Monthly Archives: May 2017

A Short History of Wyoming Reads

Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo Queens Jonna Brown and Rylee Anderson reading together at Laramie County Library during the 2016 Wyoming Reads celebration.

Tomorrow, first graders will gather at locations across the state to celebrate reading and take home their very own book to keep. It’s all part of the annual Wyoming Reads event, a program of the Sue Jorgensen Library Foundation. Ever wonder how this fantastic project got started? We took a look at the Wyoming Reads website for the story:

John Jorgensen established the Sue Jorgensen Library Foundation and the “Casper Cares, Casper Reads” celebration to honor his late wife’s commitment to literacy and books.

She was always very dedicated to children and to literacy. She believed that until someone can read, they can’t really do anything else.

– John Jorgensen

The Sue Jorgensen Library Foundation was created in 1996 to benefit libraries and advance the cause of childhood literacy in Wyoming. After making a significant contribution of books to the library of her children’s elementary school, the foundation learned of a community that held an annual drive to raise enough money to give every first grade child a book to encourage early enthusiasm for reading. With the support of local teachers, administrators, and parents, the “Casper Cares, Casper Reads” project was born.

Students checking out their “We Read” sunglasses at Wyoming Reads 2016.

A steering committee was formed in January 1999. Six hardback books of varying reading levels were selected to be distributed to each first grade classroom in the school district. Each student then had the opportunity to select the book of their choice. Orders were compiled and placed through an independent local bookstore. In June 1999, all of the Natrona County School District first graders gathered on the campus of Casper College for the very first CC/CR festival.

In 2006, the Casper Cares, Casper Reads program was taken to a new level, expanding statewide for the first time as “Wyoming Reads.” The program has since grown to include celebrations in all of Wyoming’s 23 counties, distributing books to over 8,000 first graders in 2016. Each year since 2006, the Governor has issued a proclamation declaring Wyoming Literacy Day to fall in conjunction with this valuable statewide celebration.

GoWYLD Webinar Tomorrow on Summer Reading

Tomorrow’s Wyoming State Library Database of the Month webinar will focus on Resources for Summer Reading 2017. Join Chris Van Burgh, WSL Database Instruction Librarian, at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16, for this free session.

The 2017 Collaborative Summer Library Program theme is “Building a better world.” Chris will explore resources available to you in GoWYLD using the theme, but translating it in different ways such as architecture, community, leadership, and culture.

Register now.

Also check out the great Summer Reading 2017 LibGuide, with resources to help you plan great programs.

Introducing “Design for Learning” WebJunction Course

WebJunction has just added a free course for library workers to learn how to design and teach online instruction. Design for Learning: 21st Century Online Teaching and Learning Skills for Library Workers (D4L) is a training program designed to enable library workers to transfer their in-person teaching skills to the online environment.

Design for Learning offers seven online self-paced modules: Orientation, Foundation, Diversity, Community, Content Creation, Course Management, and Capstone.

D4L was developed as a partnership between the the South Central Regional Library Council, Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, and the Empire State Library Network. It is funded as a three-year grant, by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Wyoming at National Library Legislative Day

L to R: Ivan Gaetz, Sen. John Barrasso, Janice Grover-Roosa, and Jamie Markus

On May 1-2, representatives of the Wyoming Library Association (WLA) traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the American Library Association’s 43rd annual National Library Legislative Day. Janice Grover-Roosa, Director of the Western Wyoming Community College Hay Library, and Ivan Gaetz, Dean of the University of Wyoming Libraries, met with Wyoming’s Congressional delegation to discuss key library issues. Wyoming State Librarian Jamie Markus accompanied them to provide information on how federal money is used in Wyoming.

Wyoming’s representatives hand-delivered letters from public, academic, and school librarians. The Congressional delegation and staff were grateful to hear from directors around the state, and the letters cemented the message that Wyoming libraries use federal funds to collaborate to improve people’s lives. Grover-Roosa provided us with this report of NLLD happenings:

By Janice-Grover-Roosa
Director, Western Wyoming Community College Hay Library

The Wyoming crew with Senator Mike Enzi

National Library Legislative Day provides an ideal opportunity for librarians, library board members and other library users to meet with their members of congress to discuss the meaningful contributions libraries make around the country every day. Though coming from a state with such a small population can leave Wyoming residents at a disadvantage from time to time, this isn’t the case when it comes to engaging in meaningful dialogue with our congressional representatives. Wyoming’s “one big town” mentality translated into three rich conversations between Wyoming librarians and members of Congress and their staff last week as Wyoming librarians made the trip to help keep Washington well informed.

After President Trump released his preliminary budget, completely cutting the funds appropriated for the Institute of Museums and Library Services and the Library Services Technology Act, librarians across the state were tasked with explaining what such a hefty cut would mean in terms of future library services and materials to uneasy library users. Luckily for librarians, Wyoming congressional representatives have repeatedly demonstrated a commitment to Wyoming libraries, allowing these hard conversations to be straightforward and practical. Simply put, Wyoming representatives have a history of supporting the breadth of services and resources available to residents through Wyoming libraries, and though it may be necessary to absorb some budget cuts, there’s little reason to believe all federal funding for libraries will be cut.

Last week State Librarian Jamie Markus, University of Wyoming Dean of Libraries Ivan Gaetz, and I met with Senators Enzi and Barrasso as well as Congressman Cheney to talk to them in person about the value LSTA funding brings to libraries across Wyoming. This is to say, Wyoming libraries are able to provide access to robust collections of materials seamlessly from one county to the next because of a collective commitment to funding by county, state, and federal entities and, as librarians working in the state,  we are always eager to discuss the importance of information access to inquisitive Wyoming communities. By “we,” I mean librarians from across the state—we weren’t alone at our visits. We arrived in D.C. with letters written by library directors from around the state who shared firsthand accounts of the significance of library services to Wyoming residents. Our congressional delegation was happy to welcome us to Capitol Hill to be a part of this important discussion, and they were grateful for the information provided from their Wyoming librarians.

After a gracious welcome from Ms. Enzi, Senator Enzi and members of his affable staff welcomed our Wyoming librarian crew to sit down with him to discuss the importance of libraries to thriving Wyoming communities. As almost every wall of Senator Enzi’s office was filled with books, the librarians felt right at home. Senator Enzi took the time to explain that no matter the year or the administration, Congress takes the time to carefully examine the federal budget and appropriate funds accordingly. He went on to engage in conversation about the different materials, services, and opportunities available to Wyoming residents as a result of LSTA funds.

Senator Barrasso, who had clearly done his research prior to our arrival, echoed Senator Enzi’s comments about carefully examining the entire federal budget. The Senator asked us how we currently put LSTA funds to use and also asked more detailed questions about library users, materials, and services. We also talked with the senator about the beautiful Carnegie libraries all around the state and the lasting legacy of information those libraries have helped to cultivate in our state. Senator Barrasso and his staff were engaged, interested, and took notes!

When we arrived at Congressman Cheney’s office we were a little worried we might not get to meet with her as she was at the Capitol Building waiting to cast a vote. Rather than cancel our meeting, however, she asked that we meet with her during her short break at the Capitol.  We were escorted by her committed staff through security and tunnels until we found Congressman Cheney waiting to meet with us. Congressman Cheney had a lot of questions for us. She wanted to know if people prefer eBooks or print and had questions about accessing various materials through mobile apps. Congressman Cheney was also interested in hearing about the information needs of Wyoming residents. Like Senators Enzi and Barrasso, Congressman Cheney also asked questions about how LSTA funds are put to use in Wyoming.

Though our federal representatives have always supported Wyoming libraries, we really appreciated the opportunity to reengage them in a conversation about libraries today. Our representatives took us seriously and clearly wanted to be well informed on issues regarding libraries. The federal budget still has a long way to go before it’s final but we know we’ve been heard and our representatives know where to go when they need their library questions answered.

As for those of you reading this post, feel free to reach out to me at or to Cameron Duff, chair of the Wyoming Library Association’s Legislative Committee, at if you have any questions about LSTA funding and Wyoming libraries. If we can’t answer your questions, we’ll know who can.

Find Financial Aid for Library School

Don’t forget—you can also check into McMurry Endowment grants and Wyoming Library Association Nora Van Burgh Grants for support.

From the American Library Association

Need financial assistance to attend library school or know of someone who does?  Take a look at the 2017-2018 edition of the Financial Assistance for Library and Information Studies (FALIS) Directory.  It is an annual directory of awards from state library agencies, national and state library associations, local libraries, academic institutions and foundations that give some form of financial assistance for undergraduate and/or graduate education programs in library and information studies.

The updated Directory is now available on the ALA scholarships page.

For information on scholarships available through the American Library Association, visit the ALA scholarships page or call the ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4279. The ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse is managed by the ALA Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR).  For additional assistance, comments or questions contact

Converse County Reaches Library Endowment Goal

Converse County Library’s main building in Douglas.

Converse County Library is the latest to reach its goal for the Wyoming Library Endowment Challenge, according to the latest update from the WSL Library Development Office. The Challenge is a state-funded program that offers matching funds for locally raised endowment dollars.

Converse is one of 15 Wyoming libraries that have hit 100% of their fundraising goals. Overall, the state’s 23 public library systems are 90.6% of the way, having accessed $17.1 million of the $18.35 million in match and incentive funds available to them. Local funds are matched 1:1, 2:1, or 3:1 based on county assessed valuations at the time the Challenge was established in 2008.

Fundraising partnerships, permitted under a 2015 amendment to the Challenge,helped put Converse County Library over the top. The library raised $101,117 in private funds, matched 2:1 with $202,234 in state funds. An additional $269,617 in matching funds was received in partnership with the Natrona County and Laramie County libraries.

Learn more about the Endowment Challenge and see the latest totals.

Letters About Literature 2016-17 Winners Named

The Wyoming State Library has named top honors in state-level competition in the 2016-17 Letters About Literature Contest, a program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

The WSL awarded 5th grade student Connor Klindt of Laramie first place in Level 1 (grades 4-6). Kris Balstad, an 8th grader at Thermopolis Middle School in Thermopolis, took first place in Level 2 (grades 7-8), and Laramie 9th grader Arundathi Nair took first in Level 3 (grades 9-12). The full list of winners is below.

Wyoming’s entries were judged by A. Rose Hill, a former Poet Laureate of Wyoming (Level 1); Mary Billiter, a romance author and award-winning weekly newspaper columnist with the Casper Star-Tribune (Level 2); and Laurel Shelley Reuss, a comic artist and writer of graphic novels, webcomics and tabletop role-playing games.

Level 1 (grades 4-6):

  • 1st place: Connor Klindt, 5th grade, Afton
    Who Was Alexander the Great? by Kathryn Waterfield and Robin Waterfield
  • 2nd place: Padmalakshmi Ramesh, 4th grade, Spring Creek Elementary, Laramie,
    The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
  • 3rd place: Camden Hanson, 5th grade, homeschool, Moorcroft,
    Lincoln’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly
  • Honorable mention: Rowyn Birdsley, 4th grade, Spring Creek Elementary, Laramie,
    Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
  • Honorable mention: Lillian Murfitt, 4th grade, Spring Creek Elementary, Laramie
    The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

Level 2 (grades 7-8):

  • 1st place: Kris Balstad, 8th grade, Thermopolis Middle School, Thermopolis
    The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • 2nd place: Jonathon Mitchell, 8th grade, Sheridan
    A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer
  • 3rd place: Braidon Bryant, 8th grade, Wheatland
    Left Behind by Tim LaHaye
  • Honorable mention: Allison Grimm, 8th grade, McCormick Jr. High School, Cheyenne
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Level 3 (grades 9-12)

  • 1st place: Arundathi Nair, 9th grade, Laramie
    Yassmin’s Story by Yassmin Abdel-Magied
  • 2nd place: Chancelor Foutz, 11th grade, Lander
    Skate by Michael Harmon
  • 3rd place: Isiac Hines, 9th grade, Worland
    Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

All three first place winners advanced to national competition and will receive a $150 Amazon gift card from the Wyoming Center for the Book. Second place winners will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and third place winners will receive a $50 card.

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Students are asked to read a book, poem or speech and write to the author (living or dead) about how the book affected them personally. Letters are judged on state and national levels. Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year.

The 2016-2017 Letters About Literature contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations.

Learn Something New With WebJunction

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The Case for Social Networks in Schools

By Doug Johnson
Reposted from the Blue Skunk Blog
under a Creative Commons license 

Some educational battles need to be continually re-fought, especially those surrounding intellectual freedom for young adults. I was reminded of this when a parent requested that our district block all social media sites recently*. It was a good nudge for me to think again why I fight for tools that can certainly  be used in both foolish and dangerous ways to remain a part of our educational toolbox. Maybe I needed to re-convince myself.

I have argued that students should have access to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram in many of my posts and articles. But here is the high level summary of why…

  1. Access to social media sites is an equity issue. Students whose only Internet access is through school resources—both computers and networks—are disenfranchised from social discourse were we to block these sites. For better or worse, social media has become the country’s go-to source for news, opinion, and discussion.
  2. Access to social media sites is necessary for students learning safe and appropriate Internet use. School is a place to learn from mistakes. Caring adults surrounding our kids can help rectify poor choices and turn the experience into a “teachable moment.” Were students to reach college or work prior to gaining instruction and practice in the use of social media, the mistakes would have greater ramifications, and the adult guidance less probable.
  3. Access to social media leads to greater care of school-owned devices. On a very pragmatic basis, students will take better care of devices that they find valuable to them. We can harness their love of online interactions and personal inquiry by keeping networks, including social media, as open as possible. The likelihood of students remembering to bring their devices to school, to charge their devices, and to take greater physical care of their devices improves when the device is simply more than a link to digital textbooks and worksheets.

I’ve called giving student access to social media “the neglected side of intellectual freedom.” The fight for human rights, it seems, must be won and then won again and again. I will keep fighting.

* I think we found a good solution for this parent—an extension that we can place on his child’s Chrome account that allows him to create his own set of filtering rules. We will see.