Last week I attended the Quarterly Iowa Library Commission meeting, where I am one of seven current members appointed to serve for the State Library of Iowa by the Governor. These meetings usually bring us up to date on the status of the state library staffing, developments, projects and upcoming plans and needs for both the state offices and for libraries around the state of Iowa.

This past week the meetings included several items that I thought would interest the Story City community, and though this would be a good venue to tell about some opportunities for the people who use our library and live in the communities around us.

The first was the presentation of the new online interactive training module called “Brainfuse,” which pointed out the expanded services this website has over the previous product, “Learning Express.” Brainfuse includes not only individualized training components for various computer skills, including the Microsoft products and Resume templates, it also includes many practice tests including High School Equivalency Tests, College Entrance Test prep, ASVAB and nursing school exams to name a few.

Those programs are available to anyone from students working from home going through our website, to adults who have jobs but want to build a new resume and need help getting that done, but there is also a online helper available who can help with job interview coaching, and there is an entire section just for our veterans, that will help those issues that are very specific to our armed service men and woman, who have returned home, looking for jobs, building skills, or just needing to know what programs and services are available to them.

The Brainfuse product is coordinated through the Workforce Development offices, which emphasizes the “JobNOW & VetNOW” capabilities of the site. But it is open to everyone who uses the library, anyone who sets up a free account online, going through our library website, So you don’t have to be a job seeker nor a veteran to access those tools.

The second announcement was a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities which would allow the State Library staff to continue digitizing materials from the Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Districts. This would help fund the staffing and process to digitize historical documents, photos and other materials from the 28 districts celebrating their 75th anniversary in 2019 and 2020. The grant funding runs through December 2019. This is a continuation of a project which began in 2017 and will provide historical reference points in addition to preservation of materials that may currently be in libraries, offices, basements, attics and family photo albums.

More details on how all this material is gathered and where it needs to go will be forthcoming. We are pleased that this will capture the efforts and history of those working with our agricultural lands and will preserve the strides that have been made with soil and water conservation, which is invaluable for future generations.