a newsletter of the Montana Library Association

[December 2020 Vol. 38 Issue 6]

Montana Library Association Logo and Tagline


President’s Message - Hear from MLA President Gavin Woltjer

What is the President Reading - Hear what Gavin Woltjer is reading this month

Executive Director's Message - Hear from Debbi Kramer

Editor’s Message - Hear from DeHanza Kwong on staying healthy this season

MLA Committee & Division News

It's Time to Nominate Award Winners - Nominations Open for MLA Awards

MLA Fall Board Meeting Minutes

Professional Development Committee Update

Update from PNLA

Affiliate News

New Content on Montana Newspapers


Rosebud County Library has Book Fairy Visit for Story Hour

North Valley Public Library Story Walk

Ready 2 Read Updates & Announcements

Lewis & Clark Libraries Team up for Story Walk

1st Annual Montana OER Program Report

Programs, Promotions & Projects

MLA Fall Retreat Recap

MLA 2021 Moved to Virtual Format

MLA Membership Dues

Give the Gift of MLA Membership

New Book from Montana Author Kevin S. Giles

Emerging Scholar Article Contest


Historic Tales of Whoop-Up Country

The Night Watchman


Amazon Smile Donations

Submissions open for the February issue of FOCUS


Gavin Woltjer's Update

Make a Difference

Recently we celebrated Thanksgiving. While I am not going to address the historical, political, or ethical variables surrounding this holiday, I do want to address the intent and spirit. When gathered with my wife and children to celebrate—a celebration normally shared with extended family—I struggled to fully appreciate all I have to be thankful for. Perhaps you experienced this too. My family is healthy. I am gainfully employed. And I feel that I am doing meaningful work to help my community during this time of uncertainty and unease. But I want to be thankful for more. So I have tasked myself with finding one thing a day that I am thankful for. This personal goal will remain in effect for as long as I remember to take the time to identify this one thing each day. For the purpose of this message, I want to share that I am thankful for the many people who make this Association function and prosper. To give a full list would subject me to show how febrile my memory is and risk hurting someone’s feelings by being left off the list. So I will say this: many hands make this Association what it is. I am thankful to each and every one of you. This Association has experienced some great challenges since the onset of this pandemic. And to the credit of each of these remarkable individuals, these challenges have been met time and time again with the utmost professionalism, innovative spirit, and aplomb that truly characterizes our profession. We still have a ways to go before we see the backsides of these challenges; but I remain confident that the Association will continue to build relationships with community partners, help the voiceless and underrepresented gain inclusivity, and venture forth into new territory that has yet to be explored. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I would also ask that each of you take the time to reflect and think about how this time has changed you. Personally, I know that I will not be the same person once normality is restored as I have changed. If you have not tried to capture your thoughts and feeling and actions during this time, I challenge you to do so. We are living history, a history that will be studied and debated for generations to come. This challenge extends to your libraries, too. Each of our communities have been impacted differently since the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in Montana in March, and each of our communities have tremendous stories to tell. I look forward to hearing about these stories.

Finally, I want to encourage you all to keep plugging in professionally to the Association. This past Fall Retreat was a resounding success. And I can’t help believe that Offline and the MLA Conference, too, will be successful. Sure it looks differently than years past. And, yes, I miss sharing a pint with each of you. One day we will once again be able to gather, to share a physical space. Until then, we will assemble online. Let’s just keep doing our part for ourselves, libraries, and communities during this time. Remember to breathe. Keep pursuing your happiness. And dream.

Gavin J. Woltjer

MLA President

Acting Public Information Officer, City of Billings

Library Director, Billings Public Library

(Photo by Banik Communications)

[ Gavin Woltjer can be reached at ]

- What is the President Reading? -

Howl: A New Look at the Big Bad Wolf by Ted Rechlin

Winner of the High Plains Book Award in the Children’s Book category, Howl: A New Look at the Big Bad Wolf is an insightful graphic novel that examines the history of the wolf as North America’s apex predator and its relationship with humankind. Told through four different stories, Howl portrays how the wolf has been vilified, their amazing continual plight for survival, and their integral importance to maintaining a healthy ecosystem in Yellowstone National Park. Author/illustrator Rechlin beautifully captures this magnificent creature throughout the book while demystifying falsehoods commonly associated with this often misunderstood animal. Howl is a science-based book that captivates readers of all ages and is suitable for inclusion in personal, public, and school libraries.

Cradleland of Parasites by Sara Tantlinger

Dark poetry is a genre that I have only recently begin to explore. For those not aware of dark poetry, simply put it is the style of poetry that examines negative issues through a poetic lens. Stoker Award winning author Sara Tantlinger’s Cradleland of Parasites most certainly qualifies as dark poetry. In this collection, Tantlinger invites the reader to join her on a historical journey through different ages of time that have suffered plague events. Throughout 69 poems pivotal moments in human history, as they relate to plagues, are given life within stanzas describing sickness, death, and distortions of health: the Black Death, biological warfare, spillover events, and the concept of herd immunity to name only a few. I know, I know—why would someone read about plagues while in the midst of a pandemic. I really don’t have a good answer to this question. What I can say is that by reading this collection of poems, I have gleaned a better understanding of how humanity has navigated previous times of plague—or, perhaps most frighteningly, how humans have refused to learn from each of the many different plagues we’ve experienced. Humans have dealt with plagues since before we even knew how to describe our microscopic enemies. And the battle will continue. Each poem, magnificently controlled in its furious reality of the time, ultimately depicts that sickness and disease do not care for our socially constructed systems, that barriers of wealth and status and station will not save you or me from becoming a victim. While this sentiment may be unsettling for some, I found it to be cathartic and just the truth I needed in our current moment of furious reality. In the darkness there can be beauty—Tantlinger proves this with her grotesquely bleak but beautifully written poetic history of plagues and plague events. I recommend this collection for public and academic libraries.

Gavin J. Woltjer

MLA President

Acting Public Information Officer, City of Billings

Library Director, Billings Public Library

[ Gavin Woltjer can be reached at ]

Big picture


Debbi Kramer's Update

Time keeps marching on! In my last Focus article I was working with the Academic Special Library and Public Library Division chairs on the first virtual Fall Retreat. Although there were a few small glitches, overall the retreat was a success. Altogether there were 48 individuals who participated in at least one workshop with most attending several workshops. MLA was able to show a small profit for the retreat for which all involved were pleased. Thank you to those who helped with the planning, those who presented workshops and those who attended. I know that virtual workshops are not the most enjoyable. I feel the workshops presented were very educational and well received. Fall Retreat 2021 is scheduled for Chico Hot Springs resort October 3 & 4.

MLA held its Fall Board meeting on October 19th. The draft minutes from the meeting are elsewhere in this edition of the Focus newsletter. Please read the minutes to be up to date on the MLA board’s projects.

The Board made the difficult decision at its Fall Board meeting to move the 2021 Annual MLA Conference to an all virtual platform. The board understands that during these uncertain times this will be the best scenario moving forward. It is truly the board’s hope that this will be the last totally virtual annual conference and in the future MLA will be able to offer a hybrid conference. The number of days for the annual conference has been shortened by one day. Pre-conference workshops will be presented on Thursday morning, April 15th with keynote speaker, membership, division and interest group meeting to follow on Thursday afternoon. Both Friday and Saturday will be filled with workshops all day. It is our hope that with this schedule most library workers from all divisions will be able to attend. More information will be forthcoming as it is available. Registration will be available in early January and will include special individual rates and rates for libraries who want several employees to attend. A mass email will be sent out when registration is open.

For those whose dues still need renewing and those who are working in Montana libraries and have not yet joined MLA please consider joining or renewing at this time. Please use this link to renew or join: 2021 is a legislative year and MLA advocates strongly for all Montana libraries and the Montana State Library. Your memberships help the Montana Library Association pay for the lobbying costs. If you truly care about Montana libraries, Montana library workers and your Montana State Library, please play your dues so MLA can continue to work for you! As Montana ushers in a new administration and its vision is not clear, it is more important than ever to advocate for strong Montana libraries.

Also don’t forget that Offline 2021 is scheduled for February 5th. Due to these uncertain times 2021 Offline will be online also. If you have a program idea, send it in immediately. Abbi Dooley and the staff at North Lake Co. Library, Polson, are the Offline planners.

Debbi Kramer, Executive Director

Montana Library Association, Inc.

[ Debbi Kramer can be reached at ]


Hello everyone.

I hope this message finds you doing well. I am not sure about everyone else, but I for one am surprised that December hit us so quickly...was it not just March? Time feels like such an abstract concept at the moment. Anyway, I know a lot of us have had an extremely hard year, and I just wanted to say one way or another, we will get through this. Please continue to wear your mask and wash your hands to protect you, your family, and your fellow humans.

The other day I had the realization that staying healthy or healing oneself is more than self-care; it also involves community care. Libraries and librarians are always here to serve the community, but Librarians please do not forget about yourselves in the mix. Emotional fatigue is real. Issues surrounding mental health and seasonal affective disorder are real. Additionally, stress can and will destroy your physical and spiritual body. You are important. Take care of yourself before you burn out and cannot help that community for which you care so much.

Anyway, I wish everyone safety and patience in the upcoming months. As temperatures get lower and the snow starts to fall harder, remember you are not alone in this.

Good luck and godspeed,

DeHanza Kwong

Butte Public Library

Reference & Systems Librarian

- Committee & Division News -

It's Time to Nominate Award Winners

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

The Awards Committee invites you to send in your nominations for the 2021 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 is Monday, January 25, 2021 at 5pm. Please send your nominations to the Awards Committee Chair, Carly Delsigne, North Jefferson County Library District; 406-933-5254; 3 N. Main St. Clancy, MT 59634.

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

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.

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:

  • Comprehensive projects which benefit the larger library community.

  • Exemplary programs or outstanding services which are not available through other channels.

  • Extraordinary assistance to other libraries and/or librarians in Montana.

Jane Lopp 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:

  • Service to the local library and participation in state and national activities.

  • Constructive accomplishments in promoting library service shall be considered rather than the length of service as a trustee.

  • Interest in and contribution to the development of library services beyond those of the local community.

  • Achievements of nominees are judged according to criteria found in the Montana Public Library Trustee Manual.

Library Program of the Year Award

This award is conferred on a project, program, or innovation run by a Montana library, library system, or library network that is NOT a K-12 school library, which demonstrates excellence. The award shall be based on, activities or accomplishments executed in the previous year (Jan 1-Dec 31) and demonstrates the following:

  • Fosters relationships and networking either within a given community or across multiple communities

  • Addresses a special need or challenge in a community

  • Represents exemplary service or programing

  • Has a measurable impact

  • Demonstrates good project planning and development

  • Introduces a new approach or expands a current practice

  • Engages the community in planning, sponsorship or active participation

Examples of projects could be: a library building project, a State-Wide project, a Homebound or delivery program, an early reading program, etc.

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:

  • User services

  • Development of innovative partnerships through networks, systems, cooperative planning and programming

  • Sound collection development policies

  • Offering opportunities for professional growth and job satisfaction for all employees

  • Improvement of physical facilities resulting in better service

MLA Champion Award

The purpose of the award is to recognize individuals or groups who have rendered outstanding service in support of library interests across the state of Montana but are not formal members of the library community. The award helps to raise awareness of and celebrate individuals and connections beyond the library community. The recipient recognizes, promotes, and sacrificially supports the values, purpose, and vision of libraries. Their statewide work for libraries demonstrates an understanding of the importance of a free, literate, and well- informed citizenry in upholding our constitutional republic. They further recognize the library’s essential role in supporting our citizens’ achievements through library services and helping our communities flourish. There should be no question as to the suitability of the recipient due to the strength and dedication they have shown to Montana’s libraries. Nominations are accepted only from members of the Montana Library Association.

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 years 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:

  • Provision of high quality library services

  • Contribution to any area of service benefitting library users

  • Commitment to promoting library service and free access to information for all

  • Leadership in strengthening the image of library staff

  • Leadership in fostering communication between library workers

  • Active service in library activities at the local, state, regional, or national level

Pat Williams 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

  • In defense of the principles in the face of a serious challenge to it which defense is not necessarily limited to libraries.

  • 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.

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:

  • Constructive accomplishment toward the advancement of library service to the students and teachers of the school.

  • Development of sound school library policies.

  • Creative and effective work in interpreting the library to the school board, school administration, teaching staff, students, and community.

  • Fostering cooperative relations with other libraries in the area.

  • Implementation of programs to address special needs or problems.

  • Defense of intellectual freedom.

  • Promoting and supporting the employment of professional librarians in schools.

School Library Program of the Year Award Application

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:

  • 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

  • Leadership in information literacy instruction through a variety of models for students, staff, and other community members

  • Administration of information management systems that support student learning and school and district programs

  • Establishment of a powerful, relevant, and ubiquitous culture of reading in the school community

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 ember 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:

  • Provision of high quality, community-centered library services

  • Contribution to any area of service benefiting users

  • Distinguished service to the profession, including outstanding participation in activities of professional library associations and/or notable publications

  • Leadership in education and in-service training for librarians

  • Leadership in cooperative activities

  • Outstanding development of library techniques, management, and/or facilities.

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 their Montana communities. 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 their local library community.

Carly Delsigne

North Jefferson County Library District


MLA Fall Board Meeting Minutes

Board Meeting Agenda

October 19, 2020 1:30pm

Online via Zoom

In attendance: Debbi Kramer (Executive Director), Dani Buehler (Secretary/Treasurer), Elizabeth Jonkel (Director at Large West), Gavin Woltjer (President, IF Committee Chair), Pam Henley (Trustee IG), Mitch Grady (PLD Co-Chair), Kit Stephenson (President-Elect), Mary Anne Hansen (Past President), Brittany Alberson Miller (SLD Co-Chair), Shari Curtis (PLD Co-Chair), Jennie Stapp (MSL), Corey Fifles (PNLA Rep), Pam Carlton (PD Committee Chair), Rachel Rawn (MPLA Rep), Alana Mueller-Brunkhorst (ASLD Chair), Stephen Haddad (Webmaster), Carmen Clark (Director at Large East), Alice Edi (co-chair Tech Services), Sydnie Tallman (co-chair of ASLD), Guests--Heather Johnston, Eva English, Sandra Larson, Nancy Nile

Board Meeting called to order by President Gavin Woltjer at 1:32 pm

a. Welcome and Introductions: MLA President Gavin Woltjer offered a warm welcome to the Board and all attending guests. He also noted the success of the recent Fall Retreat. In addition, a thanks was offered to all attending as it has been a very difficult time with many obstacles from fires to COVID-19 and all things in-between.

June 19 Board minutes

  • Action Item: approval of June 19 minutes. Jonkel moved to approve, Alberson seconded the motion. No discussion. Unanimously passed.

b. Review of agenda. Agenda stands

c. Association reports Officers, Representatives, Divisions, and Standing Committees: Submitted reports are found at the MLA website under this link:

i. Officers

  • President Woltjer – Report submitted by Woltjer

  • Past President – Report submitted by Hansen

  • Vice President – Report submitted by Stevenson

  • Secretary/Treasurer – Buehler shared in the meeting that she has been working closely with Debbi to understand the MLA finances

ii. Association Representatives
  • MPLA Rep – Report submitted by Rawn

  • PNLA Rep – Report submitted by Fifles. During the meeting Pam Carlton volunteered to be the YRCA MT Representative for PNLA.

  • ALA Rep – Report submitted by Beckstrom

iii. Divisions
  • Schools Rep – Report submitted by Alberson Miller, it was mentioned that Chani Craig may be interested in being a Co-Chair to the SLD, she will be contacted

  • Public Rep – Report submitted by Curtis

  • Academic Rep – Report submitted by Mueller-Brunckhorst

iv. Standing Committees
  • Awards and Honors - none

  • Audit - none

  • Budget – none

  • Bylaws - none

  • Cates Scholarship - none

  • Conference Planning – later in meeting

  • Government Affairs – Report submitted by Ewbank and Rawn

  • Intellectual Freedom – Report submitted by Woltjer

  • Marketing & Public Relations – none, suggested to reach out to Lisa to be a part of membership sub-committee

  • Membership – Report submitted by Jonkel and Clark. Discussion later in the meeting.

  • Mentoring - none

  • Nominating – Hansen discussed nominating committee in her Past-President report.

  • Offline – none

  • Professional Development – Report submitted by Pam Carlton

v. Interest Groups
  • Services for Children and Young Adults – none

  • Technical Services – none

vi. Executive Director and Webmaster
  • Executive Director Debbi Kramer:

-Sent out two articles to be put in Focus
-Sent updated financial report
-MLA should see a profit from the Fall Retreat that was recently held virtually
-Wild Apricot – This has been Debbi’s main point of focus over the past few months
-Debbi noted that MLA is a little behind in memberships as compared to last year and she noted that currently a few entire libraries have yet to pay (we are approximately $3,000 shorter than last year at this time)
-Stephan and Debbi talked about MLA’s options with moving the entire MLA website to the Wild Apricot platform

  • Webmaster Stephen Haddad – On the topic of moving MLA’s entire website to Wild Apricot, Stephen shared a few pros and cons for how best to archive MLA’s past website information. The options presented were a move to Wild Apricot or to remain with our original server. The following is a breakdown of moving the website to Wild Apricot.
-Pros shared – Wild Apricot is very approachable, lots of technical work done on the back end
-Cons shared – Wild Apricot is a proprietary system and as such there is no direct work on the servers by MLA staff and file size limits may be in place

  • Thorough discussion followed. Topics shared included: past board decisions and new understandings of what options Wild Apricot offers, questions about ownership and costs involved, growing pains with a new system, discussion about privacy issues when registering for events/membership/conferences (this issues was resolved), and what the membership may see of other members with a “members only” section
  • Stephen added that MLA could retain our domain name, but it would need to be paid for
  • Debbi advocates for a platform that offers a “members only” section to protect the information of our membership

MLA 2019 Tax forms

  • Action Item: approval of MLA 2019 Tax forms. Jonkel moved to approve, Stephenson seconded the motion. No discussion. Unanimously passed.

d. Committees updates:

i. The membership committee has created a road map and timeline to discuss possible changes to MLA membership. The three suggestions offered are:

  • Membership fee structural changes

  • Membership application form updates

  • Using Wild Apricot for a website redesign

  • Jonkel provided a presentation that broke down each of the three points of focus for membership updates. Please find the full presentation at this link:

  • Discussion followed about different payment models (1. Pay scale – MLAs current model, 2. Simple Flat Rate, 3. Simple with Discounts). Pros and cons of each model discussed and how this overhaul in membership may affect costs for individuals and institutions.

Kit Stevenson took over meeting at 2:45 pm as Gavin left meeting briefly.

  • Discussion about possible changes to the application form – simplification and the option to tailor information to the individual applicant.

  • Discussion about Wild Apricot website migration and how a “members only” section could improve members’ experience. Specifically offering opportunities for networking, professional development, resource access, events, and governance/advocacy.

  • Membership sub-committee created to discuss membership fee and application: Members include – Elizabeth Jonkel, Kit Stephenson, Carmen Clark, Dani Buehler, Stephen Haddad, and Lisa Mecklenberg was suggested

Gavin returned to meeting at 3:15

Migration of MLA website to Wild Apricot

  • Action Item: approval of the migration of MLA’s current website to the Wild Apricot platform. Curtis moved to approve, Fifles seconded the motion. No discussion. Unanimously passed.

Meeting break at 3:20

Meeting resumed at 3:37

ii. The MLA Rep on the NAC (Stephenson) Vice President’s report included information about the Network Advisory Council. NAC Meeting focused on – Access (both information and technology), a courier study, and prejudice and racism and rising tension due to COVID-19 pandemic.

iii. Government Affairs committee work is included in committee report submitted by Rawn. Jennie added a discussion about the draft legislation Study Bill focusing on Broadband Access set for 2021

iv. ASLD, PLD, and the Intellectual Freedom Committee chair vacancies noted

e. Gavin has signed the PLNA and MLA MOU that states the presidents from each entity can attend the other conference at no cost

f. MLA Conference and events

i. Conference 2021 – Stronger Together

  • Review of theme and logo

  • Hybrid vs Virtual (100% Online) Conference options discussed – travel restrictions will most likely still be in place, sub shortages in schools will hinder attendance from school librarians, presenter restrictions, comfort level of attendees and presenters needs to be considered, review of previous virtual events (SLD Summer Retreat, PLD Fall Retreat), hotel conference site cancellation possibilities.

  • For effective planning to take place a decision needs to be made on the modality of the 2021 MLA conference

Motion to add action item to agenda

  • Motion to add action item to agenda. Alberson Miller moved to approve. Grady seconded.

2021 MLA Conference to be held virtually

  • Action item: Motion to approve the 2021 MLA conference to be offered completely virtual. Clark moved to approve, Fifles seconded. Discussion: Fifles noted that the decision to hold the 2021 conference virtually is forward thinking of the MLA board. Gavin shared that this decision was a prudent, wise, and ethical decision. Unanimously passed.

  • Debbi shared that vendors would have quick commercials before each session and program

  • Conference registration opens early January

  • Discussion about adding a virtual conference to the MLA conference rotation in the future for more accessibility and possible financial benefits. It was added that we all keep looking for ways MLA can continue to move forward.

g. Offline Conference

i. Scheduled for Polson. Abbi Dooley the Polson Library Director noted that she could only have 20 people attend the conference due to COVID restrictions and distancing suggestions. Abbey is leaning towards a virtual platform.

  • Woltjer suggested a virtual platform for continuity

  • Clark suggested a possible pre-conference option to run Offline right before the MLA conference

  • Decision will be left up to Offline committee

Miscellaneous Topics

a. MLA Strategic Plan: This was last discussed approximately 4 years ago, and Woltjer has suggested that the Board start thinking about what the associations goals will be for the next 5 years and what format this strategic plan may take
  • Possibility of a Pivot plan – fewer years in-between

  • Noted that with many changes to website, membership, benefits, etc. it is a good time to review and renew


b. Executive Director Position
  • Discussion about posting options, particularly between the option to post the job as an RFP or a typical job posting. Input shared by Board and decision to use a typical job posting was decided upon. Some reasoning offered included simplicity and individuals are often more accessible than companies

  • Woltjer offered a timeline:

  1. Post job on many regional outlets by January

  2. Interview process begins in April or May

  3. Hire position

  4. Start date July

  • Woltjer requested that the Board review the job description and offer comments or suggestions to him by December 1.

Meeting adjourned without objection at 4:33 pm.

Respectfully submitted by Danielle Buehler

Professional Development Committee Update

You may not be traveling to attend in person conferences, but the Professional Development Committee still has money to give away. There are a lot of online conference opportunities and we would hate for you to not attend due to expenses. You can apply for funds at any time. Go to the MLA website to get information on applying for a grant.

There are a few changes for this fiscal year ending June 2021. The Offline grants will be for $25.00 instead of $50.00 and we will award four grants instead of two. In addition, we will accept applications for Professional Development Grants at any time. There is no rolling application period. Lastly, the grant amounts offered to cover expenses for MLA Annual Conference attendance may be adjusted from the amounts stated on the website once the conference fees have been announced.

Pam Carlton

Update from PNLA

Hello my fellow Montana librarians!

As your representative to the Pacific Northwest Library Association, I unfortunately don’t have much to report to you. PNLA has been holding board meetings virtually long before Zoom was cool (the Pacific Northwest covers quite a large swath of area and this broad organization has members from the Yukon to Oregon), but this organization truly shines at its annual conference. 2020’s conference, slated to be held in Alaska in August, was cancelled and a virtual poster conference was held in its place. The fate of a conference in 2021 is still unknown, but I can say with confidence that there are many things to look forward to in 2021.

This spring will bring an opportunity to become the representative from Montana to PNLA (from PNLA to Montana as well) - a position that I believe has enriched my professional career by providing inspiring sessions at conferences, amazing networking opportunities with colleagues from all over, and enhanced my breadth of knowledge about librarianship across the region within communities similar to my own. Please contact me if you have questions- I’m always happy to chat!

Corey Fifles

Bozeman Public Library


New Content on Montana Newspapers

The Montana Historical Society is pleased to announce that new Montana content is available to search and browse on the web site CHRONICLING AMERICA.

Newly Available Titles

Most of these two batches were additional reels of titles that had already been added. So instead of just telling you which years are newly available, I thought it would be more useful to tell you all the years available for these titles.

The Carbon County Chronicle – 1924

The Carbon County News –1924-1931

The Bozeman Courier – 1921-1927

The Producers News (Plentywood) –1918-1937 so the entire newspaper run is now available

Montana Oil Journal/Montana Oil and Mining Journal (Great Falls) – 1931-1946

The Western News (Libby) –1933-1949

Belt Valley Times –1921-1926 (Those of you who pay particularly close attention to my emails may have noticed that these pages are also available on Montana Newspaper. If you noticed, Congratulations! I didn’t think anyone paid that close attention. Have a virtual cookie!)

A community fund raising campaign led by Judith Gedrose has made the Belt Valley Times (1894-1918) available. (You may of read about this project in the Great Falls Tribune.)

The Powder River Historical Museum made possible the addition of The Powder River County Examiner and the Broadus Independent (Nov 1922 – May 1935) and The Powder River County Examiner (May 1935-Dec 1936).

The Judith Basin Star (Oct 1908-Dec 1937) from Hobson is now available thanks to the Judith Basin County Free Library.

Finally, the Winifred Museum with permission from the Winifred High School has contributed 7 school titles with dates ranging from 1937-2011.

Raider Rave

Big Shot Bulletin

Tourney Tattler

The Pioneer

The Raider Reporter

Prairie Dog Chatter

The Winifred Times

Chronicling America is hosted by the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, which is funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). It is freely accessible to all Internet users with no subscriptions or fees required. To learn more about the National Digital Newspaper Program or Chronicling America, visit or contact us at

Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Projects Librarian

Montana Historical Society


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North Valley Public Library Story Walk

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Envision an innovative and delightful way for children — and adults! — to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. Pages from a children's book are displayed along an outdoor path. As you stroll down the path, you're directed to the next page in the story. This is the concept of StoryWalk®, a program created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed with the collaborative help of Rachel Senechal of Kellogg-Hubbard Library as a way to prevent or lessen the impact of chronic disease in adults and children by increasing physical activity and early literacy. Early literacy and language skills prepare children to be kindergarten-ready, so they enter school with a love of books and an eagerness to learn. This is vital for school success because eventually literacy transitions from learning to read, to reading to learn. Early reading experiences, like StoryWalk®, are opportunities to build vocabulary and support the development of reading. At North Valley Public Library, our mission is to enrich lives through free resources for learning, fun, and opportunity.

North Valley Public Library, located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley, has collaborated with The Town of Stevensville’s Parks and Recreation Department for two of these StoryWalks® along Stevensville’s paved Bike Path. Children are excited to see what story is presented and enjoy the excitement of walking (running) to the next page to see what comes next. Stories have been themed to the time of year or seasons and include Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek by Marianne Berkes which encourages outdoor exploration and beginning counting skills and The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams for the Halloween season. During this pandemic and time of social distancing, we were looking for ideas to engage and reach out to patrons and sought to provide a program while our regular in-person programming has been curtailed, keeping patrons distanced and safe.

StoryWalks® have been installed in 50 states and 12 countries including, Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan and South Korea! They are always received with appreciation by the entire community.

Annika Riley, Youth Services Specialist

North Valley Public Library

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Ready 2 Read – Updates and Announcements!

The Montana State Library is excited to announce that the Ready 2 Read website has been revamped and is now available for your patrons and families to use. Designed as a public/community-facing resource, the Ready 2 Read website provides information on the importance of early literacy, how parents/families/caregivers can find support for early literacy at their local library and gives tips and additional resources on how to further encourage early literacy learning. We are eager to share this with Montana, and we would love any and all Montana libraries to include this on their webpages. Please feel free to share any useful early literacy resources to add to the Ready 2 Read website. We hope to update this website regularly, and any new resources are welcome additions. You can find the new website at
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Ready 2 Read Texting Program – Outreach Push

We are looking to expand the reach of the Ready 2 Read Texting program, and are asking for YOUR help to do so! The Ready 2 Read Texting program was launched in October 2015 in order to provide parents and caregivers of four-year-old's free early literacy tips through texts on their phones. People who sign up will receive 3 text messages per week for 8 months that provide easy, fun, and useful ideas to help children practice their early literacy skills. Signing up for the program is free and easy – you can simply text “SIGNUP” to 406-204-3583.

To help spread the word, the State Library has social media templates that you can use to publicize this program. You have two options for templates:

Option 1: These templates have the Ready 2 Read branding/animals, as well as text from each of the early literacy tips included. You can choose which tip you would like to share each week, add the sample caption, and then just upload it directly to your library’s account.

Option 2: These templates have the Ready 2 Read branding/animals, but no text. You will have to add the text yourself. This option is good for people who want to personalize the tips, or want to share other early literacy tips with their patrons and just need a fun visual template to use.

MSL has provided a sample caption to include with your social media post that has signup information for the R2R Texting program, but you are of course welcome to use your own captions as well. You can download the templates and see the caption text on the R2R Texting page on the MSL website here:

If you have any questions, please email Amelea Kim at

Lewis & Clark Libraries Team up for Story Walk

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The Branch Libraries of the Lewis & Clark Library in East Helena, Augusta, Lincoln, and the Bookmobile teamed up together to bring the community six StoryWalk® books that can be enjoyed by everyone. The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Storywalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.

Each StoryWalk® of the Lewis & Clark Library was placed in a walkable location in East Helena, Lincoln, Canyon Creek, Wolf Creek, and Augusta, Montana for the public to enjoy for the month of October 2020. During this time of limited library services, this is a way that the library can provide distanced programming for all of our communities. Not only do the StoryWalk® books provide access to literature but also promote sharing stories with a group of people, enjoying nature, getting outside for a walk, and all while providing a fun library program that allows for social distancing.

Each StoryWalk® saw quite a bit of traffic from local schools, community families, and visitors. The schools in Wolf Creek and Canyon Creek particularly enjoyed reading the stories while out at recesses. Holly at our Augusta Library Branch scheduled a walk with a local group where she would read the page of the story out loud to the group. Andrea, in East Helena, placed the StoryWalk® close to the Elementary school for easy access for the students. In Lincoln, there were many opportunities to enjoy the StoryWalk® since it was placed at the school for several weeks and then moved to the Blackfoot Pathway: Sculpture In the Wild International Sculpture Park.

The Branches of the Lewis & Clark Library will be offering the StoryWalk® books to the community in the future in new locations!

Bretagne Byrd

Lewis & Clark Library Bookmobile

Andrea Eckerson

East Helena Branch Library

Holly Herring

Augusta Branch Library

Kate Radford

Lincoln Branch Library

First Annual Montana OER Program Report

In late 2018, the Montana University System and the Treasure State Academic Information & Library Services (TRAILS) consortium partnered to create a statewide open education program. While many states, regions, and institutions are developing programs that support the use of open educational resources (OER), Montana is proud to be doing things differently. This partnership, utilizing the support from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) and the statewide collaboration between public, private, and tribal colleges as provided by TRAILS, is well-positioned to dramatically impact the cost of higher education for students in Montana.

After the first year of this program, students and faculty across the state are already seeing its benefits. Open education is the future of Higher Ed. In a time where digital and remote access is essential for students who are also being faced with new and more dramatic access and financial challenges, open educational resources are the investment that will not only support student success but also benefit the enrollment and images of our institutions.

OCHE and TRAILS are excited about the efforts that have already happened and we are pleased to share the first annual report that details the program, its successes, and where it is going next.

Pamela Benjamin

TRAILS Coordinator


MLA Fall Retreat Recap

I wanted to pass along some information about the very successful first virtual conference the Montana Library Association presented. There were a few hiccups, the Academic and Special Library Division chairs, Alana Mueller Brunckhorst and Sydnie Tallman and Public Library Division chairs, Shari Curtis and Mitch Grady were extremely helpful to me and together we learned a lot.

Three Institutions registered and 27 individuals registered to attend the retreat. A total of 48 attendees participated in the retreat with one participant watching the recorded workshops. There were five workshops to attend. The number of attendees was up for the 2020 retreat as compared to 31 attending the 2018 Fall Retreat and 36 attending the 2019 Fall Retreat.

MLA realized a profit of $1499.85 for 2020; 2018--$1355.73 profit; 2019--$1018.08 profit.

The 2021 Fall Retreat has been scheduled for October 3-4.

Thank you again to the ASLD & PLD chairs for helping with the co-hosting of the workshops. Your help was invaluable to me.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Debbi Kramer, Executive Director

Montana Library Association, Inc.

MLA 2021 Moved to Virtual Format

With the uncertainty of the Covid-19 virus, the Montana Library Association board made the decision at the Fall Board meeting on Monday, October 19th to move the 2021 MLA Annual Conference to a virtual conference only. With this decision made MLA is requesting programs for the conference. Attached is the program proposal form needed to send in a program proposal. Please do so as soon as possible. Thank you.

Debbi Kramer, Executive Director

Montana Library Association, Inc.

Have You Paid Your Membership Dues!?!

Have your paid your membership dues? If not, why not? The Montana Library Association counts on all Montana librarians, staff, and trustees to help us fight for the rights of all our patrons to maintain dedicated and strong libraries for all Montana residents.

Beginning in January, Montana will be in the midst of another legislative session. One of MLA’s obligations is to advocate for all librarians, library staff, and trustees, and more importantly the Montana State Library. MLA not only advocates at the state level but also at the federal level. Your yearly dues are what allow MLA to advocate for library lovers. If your library, its programs, your staff, and your patrons are important to you, please pay your dues.

Not only do your dues help with advocacy but there are many other membership perks as well.

  • MLA conventions and workshops offer a wide spectrum of training for librarians, trustees, and friends.

  • MLA provides the Focus newsletter and Wired-MT listserv for communication and library and patron assistance.

  • The MLA website,, provides information about membership and programs.

  • MLA sponsors liaisons to national and regional library associations including ALA, PNLA, and MPLA.

  • MLA promotes intellectual freedom and awareness as well as concrete marketing ideas for implementation in your own library.

  • MLA lobbies for legislation beneficial to libraries and keeps librarians well informed of developments during legislative sessions.

  • MLA offers scholarships for library education, conference attendance, and professional development.

  • MLA gives annual awards for outstanding accomplishments.

  • MLA provides leadership training and opportunities.

As a show of good faith, MLA allowed lapsed and non-members to attend the virtual Fall Retreat under the Institutional registration at a reduced rate. This will not be the case for the online Offline conference or the virtual annual conference in April. All those attending through an Institutional registration will need to be a current MLA member. For those with lapsed memberships, you will be required to register and pay non-member fees.

If the future of Montana libraries is important to you, please take a few minutes and renew your membership or join as a new member.

Thank you.

Debbi Kramer, Executive Director

Montana Library Association, Inc.

Give the Gift of MLA Membership

Hello Montana librarians,

As we go into the holidays this year, consider giving the gift of MLA membership to a friend. Or give the gift of membership to yourself. Did you know that you can check if your membership is current? You can check here:

We normally rely heavily on the conference as a source of income and now that the 2021 conference will also be online, the opportunity for income from the conference is somewhat diminished.

Wishing you safe and happy holidays and I hope to “see” you at the virtual conference next year. If you have any questions about membership, please feel free to contact me at or Elizabeth Jonkel at

Carmen Clark

Director-At-Large East

Department Head Adult Programming and Outreach

New Book from Montana Author Kevin S. Giles

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Kevin Giles, who wrote wrote the Deer Lodge prison memoir, Jerry's Riot, and the biography of Jeannette Rankin, One Woman Against War. Kevin has now published a novel, Mystery of the Purple Roses, set in Butte.

"All through the summer of 1954 in Butte, Montana, a series of curious murders haunt Kieran “Red” Maguire, a crime reporter for the Bugle daily newspaper. They appear to have nothing in common with one another except for a single purple rose placed on each victim. Red and his hard-nosed crime-fighting accomplice, police captain Harold “Duke” Ferndale, struggle to find clues that will solve a chilling mystery that terrifies residents of the Mining City. Red, a love-deprived but handsome Irishman, encounters adoring women, bare-knuckle criminals, outrageous characters who roam the streets, and a relentless Bugle editor who spares no murderous details so newsboys can bark lurid headlines in uptown bars. Through it all, Red copes with haunting memories of his pretty young mother, reminding the reader that no hero escapes the clutches of past regrets."

Kevin S. Giles, Author

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Book review: The Night Watchman

I cannot put Louise Erdrich’s newest book, The Night Watchman, down! Technically I am listening to it, so I guess it’s more appropriate to say I can’t turn it off. While not quite contemporary fiction, I wouldn’t consider it historical fiction either, though it has inspired me to put more time into my own work with anti-racism and re-education. Louise Erdrich breathes life into a diverse cast of characters from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians - the title character is based on her grandfather’s experience as a night watchman and Chippewa Council member tasked with understanding a congressional bill that would terminate the Native American right to land and identity. This real-life event, told through this work of fiction, inspired me to do some research on our country’s relationship with its’ original residents during my Thanksgiving break. Though Thomas, the night watchman, is the title character and has a quiet, steady depth to his character, I found Patrice to have such a compelling story and her search for her sister kept me turning pages (listening on 2X? I’m not sure if there’s an equivocation for that). This book is the 2021 book selection for Bozeman Public Library’s community read program, One Book One Bozeman. More information about our upcoming collective reading experience (with virtual enhancements!) can be found at

Corey Fifles

Bozeman Public Library

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Book Review: Historic Tales of Whoop-Up Country

Like the Pony Express, the Whoop-Up Trail was rather briefly in use, from 1870-1885, but its notoriety, colorful characters, and role in making Fort Benton a commercial center, as well as in bringing the North West Mounted Police practically into existence to curb the whiskey trade make for lively reading. Historic photos, maps, and drawings enhance the feeling of experiencing the old west at its rawest.

This is the eighth book by historian/preservationist Ken Robison. As a chronicler of forgotten/neglected history, he rightfully earned the honor of being named a Montana Heritage Keeper by the Montana Historical Society. Dip into any of them and you will learn fascinating, unusual stories of Montana history that are probably not in the school books!

Carole Ann Clark

Great Falls Public Library

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Submissions Open for the February 2021 Issue!

REMINDER: The submission deadline for the February newsletter is January 20. Please email your library news, micro-reviews & photos (with captions & attributions) to Thank You!


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: