Library Board minutes - May 9, 2018

The public is welcome at all library board meetings

The Hennepin County Library Board met Wednesday, May 9, 2018, Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board Room.


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

Hennepin County Staff: Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Director Lois Langer Thompson, Maria Baca, Johannah Genett, Casey Krolczyk, Lois Lenroot-Ernt, Michele McGraw, Janet Mills, Nancy Palmer, Elena Ryabinin, Tracy Thompson, Ali Turner, and Jody Wurl.

Public: None.

Call to order

President Chris Damsgard called the Hennepin County Library Board meeting of May 09, 2018 to order at 5:00 p.m., and welcomed all in attendance especially new Library Board member Sheila Letscher who introduced herself.

Approval of agenda

Margy Ligon 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 March 28, 2018, and accept donations; seconded by Margy Ligon. Motion passed.

Public comment


County comissioner update

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, District 4

Commissioner McLaughlin represents the people of District 4, whose libraries include East Lake, Franklin, Hosmer, Central, Nokomis, Roosevelt and Southeast.

Commissioner McLaughlin recalled the consolidation of the Hennepin County and Minneapolis Library systems and attributed the success of the merger to the staff and Library Board. He is thankful the success of the merger prevented additional closing of libraries in Minneapolis. He credited Hennepin County for being one of few major library systems significantly expanding hours during the last decade due in part to the ballpark sales tax revenue.

The Commissioner praised Amy McNally and Library staff for their work on the Testify exhibit at Minneapolis Central Library calling the exhibit the highlight of his year and exactly the type of work the Library should be doing. He also gave special mention to Marilyn Bell recognizing her work at the Nokomis Library. She exemplifies what staff can be and are every day of the week; leaders, teachers, and friends for all of our residents.

Commissioner McLaughlin spoke on the importance of Narcan training and having security staff carry Narcan to help combat the heroin epidemic and the grim reality we are facing in our neighborhoods. He explained libraries are more than repositories for collections, but that they are also a place for people to come together in the community. He finds it is important to maintain those community spaces and keep them safe and welcoming.

The Commissioner applauded the Board and staff for the welcoming social work initiatives with patrons who are experiencing homelessness. He finds the library’s work an innovative and softer touch that complements law enforcement.

Commissioner McLaughlin reported that residents in his area are really happy with building remodels at Nokomis and Roosevelt libraries, and the Southeast Library building project community engagement model is being met with enthusiasm. He and his residents would like to see staff continue to tackle the question of how to expand hours while maintaining the right balance between collection, hours and other technical innovations.

Vice President Blauvelt inquired on creative fundraising to help fund future renovations. The Commissioner shared he is very impressed with the strong leadership at Friends of Hennepin County Library and applauds their work and anything the Library Board can do to help intensify their efforts.

The Commissioner thanked the Library Board members for their service to the County and to the Library. He is proud of our library system, and the staff who do such great work. Commissioner McLaughlin looks forward to continuing to make Hennepin County one of the premier library systems in the country. President Damsgard and the board thanked the commissioner for attending.


Barbara Fenton

President Damsgard read the resolutions commending former Library Board member Barbara Fenton. He made a motion to approve the resolution, seconded by Jonathan Gaw. Motion passed.

Ms. Fenton was not able to attend but extended her gratitude to the board for their contribution to the wonderful experience she had. She will remember the board and committee meetings along with the enriching library events as incredibly meaningful growth opportunities. She will never take the privilege and responsibility of being a library user for granted, and will always remain a staunch and enthusiastic supporter and advocate for its role in our civil society.

President’s report

Chuck Salter, Hennepin County Attorney

Mr. Salter spoke on open meeting laws and how it applies to the Library Board, any meeting of the group, and best data practices regarding group e-mails.

President Damsgard thanked him for attending.

PLA Conference Report, Jonathan Gaw and Erin Vrieze Daniels

Jonathan Gaw and Erin Vrieze Daniels attended the Public Libraries Association conference in March in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Gaw reported most of the sessions he went to were related to measuring outcomes at libraries and data practices at libraries. In attending the sessions he saw how well HCL is doing compared to other systems. He was favorably impressed with some of the things he knows HCL does and comparing them to what some of the libraries were either demonstrating or presenting about; particularly when it came to measuring outcomes of various library projects or services. He reported the Narcan sessions were eye opening to see the different solutions available, but found what’s really seemed important is tying in these Narcan programs with social services to do an intervention of some kind. He thinks it is great our libraries are being involved in this work, but knows it to be a very small part of the solution.

Vrieze Daniels shared she had a similar experience attending the data practices sessions. During the conference she spent time talking between sessions to others and was amazed that everyone she met knew about HCL and the innovative work we are doing. She found we are a prevalent and a well-respected institution. One thing that struck her the most is what it means if collections are things we lend for knowledge, like bird watching kits, things that do not necessarily mean books. She was also inspired by sessions relating to assessing program success outside of attendance numbers by looking at a difference in clientele post program, if fliers were taken or interest was shown, and evaluating if the location felt like a safe space. She found Narcan training fascinating in how easy it easy to administer technically, but how hard it can be emotionally. She also attended a session on preparing for the good, bad and ugly of private funding; finding our donation policy is currently ahead of other systems who participated.

Computers in Libraries Report, Caitlin Cahill

Caitlin Cahill announced that she had attended the Computers in Libraries conference in April in Arlington, Virginia. Cahill highly recommended members consider attending future conferences as they have expanded from focusing on computers and have become more about discussion on innovation in technology. She informed the conference shares all presentations on their website. She found many people were familiar with and impressed by the work of Hennepin County.

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 are welcome to attend.

Election of officers

Nominating Committee – Caitlin Cahill

Caitlin Cahill thanked President Damsgard for his services to the board over the year and his willingness to continue serving if needed.

Cahill said the nominating committee submitted the following nominations: for President, Katherine Blauvelt; for Vice-President, Erin Vrieze Daniels; for Secretary, Adja K. Kaba Ann.

Cahill opened nominations from the floor for President. There were none, and nominations were closed. Cahill called for a vote. Katherine Blauvelt was elected President.

Cahill called for nominations from the floor for Vice President. There were none, and nominations were closed. Cahill called for a vote and Erin Vrieze Daniels was elected Vice-President.

Cahill called for nominations from the floor for Secretary. There were none, and nominations were closed. Cahill called for a vote. Adja K. Kaba Ann was elected Secretary.

President Damsgard transferred leadership to new President Katherine Blauvelt following the election. President Blauvelt thanked the board for this special privilege and hoped she could do this as well as President Damsgard.

President Blauvelt, per the bylaws, appointed Jonathan Gaw as a member at large to the Executive Committee as recommended by the Nominating Committee. Jonathan Gaw accepted the appointment.

President Blauvelt acknowledged Damsgard will continue to serve on the Executive Committee as Past President. The next Executive Committee meeting will be held 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, at Hopkins Library. Director Thompson said it will focus on the operating budget. She encouraged all board members to attend.

Director’s report

Library Board Dialogue, 2019 Operating Budget, Johannah Genett, and Nancy Palmer

Johannah Genett, Resource Services Division Manager, reviewed how we are using metrics to influence budget decisions.

Nancy Palmer reviewed the budget schedule and reminded board members Facility Services, Information Technology and Personal Services costs are yet to be determined.

President Blauvelt advised the board that they will be receiving an arc of information moving forward. She instructed that as an advisory board they are not in a position to approve or disprove these figures and should focus on strategic guidance and recommendations.

Library budget introduction, Director Thompson

Director Thompson reviewed discussion points to consider moving forward around the 2019 framework and frameworks for future years to inform the direction of HCL budget planning and develop a sustainable plan for the next five years.

Library Board Discussion, Caitlin Cahill

Cahill lead the board in a dialogue about the 2019 library board budget. Board members agreed with the strategy to keep all 41 libraries open with their current hours in 2019. Vice President Vrieze Daniels expressed a desire to see an increase in hours if possible. Neisen inquired if the Library had pursued or considered corporate sponsorship for library building projects. Ann would like further information on the process of reviewing collection practices when there are reductions in expenditures.

President Blauvelt asked if there is anything we can do or learn this year to inform how we are setting up sustainability for years 2020-2025. She wants the Library Board to consider how we are setting short-term decisions in context of long-term impacts. Gaw reminded the group that we have not experienced a recession in nine years and would like our strategies to prepare for that possibility.

President Blauvelt instructed the board to hold strategic questions in mind and not to get too deep into the numbers as staff layer on information in upcoming meetings. Future discussions will be focused on priorities and discussions of what’s helpful to your local library and the community as a whole.

Library, Community and County Updates

Budget updates

  • We are awaiting rates from Information Technology and Facility Services. That information will be ready for the June Executive Committee meeting. All members are encouraged to attend if able.
  • Final budget recommendation will be reviewed at June full board meeting.

Capital projects

  • The next Southdale community meeting is scheduled for May 21 from 7-9. An online survey will also be available.

Community Embedded Library Service

  • The Library is in the process of hiring staff to support community embedded library service in the Franklin and Oxboro library neighborhoods.

Community and Library

  • Director Thompson introduced Jesmyn Ward and the 2018-2019 season at FHCL’s May Pen Pals.
  • Director Thompson attended ALA Midwinter and PLA. Highlights include:
    • Co-presenting PLA pre-conference on Identity, Power, and Oppression and Liberation, a justice and equity training.
    • Service to Indigenous people (Canada).
    • Library Neutrality debate.
  • A tour of Special Collections will be held for interested Library Board members 30 minutes prior to the June 27 meeting. Let Library Board Clerk Tracy Thompson know if interested. June will be our last meeting at Minneapolis Central in 2018.

2018 Policy Review, Lois Lenroot-Ernt

Lois Lenroot-Ernt presented the first round of suggested changes based on comments and questions of Library Board members at the previous meeting. A first read of policies will be held in June based on feedback so far. President Blauvelt reminded the Board that we are in a trial run of reviewing policies as a committee of the whole, designed for everyone to be able to give substantive input.

Staff advised a change needed to be made to the existing Reserving Meeting Room policy approved in September 2017, due to a discontinuation of a related administrative policy. Staff requested to remove references to an administrative policy and replace with a Meeting Room Public Use Agreement. Tim Dolan made a motion to approve the policy as presented; seconded by Samuel Neisen. Motion passed.

Committee reports

Friends of Hennepin County Library, Katherine Blauvelt

  • President Blauvelt shared the 2018-2019 Pen Pals season has been announced. The 2017-2018 had record subscriptions, anticipate the upcoming season will as well.
  • Talk of the Stacks will be held Wednesday, May 16. Board members are invited to a pre-reception.
  • Board members are encouraged to attend the Sioux Chef event on June18, see packet for details.
  • President Blauvelt appointed Erin Vrieze Daniels as the 2018 FHCL ex-officio member. Vrieze Daniels accepted the appointment.

Unfinished business


New business



There being no further business, Katherine Blauvelt made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:57 p.m.; seconded by Adja K. Kaba Ann. Motion passed. The next meeting of the Hennepin County Library Board will be held at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 27, Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55401.

- Adja K. Kaba Ann, Secretary