August 25, 2010

The Hennepin County Library Board met Wednesday, August 25, 2010, at Ridgedale Library.

Present: Brandi Brown, Caitlin Cahill, John Gibbs, Holly Guncheon, Sandy Johnson, Claudia Kelly, John Pacheco, Gary Thaden and Therese VanBlarcom
Hennepin County Staff: Bill Berg, Sharon Charles, Tonya DePriest, Judith Friedrich, Constance Hill, Lois Lenroot-Ernt, Rebecca Gilgen, Mary Grahek, Commissioner Randy Johnson, Richard P. Johnson, Michele McGraw, Jodi Monson, Gail Mueller Schultz, Nancy Palmer, Char Sohlberg, Lois Langer Thompson, Ali Turner and Marilyn Zastrow
Public: Sari Feldman and Stu Wilson

President Therese VanBlarcom called the Hennepin County Library Board meeting of August 25, 2010 to order at 5:04 p.m.

Sandy Johnson made a motion to approve the agenda which was seconded by Holly Guncheon. Motion passed.

Gary Thaden made a motion to approve the consent agenda which was seconded by John Gibbs. Motion passed. Mr. Thaden asked for clarification about the $4100 gift to Hosmer Library. Staff will follow up.

No public comment.

  • President VanBlarcom introduced Commissioner Randy Johnson and acknowledged him as a champion for his continued support of libraries and library services. Commissioner Johnson presented a copy of the book, Hennepin County a Minnesota Leader on behalf of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. The title covers the rich history of Hennepin County along with current information. Copies have been added to the Hennepin County Library collection.
  • Commissioner Johnson also spoke about the upcoming budget process; the Board is not expecting any net increase in the property tax levy. So doing what we do with less will continue into the next year or two. He expressed his support for having a first class library and acknowledged in times of economic difficulties, demand for county services goes up, including library services.
  • John Gibbs asked Commissioner Johnson if he had any philosophical or specific suggestions about his sense of the role of the Library Board or how the Library Board could contribute to his policy decision making or the system in general. Commissioner Johnson replied he had a good sense of the Library's priorities based on preliminary budget requests submitted with the required 5-10% reductions. He noted the Library took on a big task in the library merger and it has gone smoothly with the leadership of the Library Board, Director and HCL staff. Commissioner Johnson expressed how pleased they are that Hennepin County was able to keep Minneapolis libraries open because they are a tremendous resource for everyone in the county.
  • President VanBlarcom noted staff has developed routines and with the assistance of Library Administration the Library Board has been working through some strategic planning for the library as we look to the future and feedback from the commissioners would be appreciated.
  • Commissioner Johnson noted his colleagues on the county cover a wide political spectrum and may disagree on policy issues but everybody on the board has very strong support for the library system. He thanked the Library Board for the great work they do.

To allow time for discussion with Ms. Feldman, Ms. VanBlarcom asked if there were any questions for her; there were none.

Library Director Lois Thompson provided the following updates:
  • Ms. Thompson was appointed to the Minnesota Broadband Advisory Task Force.
  • Upcoming events include the Operating Budget Request presentation Oct. 6 and the capital budget task force presentation Nov. 15 in case members of the Library Board are interested in attending.

Program/Policy Committee Chair Claudia Kelly summarized the Aug. 12, committee meeting held at Hopkins Library where attendees discussed how the library's collection advances the mission of HCL. Six general topics were identified as outcomes of the discussion. The collection: 1) encourages well being and life/work balance; 2) supports lifelong learning through access to resources; 3) expands our horizons through new experiences; 4) cultivates community through diverse viewpoints; 5) prepares citizens for the future; and 6) provides an archive and cornerstone of our culture and heritage. Ms. Kelly asked Library Board members to contact her with questions/comments and additions. President VanBlarcom noted the collection policy discussion would be brought forward to the full Library Board at the Oct. 27 meeting. Ms. Kelly added the next Program/Policy Committee meeting is Thurs., Sept. 9, Edina Library (5280 Grandview Square, Edina), 3-5 p.m.

Mr. Thaden reported on a House Finance subcommittee meeting he attended at the Capitol. It was the second of two hearings on the Legislative Auditor's report. Topics discussed included: 1) whether there should be a multi-use system or a regional system and how they should interact; the position of state librarian which is not filled with someone in an acting position with plans for this to be filled by the beginning of 2011; and some discussion of maintenance of effort. Discussion followed with Mr. Gibbs suggesting the board might want to consider a recommendation on the state librarian if there is an opinion, perhaps to have it conveyed to the appropriate authorities in the county as it finalizes its legislative agenda. Mr. Thaden indicated the position is addressed in the Legislative Auditor's report along with duties that have the potential to make it a stronger and more visionary force for libraries in Minnesota. Ms. Thompson agreed it is an important discussion to have the Library Board engage in and she also noted the State Auditor's Report is part of the revised upcoming monthly agenda topics for the Board along with a date change for the collection policy discussion (moved to October).

No unfinished business.

President VanBlarcom introduced past president of Public Library Association and current Executive Director of Cuyahoga County (OH) Public Library Sari Feldman to talk about the future of library service. Ms. Thompson introduced County Administrator Richard Johnson and staff from Hennepin County Research Planning & Development Mary Grahek and Becca Gilgen who are providing assistance as we near completion of the Library's strategic planning process. She also acknowledged Principal Librarian Judith Friedrich who facilitated Board discussion after Ms. Feldman's presentation.
  • Ms. Feldman summarized her library-related experiences during the past 12-18 months based on her national and international travel with the Public Library Association. She acknowledged HCL as one of the top library systems in the United States and noted it is often recognized for quality of service and high level of customer activity. HCL is used by Cuyahoga County Public Library to benchmark level of service innovations and service activity.
  • Ms. Feldman recognized that places to gather and learn have been a significant service focus in libraries around the world; place remains at the center for customers even while we have a virtual place that is consuming more and more of our time and energy. This is widely recognized along with the knowledge that economics are really driving some decisions about collections, services and programs. She acknowledged the importance of bringing service where customers are and mentioned locations where low-cost ways are being explored to expand library access (such as 24-hour kiosks; unstaffed after-hours library access in business areas; and library branches located in apartments and condos); in some cases convenience trumps quality.
  • In relation to digital media, libraries have taken a leadership role linking collection and resources to a website. Collaborations between Counties/Libraries/Community Colleges services and job searchers have benefited from this type of access. Common trends: Library core values remain privacy and intellectual freedom; formal evaluations on the impact of homework centers; exploration of partnerships with non-profits, government and for-profit entities; opportunities for grant funding and other philanthropic resources; charging for meeting room use; and expansion to provide other services such as passports.
  • Ms. Feldman stressed the importance of the library being front and center in our communities and the need to remain prominent and vital. She acknowledged the need to use new and old tools to continue to compete. Other areas of importance in libraries: 1) the need for staff will continue however there may be less division and more generalists; 2) points of service may manage questions for customers; 3) space design is or should be more intuitive, with way finding signage, retail-type paths; and 4) digitization is a dilemma being addressed now, not only by libraries but by publishers and the public. Discussion followed the presentation.
There being no further business, John Pacheco made a motion to adjourn the Library Board meeting at 6:37 p.m. which was seconded by Gary Thaden. The motion passed. The next Library Board meeting is Sept. 22, 2010 at Brookdale Library (meeting room), 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center, 55430 at 5 p.m.


                               John Pacheco, Secretary