Library Board Athenaeum Subcommittee
September 29, 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


Members present:     Library Board members Chair David Pratt, Cynthia Steinke, Kathleen Lamb; Athenaeum Board members Pierce McNally, Sue Mackert; Interim Library Director Lois Langer Thompson

Library staff:             Sharon Charles and Marilyn Zastrow



Welcome and Update – Committee Chair David Pratt

Mr. Pratt welcomed attendees and provided an update. He described the Athenaeum lease which has expired. The Athenaeum and Hennepin County Library (HCL) would like to explore collaborations with open communication and continue to build a relationship that benefits both organizations. “Ideas for Hennepin County Library and Athenaeum Relationship” dated Sept. 2008 was the meeting agenda.


Enhanced Access and Outreach

The committee addressed the Athenaeum vault which is 80% full and options for greater access. Mr. Pratt expressed concern for the collection and suggested security cameras.  Sue Mackert said volunteers take responsibility for securing the collection when stakeholders want access to it; people are respectful of the collection. She would like to establish a policy and procedure for securing the collection when books are brought out of the library for public viewing or display. Ms. Mackert praised security staff and noted the Athenaeum is in a locked area.  The Athenaeum collection is presently insured under the blanket of HCL.


Increased Visibility and Marketing

Pierce McNally asked how the Athenaeum fits into HCL’s mission and what strategies the library plans to use to promote the Athenaeum; the plan needs to provide experiences for people to see a collection of 6000 books.  He also expressed a need for a detailed proposal that includes overhead and all related costs. He clarified the Athenaeum is responsible for book preservation and exhibition as a 501(c) 3 organization and feels these issues need to be spelled out clearly. Mr. Pratt said the Library Foundation of Hennepin County and The Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library are in the process of merging by the end of the year with Stu Wilson as the new Executive Director. This brings the best of both organizations together and could positively impact the visibility and marketing of the Athenaeum. The display and/or sale of prints in the bookstore would also promote the Athenaeum.


Programming and Exhibits

Ms. Thompson noted the Athenaeum is considered a jewel that makes the Library special. HCL is looking at staffing concerns regarding the Athenaeum as HCL faces budget concerns. Ms. Mackert said the Athenaeum may extend hours for exhibitions within library hours and be staffed with volunteers; library volunteers would be welcome. 



Mr. McNally reiterated his major concerns for the Athenaeum in relation to HCL, they are: 1) Long-term mission - strategy for Athenaeum within HCL; 2) Financial consideration; and 3) Authority of Athenaeum over collection - accessibility/jurisdiction. Ms. Mackert and Mr. McNally said the Athenaeum’s focus is “plan A” with HCL. They will pursue “plan B” if there is no fit, going their separate way to explore other options. The Athenaeum has a tremendous future and raised $1 million for the capital campaign for their future with Minneapolis Public Library. They want a visible future. Mr. McNally said specifics for the mission are: staff (librarian), space, insurance, goals, accessible for public, create excitement, exhibitions, financial component. Having provided the major concerns from the Athenaeum, Mr. Pratt said HCL would also identify their concerns.


Next steps

A draft memo of understanding will be developed by Ms. Thompson, Sharon Charles and Mr. Pratt within approximately three weeks and they will meet Oct. 22, 4 p.m. at Ridgedale Library, Director’s Conference Room.