a newsletter of the Montana Library Association

[ December 2016 Vol. 34 Issue 6 ]
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This Issue Sponsored by NCCE

Providing year-round professional development opportunities

for K-12 administrators, educators and support staff.

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My favorite library-related stuff of 2016!

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


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


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


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


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


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


Make your own personal library card! Love it!


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

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Your Favorites of 2016!

- Alice Kestler: Great Falls seeds the future

- Brooke Bloomenrader: Everybody needs a "bookface"!

- Erin Casey: Lolo goes big for Summer Reading

- Jennie Stapp: State Aid—saving the day!

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

- Mary O'Brien: The best party in Montana

News From Our Affiliates:

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

- Eileen Wright: Updates from MPLA

News From MLA :

- Carly Delsigne: Who will you nominate?

- Stephen Haddad: MLA Photo Contest

- FOCUS Editors: MLA Handbook on FOCUS

- Heather Dickerson: ALA Resources for MLA & Postcard Campaign

- John Finn: MLA Gov Affairs Committee

- Laura Tretter: Tech Services IG

- Sheila Bonnand: Professional Development Committee

Programs, Promotions & Projects :

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

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

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

Features & Articles:

- Eric Chambers introduces us to E-Rate

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

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

Marginalia :

- Micro-Review courtesy of Lauren McMullan

- Some important words from UNT

- From the Editors

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Great Falls seeds the future

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

by Alice Kestler, Great Falls Public Library

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

(All photos by Kurt Loeffler)

Everybody needs a "bookface"!

by Brooke Bloomenrader, Billings Senior High School

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

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Lolo goes big for Summer Reading

by Erin Casey, Missoula Public Library (Lolo Branch)

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

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

If you would like more information, please contact me at

(Photos by Erin Casey)

State Aid—saving the day!

by Jennie Stapp, Montana State Library

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

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

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

Celebrities & Collaborations, oh my!

by the staff of ImagineIF, Kalispell


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

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


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

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

(All photos courtesy of Lune Axelsen)

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The best party in Montana

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

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

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

(Photo by Mary O'Brien)


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

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

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

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

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

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


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by Eileen Wright, Montana State University Billings Library

MPLA Professional Development Grants Are Available!

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

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

State Association Grant Application Deadlines:

  • Feb 1st (2017) for 2017 Spring Conferences

Individual Grant Application Deadlines:

  • Nov 30th
  • Jan 27th

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

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