a newsletter of the Montana Library Association

[ December 2016 Vol. 34 Issue 6 ]
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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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My favorite library-related stuff of 2016!

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


Recently, I was in Billings for a fundraising event for my job. Part of that event required showing a film. I held the film viewing at Billings Public Library because why wouldn’t you? Beautiful meeting room, high quality tech equipment, and the price is right (free). Upon my arrival at the public library, I spoke with a gal at the circulation desk who connected me up with Lynne Puckett in the event I had any technical questions about using the equipment in the meeting room. Upon realizing my connection to the Montana Library Association, Lynne took it upon herself to give me the full royal tour of the Billings Library, even the behind-the-scenes stuff. Beautiful new library, terrific staff, and a wonderful impromptu hour for me. I even got to have my picture taken in the “celebrity” chair. Thanks, Cindy! I thought it was so nice of Lynne to take the time and trouble to show me around. Thank you, Lynne, for being a librarian that rocks!


I recently stumbled across one of the neatest ideas ever—right at the Mansfield Library on the University of Montana Campus. My Montana Innocence Project office is at the university and I am considered affiliate faculty. As such, I have access to university resources including trainings. I saw on the training schedule that there was a class open to faculty and staff that would demonstrate how to make your own videos. Thinking that sounded interesting, I went to the class. It was the coolest thing ever! Mansfield Librarian Glenn Kneebone led the class which took place in a special room in the Mansfield Library called the One Touch Studio. Inserting a flash drive into the machinery turns the system on and one can shoot a video and put it together right in that room with the software on a computer housed in the room. Upload it on your flash drive and you are on your way. Anyone with a university ID can use the room for free! I was so impressed. Librarians are always coming up with the best ideas! Kudos to Glenn and the Mansfield Library for making videos so easy!


I recently watched a Webinar on state aid funding where libraries were encouraged to use Canva (great resource!) to create reports that could be used to illustrate how libraries are spending the state aid monies they are given. I was particularly impressed by the photos and work of the Clancy Public Library and the North Valley Public Library in capturing images of their fun and colorful kids’ programs that came about as a result of the state aid funding. Lots of happy looking kids!


Hats off to Cheri Bergeron of Helena as she retires from many years of service as the librarian for the Office of Public Instruction. I have known Cheri for many years and she did great things at OPI, always upholding the highest librarian standards. Cheri was also involved with the Sheila Cates efforts for many years. Cheri is someone I always looked forward to seeing around the state complex, both for her sense of humor and her great knowledge. Congratulations on your retirement, Cheri! You will be missed.


Love those Webinars put together by Jo Flick at the State Library. The content is great and the ease-of-use is astounding! Just sit at your desk and learn about state funding, available library resources, accomplishments of Montana librarians and so much more—all brought right to you in the comfort and convenience of your own office. If you haven’t signed up for any of these Webinars, you really should. Very informative and well done. If you can’t make it to the live Webinar, the archived Webinars are housed on the State Library’s Vimeo channel.


Make your own personal library card! Love it!


You know the answer! We are so fortunate to be members of the Montana Library Association where we see such amazing people and libraries in every direction we look. Thank you to ALL of you librarians who do such terrific work! You are truly changing lives.

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Your Favorites of 2016!

- Alice Kestler: Great Falls seeds the future

- Brooke Bloomenrader: Everybody needs a "bookface"!

- Erin Casey: Lolo goes big for Summer Reading

- Jennie Stapp: State Aid—saving the day!

- The staff of ImagineIf: Celebrities & Collaborations, oh my!

- Mary O'Brien: The best party in Montana

News From Our Affiliates:

- Marcia Holmes & Melanie Belliveau: 43rd Annual AALT Conference

- Eileen Wright: Updates from MPLA

News From MLA :

- Carly Delsigne: Who will you nominate?

- Stephen Haddad: MLA Photo Contest

- FOCUS Editors: MLA Handbook on FOCUS

- Heather Dickerson: ALA Resources for MLA & Postcard Campaign

- John Finn: MLA Gov Affairs Committee

- Laura Tretter: Tech Services IG

- Sheila Bonnand: Professional Development Committee

Programs, Promotions & Projects :

- Cindy Patterson brings the bears to Billings Public Library for a sleepover [VIDEO]

- Fall colors abounded at North Lake County Public Library as Angela Claver led an adult coloring program

- What do journalists and dogs have in common? Find out in this piece by Patricia Spencer of Lewis and Clark Library's East Helena Branch.

Features & Articles:

- Eric Chambers introduces us to E-Rate

- Jim Kammerer expresses gratitude and a "budding love" for Open Data

- Your FOCUS editors would like to congratulate Montana libraries on passing their bonds on election day!

Marginalia :

- Micro-Review courtesy of Lauren McMullan

- Some important words from UNT

- From the Editors

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Great Falls seeds the future

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Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly talking about the new Seed Exchange.

by Alice Kestler, Great Falls Public Library

One of my favorite moments at the Great Falls Public Library was the grand opening of the Seed Exchange on April 16, 2016. We had Mayor Bob Kelly come to give an address and cut the ribbon (garden twine) that was securing garden burlap over our Seed Exchange furniture. After the grand opening we held a seed swap in the Cordingley room. Other Seed Exchange events in April were classes on seed saving, soil enhancement and testing for seed viability. As of November 11th, 1,211 packets have been checked out. The most popular (all varieties for each) were beans at 69, basil at 53 and peas at 50.

(All photos by Kurt Loeffler)

Everybody needs a "bookface"!

by Brooke Bloomenrader, Billings Senior High School

At Senior High this fall we did a "Bookface Photo Contest" and it was a lot of fun. The picture is of me since I can't share our students' pictures, but they had fun with it.

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Lolo goes big for Summer Reading

by Erin Casey, Missoula Public Library (Lolo Branch)

Hello from the Missoula Public Library's Lolo Branch Library. We had a fantastic summer program and were able to award some really nice prizes thanks to a $1,000 donation from the Town Pump Charitable Foundation.

The children recorded their reading time by the half hour and everyone who completed a reading log received a prize. All of the grant money was used to purchase prizes including STEM kits, robotics kits, Kindle readers, gift cards & other educational items thanks to Town Pump’s generous support.

If you would like more information, please contact me at

(Photos by Erin Casey)

State Aid—saving the day!

by Jennie Stapp, Montana State Library

Here is a recap of my favorite moment, shared to Wired in September:

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 watch their testimony for yourself refer back to the committee hearing archive at a later date:

Celebrities & Collaborations, oh my!

by the staff of ImagineIF, Kalispell


Governor Steve Bullock experienced the “Spice of Life” in April by mixing his own curry powder blend at ImagineIF Kalispell. Showing up to honor Sophia Skwarchuk who created an app that helps people facing food shortages, Bullock discovered he could also make curry powder. Bullock joined the fun and created a special blend of his own alongside other customers.

Senator Jon Tester was also spotted at ImagineIF Kalispell during a visit in July. After observing kids experimenting with a wind tunnel, he got in on the action. Then, Tester waited in line with the crowd and sampled some ice cream. When asked if he would vote for the new ImagineIF flavor he agreed quipping “I am a Tester, after all.”
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Sean Anderson, Senior Librarian at ImagineIF Libraries


We talk a lot in our Montana libraries about 21st century skills: Creativity, innovation, collaboration. We develop programs for children and adults to develop these skills in our customers, and it’s incredible to have a State Library that supports these activities. I’ve had the opportunity this year to see those 21st century skills play out in my work with the Cooperative Cataloging Committee. Sure, we didn’t develop and use these skills by having a robot race or making ice cream – our customers get to have all of THAT fun. But we did get to flex our 21st century skills to help streamline and eliminate errors in our collective cataloging practices! BOOYAH!

One of our first steps after coming together was to conduct research with other library consortia, in places like Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis. Huge systems! Millions of titles! Something that consistently rose out of those conversations is just how innovative our libraries are in Montana. It’s easy to think that in comparison to large, metro areas, the MSC is small potatoes. It turns out we’re leading the way in developing improvements to cooperative library services, and some of the largest consortia in the nation look to us as a model of responsive, creative, and inclusive services. If you want to see an example of 21st century skills in action, consider the MSC. The scale of services that we provide, over such vast distances is something to be proud of, and it’s our collective creativity that makes us a success.

(All photos courtesy of Lune Axelsen)

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The best party in Montana

by Mary O'Brien, North Lake County Public Library District

This summer, we ended Polson's Summer Reading Program with a splash! Local businessman and Happy Hippo operator Bob Ricketts loaned us his signature ride for any participant of the program who completed all eight levels—representing, altogether, about 14,560 hours of reading. After a full morning and afternoon of packed rides, Ricketts was overheard saying “This will be the best party in Montana today!”

For more about this year's reading program in Polson, see the write-up in our local Valley Journal:

(Photo by Mary O'Brien)


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by Marcia Homes & Melanie Belliveau, AALT 2017 Conference Co-Chairs

Plans are underway for the 43rd annual Alberta Association of Library Technicians Conference to be held in beautiful Banff, Alberta from April 20-23, 2017 at the Banff Park Lodge Resort & Conference Centre!

The 2017 theme, "Bringing It All Together", expresses the idea that library technicians / library personnel use various concepts, tools, and resources with a focus on collaboration, creativity and communication, not only to fulfill their duties as technicians but also in their daily lives.

Interesting speakers, fascinating keynotes, and fun filled tours are being booked as we speak! Keep checking the conference website ( as new items will be posted as they are confirmed.

If you think that you’d like to be a speaker at the conference, check out our call for speakers information at

We hope to see you all in Banff, AB for AALT’s 43rd Conference April 20-23, 2017!


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by Eileen Wright, Montana State University Billings Library

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:

  • Nov 30th
  • Jan 27th

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

Save the date: Nevada Library Association will be next year’s host state with MPLA. October 16-18, 2017 at South Lake Tahoe, Nevada at the Hard Rock Hotel.


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Who will you nominate?

by Carly Delsigne, North Jefferson County Library District

We all know people who go above and beyond for libraries, who work tirelessly, and who deserve to be recognized. Nominate them!

The Montana Library Association would like to help you acknowledge them. We want them to feel special, appreciated, and honored by their good library works, but, in order to do that, we need you to nominate them!!

The Awards Committee invites you to send in your nominations for the 2017 Awards. Each nomination must consist of three letters of support; one from the nominator and two from other supporters of the nomination. No more than three letters of support will be considered by the committee. In addition, those nominating a work for the Media Award must provide the committee with a copy of the nominated work. All nominations will be confidential until the recommendations of the committee have been approved by the Board of Directors and the recipients notified. The deadline date should be set no later than the third Monday in January (January 23, 2017) in order for the committee to complete its work. The Montana Library Association honors individuals and groups who have served the Association and/or the Montana library community with distinction. The Montana Library Association confers the following awards and honors:

  • Honorary Life Membership Award

  • Pat Williams Intellectual Freedom Award

  • Interest Group Excellence Award

  • Media Award

  • School Administrator of the Year Award

  • Special Friend to Libraries Award

  • Trustee of the Year Award

  • Legislator of the Year Award

  • Outstanding Support Staff Award

  • School Library Program of the Year Award

  • Librarian of the Year Award

  • Library of the Year Award

Full NOMINATION GUIDELINES are available via the 'Quick Links' section of MLA homepage:

Please send all nominations & letters of support to Chair Carly Delsigne at or mail them to 3 N. Main St., Clancy, MT 59634.

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MLA Photo Contest

by Stephen Haddad, Missoula Public Library & MLA Webmaster

Do you have pictures of Montana’s great outdoors? We are seeking image contributions to be displayed on the MLA website. MLA’s motto is “from the mountains to the prairies” so we would like to feature images which reinforce Montana’s scenic beauty. If you have a great picture from a recent hike, road trip or night on the town then we would love to see it! Selected images will be displayed on the MLA website. Top finalists will be featured on the MLA website and one grand prize finalist will be selected to receive a year’s free MLA membership!


1) Images should feature Montana landscapes or Cityscapes

2) Images should not contain recognizable people

3) Images should be submitted in .jpg or .png format

4) Images should have a file size of no more than 2 mb.

5) Images should be no more than 2000 pixels long

6) Submissions should be emailed to with a subject line: “photo contest”

7) Submissions should include (in the email body):

  • Name and associated library of submitter
  • Approximate location of image subject

Submissions are made with this implicit understanding:

"By submitting this image I allow the MLA webmaster to modify the image as necessary and to display the image on the MLA website."

MLA Handbook on FOCUS

by Yours Truly, the FOCUS Editors

Per the MLA Handbook regarding the FOCUS newsletter:

“The editor(s) should publish the guidelines in brief form at least once a year in the Montana Library Focus itself and they should be distributed to all Board members, committee and interest group chairs at the beginning of each fiscal year.”

Focus - Publication Standards and Guidelines

  1. Montana Library Focus is published by the Montana Library Association as its official vehicle for communications. It is published six times a year in the months of February, April, June, August, October, and December. The deadline for submission of material follows:

  2. January 20 for the February issue

  3. March 20 for the April issue

  4. May 20 for the June issue

  5. July 20 for the August issue

  6. September 20 for the October issue

  7. November 20 for the December issue

  8. Send submissions of reports, news releases, or features to: Focus Editor

  9. Submissions in electronic copy are preferred. Acceptable formats include .doc, .docx, .pdf, .tiff and .jpeg. If an electronic copy cannot be emailed to the editor, a copy may be submitted, via post, on a CD. If no disk copy can be sent, please submit text in clean, scan able copy. Use facsimile only upon request from the editor.

  10. Reports should cover the business of MLA committees, divisions, or interest groups; for example, meetings, activities, announcements, upcoming events. As a general guideline, keep reports to 700 words or less. Please contact the editor prior to submitting any report significantly longer than this.

  11. News releases are brief announcements of interest to Montana librarians, but not related to official MLA business; for example, personnel news, grants received, programs held, new services offered. News releases should be 500 words or less.

  12. Features are any article-length (1000 plus words) essay, discussion, interview, research paper, or other form of expository writhing. Please submit complete manuscript or contact the editor for details.

  13. In general, writing in the third person is preferred for reports and news releases.

All manuscripts must be double-spaced with wide margins. Indicate your name, address, affiliation, and phone number. For other stylistic or formatting guidelines, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style.

Please email submissions to

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ALA resources for MLA

by Heather Dickerson, Lewis & Clark Public Library

Just an FYI about new resources being released by the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy to help familiarize the newly elected officials of the roles libraries play in communities around the country. Have a look:

There is also a YALSA resource about supporting youth in the wake of the election:

Postcard Campaign

by Heather Dickerson, Lewis & Clark Public Library


Show our elected officials how much your library means to you! In the next few weeks, libraries around Montana will receive a packet of postcards. Through the end of the year, complete a “Libraries matter! This is my story:” postcard. After the New Year, postcards will be collected and displayed at the Montana Library Association’s Library Legislative Day. This project is facilitated by the Teen Advisory Group at Lewis & Clark Library. For more information, please contact Heather Dickerson, Teen Services Librarian at Lewis & Clark Library at or (406) 447-1690 x 132.

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MLA Gov Affairs Committee

by John Finn, Lewis and Clark Library

Legislative Session News and Notes:

Greetings fellow Montana librarians. The 2017 Montana Legislative Session is right around the corner. In fact, as I type this on November 22, it is a mere 39 days away.

At the July MLA Board meeting, the Board set the top three legislative priorities for this session. In order of importance, they are:

1. Supporting and passing Per Capita/Per Square Mile State Aid;

2. Supporting, backfilling, and fully funding the State Library's budget, as well as supporting the State Library in the exercise of its full budgetary authority;

3. Track, inform, and lobby all non-budgetary bills that may impact libraries during the session, taking special care about bills that concern coal funding, broadband, filtering, censorship, privacy, intellectual freedom, tax levy sunsets, school librarians, and library districts.

On the first priority, Per Capita/Per Square Mile State Aid, I would like to report that a draft bill has been submitted by Representative Frank Garner of Kalispell on behalf of the Montana State Library. An LC number has been assigned to that bill draft and you can follow its progress on the LAWS database with this number LC0824. The LAWS database can be found here:$.startup?P_SESS=20171

The Government Affairs Committee will keep members informed of progress of bills and actions needed on library related issues throughout the session. You will be notified with clear and detailed instructions from the Government Affairs Committee and the MLA Lobbyist Nanette Gilberston when MLA needs your help.

One action I can make sure you know about right now is that your attendance is needed at the Montana Library Legislative Reception on Wednesday, January 18. Please go to your login page at the Montana State Library Directory to register for the reception and for the two days of CE surrounding Legislative Day. You will learn about the Montana Library Association’s 2017 Legislative priorities with emphasis on renewing the increased state aid to libraries as well as talking points for Library Legislative Day. You will also learn from your peers and from MLA’s lobbyist how to engage with Montana legislators and gain their support for Montana libraries. And finally, you will gain skills on the appropriate role for library staff, trustees, friends groups, and other supporters to maximize your influence and achieve the best possible outcome in the session.

The reception itself is a great way to mingle with elected officials from all over the state. It is a prime opportunity to make legislators aware of what we do, how we do it, and what dramatic effects we have on our communities. The reception will take place between 5:30 and 8:30 on Wednesday, January 18 at the Montana State Library.

This is a very important evening on the Montana Library Association’s calendar. Because it is such a significant evening, we are always grateful for any additional help your Friends groups or Foundations can offer. If you can’t attend, monetary donations for support of the event are also important. We use the funds to host the reception, but more importantly, to hire a photographer to take and process photos of the legislators for their READ posters. At the last legislative reception, MLA made more than 120 READ posters and shipped the posters to the legislator’s constituent libraries, as well as sending electronic files of their posters to their offices to print.

If you wish to make a donation for the reception, please make checks payable to Montana Library Association and mail them to:

John Finn

Lewis & Clark Library

120 S. Last Chance Gulch

Helena, MT 59601

Please visit the State Library’s Directory and sign up for the Library Legislative Day and let us know as soon as you can if you plan to attend. This is an all-hands-on-deck session. We will need to your support and we will need to know you’re ready to help.

If you have any questions about this session, please contact me at

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MLA Tech Services Interest Group

by Laura Tretter, Montana Historical Society Research Center

Did you know OCLC offers free training in Connexion, the software used for finding, creating, and editing bibliographic records? Using live and recorded trainings as well as prepared tutorials, they have you covered.

Training includes MARC record basics, Connexion overview, searching, editing, and original cataloging. They offer a module based series that goes through exactly what you need to know to successfully use the software. I have gone through all the modules more than once.

Training is provided separately depending on the Connexion experience you prefer.

Check it out:

Professional Development Committee

by Sheila Bonnand, Montana State University Library

The MLA Professional Development Committee is pleased to announce its next call for grant applications. The deadline is January 1, 2017 for this round of grants. What’s available?

  • Two $50 grants are available to members who want to attend Offline.
  • Fifteen $150.00 MLA Conference Grants are available for members to attend the MLA annual conference. Priority for up to 5 of the grants is for members who are new to the profession and to MLA.

Professional Development Grants up to $800 are available to MLA members wanting to attend a national or regional conference or professional development event. Grants are available to individuals who have maintained a minimum of three (3) consecutive years of MLA membership and who have not received a national grant from MLA within the last five (5) years.

Before submitting an application, please go to to review the specific criteria for each grant. You will also find the application forms there.

Previous 2016 grant recipients were Abbi Dooley, North Lake County Public Library District, and Nancy Royan, Wedsworth Memorial Library, who both received $50 Retreat grants to attend the ASLD/PLD Retreat and Jim Kammerer, Montana State Library, who received a $500 Professional Development grant to attend the Transparency Camp in Cleveland, Ohio.

Your PD committee,

  • Sheila Bonnand
  • Kirsten Bryson
  • Pam Carlton
  • Jeanne Ferris
  • Diane Mattila
  • Hannah McKelvey
  • Laura Tretter
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Teddy Bear Sleepover

by Cindy Patterson, Billings Public Library
Billings Public Library Teddy Bear Sleepover 2016
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Color Me Beautiful : A Fall-Themed Adult Coloring Program

by Angela Claver, North Lake County Public Library District

On September 21, 2016 North Lake County Public Library in Polson presented a FALL PALETTE coloring program. Twenty-two people attended, enjoyed high quality coloring choices in a relaxed atmosphere, yummy theme related snacks and a virtual walk in lovely fall colors; thanks to the talents of technology specialist Heather Miles. An early evening session has been added to accommodate the after work coloring enthusiast. This later session had the addition of live music provided by local coffeehouse style musician, Charles Lutz.

Amidst all this colorful fun, interesting observations were made regarding participation. There was a variety of age groups including young & old, male and female. Repeat participants from earlier programs came in twos for a fun session together while others came singly and visited with someone new. One participant who had been studying vigorously for nursing boards took a much needed, appreciated break. A mother of small children found the same oasis of relaxation.

One dedicated library volunteer single-handedly distributed 50+ flyers, simply because she loves the event.

Three young boys especially liked the hot cocoa…with marshies!

And one dear male patron who has been battling cancer and is in treatment found us and was much soothed.

We have come to realize that this ‘frivolous coloring phenomenon’ is meeting real needs. We hope to continue offering coloring programs on a quarterly basis.

(All photos by Mary O'Brien)


by Patricia Spencer, Lewis and Clark Libraries (East Helena Branch)
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Eeva Vänskä, a journalist from Finland, visited the main branch of the Lewis & Clark Library in June and after returning home, contacted me about doing a story for their magazine, SAYL. (= a friendship organization between Finland and USA). Through a series of email exchanges, I answered questions about our Library, the services we provide, and a bit about our community. The article was printed in September. It was a fun experience to get to share information about our Library with someone in different county.
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Marshall the Miracle Dog

also by Patricia Spencer, Lewis and Clark Libraries (East Helena Branch)


National Ambassador for Bullying Prevention, Marshall the Miracle Dog will visit the East Helena Library with his message to “Show Courage. Be Kind.”

November 15, 2016 (Helena, MT)— Marshall the Miracle Dog will be “hopping” into town Saturday, November 19th at 10:30AM to visit the East Helena Branch of the Lewis & Clark Library to share his life changing messages of empathy, kindness, and forgiveness.

Cynthia Willenbrock, Marshall’s owner was shocked to learn that prior to 2015, Montana did not have an anti-bullying law and set about trying to connect with schools and service groups so that she could bring Marshall’s message to Montana youth. In the process she read an article about House Bill 284, the Anti-Bullying Bill, and the work done to get the Bill passed during the 2015 Legislative Session. “I reached out and now I’m thrilled to be bringing Marshall and his message to the families of East Helena.”

Marshall brings a message of perseverance and acceptance for all students, “Marshall provides a safe and unique voice to teach young people to be kind to one another; to accept others; and that everyone can overcome their obstacles to thrive,” explains Cynthia of the program.

Marshall, a 3-legged scar faced, rescue dog, found near death in a hoarding situation in Marshall, MO, proves after dying 3 times on the Humane Society’s operating table that he has a purpose to serve. Marshall, now a certified therapy dog, lives his life’s mission every day. Cynthia comments, “I was told Marshall had a reason he fought so hard to survive when I adopted him in 2011. It did not take long to see the connections children, and adults, made with Marshall. It was clear what we had to do. Shortly after writing a children’s book about Marshall’s story, I quit my pharmaceutical sales job, had Marshall trained as a Certified Therapy Dog, and began sharing Marshall and his story with others.”

Marshall’s message is so powerful that a National Social-Emotional Curriculum has been developed for schools and organizations to give Marshall an even larger platform. In collaboration with National 4-H, the Marshall Mentor Program, is a 6 week program to be delivered by trained High School students to bring Marshall’s cornerstone messages to middle school age students in communities across the country. This Mentor Program is the first of kind and has proven to speak directly to children right where they need it most, in their hearts.

Since the launch of his award winning children’s book (Marshall the Miracle Dog, 2012) and his movie (Marshall’s Miracle) released in theaters late 2015, Marshall and his owner have presented to 250,000 students coast to coast in over 550 schools.


E-rate for Librarians

by Eric Chambers, Director of E-Rate and Services for the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE)

The Federal Schools and Libraries Universal Services Support Program, commonly known as the E-rate program is designed to help schools and libraries acquire affordable broadband and make effective and efficient use of that connectivity for students and library patrons. But what exactly is the E-rate program and how can you make use of these funds for your public library?

The E-rate program was created as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and is funded by a specific tax levied against all telecommunications providers. The tax, of course, is passed on to individuals like you and I and accounts for about $1 per phone line per month. These funds are used to reimburse schools and libraries for eligible telecommunications expenses.

All eligible expenses are one of two types called either Category One or Category Two.

Category One includes Internet access and support for wide area networks (WAN). Much like at home, most libraries have a direct connection between one of their buildings and an Internet Service Provider (ISP). In a small, stand-alone library building this might be a direct connection from the library to the ISP. In the case of some municipal libraries, Internet comes into the library by way of a hub managed by the municipality. In these cases, a WAN is created between the hub and each individual library within the system.

A WAN, in its simplest form, is a high-speed connection between two or more buildings. A WAN makes it possible to share data between buildings without having to pass through the Internet. A WAN also makes it possible for all buildings in the network to share one Internet connection rather than have and maintain a connection between each building and the ISP.

Category Two includes the hardware necessary to bring Internet access to the individual users in the library and includes routers, switches, wired and wireless access points, cabling, and so forth. A detailed discussion of each of these technologies is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that these are the technologies needed to connect a computer, tablet, phone, or other devise to the Internet.

Any discussion of eligible services ought to include a discussion of those technologies that are not eligible. Phone service, email and web hosting services, though eligible in the past, are no longer eligible. End-user equipment like computers and tablets are also not eligible.

Reimbursement for eligible technology expenses is calculated differently for each category.

Discounts for Category One and Two services are calculated based on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) eligibility of the students in the school district in which the library resides. The relationship between NSLP eligibility rates and discount is not a one-to-one relationship and is best explained in the table below:

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Thus, if you are a rural library and your local school district has a NSLP eligibility rate of 50% your reimbursement for eligible Category One expenses would be 80%. In other words, if you spend $100 a month on Internet Access you would receive $80 of that back each month! Currently there is no cap on the amount of money you can received back for eligible expenses. If you spend $1,000 a month you would get back $800 a month, if you spent $10,000 a month you would get back $8,000 a month, and so on. There is a cap, however, on Category Two expenses.

Each library receives a five-year “budget” for Category Two expenses. Budgets are calculated at either $5.00 or $2.30 a square foot for each library building. Libraries with an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) code of 11, 12, or 21 receive the higher amount per square foot while all other libraries receive the lower amount. A practical example follows:

The Smith Library System includes three libraries: a 2,000-square foot main branch and two 500-square foot branch libraries for a total square footage of 3,000-square feet, thus as an IMLS 21 library system their budget is $15,000 ($5 per square foot). Their local school district has a NSLP eligibility rate of 70% so the libraries discount for Category Two purchases is 80%. Putting it all together, if the library spent $15,000 on eligible hardware they would be reimbursed for 80% of that, or $12,000. Note that the $15,000 is a ‘cap’ so in this scenario $12,000 is the most the library would receive back even if they spent $30,000 instead of $15,000.

How do you apply for E-rate? The E-rate application process is a multi-step process that begins each summer or fall with the posting of the FCC Form 470 and possibly a Request for Proposal (RFP). This initial form lets service providers know what kinds of services you are interested in. This is followed by a FCC Form 471 which is a specific request for services and identifies the service provider you have selected through a competitive bidding process. Next, the Universal Services Administration Company (USAC) the organization that administers the E-rate program on behalf of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reviews your application, may ask questions, and eventually issues a Funding Commitment Decision Letter either approving or denying your request. The last step is to request your reimbursement by either seeking reimbursement after you have paid your bill in full or asking the service provider to bill you only for the undiscounted portion. The process, of course, is more complicated than the broad stokes painted here and will be the topic of a subsequent article.

The most often question for small libraries is: “Is it worth it?” The answer is as individual as the library itself. It can be a complicated process with a steep and often unforgiving learning curve but once the process is mastered can be a significant source or revenue for libraries.

Eric Chambers is the Director of E-rate and Services for the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) and has been helping schools and libraries successfully apply for E-rate for over 12 years. Eric may be reached at

Gratitude for MLA Grant and Budding Librarian Love for Open Data

by Jim Kammerer, Montana State Library

First, let me express my deep gratitude to the MLA board and MLA Professional Development Committee to be one of the 2016 MLA grant recipients. Your financial support was a big help in my attending TransparencyCamp, a.k.a. TCamp, October 14-15, 2016 at the Cleveland Public Library and hosted by the Sunlight Foundation. TCamp is an annual “unconference” of technologists, activists, journalists, non-profit leaders, civic advocates, academics, etc. and a small sprinkling of librarians who are passionate about the value of open data to solve community problems, improve transparency, accountability, and efficiency in government.

In brief, “open data” in the context of government refers to electronically stored information that is complete, primary, timely, accessible, machine readable, non-discriminatory, and license free. Past TCamp meetings focused on unlocking federal level information. This year attendees zeroed in on unleashing the potential of state, municipal, county, and special district data. TCamp attendees shared their ideas, struggles, and successes with projects addressing community health issues, expensive school bonds, recycling, pedestrian safety, declining property values, prisoner recidivism, close-door budget meetings, etc., etc.

Aren’t these same topics also of interest to our patrons here in Montana? I know our public libraries already host many regular meetings of concerned citizens. Our Montana libraries are already partial repositories of government information, e.g. environmental assessments, school board minutes, restaurant inspection information, road construction updates, property maps, tourism statistics, municipal revenue projections, legal notices, urban wildlife surveys, abandon building data, etc. Imagine the positive social change when we librarians take the next step together with patrons, community leaders, business owners, elected officials, etc. and commit ourselves to acquiring and making this public data truly open and accessible.

The more eyes that can simultaneously look at, analyze, and dissect open public data using software tools, the greater likelihood of developing timely, mutually agreeable solutions to local problems. Entrepreneurs love open data as well because it identifies business opportunities. Open data is also a boon for elected officials because it can polish their image, increase trust with their constituents, foster civic engagement, and economic development.

Take a moment at your earliest convenience, to learn more how to connect stakeholders in your community with local data sets held by your city, county, and special districts. For more ideas, read this article for another librarian perspective on open data.

Congratulations, Montana libraries & librarians!

by Caroline Campbell and Kendra Mullison, co-editors of the FOCUS

We'd like to offer kudos to following MLA Members…

Wendy Campbell (Darby Public Library) for winning the Robert B. Downs intellectual freedom award from the University of Illinois, School of Information Sciences!

And congratulations to the following for completing the Montana State Library Certification Program!

To receive the Library Certification participants earned more than 60 continuing education credits in a four-year period.

  • Denise Ard (North Valley Public Library - Stevensville)
  • Richard Ball (Lincoln County Public Libraries - Libby)
  • Debbie Davis (Harlowton Public Library)
  • Stephen Haddad (Missoula Public Library)
  • Donna Howe (Big Horn County Public Library - Hardin)
  • Connie Leistiko (Imagine IF Libraries - Kalispell)
  • Mary Perrier (Billings Public Library)
  • Starla Rice (Preston Hot Springs Town-County Library)
  • Debbie Wellman (Chouteau County Library- Fort Benton)
  • Gavin Woltjer (Billings Public Library)

We'd also like to celebrate the great gains made by Montana libraries at the polls this election. Congratulations, libraries!

See image below.

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(Image courtesy of North Lake County Public Library District)


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UNT Pearl Website

by Dr. Yunfei Du, Principal Investigator for the PEARL Project

The University of North Texas developed a website with free resources for rural and small public libraries as part of its Rural Library Initiative project entitled PEARL (Promoting & Enhancing the Advancement of Rural Libraries). The website address is:

There are over one hundred community outreach plans written by small and rural libraries. Each community outreach plan has a detailed action grid with step-by-step key tasks one needs to do to plan and implement the program. It includes how much time, money, materials, and personnel are needed for each task.

The website has a keyword index of the community outreach plan programs. For example, if one is interested in providing computer skill programs for senior citizens, one can check the index to see which libraries did that type of outreach program.

In addition, a series of four free webinars on topics of interest to public libraries was developed. Information about each can be found on the website. Webinars will be archived and available for anyone to view after the webinar is held.

The webinar titles are:

  • Marketing and Branding
  • Cultural Diversity and Inclusion
  • Intellectual Property
  • Communication

Each webinar has a legal issues component on the topic being discussed.

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From the Editorial Desk

Hello Dear Readers,

The year-end issue of FOCUS offers us a chance to reflect upon all that 2016 has brought to our library doorsteps. Based on the items we received as newsletter editors I know it was a jam-packed year for Montana libraries. As we pieced together this issue I pondered about my own favorite library moments.

Something exciting takes place daily, sometime hourly at Missoula Public Library where I work (mainly) in the cataloging department. There is a special energy I can feel when I take time to witness my co-workers orchestrate fabulous events, participate in parades, enrapture kids during storytime week after week, build electronics in our MakerSpace, dazzle our patrons with reference & reader’s advisory magic, promote a big campaign… phew, I could go on and on! I also have my own pet-projects that bring me amusement such as the library’s annual ToileTree drive where patrons are invited to decorate a tree with travel-size personal hygiene items that are donated to a local shelter. With all that transpires at MPL, coming up with a singular favorite memory required me to dig deep.

My favorite library moment is of a very personal nature. My father suffered a neck injury in 2014 that left him paralyzed and put life for my entire family on hold as we adapted to the situation and became care-givers. This was an intensely stressful & painful time for everyone involved that finally came to end this spring when my father passed away. I cannot describe to you the gratitude I have for my co-workers, my library family, who kindly offered encouragement and even donated sick-leave throughout this ordeal so that I didn’t have to miss a paycheck while I was at the hospital or making burial arrangements. The generosity I experienced from my colleagues is my favorite memory.

Libraries have never been about buildings or books; they have always been about people. I usually take that people part to mean our patrons, but librarians are people too! This year I really came to appreciate my library people at home and across Montana. I've enjoyed connecting with you through the newsletter and I hope we all can make some happy library memories in 2017!

-Sincerely, Caroline

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:

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