Library Board minutes - March 28, 2018

The public is welcome at all library board meetings

The Hennepin County Library Board met Wednesday, March 28, 2018, Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board room.


Present: Adja K. Kaba Ann, Katherine Blauvelt, Caitlin Cahill, Chris Damsgard, Jonathan Gaw, Rahfat Hussain, Margaret Ligon, and Erin Vrieze Daniels.

Hennepin County Staff: Commissioner Linda Higgins, Director Lois Langer Thompson, David Lawless, Maria Baca, Johannah Genett, Casey Krolczyk, Lois Lenroot-Ernt, Emily O’Connor, Nancy Palmer, Tracy Thompson, and Ali Turner.

Public: Sandy Johnson.

Call to order

President Damsgard called the Hennepin County Library Board meeting of March 28, 2018 to order at 5:04 p.m., and welcomed all in attendance especially new Library Board member Rahfat Hussain who introduced himself.

Approval of agenda

Erin Vrieze Daniels made a motion to approve the agenda; seconded by Jonathan Gaw. Motion passed.

Consent items

Caitlin Cahill made a motion to approve the meeting minutes of January 24, 2018, and accept donations; seconded by Margy Ligon. Motion passed.

Public comment


County comissioner update

Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins, Vice Chair, Operations and Libraries Committee Chair, District 2

Commissioner Higgins is the Vice-Chair of the Hennepin County Board and represents the Golden Valley, North Regional, Northeast, Pierre Bottineau, Plymouth, St. Anthony, Sumner, and Webber Park libraries. She was elected to the Board in November 2012 and serves as the Operations and Libraries County Board Committee Chair.

Commissioner Higgins thanked the board for inviting her and for their service. She has been amazed at the number of people who volunteer to be appointed to the different county boards and advisory committees and she enjoys hearing what brings everyone to community service.

The legislature is currently in session and Board members are both proposing bills and speaking on behalf of County constituents. Commissioner Higgins will be testifying against a bill that would put in place work requirements for those on Medicaid and will be letting the legislature know who our clients are and why this bill does not serve them.

Commissioner Higgins is looking forward to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. A remembrance is being planned and she hopes the Library can be involved in some way.

Gaw asked if Commissioner Higgins had any recommendations for strengthening the support of County Board members. The Commissioner recommended personal connection and telling the story of the impact of libraries in the community and importance of your request. She noted that Director Thompson does an excellent job of keeping the board up to date on the libraries.

Vice-President Blauvelt acknowledged Commissioner Higgins announcement that she is not seeking re-election and thanked her for her hard work and dedication to Webber Park and other libraries and hopes the Commissioner will stay connected to the Library in the future. Commissioner Higgins expressed that there are many good people running for Hennepin County District 2.

The Commissioner shared she has witnessed an outpouring of love and affection towards librarians, library staff, and libraries by the community and that it has been a pleasure to be an officer for 22 years.

President Damsgard and the Library Board thanked the commissioner for attending.


Sandy Johnson, Library Board

President Damsgard read the resolution commending Sandy Johnson on her three terms as a Library Board member. He made a motion to approve the resolution, seconded by Vice-President Blauvelt. Motion passed.

Sandy Johnson expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to serve, shared she would continue to be active in her support for the Library and its mission, and thanked the board for this recognition.

Library board dialogue

County Budget; David Lawless, Hennepin County Chief Financial Officer

He shared that the 2019 budget process discussions have been underway with County Administration, and budget instructions will be provided to departments in April. He advised that the county budget process is driven by the property tax and that the Library is financed primarily by property taxes. Federal and State funding impacts the county budget and will need to be considered due to its uncertainty.

The County has a long way to go through the process to know specific impacts, but it is anticipated that the Library will have a similar budget to 2018. The ballpark sales tax revenue is secure for another 15-20 years. Mr. Lawless stated he feels the county board very much values the libraries and that it is a high priority for them in any budget year. The county board has many challenges and have to make difficult decisions, but every year they are appreciative of what the residents say about the libraries and the board is very happy to support a world-class library.

Director’s report

2018 Policy Review, Lois Lenroot-Ernt

Lois Lenroot-Ernt led the library board in a discussion on four policies due for review this year. The board was asked to identify any section(s) of the policies they have questions on, look at each policy through an equity lens, and ask for additional information if needed.

Commissioned Public Art: Board members expressed a desire to see: more language to increase diversity in art and representation of community in panels, language clarification for maintenance, and language relating it to the associated donation policy.

Patron Data Privacy: Board members would like more information on: how third party contractors protect data, clearer definition for “best interest of minors”, if data includes time spent in library or information shared with staff, if any information is collected regarding minorities, if staff feel prepared to speak to privacy and protect people’s data, and how social media and computer use is protected.

Library Bill of Rights: Staff shared this policy written by the American Library Association and endorsed by the Library. Hennepin County Library does not adopt all interpretations, but may refer. Library board members inquired if the Library displays the bill in libraries.

Donations: The library board requested review of language under roles and responsibilities.

Library staff will come back to the board with clarifications on any proposed language changes at the next Library Board meeting on May 9. Director Thompson acknowledged the hard work of the prior policy committee. She expressed that the policies express our values and are invaluable to staff.

Library Response to Opioid Epidemic, Janet Mills

Janet Mills, Library Services Division Manager, provided an update on the Library’s response to the opioid crisis and how it impacts library services and staff.

The County and Library strategy, response, and training around opioid misuse, overdoses, and harm reduction continues to evolve. As stated in the Hennepin County Opioid Prevention Strategy executive summary, “the opioid epidemic is a complex public health, human services and public safety crisis and will require a multi-faceted approach.” She reviewed The Hennepin County Opioid Prevention Strategy’s three main pillars and priorities: primary prevention, response, treatment, and recovery and the role the Library plays in each.

Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies and Minneapolis police officers are doing walk-throughs at a few libraries. The purpose of their visits being twofold; building relationships with staff and patrons and helping library staff and security officers ensure that patrons are using the building appropriately.

Hennepin County Workplace Safety colleagues are checking the blood-borne pathogen (BBP) response kits in all libraries, reviewing our protocols around blood-borne pathogen response kits and sharps, and along with Wyatt Fertig, Library Services training coordinator, updating training for library staff.

Ms. Mills advised that another crucial step we are taking is engaging in meaningful collaboration with the community. Staff in several libraries have reached out to community partners to share information and make connections to neighborhood resources.

Ms. Mills expressed she is really proud of our staff’s efforts to maintain a welcoming environment in our libraries and support our patrons and their colleagues who are impacted by the opioid epidemic. She also voiced appreciation to our Hennepin County colleagues who have partnered with the Library in this work; security, workplace safety, and facilities staff to name a few. After attending two sessions at the PLA conference, Ms. Mills came away knowing that HCL’s response is similar to other library systems. Ms. Mills stated that library staff know their communities and as someone on the PLA panel said, the opposite of addiction is connection.

President Damsgard asked if strategies being used to respond could be applied to other drugs as the crisis changes. Ms. Mills affirmed that the harm reduction strategies could be applied in other areas.

Jonathan Gaw inquired how Franklin staff were doing after recent incidents. Ms. Mills advised that the staff at Franklin are very resilient and we are responding to their requests for what they need.

Erin Vrieze Daniels spoke of a session she attended at PLA on Narcan and asked if HCL has looked into equipping library staff. Ms. Mills acknowledged it is happening in other library systems and is a conversation we are having with the County Attorney and other County partners.

Vrieze Daniels expressed appreciation for the work the library is doing and agreed that stigma and shame are not the solution as this is a community problem and the Library is a part of the community.

Library, County, and Community Updates

  • Budget conversation in May will focus on outcomes; a more detailed conversation will be had after numbers are received in June.
  • We will be offering a temporary location to Hosmer patrons during the remodel closure.
  • Deputy Director first round interviews will begin on March 29, we plan to finish the interview process in April and announce our selection in May.
  • Meeting minute drafts will be available online within 14 days of Library Board meetings.

President’s report

Call for Volunteers: Appreciation of Service Brunch

Hennepin County Library’s Appreciation of Service Brunch, will be held the morning of Wednesday, May 23, at Brookdale Library. Board members interested in volunteering at this event to help acknowledge staff celebrating milestone anniversaries should reach out to Library Board Clerk Tracy Thompson.

Executive Committee Report

Meeting minutes for the March 6 meeting are available online. The Committee spoke with a parliamentary procedure consultant, reviewed the nominating committee process, and discussed new member onboarding.

Policy Review Schedule

There has been a change to the proposed schedule presented in January; the “Policy Review Policy” last adopted date has been corrected to 2014 and the proposed review year has been updated to 2019.

Caitlin Cahill made a motion to approve the policy schedule, seconded by Erin Vrieze Daniels. Motion passed.

Appointment of the Nominating Committee

President Damsgard appointed the following Board members to the Nominating Committee: Caitlin Cahill (Chair), Tim Dolan, and Margy Ligon.

Rahfat Hussain made a motion to approve this nomination; seconded by Jonathan Gaw. Motion passed.

State Report, Johannah Genett

Resource Services Division Manager Johannah Genett provided an overview of the state report.

Caitlin Cahill made a motion to support the Library Board President signing the state report, seconded by Adja K. Kaba Ann. Motion passed.

Public Libraries Association Conference Reports

Jonathan Gaw and Erin Vrieze Daniels reports on their experiences at the PLA conference in March will has been postponed to a future agenda.

Committee reports

Friends of Hennepin County Library, Vice-President Katherine Blauvelt

Vice-President Blauvelt encouraged the board to consider attending the June 18th event with the Sioux Chef. Details will be made available by FHCL.

Unfinished business


New business

Erin Vrieze Daniels encouraged board members to consider attending the Citizen Academies.


There being no further business, Erin Vrieze Daniels made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:01 p.m.; seconded by Jonathan Gaw. Motion passed. The next meeting of the Hennepin County Library Board will be held at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 9, Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board Room, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55401.

- Samuel Neisen, Secretary