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Library Board Officers Orientation
September 23, 2008

Meeting Summary
Library Board Members
Patricia Izek, President
Therese VanBlarcom, Vice President
John Pacheco, Secretary
John Gibbs
Holly Guncheon
Roger Hale
Jill Joseph
Claudia Kelly
Kathleen Lamb
David Pratt
Cynthia Steinke

Interim Library Director
Lois Langer Thompson

 

Attendees:  Library Board President Patricia Izek, Vice President Therese VanBlarcom, Secretary John Pacheco,

                    past President John Gibbs; facilitator Carolyn Bacon; staff Interim Director Lois Langer Thompson and Char Sohlberg

 

Welcome and Overview

Carolyn Bacon summarized the orientation sessions. A decision was made to wait until early 2009 for a vision retreat with the County Board after the election, a discussion of Library Board committees and roles and expectations of Library Board members began, and three possible committees were identified:  Finance, Program and Executive.

 

Roles and Expectations of Library Board Officers

Past President John Gibbs explained Board members have equal responsibility; the President presides over the Board to manage meetings and is the point person for the Director. Duties involve: conversation(s) with the Director between meetings (usually one week before the next meeting) to assist with setting the agenda; other discussions may touch on policy-related issues. The President has no jurisdiction other than to appoint committees. Appointments are done in a way that provides opportunities for all members to participate; matching skills with availability without pattern or pre-disposition. The President may serve on a subcommittee but is not recommended in the role of Chair as it may appear to others that the President has more authority.

 

President Patricia Izek supports a committee structure and noted it may be necessary to schedule some Saturday meetings due to busy Board member schedules.

 

Ms. Bacon summarized comments from the July Library Board orientation with Commissioner Dorfman and County Administrator Richard Johnson on how business is conducted at Board meetings and the request to engage in more system-wide issues. Changing the way business is conducted formalizes the structure for the Board President, opens meetings for more discussion, and may result in added expectations for the President to manage the meeting. 

 

Previous Library Board meeting concerns were discussed along with the advantages of a committee structure.  Incorporating communication online, providing information notes on topics (for your consideration, for voting), and contacting Board colleagues between meetings to obtain detailed information prior to attending meetings were viewed as positive steps toward managing future meetings.  In addition, staff reports on complex issues should be distributed in advance or introduced and then tabled for further information, discussion, or action at a later date. A Committee structure allows issues to be discussed at length, recommendations made for the full Board, with committee members available for colleagues to contact prior to Board action. This change is not to eliminate open discourse, which was recognized as an important component, it is to assist in running an organized meeting and allow time for other Board-level topics to be addressed.  Public comments may be delayed until an item is on the agenda at the President's discretion but should be managed (voting should not be rushed based on time allowed). Testimony may be taken from the public with further discussion and consideration given, with follow-up and/or action taken at a later date.

 

Committee Structure

Previous Board committees were reviewed. Recommendations for three new standing Board committees include:  Budget & Finance, Program, and Executive. An annual appointment would be made to committees at the annual meeting and members would serve for 12 months. Committee meetings would be open to all, non-committee members would not vote. All committee meetings would be publicly noticed and meeting summaries provided. Board members would look for and rely on reports from the various groups prior to action at full Board meetings.  Some joint meetings may be held with the Budget & Finance and Program Committees. Other subcommittees such as Athenaeum, Library Board Policy, Library Director Search, etc., continue as they are efficient and useful to address issues as needed and are not considered standing committees.

 


Other Needs and Expectations

Interim Director Lois Langer Thompson expressed the need for Library Board members to speak strategically on behalf of the staff and public as they are recognized as representatives of the community. Staff is looking for direction from Board members and the community needs to hear the Board is interested in and understands their needs. The need is there; staff and public are listening and looking to the Board. There have been so many changes; the environment is not "business as usual."

 

Based on comments from the July orientation session, Ms. Bacon reminded attendees of the need for a strategic plan that captures the tone of this big, new library organization. She encouraged the officers and past President to think about this opportunity as a kick-off for what is needed to be a 21st century library and the role of the Board in setting that direction.  A strategic plan will provide context for the joint/vision retreat with the County Board of Commissioners early 2009.

 

Next Steps

Carolyn Bacon and library staff will draft a recommendation that outlines a different infrastructure for the Board and includes the charge, responsibilities, and examples of issues for each new standing committee. This information will be e-mailed to the officers and past President as soon as possible for their reaction and suggested changes. If a final version is available, this may be included in the Library Board mail packet sent one week prior to the Oct. 22 Library Board meeting to be included on the next meeting agenda.

 

 

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Final approved 11 18 08