June 23, 2010

The Hennepin County Library Board met Wed., June 23, 2010 at Ridgedale Library.
Present: Brandi Brown, John Gibbs, Sandy Johnson, Jill Joseph, Claudia Kelly, Kathleen Lamb, John Pacheco, Gary Thaden and Therese VanBlarcom
Hennepin County Staff: Amy Adelmann, Bill Berg, Dana Bjerke, Helen Burke, Mary Commers, Kay Drache, Constance Hill, J.R. Hunter, Tonya DePriest, Dan Hinrichs, Roberta Kemp, Lois Lenroot-Ernt, Becky Maddaus, Dan Marcou, Amy McNally, Jodi Monson, Gail Mueller-Schultz, Susan Myles, Pat Pederson, Nancy Palmer, Karen Robinson, Jim Ruiz, Mary Severson, Rose Spaulding, Jeanette Sullivan, Lois Langer Thompson, Nancy Thornbury, Ann Walker, Stu Wilson and Michael Zecca
Public: None

President Therese VanBlarcom called the Hennepin County Library Board meeting of June 23, 2010 to order at 5:06 p.m. and welcomed attendees.

Kathleen Lamb made a motion to approve the agenda which was seconded by Gary Thaden. Motion passed.

Claudia Kelly made a motion to approve the consent agenda which was seconded by Sandy Johnson. Motion passed.

PUBLIC COMMENT No public comment.

PROGRAM REPORT: Hennepin County Library Employee Recognition
Library Board members described the awards, read the names of all staff that were nominated by their peers, and provided certificates of commendation to employees in attendance. Congratulations to all for their outstanding achievements.

  • Ms. VanBlarcom reported on a meeting she attended with County Board Chair Commissioner Opat and Library Director Lois Thompson. They discussed the recent Library Board structure change, ideas for the future of Hennepin County Library (HCL), the need for a joint meeting of the two boards and building a connection to the Library Foundation. Commissioner Opat did not feel a joint meeting was necessary as the interaction we currently have is going well. Commissioner Opat supports interaction with the Foundation Board of Directors and appreciated our visit.
  • She also attended the County Board's Capital Budget Retreat and reported Ms. Thompson did a nice job with her team, presenting what HCL has in front of them; additional detail to be shared in greater detail later on the agenda.
  • Ms. VanBlarcom thanked Kathleen Lamb for her efforts to organize a memorial for David Pratt. Contributions resulted in the purchase of 12 aviary books with name plates in memory of our colleague; a very nice tribute to a gentleman who cared deeply about libraries and his community and it speaks highly of him.
  • Board members were asked to let Ms. VanBlarcom know if they plan to use their $1,000 "share" for conference and travel in 2010 (Library Board policy is linked on the HCL website) by July 8. (Reminder: the Minnesota Library Association annual conference is Oct. 6-8 in Rochester, MN.)
  • Also noted, the Library Board meeting on Wed., July 28 at Minneapolis Central Library will start at 5:30 (one-half hour later than usual); please update your calendar. At Ms. Lamb's request, a reminder will be sent to all Board members.
Strategic Plan. Ms. Thompson provided an update and reviewed accomplishments to date. Basic stages: preparation; clarifying roles; articulate mission/vision: mission set, planning for setting vision this fall following library futurist. Parallel to that has been gathering ideas/input from staff through facilitated, interactive meetings. This summer, engagement at all levels of the organization and the Library Board will result in developing the big questions. Following the Library Board's meeting with a library futurist, strategies, goals, and objectives will be developed and brought back to the Library Board as a recommendation for their acceptance and approval late fall. Work on strategic planning is moving along at a significant pace.

Review 2011 Operating Budget proposed request. HCL has been asked to propose a reduction of 5% of our property tax which is $2.8 million for the 2011 operating budget. HCL will also experience a loss of Minneapolis transition aid which in 2011 will be $870,000. As a result, we have been asked to identify a $3.6 million reduction. Recommendations are based on the core services we have identified, with the understanding they may be further developed or change as we work through our strategic plan.
  • Open Hours in Buildings: approximately $550,000 reduction based on efficiencies from security and utilities. Currently maintenance is not included in that reduction; we do not expect any impact on customers or staff.
  • Technology: approximately $150,000 reduction due to lower cost equipment and software with no impact on customers or staff
  • Collection: approximately $650,000 reduction which is one of two serious reductions. This cut would reduce access and breadth of the collection. Discussion followed and John Gibbs asked that the net change in the collection between 2010 and 2011 be sent to Board members to clarify this point and he asked staff to include information related to the "fund balance."
  • Staff and customer service: approximately $2 million reduction to meet overall goal of $3.6 million. This reduction is taken very seriously and would impact customers and staff. Currently these positions are vacant, so we do not anticipate lay-offs. What has come from employee engagement sessions is a real desire to engage the community in this process; talking about our priorities, how we set them and how the community can assist us in providing them excellent service.
  • Gathering Spaces/Programming and Services: previously referred to as "gathering spaces" we realize the term was being translated into "meeting rooms" and what we really provide is a place to learn and build community. This item is about programming and services the library offers in the form of access/education/training. This funding is moved from the operating budget to Foundation, legacy and partnership dollars.
  • Library Board budget items: Conference & Travel ($1,000 to each Library Board member plus one more share for the Library Board President) which is $2,000; and we also budget dollars for Library Board memberships in MLA, American Library Association and Public Library Association. At this time, no reductions have been recommended. Discussion followed Ms. Thompson's presentation:
    • In relation to staffing, Ms. Thompson clarified; HCL is currently running at a very high vacancy rate. Vacancies are due to some movement and position changes; some have been through efficiencies; and some through our new service model; none have been with ease but we will continue to do what is needed. Ms. VanBlarcom added information from the capital budget retreat with the County Board, through efficiencies (location of service desks, staffing models, self-reliant customers, etc.) a building's larger footprint may not necessarily have a greater impact on the operating budget.
    • In relation to the collection, Operations Division Manager Nancy Palmer explained "fund balance" is the difference between revenues and expenditures accumulated over time; the library has been fortunate and able to conserve this fund over time.
    • Mr. Gibbs requested background on the addition of eBooks to the collection as a conceptual addition to the collection. Collection Manager Gail Mueller Schultz explained the eBooks collection launch planned mid-July, the impact and reasons for this change that includes daily customer requests for this format and recognized some publishers are not purchasing some titles in the audio book on CD format, some are only offered downloadable. She further explained there are no current plans to reduce the print budget to accommodate this format; HCL will still want to keep the physical product of an audio book on CD but may purchase fewer copies which may impact the wait list. Ms. Mueller Schultz added fines are not assessed on this type of loan as the loan period simply expires. Library Board members queried staff on how seriously this is being viewed as something to generate revenue as the individual purchasing various devices may assume they will have to pay for books to view. Support for charging for eBooks was expressed along with a desire to strongly consider this service as a pilot project with an evaluation to occur with consideration given to use this as a revenue source for HCL. Ms. Joseph asked if the 7, 14, and 21 day options provide an opportunity for scaling fees. Ms. Thompson explained the County Board approval process for charging for material/services. Ms. Brown expressed the need to consider customers with disabilities who may not own a device. Mr. Gibbs asked if HCL ought to pursue whether we could purchase a modest license fee that would allow HCL customers to burn a CD for themselves to provide access to individuals who may not otherwise have access.
Given its scope, refinement of the Collection Policy will be scheduled for further discussion by the full Library Board at an upcoming work session. The addition of downloadable eBooks launch in July raised numerous questions related to access, sustainability, revenue off-sets and philosophical changes in collection direction. Ms. Joseph made a motion for staff to modify the announcement on the HCL website to refer to the launch of Downloadable eBooks as a pilot or test project; motion was seconded by Ms. Lamb. Motion passed.

Mr. Pacheco expressed the need for a strategic plan to set a vision and direction for role of the library going forward, recognizing where we are and where we would like to be in the future.

2011 Budget presentation conclusion. Ms. Thompson noted priority add backs are collection and staff. Library management will meet with County Administration in August. The County Board will adopt the final budget Dec. 2010. As requested, the Board provided feedback on the recommendation as presented; Ms. Thompson expressed appreciation and will consider all Board comments as the HCL 2011 Operating Budget request is developed.
Capital projects. On June 22, the County Board committee passed a motion to authorize negotiation of a site for a new Brooklyn Park Library which will move to the full board for final approval. They also progressed a similar request to authorize negotiation on land for a new Excelsior Library as there were some unanswered questions after discussion; they are expected to re-examine and may take a final vote on both items at the Board meeting June 29.

Library Board Public Art Policy. The Library Board Program/Policy Committee is expected to update the current art and public libraries policy. Until their work is completed, we continue to work under the current library board policy with library board members serving on art selection committees representing the full board. Currently there are two active art committees with three active members (Maple Grove Library: Ms. Joseph; Plymouth Library: Ms. Guncheon and Ms. Johnson). Once the art is completed, it will come to the Library Board to take formal action to acknowledge and receive the art.
  • Maple Grove Library art: Ms. Joseph noted the committee will meet the week of June 27 to look at the proposed artwork and will meet in August to make a selection. The target date is to have the art work installed on the one year anniversary of the building opening.
  • Plymouth Library art: Ms. Johnson noted the committee met June 3. Hennepin County Property Services is currently negotiating contracts with the selected artists and Ms. Johnson indicated she cannot wait for both of the artists to begin their projects.
  • In response to Ms. Lamb's question about the timing of the art selection and projects (after rather than during construction), Ms. Thompson explained HCL has addressed public art both ways in the past, both as part of the architectural process and afterward. Both options present benefits and challenges; some of it depends simply on timing.
County Board Retreat on Capital Budget. Ms. Thompson shared themes of the County Board's discussion:
  1. Acknowledged difficulty when examining the sequence of projects and need clarification of actual expenditures vs. approved expenditures
  2. Increased operating costs and review of the costs/services underway
  3. Priorities and core services and how we design the building impacts the workload; policies also impact the workload. Staff is interested in the Library Board Program/Policy committee gearing up and continuing their work on policies
  4. Agreement to use facility modifications (projects under $150,000) when we can reduce the operating costs. Current focus is on Library workroom improvements for workflow efficiencies and providing a single service area which is having the positive impact that was anticipated.
  5. Overall strategy going forward - the County Board confirmed the importance and their commitment to public libraries. HCL is a very small portion of the County's overall operating budget but is a major portion of the overall capital budget. The County Board will continue to hear from other departments prior to making decisions and approving the 2011 Hennepin County Budget.
  • Discussion followed with Mr. Gibbs requesting a partnership be considered with the University of Minnesota in relation to the Southeast Library and consideration be given to transportation (light rail hubs, traffic and bicycle routes) for future site selection for all libraries including Southeast and Webber Park libraries.
  • Some of the budget figures in the capital projects are placeholders to be developed further. This conversation was a real opportunity to initiate that discussion with the County Board; what is the focus moving forward - is the direction to continue to expand or are we investing in current facilities? The answers will drive the direction of future projects.

Volunteer recognition events. Thanks to Board members who participated, your attendance was well received by all.

Statistics. Summary May 2010 included many libraries opening/closing so the numbers may be difficult to track. HCL is about where we would expect, considering building closures this year and last. Staff will continue to monitor outcome measures and track business levels as requested and will provide them to Library Board members.

Library Board Information program/topic requests. Ms. Thompson responded to requests for information by the Library Board and asked how they would like to have the various items presented - what is most meaningful or your preference? Ms. Thompson clarified topic requests are merely a guideline through July 2011 (all are flexible). Feedback was provided by Board members and modifications will occur. Ms. Lamb noted she appreciated the effort to organize all of the requests made by Board members and asked that another look be taken to ensure the dates are synchronized with existing agreements. It was agreed to include time at the end of each meeting to address the next meeting's topic to clarify specifics needed by the Board. In July, an informational overview will be provided on Legacy Funding. This model may also be used for future topics.

  • Ms. Joseph noted she will attend the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington D.C. Her focus will be on networking to share the work being done by HCL and she hopes to explore what other public libraries are doing in relation to capital projects, digital issues and strategic planning.
  • Ms. VanBlarcom reported Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Pacheco will join her to meet with Lois Thompson and representatives from the Library Foundation Board of Directors.
  • Mr. Thaden acknowledged the good job Ms. VanBlarcom has done providing the opportunity for in-depth discussion as a Board while members speak passionately about challenging library issues.
  • Ms. Lamb noted she would like her $1,000 conference and travel share to go to the collection as she does not intend to use it.
  • Ms. VanBlarcom noted the reason for Holly Guncheon's absence. Our thoughts are with her and her family.

COMMITTEE REPORTS No committee reports.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS No unfinished business.

NEW BUSINESS No new business.

There being no further business, Jill Joseph made a motion to adjourn the Library Board meeting at 7:15 p.m. which was seconded by Kathleen Lamb. The motion passed. The next Library Board meeting is July 28, 2010, Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board Room, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis at 5:30 p.m.


                               John Pacheco, Secretary