a newsletter of the Montana Library Association

[ December 2015 Vol. 33 Issue 6 ]

- Message from the President -

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by Dawn Kingstad, President of the Montana Library Association

"It’s Christmas Eve! It’s … it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we…we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!"

– Frank Cross, Scrooged

I love the holiday season. I love the blinking lights, the tinsel and glitter, the smell of gingerbread, and the Christmas music. I give Buddy the Elf a run for his money in the holiday cheer department. But the thing I enjoy most about the holiday season is the optimism and hope. This time of year gives us a chance to reflect on the outcomes of the last year and aspire to be better versions of our current selves.

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the year, we forget a very important aspect of our profession. What kind of environment do we provide? What impression do we leave on our patrons when they leave the building? People will forget what you have said or done, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Are we greeting our patrons or are we staying at our desk? What is our library atmosphere? Are library materials easy for our patrons to find and use? In general, do we give the vibe of being welcoming or do we unconsciously giving the message to stay away?

During the holiday season, I love to watch Christmas movies. I have my favorites that I always watch during this time of year. My two favorites also help me reflect on the events of the year. I reflect on my professional and personal progress and ask myself what worked and what could I have done differently. Much like the characters in my favorite shows I examine my social interactions and how I can improve in the future.

My absolute favorite holiday movie is “Scrooged” starring Bill Murray. The transformation of the modern day Scrooge is astounding. Frank (Scrooge) goes from a greedy, money hungry television executive, clawing his way to the top, no matter what morals he has to throw away, to a more humble and caring individual who is willing to give up his fame and fortune for a second chance at love.

Though I love Scrooged, I feel another of my favorites “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed has more important message to convey. George Bailey has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has put his hopes and dreams on hold so that he can work tirelessly on making sure that the community does not fall into peril. His Uncle Billy misplaces $8,000 dollars and forces George into a difficult position with the possibility of ending up in jail. George believes that his family and the community would be better off without him and he contemplates suicide. With a help of a guardian angel, George realizes that he has touched many people in a positive way and that his life has truly been a wonderful one.

Working at a library we might not realize how our demeanor and actions can affect our patrons and the community. Often the way we justify keeping a service or a program is by the attendance. How many patrons were there? How has the patron increased from last year to this year? What is the cost of continuing to run the program? Many times the deciding factor on continuing a service is dependent on the statistical support we have gathered.

While trying to statistically validate what we do we may not see how we have influenced our community in a positive way. Since June, I have been implementing the curriculum for our local Baby Bookworm Story-time. I also have created a local Sensory Story-time that has been meeting for almost two years now. The story-times are my favorite part of my week. I love to interact with the youngest readers. I love to see their passion for learning and to be part of their first milestones is awe inspiring. We have been making edible slime, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom cookies, listening to bird calls, wearing our pjs, making tree decorations, playing in shaving cream, and many other activities. The kids know that when they come to our library they can be kids. It’s okay to be loud. It’s okay to be messy. It’s okay if we don’t always share.

Sometimes I wonder if I am making enough of a difference in my community. We are having fun with our patrons at the library, but are we making a difference? Am I positively impacting my community and assisting in creating a better tomorrow? Just this last week, I think I got some of my questions answered. Many of my story-timers have started calling me, “My Teacher”. It is my favorite title, after being called mom. In just this last week I have had four patrons send me a thank you not for various reasons of how the library has enriched their lives.

My hand-made turkey thank-you card means more to me than any statistic. Yes, statistics are important but they don’t tell the whole story of what librarians do. We are so much more than a number. We give ourselves freely and unconditionally to our community. Many of us have put our needs aside to go the extra mile for a special patron, and we would gladly do it again.

My holiday wish for you is to know that the world would have a hole in it without you. I wish blessing of joy, peace, and love for you and yours.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

– Clarence, It’s a Wonderful Life

From my house to yours have a wonderful season,


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- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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- MPLA Update -

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by Eileen Wright, Montana State University Billings Library

Due to an unprecedented response by the membership, all grant monies for the 2015 calendar year have been allocated and the Professional Development Committee has closed the application process until the 2016 calendar year. Check back at this page for the 2016 grant application deadlines:

Save the date: MPLA is joining with Colorado Library Association for next year’s joint conference – Oct. 20-22, 2016 in Loveland.

- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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- PNLA Update -

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by Carmen Clark, PNLA Representative, Bozeman Public Library

Our Canadian neighbors are working hard planning next year’s conference in beautiful Calgary, Alberta. The dates are August 3rd-5th, 2016. Requests for proposals will be forthcoming. More information about the conference, membership, PNLA LEADS and other interesting information about PNLA can be found at:

- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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- School Library Division Update -


by Niki Keuch, SLD Co-Chair, Chief Joseph Middle School Library

Montana’s teacher-librarians had the opportunity to learn from each other at the 2015 Montana Educator’s Conference held in Billings on October 15 and 16. Here’s a quick data view of the conference.

  • 10 presentations were registered under the MLA curricular area. Twice the number from the 2014 MEA-MFT Conference.
  • A total of 275 people attended the 10 presentations.
  • 13 librarians presented.
  • 25 teacher-librarians paid for the MLA membership using the online registration service offered by MEA-MFT. The MLA Board moved to pilot this registration process at last Spring’s MLA Board Meeting.
  • 3 teachers signed a request for information sheet to learn more about MLA. They were sent the MLA brochure.
  • 15 librarians stayed for the School Librarian Division’s Round Table Discussion even though I’d inadvertently scheduled it opposite young adult author Chris Crutcher’s keynote address.

Numbers and statistics inform us, but it’s the experiences shared among the librarians at the conference that keep us inspired as educators. Librarians enlightened the audience with presentations on Reading Celebrations, Book Talks, Connecting School Libraries with College Libraries, Project Based Learning Activities, Historical and Current Role of Libraries Confronting Book Challenges, Coding in Libraries, Creative Library Programming, Discovering Online Resources, and Advocacy Using the Annual Library Report. Thanks to all the librarians presenting, attending, and spending time outside of sessions to network, the conference was a success. Looking forward to seeing many teacher-librarians at the MLA Conference this Spring.

- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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- News from Whitefish Community Library -


by Alison Pomerantz, Secretary of the Whitefish Community Library Board

Whitefish, MT—November 20, 2015: This summer, the Whitefish Community Foundation cast a line and reeled in a big one. The Foundation launched the Great Fish Challenge in June and distributed more than $1.1 million to 32 participating nonprofit organizations as part of the first annual Great Fish Challenge. As one of the participating nonprofits, WCL took home a generous cut of the funds raised at the Awards Ceremony at Casey’s Bar on October 9. Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Foundation in the name of the library, and a percentage of matching funds by the Community Foundation itself, the Whitefish Library Association received a check for $10,061.08.

"It was exciting and humbling to receive the monetary gift as part of our participation in the Great Fish Challenge,” said Jerry Hanson, President of the Whitefish Library Association. “This funding will enable WLA to extend its ongoing financial support of the Whitefish Community Library's critical needs in a variety of ways."

"I am once again awed by the generosity of the Whitefish community and Whitefish Community Foundation,” said Joey Kositzky, Director of the Whitefish Community Library. “And while the Foundation has been a consistent supporter of the library, a special thank you is only appropriate for accepting us for participation in their first-ever Great Fish Campaign. “ Kositzky explained that she plans to earmark a portion of the funds for a new Book Fair planned this year and to purchase new electronic media for the library, including books on CD.

The Great Fish Community Challenge replaces the Duck Derby as the Foundation’s primary fundraising event. The annual charitable giving campaign was designed to maximize donations from matching funds that stem from contributions to the Circle of Giving and from individuals donating directly to the Great Fish Match Fund. It was a way for many people to give to several organizations with a single check. As an added bonus, the Whitefish Community Foundation covered all transaction and administrative fees, making participation in the campaign free for all nonprofits.

The campaign received 1,391 contributions totaling $917,764. The Whitefish Community Foundation match amounted to 53% on the first $15,000 for a total of just over $209,000. Matching funds stemmed from contributors to the Circle of Giving and from individuals donating directly to the Great Fish Match Fund. More than half the participating nonprofits raised $15,000 or more and received the maximum matching grant of $7,982. Surpassing its first-year goal of $300,000 by 27% demonstrates how much the community backed the campaign. The campaign wrapped up with a fun Color Run and Fair for participants to showcase their programs and explain their stories to the general public.

“The campaign did exactly what we wanted it to do,” said Community Foundation Executive Director Linda Engh-Grady. “It helped all sizes and types of nonprofits raise significant program money at no cost. These individuals are passionate about their organizations and the good work that they do to serve the community, she said.” She added that the Whitefish Community Foundation Board of Directors views the campaign as a huge success and plans to run the Great Fish Community Challenge again in 2016.

Visit for more information on hours, programs and other news about the Whitefish Community Library or Like WCL on Facebook. Please also remember the Whitefish Community Library when planning your will or trust. Contact Joey Kositzky for details on how to make a financial donation to the library.

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[ ABOVE: Linda Engh-Grady announces the Challenge's success ]

- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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- MLA Updates -


by Sheila Bonnand, Montana State University

It’s election time - but one (happily) without a Trump or a Clinton or a Saunders or a Cruz. This election involves nothing but the positive – it’s MLA election time!

We need to find 4 superheroes willing to put themselves on the line as members of the MLA Board of Directors to help make MLA and Montana libraries the best they can be. Are you up for the challenge? If so, read on.

The Board has openings for the following 4 positions with terms starting June 1, 2016:

President-Elect, Secretary-Treasurer, ALA Chapter Councilor, and Director at Large-West. If you would like to put your name forward, please contact Past-President Sheila Bonnand at or 406-994-4130. See the brief job description for each position below; for complete details, visit the MLA web site.


This is a 3-year commitment; the incumbent serves 1 year as president-elect, 1 year as president and 1 year as past-president. The duties of this position include:

  1. Preside at meetings in the absence of the President.
  2. Assume the office of President after serving a one year term as President-Elect.
  3. Perform such duties as assigned by the President and the Executive Board.
  4. Attends all meetings of the Board of Directors, the Council, Executive Board and Budget Committee.
  5. Serves as a voting member of the Board of Directors, Council, Executive Committee and Budget Committee.
  6. Attends the Annual meeting of the membership during the annual conference.
  7. Appoints chairpersons for all standing committees.
  8. Works with the chairperson to complete committee member appointments.
  9. May pick a special project or work with a committee with approval of the President.
  10. Promote MLA.
  11. Assist the President with evaluation of Executive Assistant.
  12. Serve as member of the Conference Planning Committee.

For more information, see the MLA Handbook section at

ALA Chapter Councilor

This is a 3-year term. Duties of Montana's ALA Chapter Councilor include:

  1. Attending all sessions of ALA Council at every ALA annual and midwinter conference (3 sessions at each conference, each year) to vote on issues raised. The Councilor also attends as many Chapter Relations Committee meetings and events as possible to keep ALA current with library activities in Montana.
  2. Attending all MLA Board meetings and the membership meeting at conference to report on ALA issues important to Montana libraries.
  3. Submitting a written quarterly reports to the MLA President to be included with the Association’s annual reports and also reporting orally to the Association membership at the annual conference.
  4. Communicating regularly with the membership through Wired-MT, Montana Library Focus or other means.

The Chapter Councilor should be a member in good standing of MLA as well as a member of ALA. For more information about this position, see the MLA Handbook section at The Chapter Councilor is also responsible for complying with the guidelines of ALA's Duties of an ALA Chapter Councilor as found on the ALA website:

Secretary -Treasurer

  1. Works in tandem with the Executive Assistant to record votes and keep minutes of all elections and for all meetings and proceedings of the Board of Directors and the members. In addition, the S-T serves notice of meetings of the Board of Directors and the members; and perform other duties as required by the Board of Directors. The Secretary/Treasurer will provide summaries of Board minutes for the MLA website, and announce this on Wired-MT.
  2. Serves as the chair of the Budget. Committee and will be responsible for collaborating with the Executive Assistant in preparing an annual budget, monitoring expenses, and overseeing financial reporting, and administering the Association's financial policies and procedures. An audit will be performed per 501c3 requirements.
  3. Transmits to the incoming Secretary/Treasurer material needed by the new officer.
  4. Collaborates with the Executive Assistant to forward Association materials of historical value to the Montana State Historical Society.
  5. The Secretary/Treasurer, as a voting member of the MLA Board, attends board meetings and all MLA functions as requested by the President.
  6. He/she is a member of the Executive Committee of the MLA Board and assists in decision making required to conduct Association business when a meeting of the entire board is not possible.
  7. Signs the Executive Director's paychecks.

For more information, see the MLA Handbook section at

Director at Large-West

The Directors at Large serve a two-year, rotating term. Their primary responsibilities are to promote active membership in the organization and to function as liaisons between the Board, the general membership and the interest groups.


  1. Keep the Montana library community aware of the organization, its goals, opportunities and benefits.
  2. Provide interest groups with necessary information and materials to certify / re-certify at the annual spring conference of the Montana Library Association.
  3. Encourage membership in the Association.
  4. Work with Conference Chairs and Planner to plan a New Member Reception or other event to welcome new members into the Montana Library Association at the annual conference.

For more information about this position, see the MLA Handbook at


by Debbi Kramer, Executive Director of the Montana Library Association

As we approach the holidays, I wanted to you know that you have an opportunity to put your Amazon holiday shopping to excellent use; if you shop on Amazon through MLA's AmazonSmile starting page (go here:, Amazon will automatically donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice (us, we hope!)--at no additional expense to you. To date MLA has received about $50 in donations from AmazonSmile--which is not bad for doing nothing!

AmazonSmile works year-round. If you have any questions, please sign in to and click on the Help tab. Thank you!

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by Debbi Kramer, Executive Director of the Montana Library Association

Just a quick, friendly reminder that if you haven’t paid your dues for the 2015-16 membership year, you need to get them paid. Go to the MLA website and click on the Directory link and the MLA MEMBERSHIP link.

Check to see if your dues have been paid if you don’t know for sure.

- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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- More from MLA -


by Debbi Kramer, Executive Director of the Montana Library Association

Do you know someone who is very deserving of a Montana Library Associations Award? It’s time to get your nominations prepared.

The Awards Committee invites you to send in your nominations for the 2016 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 fourth Monday in January (January 25, 2016) 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

Nomination Guidelines:

  1. The committee chair will screen the nominations to check that they are complete. Copies of the nominations will be sent to committee members for review. Because the letters of support may provide information of historical interest about those nominated, the original letters of support should be sent to the Executive Director for retention in the Association's files/archives upon completion of the awards selection process.
  2. The committee should select only one recipient should be selected for the following awards: Library of the Year Award, Sheila Cates Award for Librarian of the Year, Trustee of the Year Award, and School Administrator of the Year Award. With the approval of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, the committee may select more than one recipient for the following awards, if in the judgment of the committee all recipients meet the criteria established for the award: Honorary Life Membership, Special Friend to Libraries Award, Intellectual Freedom Award, Media Award, and Interest Group Excellence Award.
  3. If, in the judgment of the committee, no nominees meet the criteria established for an award, no award will be conferred in that category.
  4. The committee should complete its review of the nominations and select award recipients by February 15. The committee chair should recommend the award recipients in writing to the President for approval by the Board of Directors no later than March 1.
  5. The Intellectual Freedom Committee, while generally making the decision as to the recipients of the Intellectual Freedom Award, works closely with the Awards and Honors Committee. Solicitation for award nominations includes information about the Intellectual Freedom Award. If nominations for this award are received by the Awards and Honors Committee, they should be forwarded to the Intellectual Freedom Committee chair. The Intellectual Freedom Committee chair should inform the Awards and Honors Committee chair of the recipient(s) selected. The Awards and Honors Committee chair includes the recipients in notification correspondence and Awards Luncheon plans. The announcement of the Intellectual Freedom Award recipients may be made with the other recipients or made separately by the Intellectual Freedom Committee. The two committee chairs should work together to make these decisions.
  6. No awards may be presented on behalf of the Montana Library Association without the approval of the Board of Directors.

Nomination Categories:

Honorary Life Membership
Honorary life membership may be conferred upon an individual who either has made an outstanding contribution to librarianship or who has rendered outstanding service to library interests. To be eligible for honorary life membership, an individual shall have made a contribution of lasting importance to the field of librarianship. The contribution must be outstanding enough so there can be no question of his/her suitability. Only living persons may be considered for honorary life membership.

Library of the Year Award
The award is conferred upon any type of Montana library, library system, or library network for distinguished achievement in service. The staff, library board of administering body, and the community or people served shall all be involved in the work for which recognition is sought. The award shall be based upon, but not limited to, activities or accomplishments such as the following:

    1. User services
    2. Development of innovative partnerships through networks, systems, cooperative planning and programming
    3. Sound collection development policies
    4. Offering opportunities for professional growth and job satisfaction for all employees
    5. Improvement of physical facilities resulting in better services

Sheila Cates Award for Librarian of the Year
The award is conferred upon a librarian in recognition of outstanding leadership and accomplishment in library service. The librarian must be currently employed in any field of librarianship in Montana and must be a current member of the Montana Library Association. The librarian must be in a professional librarian position. The award shall be based upon, but not limited to, activities or accomplishments such as the following:

    1. Provision of high quality, community-centered library services
    2. Contribution to any area of service benefiting users
    3. Distinguished service to the profession, including outstanding participation in activities of professional library associations and/or notable publications
    4. Leadership in education and in-service training for librarians
    5. Leadership in cooperative activities
    6. Outstanding development of library techniques, management, and/or facilities.

Trustee of the Year Award
The award is conferred upon a Montana public library trustee in recognition of outstanding achievement and leadership. Nominations may be made by any library board, individual library, librarian, trustee, MLA member, or the Montana State Library Commission. Equal consideration shall be given to trustees of small and large libraries. The award shall be based upon, but not limited to, activities or accomplishments such as the following:

    1. Service to the local library and participation in state and national activities.
    2. Constructive accomplishments in promoting library service shall be considered rather than the length of service as a trustee.
    3. Interest in and contribution to the development of library services beyond those of the local community.
    4. Achievements of nominees are judged according to criteria found in the Montana Public Library Trustee Manual.

School Administrator of the Year Award
The award is conferred upon a Montana school administrator in recognition of outstanding achievement and leadership in the development and promotion of school libraries. Nominations for this award should come from the librarian currently employed by the school district of the nominee. The award shall be based upon, but not limited to, activities or accomplishments such as the following:

    1. Constructive accomplishment toward the advancement of library service to the students and teachers of the school.
    2. Development of sound school library policies.
    3. Creative and effective work in interpreting the library to the school board, school administration, teaching staff, students, and community.
    4. Fostering cooperative relations with other libraries in the area.
    5. Implementation of programs to address special needs or problems.
    6. Defense of intellectual freedom.
    7. Promoting and supporting the employment of professional librarians in schools.

Special Friend to Libraries Award
The purpose of the award is to recognize individuals or groups who are not members of the Montana Library Association and who have rendered outstanding service in support of library interests within Montana. The award is conferred simply as a reward for a job well done. Nominations are accepted only from members of the Montana Library Association. The award need not be based solely on service rendered during the previous year, but may be based on cumulative years of service.

Intellectual Freedom Award
The award is conferred upon an individual or group who has made significant contributions during the past year to the enhancement of First Amendment rights or upon an individual whose body of work over time has made significant contributions to the enhancement of intellectual freedom. The recipient should have demonstrated a clear understanding of the principles, nature and responsibilities and implications of the First Amendment. The recipient should be a Montanan or a non-Montanan whose contribution has a demonstrable effect on Montana. The recipient should have applied that understanding of the principles in one or more of the following ways:

    1. In defense of the principles in the face of a serious challenge to it which defense is not necessarily limited to libraries.
    2. In support of the principles through an active role in:
      • Formulating programs which develop people's ability to deal with a full range of opinion/controversy and with the issues associated with such controversy, or
      • Developing, or materially assisting in the development of, a legal base for the continued enjoyment of freedom of mind, its strengthening, and its defense, or
      • Expanding the philosophical foundations of the principle or contributing to better understanding of it.

Interest Group Excellence Award
The award is conferred upon an individual member of an MLA interest group, or upon an interest group as a whole, for meritorious service on behalf of Montana libraries and/or librarians. The award shall be based upon, but not limited to, activities or accomplishments such as the following:

    1. Comprehensive projects which benefit the larger library community.
    2. Exemplary programs or outstanding services which are not available through other channels.
    3. Extraordinary assistance to other libraries and/or librarians in Montana.

Media Award
The award is conferred to honor a production for broadcast or a work for publication which best underscores the value of libraries to community and society. This includes works prepared for television, radio, cable, film and/or print media. News articles/programs and documentaries also qualify. The broadcast or publication of the nominated work should be within the two year preceding the annual conference at which the award is to be made. A copy of the nominated work must be submitted to the Awards and Honors Committee for review.

Outstanding Support Staff of the Year

This award is conferred upon a Montana library Support Staff employee in recognition of outstanding service to the library profession and excellence in job performance. The Support Staff worker must be currently employed in a Montana library. The award shall be based upon, but not limited to, activities or accomplishments such as the following:

  1. Provision of high quality library services
  2. Contribution to any area of service benefitting library users
  3. Commitment to promoting library service and free access to information for all
  4. Leadership in strengthening the image of library staff
  5. Leadership in fostering communication between library workers
  6. Active service in library activities at the local, state, regional, or national level

School Library Program of the Year Award

This award is conferred upon a distinguished Montana Teacher-Librarian and the school library program in which they serve. This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of the teacher-librarian in fully integrating the school library program with curricular goals. A cash award of $500.00 will be provided by Follett Library Resources to be used for library development. The award shall be based on, but not limited to, activities or accomplishments such as the following:

  1. Emphasis of the school library program’s role in the instructional process through professionalism, collaboration, and design of library resources that are in support of curricular goals
  2. Leadership in information literacy instruction through a variety of models for students, staff, and other community members
  3. Administration of information management systems that support student learning and school and district programs
  4. Establishment of a powerful, relevant, and ubiquitous culture of reading in the school community.

Presentation of Awards:

Awards are presented to the recipients at the Awards Luncheon during the annual conference. The chair of the Awards and Honors Committee serves as coordinator of the awards presentation segment of the luncheon. The chair should make arrangements with nominators to identify who will present awards to the recipients at the luncheon. Recipients should be informed that may make a brief response, if they wish. Recipients should also be informed of the date, place, time, and menu of the Awards Luncheon. This information may be obtained from the chair(s) of the conference Local Arrangements Committee.

  1. The Association provides each award recipient with two complimentary tickets for the Awards Luncheon. If printed and available, the tickets may be included in the letter of notification. Otherwise, tickets should be sent later or arrangements made for them to be picked up at the conference site. Nominators/presenters of awards do not receive complimentary luncheon tickets.
  2. Award recipients should also be notified that they may purchase additional luncheon tickets, if they wish. The chair should confirm whether recipients will attend the luncheon and who will present each award. The chair should also confirm how many people will be in each recipients group of supporters so that enough places for them may be reserved at the luncheon.
  3. Depending on the circumstances and on a very limited basis, the Association may provide a hotel room for a recipient, who is not a member of MLA and who is required to travel a long distance to the conference. Such an expense must be approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.

Please send all nominations and letters of support to Chair Debbi Kramer and at or mail them to PO Box 1352, Three Forks, MT 59752. The nominating committee is made up of 3 representatives from each library division.

- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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- Something New -


by Lauren McMullen, Montana State Library

At its October meeting following the ASLD/PLD retreat, the MLA Board appointed a Special Committee for Communications and Member Engagement to investigate new ways for MLA members to keep in touch, share best practices, solve problems, and collaborate on projects and services. This project is part of the 2015 MSL Leadership Institute.

Members of the committee are:

  • Lauren McMullen (Chair),
  • Wired-MT boss Stef Johnson,
  • MLA Marketing & PR queen Lisa Mecklenberg-Jackson,
  • MLA’s fabulous representative to MPLA: Eileen Wright,
  • MLA Executive Director extraordinaire Debbi Kramer,
  • FOCUS newsletter maven Kendra Mullison,
  • ... and your dedicated Directors at Large (East and West): Diane Van Gordon and Matt Beckstrom.

During the next couple of months, committee members will take inventory, experiment with new tools and find out what you need, want, and how far you’re willing to go to make communications more effective among the Montana library community.

Please stay tuned! And if you have any bright ideas to share in this community-building effort, contact your Directors at Large or any member of the committee. You can contact me at or by reaching Kendra Mullison at, and learn more about your Directors at Large by visiting the MLA Governance website. We appreciate your help!

- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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- Tech Central -


by Jason Greenwald, Bozeman Public Library

As November turns into December, anticipation is building to a near fever pitch: every direction you turn brings yet another reminder of the year’s most anticipated event. Yes, Computer Science Education Week (CSEW) is almost here. What? You thought I was talking about Star Wars? Perhaps the Force is not as strong in you as I thought.

While there will be many events to promote CSEW (my apologies to readers suffering from acronym fatigue or AF as it is commonly known), no event will be more engaging or as easy to host than the “Hour of Code” brought to you by For the past two years, Hour of Code events have introduced millions of children around the world to computer programming. The premise is simple: by working through an engaging one hour tutorial, students are unwittingly introduced to the principles of coding.

Last year, students created geometric patterns using characters from the immensely popular Disney film Frozen. Not only did the Frozen tutorial teach coding, it reinforced mathematical concepts too. (That’s an “M” and a “T” from STEAM for those keeping keeping score at home.) I feel a song coming on…

If you want to write a program,

If you want to write some code…

I digress, but in my defense, that song is unbearably catchy.

If you thought the Frozen tutorial was popular (and it was - I watched as middle school students eagerly worked through it so engaged they were unable to be self-conscience for upwards of 30-40 minutes) then the latest tutorials are going to cause hysteria. Yes, one of the two new Hour of Code tutorials is from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Taking advantage of the frenzy over the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has created a Star Wars coding tutorial.

As if that weren’t exciting enough, there is also a new Minecraft (MINECRAFT!) themed tutorial which is sure to send 8-year-olds shrieking with joy. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’m a giant nerd? Yes, partially. But also because I desperately want you, yes YOU, to host an Hour of Code event at your library or school and support STEAM engagement and the 10KMT code project.

Simply put, there has NEVER been a better time to time to try coding out.

You might be thinking, “Jason, this all sounds nice, but I’m not a computer programmer. Or a Minecraft expert. Or a Jedi Knight.” Do not fret. Think of me as the Obi-wan to your Luke and let me show you a larger world. Here is what you need:

  • Computers or mobile devices connected to the Internet. (I recommend laptops or desktop computers, but iPads will also work. Mobile devices will run the tutorials, but may be more difficult to manipulate because of the small screen size.)
  • Headphones. (If possible. Tutorials are accompanied by videos. While they are beneficial, they are not entirely necessary.)
  • A space for patrons/students to work for one hour on said computers.
  • At least one staff member, teenager, or community volunteer to answer questions during the event.

While CSEW and the Hour of Code official take place in December, the tutorials are available year-round. If December is booked solid, host it in January or February. Or both!

Like Obi-wan, if you strike me down (which the editors of our fine publication are about to do), I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. Because I have a website. Which you can and should visit. It contains all of the relevant websites mentioned here and a more detailed set of instructions on how to effectively host your own event. I’m also available via Twitter, email, and phone.

In the not quite immortal words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try. And call if you need help.” May the Force (and code) be with you!

Hour of Code website

10,000 Hours Montana

More Information (Including helpful videos)

My Contact Info



- We Celebrate 2015 Because -

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Dear FOCUS readers,

As we enter the deep reaches of winter and the holiday season, we hope to share with you not only some news but also some memories—memories which celebrate the specific and collective accomplishments of our incredible community of librarians and library-lovers here in the State of Montana. We are honored to serve as your editors for this season, and hope that as we move forward into 2016, we can continue to hone the FOCUS to better reflect your needs and accomplishments!

You might have noticed that we’ve altered the form in which we’re delivering this newsletter to your email inbox. This month’s FOCUS is, in a sense, a field test of one possible web-based service we might use—it is faster, more responsive, and more importantly, allows us to integrate various kinds of media we’ve never been able to before. As the months roll by, send us your videos, your audio, and your links! You will also have the option of interlinking the FOCUS with your existing social media accounts.

All of these are good things, but they are not the only things worth considering. If you have any questions, comments, feedback, or concerns, please let us know.

Happy Holidays!

- Caroline & Kendra

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:

Kendra Mullison (Co-Editor)

North Lake County Public Library District

Please send address changes to:

Debbi Kramer (Executive Director)

Montana Library Association
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