May 26, 2010

The Hennepin County Library Board met Wed., May 26, 2010 at Southdale Library.

Present: Brandi Brown, Caitlin Cahill, John Gibbs, Holly Guncheon, Sandy Johnson, Jill Joseph, Claudia Kelly, Kathleen Lamb, John Pacheco, Gary Thaden and Therese VanBlarcom
Hennepin County Staff: Bill Berg, Kelli Koob, Lois Lenroot-Ernt, Jodi Monson, Nancy Palmer, Renee Reed, Lois Langer Thompson and Marilyn Zastrow
Public: None

President Therese VanBlarcom called the Hennepin County Library Board meeting of May 26, 2010 to order at 5:08 p.m. and welcomed attendees.

Kathleen Lamb made a motion to approve the agenda which was seconded by Sandy Johnson. 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.

President VanBlarcom asked Library Director Lois Thompson to report on the cost of replacing signage at Minneapolis Central Library. Ms. Thompson provided an estimate of $10,000 to replace the signage and explained she does not have the authority to approve the disbursement of funds. As requested by the Library Board, her recommendation would be to request the use of funds out of remaining Minneapolis Central Library capital project dollars set for other projects with the understanding this option would replace (not be in addition to) other planned projects. Kathleen Lamb made a motion: The Library Board directs staff to put $10,000 into the capital budget when they present it, to replace the signage at Minneapolis Central Library, with the understanding that ultimately the County Board will decide and approve the expenditure. Discussion followed and Ms. Thompson explained the path of the recommendation; it will go to County Administration, the Capital Budget Task Force and then to the County Board for final approval. Further discussion on optional funding sources followed and Ms. Thompson noted there may not be widespread support for this expenditure as it would impact other projects planned for Minneapolis Central Library. Motion was seconded by Jill Joseph. Motion passed.

Community connections
  • Public Library Association (PLA) annual conference included strategic planning and the value of building on the foundation in place rather than creating new or starting from zero. Queens Public Library has explored and will begin the initial roll-out of an all-inclusive Integrated Library System (ILS); they are in the process of becoming a vendor and shared the interesting way libraries buy and sell services in order to generate revenue. Libraries around the country will watch them closely. Capital projects across the country were also discussed and Ms. Thompson met with other Directors to talk about federal funding over the next two years and possible benefits of moving forward together.
  • Ms. Thompson reported on the resolution on the customer request for story time at Roosevelt Library while Nokomis Library is under construction.
Budget To be addressed during the work session portion of the meeting.

Capital Projects
  • Maple Grove Library's grand opening was Sat. May 22. Customers checked out 7,412 items and registered 111 new library cards.
  • A Board Action Request (BAR) will be sent to the County Board to purchase land for Brooklyn Park and Excelsior libraries. Both are being negotiated and are expected to be brought forward in June. If approved, the purchases will be made this summer and the projects will proceed. Questions from Board members followed:
    • Ms. Lamb and Ms. VanBlarcom expressed kudos to all staff involved with the Maple Grove Library Grand Opening event and noted the building is beautiful.
    • Ms. Lamb acknowledged the Library Board had a presentation on Excelsior Library but would like to know what is happening in Brooklyn Park (including site location, with the understanding it was not necessary to divulge information considered confidential). Capital Projects Manager Lois Lenroot-Ernt provided background: Brooklyn Park Library discussion began in 2005/2006 with a task force; they looked at property attached to the Target development north of 610, a decision was made to not pursue that land. A more centralized location in Brooklyn Park has been explored along with partnerships, possibly with the Science Museum and others. Community engagement process will start sometime after purchase agreements are signed. Site acquisitions costs are included in the current capital budget.
    • President VanBlarcom asked if community involvement would occur as was done for Walker Library and asked if there are plans to have Library Board membership. Ms. Lenroot-Ernt noted the differences between the two projects, with HGA Architects already selected for Brooklyn Park Library. The community process may be closer to the process used with Nokomis Library; general/informational community meeting with additional meetings for schematic design. She indicated the Library Board is welcome to participate and left it to them to decide how they would like to be involved.
    • Originally a technology/science focus was planned by the task force for the Brooklyn Park Library and Ms. Lenroot-Ernt was asked if that was still part of the plan. She explained task force recommendations will be reviewed and conversations will occur with task force members as the community process begins. At this time, the plan is to build on the ideas they had, within the current timeframe and economic situation, with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
    • Mr. Gibbs noted it might be the right place for the Planetarium and wondered aloud if that conversation should be started.
    • Ms. Joseph asked if the same process for community engagement would hold true for the Excelsior Library and Ms. Lenroot-Ernt explained she is looking at options for that project. Ms. VanBlarcom noted the plans sounded great and the projects are duly noted by Board members' for the future.
Ms. Thompson noted clarification is needed from board members related to their engagement in capital projects. The previous invitation to serve on community advisory groups' response was that Board members did not wish to participate at that level. She acknowledged the need to revisit their participation. What does participation look like to Board members? What types of updates are best or preferred? She suggested this be addressed at a future work session and Ms. VanBlarcom affirmed the need for board engagement and additional discussion.

January 2010, the weekly Connect staff newsletter provided an update on e-publishing and the impact on public libraries. A decision was made to purchase 678 titles which will be available to the public July 2010. The primary vendor selected is a firm that has a product that works well with the library market (content and device flexibility). Beginning in July, downloadable print will be available in the ePub format which will work on devices such as: Sony Reader, I-Pad, Kobo and The Nook. It will not work on Kindle, as Kindle is owned by Amazon and uses a different type of format which is proprietary to Amazon. Prior to public roll-out, library staff in Collections and Communications sections will collaborate on "Frequently Asked Questions" which will clearly outline the service.

  • Technology. In relation to the Library Department becoming part of the Hennepin County IT federated system, as was mentioned at the April 28, 2010 Library Board meeting, part of the agreement includes a provision that service not be diminished. This requires a baseline so all parties know going in what the expectations are. Dan Hinrichs serves as the Business Information Officer for HCL and he and his colleagues are developing tools capable of measuring the service level. That service level will be evaluated after we have been part of the County system for a specified period, and a report will be provided to the Library Board about meeting measurable requirements and overall system performance.
  • Temporary closure. Ms. Thompson explained the closure of the Maple Grove Library as requested by Brandi Brown due to no air conditioning or restroom facilities for public and staff.
  • Real estate. She also responded to Ms. Brown's question and confirmed a portion of the land acquired for the New North/Webber Park Library, including the Kowalski's building in North Minneapolis is for sale by Hennepin County as it is not needed for the planned building. No additional information to report on New North/Webber Park Library. Mr. Thaden commented he thought a neighborhood advisory committee had been set up at Webber Park Library. Ms. VanBlarcom noted she was aware of a Friends Group with a strong start-up at Webber Park and staff noted two others, Linden Hills and Sumner libraries.
  • Legacy Program. "Art of Aging" programs have been scheduled.
BOARD MEMBERS' REPORTS No board member reports.

COMMITTEE REPORTS No committee reports.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS No unfinished business.

NEW BUSINESS No new business.

President VanBlarcom called a 20-minute recess to reconfigure the meeting room for the Board's work session and to distribute dinner.

Hennepin County Library Strategic Plan
  • Ms. Thompson noted strategic planning is at the forefront and noted HCL has various documents and a refreshed mission statement so we are not starting at zero. We have a 2010 Capital Improvement Plan, Framework for the Future, etc. Our organizational consultant Carolyn Bacon's work was temporarily sidelined, but library staff continue to keep moving forward and have met with staff from Hennepin County Research, Planning and Development. This County Dept. facilitates strategic planning with other departments and based on their experience and given the County's overall direction and economic uncertainty, helps focus and facilitate strategic decision making about operating and capital budgets. In relation to a strategic plan, they advised the library to continue, but not wait for a plan to be in place. This portion of today's work session is to ask strategic questions about the future of HCL - where do you, as Library Board members want Hennepin County Library to go strategically and how do you envision HCL's future? The outcome will be the Board setting a direction for the staff to develop the detailed, operational budget for 2011. Discussion followed.
  • Staff has been asked by County Administration to identify the big questions facing the library for discussion with the County Board. This question has been posed to library staff, supervisors and managers and now to the Board. There are themes developing and interest in seeing if that is also the case with the Library Board.
Library Operating & Capital Budget Strategy and 2011 Request
  • 2010 the Library's approved budget was $69.1 million, our approved property tax portion is $54.2 million, and we have been asked to do a 2.5% reduction in our property tax which is $1.4 million.
  • 2011 we have been asked to propose an operating budget at 95% of the 2010 approved property tax portion which is a reduction of $2.8 million. That level may include $1.4 million this year if the reductions were permanent. Currently managers are working on recommendations to meet 5%, 7.5% and 10% reductions in anticipation of the likelihood that in 2011 we may be asked to take additional cuts based on actions taken at the State level.
  • Key dates:
    • June 15: Library Department retreat with County Board regarding capital projects: What is our strategy moving forward? What can we afford? When can we afford it? The question from the Director to the Board: "Given that change is constant, resources are reduced and demand for library service remains high, what questions do we need to ask ourselves in order to remain one of the leading libraries in the country?"
    • July 2: Library Department 2011 budget request is due to the Office of Budget & Finance. County Administration will meet with departments in July or August. Sept. 7th the County Board will adopt the maximum property tax levy. Sept. 28 County Administrator Richard Johnson will bring forth all department budgets. October-November individual budget hearings will be held with the County Board. The Library Director will report to the Library Board monthly on action being taken. Library Board discussion followed and in response to questions, Ms. Thompson clarified two points: 1) hours reduction and library closures are not being considered at this time. Moving past 2011, we may have to open that discussion; and 2) in regard to the impact of various labor agreements for 2010-11, the agreements resulted in no step or cost of living increases in 2011. There are, however, increased costs to health insurance and PERA and each department has to absorb those in addition to the 5% reduction.
  • Review of core library services: open hours, gathering spaces, technology, staff, and collections; and library service priorities: early literacy, out of school time, jobs and small businesses, 55+ and lifelong learning. Library customers say they need: space, information and books. Space is not difficult at a large building like Minneapolis Central Library but is challenging and competitive in a 10-20,000 s.f. building. Customers want their information to be free, broad, accessible, historical, relevant and current. Does Internet access rise to the level of a human right - another question to consider?
  • Framing the questions: What will the future include rather than what will it look like? What does it need to include? Is the future something new or something in a new way? How does customer use today lead us into the future? As we think and talk about 21st century literacy: the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. We have many strategic drivers right now: the library mission which speaks to our service, to nourish minds, transform lives and build community together and we have the Library Board, County Administration, our operating budget and the capital budget. Ms. Thompson encouraged members to follow the model set by County Administration. County Administrator Richard Johnson asked the County Board to think about these questions that recognize changing demographics and how services the county provides need to change. What are future resource limitations? Who are our partners? How does technology help us? What will prepare us for the future? What future initiatives should we consider? These questions will help develop a strategic direction.
  • Follow-up questions/additional issues to consider: How does HCL meet the reductions without absorbing or hiding them from customers like we have in the past? How do we deal with these types of changes within our political reality? How do we address current challenges as we strive to determine and focus on the future?
Library Board work group discussion
Library Board discussion outcomes: 1) Questions were posed by the Board that focused on duplication of effort with partners (services, collections, buildings), library functions, policies, number of facilities, sustainability, best practices and reducing services offered; 2) What are libraries and why are we here? Discussion included learning, content, access, staffing levels and grade, print and online formats, communicating our story, private sector funding and being a sole source of technology for some customers; 3) Library priorities were discussed including underserved populations, education, economic support, lifelong learning (all ages), gathering spaces, non-traditional users (correctional facilities) and accessibility beyond open hours; and 4) Programming as a core service was discussed in relation to collection and access, support from the Foundation, capitalizing on community partnerships including schools, benefits and unintended consequences of collaborations, and approaching donors.

Ms. Thompson thanked Library Board members for their participation and providing the information requested.

Library Board Committee Structure
Ms. VanBlarcom opened the discussion of the Board's committee structure. She recognized the importance of having work group sessions that allow more time for discussion and provided options for changing the current structure. Discussion followed on the pros/cons of the current committee structure vs. modifying or eliminating committees, board meeting content, purpose, outcomes, length, frequency, duplicative meetings, the size of the current 11-member Board vs. the previous seven-member Board (advantages and disadvantages) and a need for sharing committee information between board members. Following discussion, Caitlin Cahill made a motion to change the current Library Board committee structure to include a Nominating Committee (only standing committee per Bylaws); two current ad-hoc committees Program & Policy and Athenaeum; and the Board will hold a workshop meeting every other month to include time for Board discussion of major topics. The motion was seconded by Holly Guncheon; motion passed.

Prior to adjourning President VanBlarcom thanked Board members for their candor and providing the information Ms. Thompson needed. The strategic plan is moving forward and next steps will be discussed at the June 23 Board meeting. A budget executive summary will be distributed prior to the meeting so all are prepared for the budget discussion. There being no further business, Claudia Kelly made a motion to adjourn the Library Board meeting at 8:15 p.m. which was seconded by Caitlin Cahill. The motion passed. The next Library Board meeting is June 23, 2010 at 5 p.m., Ridgedale Library, Robert H. Rohlf Meeting Room, 12601 Ridgedale Dr., Minnetonka


                                John Pacheco, Secretary