Feb./March 1999

In this Issue:

[Select another issue]

Libraries qualify for E-rate

Wyoming libraries qualify for $39,954.90 in first round of E-rate discounts

After a long process that began with the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, 11 Wyoming county libraries have qualified for a total of $39,954.90 in E-rate discounts.

Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library received the largest discount of $5,532.86; Uinta County Public Library received $5,403.15; Converse County Library, $4,941.00; Fremont County Library, $4,569.25; Park County Library, 4,186.10; Wyoming State Library, $4,180.18; Teton County Library, $3,371.25; Natrona County Public Library,$2,911.40; Crook County Library, $1,179.97 and Hot Springs County Library, $1,176.54.

As part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Schools and Libraries Division (SLD), formerly know as the Schools and Libraries Corporation, was created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to meet the urgent need for equitable access to tel ecommunications resources for all libraries and schools. SLD is responsible for the Universal Service Discount Program otherwise know as E-rate (Education rate).

Libraries are eligible to receive discounts based on poverty level and location, rural or urban.

These two factors determine the discount levels for libraries which can range from 20 to 90 percent. Discounts may be applied to telecommunications services, Internet access or internal connections. Discounts do not cover computers, software or other unre lated services.

In round one, libraries were required to apply between Jan. 30, 1998 and April 15, 1998.

Libraries begin the application process by filling out forms 470 and 471. After these forms are complete, libraries are notified of the amount of a discount awarded by a funding commitment decision letter. Discounts cover an 18-month period from January 1 998 to June 1999.

SLD notifies libraries of their funding commitments in groups of letters called waves. Nine waves have been completed, the first of which was on Nov. 14, 1998. The most recent wave, wave nine was Feb. 13. The tenth and final wave was issued Feb. 27. Eleve n of the 13 libraries that applied for the E-rate discount have been notified.

Before libraries can receive funding support, they have to fill out two final forms, form 486, the Receipt of Service and Confirmation form, and form 472, the Billed Entity Application Reimbursement (BEAR) form. The latter form will have to be submitted t wice, once to cover January 1998 through December 1998 and second to cover January 1999 through June 1999.

Brian Greene, E-rate project coordinator for Wyoming libraries, commends "public library directors and their E-rate designees for enduring the blood, sweat and tears of the process. Their patience and understanding have been priceless in helping me cope w ith manifold frustrations of working with a start-up federal program."

Libraries are now in the middle of round two. Forms 470 and 471 need to be submitted by April 6, 1999 which covers funding support for July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2000.

"While the process is easier the second time around with revised instructions and support documents, it is still close to overwhelming for busy library directors," Greene said. "I hope all 23 county library systems apply for E-rate support again."

The most complicated and most important effort is getting E-rate funding support for the telecommunications services the state provides to schools and libraries through phone companies and internal service providers. Greene has been working with an intera gency group called WE-Rate to do this.

"This effort (WE-Rate) has the potential of saving the state and libraries thousands of dollars," Greene said, "and direct access to the SLD's General Counsel and Outreach Coordinator has reduced frustrations, clarified uncertainties and raised hopes."

Due to the long delays and complicated application procedures, a national task force has been established to review the E-rate process. This group hopes to simplify the application process, and plans to have solutions in time for round three.

Levendosky honored at conference

Charles Levendosky, editor and columnist for the Casper Star-Tribune and a former Wyoming Center for the Book board member, was named to the Freedom to Read Foundation's (FTRF) Roll of Honor during the American Library Association's mid-winter conference in Philadelphia

A vigilant defender of First Amendment rights and intellectual freedom, Levendosky is a frequent lecturer on these topics and was recently re-elected to the FTRF Board of Trustees. His weekly columns are carried by the New York Times wire service and have appeared in over 190 newspapers around the country.

In 1995 he created and became editor of the Web site FACT: First Amendment Cyber-Tribune http://w3.trib.com/FACT/, an in-depth resource which won a first place award in Editor & Publisher's 1996 Best Online Ne wspaper Services Competition.

Levendosky has won many other national awards for his commentary and work.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Levendosky, a noted poet, was appointed Poet Laureate of Wyoming by Gov. Mike Sullivan in 1988.

Baker joins board, Mueller reappointed

Dorothy D. Baker of Newcastle is a new member of the Wyoming State Library (WSL) Board appointed by Gov. Jim Geringer. He also re-appointed Jack Mueller, current chair, to the board. Baker succeeds Idy Bramlet of Lusk, who chose not to seek re-appointment .

Baker represents appointment district six which covers Weston, Crook, and Niobrara counties.

She is a retired teacher with experience in business and government. She serves on the Weston County Library Board, and is currently involved with the Newcastle Music Convention Center and Weston County Sagebrush Festival. In the past she has served as pr esident of VFW Auxiliary, president of American Legion and grand representative of Eastern Star.

Baker said she wants to focus on encouraging children to read. "I think that reading is more important than anything else," she commented, and added that her focus on children comes from her years of teaching. Baker said library resources need to be made more accessible to all populations, including the elderly and disabled. Wyoming's scattered population is a particular challenge, but technology and other tools can help people communicate and learn.

"There's a lot of things that could be accomplished," she said.

Mueller, serving his second term on the WSL board representing district one which includes Platte, Goshen and Laramie counties. He is a former Department of Education employee. He holds a master's degree in education from University of Wyoming and served the National Advisory Committee on Accreditation from 1986 to 1992. He has also served the Laramie County Library Board and the Laramie County Farm Bureau. He is a life member of UW Alumni Association and Wyoming State Historical Society, and is currently involved with the Laramie County Historical Society.

He chairs the Montgomery Trust for the Blind Board for Wyoming.

"I think the challenges that we have faced in the past are still there," Mueller said when asked what he wants to accomplish in this second term. He said he wants to work with local libraries to help them secure funding; and expand services to patrons thr ough additional resources, the WYLD system and assistance to public libraries throughout the state.

Mueller said the board is extremely pleased with the selection of Lesley Boughton as state librarian, and they look forward to working with her.

The State Library is a division of the Department of Administration and Information(A&I) and the board is responsible for advising the A&I director and state librarian on policies and projects for WSL. The board consists of seven members who are appointed for a three-year term.

Funding Wyoming's public libraries

by Keith M. Cottam, University of Wyoming Director of Libraries and Wyoming Library Association President

State aid and county and city budgetary appropriations are not fully supporting the public obligation to fund Wyoming's community libraries. Across the state our public libraries are showing severe strain from funding inconsistencies and constraints. The burden of these fiscal problems is aggravated by rising prices for books and magazines, costly new information technologies and increasing public demand for information.

Last May the directors of 21 of Wyoming's 23 county libraries convened in Casper with a number of other library leaders to figure out how to cope with the situation. The participants identified "state aid" and "tax reform" as the highest priorities for se curing financial stability and growth into the next century.

While those two priorities provide the foundation and cornerstone for public library funding, they will not secure all that is needed. Other sources must be aggressively and persistently developed.

These other sources must involve local citizens, business and industry in the ownership of our public libraries.

For example, at the Casper meeting the county librarians also identified library foundations, community partnerships and library friends organizations as other means to help support public libraries. Securing funding through these means, however, must be based on the work of local citizens and vigorous community volunteer effort. Passing the buck to the library directors or someone else to do the job just sidesteps citizen and community responsibility.

All 23 county libraries have foundations with 501(c)3 tax exemption status, but community interests have helped fewer than a handful to develop their capacity. Even though private, voluntary giving in America has climbed recently at the fastest rate in a decade, county library fund-raising lags far behind the successes of other community and cultural organizations.

Public libraries do not lack in appeal for private support. They are compelling hometown institutions.

For most of our rural communities, the public library is a center for continuing education. They are places of cultural activities and entertainment, and good partners in community and economic development. In today's increasingly complex world of informa tion, public libraries and librarians are often the keys to help citizens find the information they need when they need it.

Fund-raising begins when friends of libraries tell others about the importance of libraries. And starting today to explain clearly why they are essential to the well being of a community is the first step toward obtaining future support.

A report on "Voluntary Support of Education 1997" from the Council for Aid to Education says colleges and universities raised a total of $16 billion in fiscal 1997, 12.2 percent more than the year before. Library friends groups and public library foundati ons, on the other hand, have embraced aggressive private fund-raising with ambivalence.

Some would say there is not a wealthy donor base in Wyoming's small towns. How do we know what kind of commitment there is until appeals are made over time? How do we know what the "middle class" will do until they are given a chance to show it?

The Albany County Public Library, with which I am most familiar, launched its foundation trust fund efforts in late 1983. The appeal has reached many in the community, and the endowment fund today is rising toward $1 million.

Yes, it takes a lot of time to develop a successful fund-raising program, one that links good ideas with effective plans and the interests of many donors who want to help, but the payoff can be great.

Foundation endowments are attractive to donors and provide a continuous source of income to help support long-term planning and investment. Endowments built from grassroots interest in a foundation are independent from local government control. The invest ments and expenditures can be flexible and creative. The people who build them can take pride in their volunteer efforts and successes.

Deferred gifts, such as trusts, that can accrue to a library after a donor has died, show particularly strong potential. There is an estimated $10.4 trillion in America that is expected to pass from elderly parents to baby boomers who are now middle-aged themselves.

Efforts to secure other bequests should also be pursued. People should be taught the benefit of contributing to the future vitality of a community through donating to the public library.

People who care can plant the seeds for future library development with others who care. The key is to start now to secure the opportunities. It is worth doing, and citizens should step forward to help.

Campbell County creates new YA department

Campbell County Library has created a new young adult department. The department, headed by Sue Knesel, allows Campbell County to meet its goal of focusing on its teen-age patrons.

The library moved its young adult section to a new area of the library to provide space for more books and for the teenagers who read them.

The library also wants to create a Young Adult Advisory Board to give these readers more say in the services provided by the new department.

In the last six months, teens accounted for 15 percent of Campbell County's total circulation in fiction and 8 percent in non-fiction.

Knesel is in the process of recruiting students in junior high and high school to serve on the advisory board. The board will have influence on programs and materials offered by the young adult department.

WSL surveys libraries

In February the Wyoming State Library (WSL) publications office sent surveys to libraries throughout the state for the 1999 Libraries Directory. If your library anticipates changes in staff, phone numbers, e-mail addresses or other contact information, pl ease inform the publications office.

If you have not received your library survey form, contact Linn Rounds at 307/777-6338. An electronic version the directory is available at http://cowgirl.state.wy.us/directory/ and an online update form is located at http://cowgirl.state.wy.us/directory/update.cfm.

WYLD office offers help for libraries facing Y2K

The Wyoming State Library's (WSL) WYLD office has posted a guide to Y2K on the web at http://will.state.wy.us/wyld/docs to help local libraries address Year 2000 compliance issues.

The document provides guidance on identifying and suggesting possible fixes for hardware, and identifying locally mounted software with potential Y2K problems. A list of links is provided to sites which provide more background on the issue.

WSL has purchased copies of McAfee's 2000 Toolbox for shared use by WYLD libraries, which is available for up to 30 days on interlibrary loan. This easy-to-use software clearly identifies possible problem hardware and documents the location of possible pr oblem software on local equipment. WSL has already used this tool on its own systems.

The hope is that the larger libraries will address this issue quickly, and then be able to assist the smaller libraries through the process. However, each library will be responsible for its own Y2K compliance.

WSL is also keeping tabs on its major vendors. DRA is completely compliant with the software and equipment WYLD is currently using. OCLC has had to do a great deal of work in cataloging interface. Both OCLC and Baker & Taylor have assured their clients th at they are addressing compliance issues in order to provide uninterrupted service.

One library seeks new director while another finds one

Gaydell Collier, director of Crook County Library, has announced her retirement at the end of March.

Collier has been director of Crook County since 1985 She plans to work on writing and editing, as well as making time to give and attend programs and workshops.

In an email to members of the Wyoming library community, Collier wrote "Thanks to all of you for being the kind of supportive community that -- no matter what -- a person hates to leave."

The Johnson County Library Board announced that Cynthia Twing of Buffalo was selected as the new library director. Twing has served as acting director since Barbara Fraley took a leave of absence for medical reasons in July. Fraley retired Oct. 1.

Johnson County received resumes from 13 applicants in five different states. The field was narrowed to four finalists who were interviewed on Feb. 6 and 7.

Twing started working for the Johnson County Library in February 1990, and was appointed assistant director in May, 1996.

WYLD things

News briefs