528, Indian Education for All. It mandated that Indian education be integrated into every classroom at every grade level in an effort to provide equitable education for all Montana students, to address ethical implications borne of years of institutional privilege and prejudice, and to improve instruction all around. In fact, many educators have found that by incorporating IEFA into their curricula, they have branched out into even more pluralistic perspectives and created even more multicultural lessons, making their classes more inclusive and well-rounded. Montana is unique in its recognition and implementation of IEFA. It is a proud part of our education system. And, as school librarians, we are uniquely positioned at the hearts of our schools to lead the way in embracing IEFA, exploring the Essential Understandings of Montana Indians, and instigating multicultural education at any and all stages. Unlike our colleagues teaching in more traditional classrooms, we may have limited time with students and must find different approaches that work for our libraries and our library users. This article aims to explore how best to implement IEFA in school libraries, particularly in middle and high school libraries, where flexible scheduling challenges formal lesson-based implementation.

The Essential Understandings of IEFA operate as a general baseline for implementation of Indian education. They are as follows:

Essential Understanding 1

There is great diversity among the twelve tribal nations of Montana in their languages, cultures, histories and governments. Each Nation has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern Montana.

Essential Understanding 2

There is great diversity among individual American Indians as identity is developed, defined and redefined by entities, organizations and people. A continuum of Indian identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional. There is no generic American Indian.

Essential Understanding 3

The ideologies of Native traditional beliefs and spirituality persist into modern day life as tribal cultures, traditions, and languages are still practiced by many American Indian people and are incorporated into how tribes govern and manage their affairs. Additionally, each tribe has its own oral histories, which are as valid as written histories. These histories pre-date the “discovery” of North America.

Essential Understanding 4

Reservations are lands that have been reserved by the tribes for their own use through treaties, statutes, and executive orders and were not “given” to them. The principle that land should be acquired from the Indians only through their consent with treaties involved three assumptions:

  1. Both parties to treaties were sovereign powers.
  2. Indian tribes had some form of transferable title to the land.
  3. Acquisition of Indian lands was solely a government matter not to be left to individual colonists.

Essential Understanding 5

There were many federal policies put into place throughout American history that have affected Indian people and still shape who they are today. Many of these policies conflicted with one another. Much of Indian history can be related through several major federal policy periods:

  • Colonization/Colonial Period 1492 – 1800s
  • Treaty Period 1789 - 1871
  • Assimilation Period - Allotment and Boarding School 1879 - 1934
  • Tribal Reorganization Period 1934 - 1958
  • Termination and Relocation Period 1953 - 1971
  • Self-determination Period 1968 – Present

Essential Understanding 6

History is a story most often related through the subjective experience of the teller. With the inclusion of more and varied voices, histories are being rediscovered and revised. History told from an Indian perspective frequently conflicts with the stories mainstream historians tell.

Essential Understanding 7

Under the American legal system, Indian tribes have sovereign powers, separate and independent from the federal and state governments. However, the extent and breadth of tribal sovereignty is not the same for each tribe.

All of the Essential Understandings Regarding Montana Indians can be explored in further detail in The Framework: A Practical Guide for Montana Teachers and Administrators Implementing Indian Education for All which was developed by Dr. Tammy Elser in 2010 and was disseminated to Montana school libraries by the Montana Office of Public Instruction. Additionally, they can be found on the OPI website, along with lesson plans and implementation suggestions.

The Essential Understandings provide a terrific jumping-off point to begin IEFA integration and it is important to recognize that there are different stages of depth and sophistication of any multicultural education initiative like IEFA. These stages are also detailed in The Framework and they were initially identified by Dr. James Banks at the University of Washington. They are, in increasing order of depth and sophistication, Contributions, Additive, Transformation, and Social Justice.

Contributions tend to focus on the efforts or lives of specific individuals or cultural asides that are unique to other societies. This might take the form of a lesson on Kwanzaa or on Cesar Chavez. Contributions are rarely integrated fully into larger lessons or units.

Additive refers to adding a multicultural perspective alongside the established curriculum without having to restructure that curriculum. So, along with a lesson about the Holocaust, a teacher might also touch on the Rwandan genocide or the Khmer Rouge. The Additive approach may allow for more exposure to multicultural education but it does not effectively build communications or present smooth integration for students.

Transformation focuses on perspective. Multicultural education that locks in to the Transformation stage often provides students with opportunities to consider other, sometimes vastly different, points of view on unfamiliar situations. So, as part of a unit on wealth disparity, students might arrange themselves into population ratios that reflect each continent and then their teacher might dispense treats, such as cookies, to them according to wealth distribution statistics. The kid standing in North America might start to feel guilty about her 16 Oreos while the three kids in Africa will no doubt call out the utter unfairness of having to split one cookie three ways. This Transformative lesson has the power to change perspective.

Finally, the Social Justice stage seeks to educate and empower students to independently recognize injustice in the world around them and to take action to address that wrong. This might take the form of a student learning about a significant event like the Battle of Arrow Creek between Billings and Pryor and, after realizing that current history resources barely address it or don’t even mention it, taking it upon himself to research the battle and to compile materials that he can then use to petition the local school board to incorporate education on the Battle of Arrow Creek into the curriculum.

School libraries can implement IEFA passively and actively simultaneously. Many of us already employ passive implementation. We hang Honor posters and we buy Joseph Bruchac books for our students. We set up beautiful displays of relevant materials during November for Native American Heritage Month. We may even invite speakers in for Lunch & Learns on powwow dances or tribal histories and stories. All of these efforts fall squarely in the Contributions and Additive stages of multicultural education. And this is not a bad thing.

While it is noble to push for the Social Justice level of multicultural education in our implementation of IEFA, doing so without regard to where our students are in terms of their own readiness and ability to absorb IEFA will often backfire spectacularly. This is where we as librarians have to temper our desire to integrate IEFA more actively through Transformation and Social Justice efforts with our mandate to provide a safe, comfortable, open learning environment for all students.

Some of our students are not ready for Social Justice. For some of our students, who have absorbed strong prejudice toward American Indians while growing up, simply seeing The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie or Counting Coup by Larry Colton on prominent display might give them pause while they consider the implications of those titles and their placement in the school library. For others, a gentle Additive suggestion that they consider having a look at Joe Medicine Crow or Chester Nez while they research papers on military heroes might blow their minds and set off future inquiries in multicultural education. The key to successful IEFA integration in the school library is judicious implementation on a case-by-case basis.

As school librarians, we must walk a fine line. We tend to be social justice crusaders and proud of it! And yet, we also must create safe environments for inquiry where all our students feel welcome. Thus, we cannot be on our soapboxes all day, every day. We can stand up for what is just, but we cannot go about alienating our students because, in addition to all the other skills we are trying to instill in our kids, we are also trying to teach them to be lifelong library users. And, as many of us can attest, one bad experience with one librarian can turn a person off to libraries for the rest of her life.

So, while we may use Contribution and Additive methods to integrate IEFA, we must also pursue Transformation and Social Justice. We must make sure we develop well-rounded collections that break down the walls of ethnocentrism in subtle and overt ways and provide our students with opportunities to see themselves reflected in the literature around them. We should invite speakers in to discuss Native American Heritage—but we do so all year round, not just during the designated month of November. We could highlight resources that discuss injustice and prejudice. We can even craft displays detailing the local Native history that our huge state offers in abundance. We can speak to individual students, or perhaps even whole classes, about cultural misconceptions. We create Indian Boarding Schools galleries and invite our students to listen to the stories of individuals who attended, either by choice or by force, some of those schools. We can seek out Native writers and storytellers and invite them in to workshop with our students. We must collaborate with our colleagues on IEFA integration and encourage them to use the library and all its resources. We should work every day to ensure our Native students feel welcome and included in our libraries and, by extension, we should work to include all our students, regardless of their background.

If I have learned one thing from working to integrate IEFA into my library it’s that doing so has created in me a passion for multicultural education that extends far beyond the framework of IEFA and far beyond the mandate of House Bill 528. Being more aware of my inclusion of Indian education has heightened my awareness of other underrepresented cultures in my library and in my school. Thus, I leave you with these parting thoughts: integrating Indian Education for All is not just a professional duty, it is a human responsibility with ethical and pedagogical implications that can only enrich the school library and we don’t have to go it alone. Resources abound and not just from OPI. In my time as a librarian, I have met incredible educators, dedicated to the implementation of IEFA, who have helped me whenever I have put out the call for assistance. Most of these are in my own district, but some are from other parts of the state. Never forget that. As school librarians, we are privileged to be part of a very supportive professional community. I know I can bend another librarian’s ear at any time to better my own educational practices and I encourage all school librarians to take advantage of the vast array of amazing resources we have in our state. IEFA sets Montana apart from other states and we must steadfastly and proudly support its integration, both in our libraries and in our schools.

Source Cited:

Elser, Tammy. The Framework: A Practical Guide for Montana Teachers and Administrators Implementing Indian Education for All. Helena: Montana Office of Public Instruction, 2010.

(Brittany Alberson can be reached at


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From the Editorial Desk

Hello Dear Readers,

Now that autumn has descended and the back-to-school season is well underway, I thought it appropriate to turn our focus toward our wonderful school librarians. It is always such a pleasure to hear from these colleagues. We linked some their comments & advice in this issue in an effort to highlight the value they bring to our association.

As I thought about these SLD members I couldn’t help but recall some of my own experiences with school librarians. While I don’t remember all of their names, I distinctly remember how they each made me feel as a student.

One afternoon while the big kids were at recess a stray basketball exploded through a large window in my kindergarten classroom. Glass rained down everywhere. Thankfully no one was injured, but it wasn't safe to stay in the room. Our class was moved into the school library for the rest of the week while the window was repaired. Our librarian rose to the occasion- she read stories, helped us choose books to take home, fed the class gerbil, sang songs and even helped me button up my coat. When our class was disrupted it was the librarian that helped make the library feel like a safe and fun place to be.

I can remember being delighted in 2nd grade when my librarian took me right to the spot where the books about whitetail deer were shelved. I thought that was magical - how did she know exactly where to look among the hundreds of books on mammals I wondered!

As a middle-schooler I always enjoyed ‘library day’. Our librarian would visit each classroom to share a book talk or give a brief lesson before we headed down the hall. She found interesting ways to engage us. Sometimes she brought guests on her visits, such as a guitar player or an illustrator. This librarian also helped pave the way for my future vocation when she invited any interested student to apply for a library assistant position by writing an essay. As a 5th grade library assistant I enjoyed stamping due dates, gathering materials and decorating the library bulletin board. If I only knew then what was to come!

I still feel indebted to my high school librarian for unlocking the mystery of the green Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. In an era before expensive full-text databases and Google were the norm, those green books made a world of difference to me as I prepared research papers.

I appreciate my school librarians and hope you enjoy getting to know our Montana School Librarians & Media Specialists better through our newsletter. Got a fun school library memory to share? Drop a line in the comments section below. I'd love to hear about your experiences!


Caroline Campbell


My school librarians shaped my life in unexpected and incredible ways simply by providing a safe haven from the hazards of a world where I felt thoroughly alien. Growing up is hard work in any case, but growing up abroad left me feeling constantly at sea—until the bell rang for morning or afternoon tea, those thin but precious slices of my day when I could slip into the library undetected and find refuge in my Hergé, Cervantes, and Farley. On the day the towers fell in New York, when my Australian classmates were cruel in ways only teens can be, my school librarians were kind enough to let me stay past the final bell, huddled into a corner with a pile of books and a blank journal. I won't forget the security they gave me ... or the looks of total and utter disappointment whenever they caught me climbing the stone walls behind the children's nook.

Now, as an adult mostly past her climb-everything phase, I understand a little more of what it means to be a school librarian—here, and across the pond. The work you do, school librarians, changes lives. It may even save a few. Every display you put together, every addition to your collection, every battle for funding, and every child you listen to is a radical act. It's future-making.

One newsletter could never be enough to contain even a fraction of all that you do, but we want to thank you. We wouldn't be the people we are today without our school librarians!

Warm regards,

Kendra Mullison



Montana Library FOCUS

[ISSN 1076-352X]

The FOCUS is an official publication of the Montana Library Association (MLA), and is published in collaboration with the members which it serves. You can look for new issues six times a year: in February, April, June, August, October, and December. With an online readership of over 500, the newsletter works to reflect, inspire, and give voice to the vibrant communities that exist in and around Montana’s libraries.

The FOCUS welcomes your input! To submit feedback, articles, reviews, inquiries, and ideas—or to place an ad or provide sponsorship—please contact the editorial staff directly:

Please send address changes to:

Debbi Kramer (Executive Director)

Montana Library Association