Library Board minutes - January 24, 2018

The public is welcome at all library board meetings

The Hennepin County Library Board met Wednesday, January 25, 2018, Southdale Library, Ethel Berry Meeting Room.


Present: Katherine Blauvelt, Caitlin Cahill, Tim Dolan, Jonathan Gaw, Sandy Johnson, Margaret Ligon, Samuel Neisen, and Erin Vrieze Daniels.

Hennepin County Staff: Commissioner Janis Callison, County Administrator David Hough, Assistant County Administrator – Operations Chester Cooper, Director Lois Langer Thompson, Maria Baca, Johannah Genett, Lois Lenroot-Ernt, Ayanna Muata, Tharen Callanan, and Tracy Thompson.

Public: Kathryn Nelson

Call to order

Katherine Blauvelt called the Hennepin County Library Board meeting of January 24, 2018, to order at 5:00 p.m., and welcomed all in attendance.

Approval of agenda

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

Consent items

Caitlin Cahill made a motion to approve the meeting minutes of November 29, 2017, and accept donations; seconded by Sandy Johnson. Motion passed.

Public comment


County commissioner update

Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison, Chair, District 6

Commissioner Callison expressed she was pleased to be the first commissioner to speak to the Library Board in 2018. Libraries within Commissioner Callison’s district include Edina, Excelsior, Hopkins, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Ridgedale, Southdale, Wayzata, and Westonka. The Commissioner shared she and her family are passionate library users, as are her constituents. Commissioner Callison reviewed some of what she hears from her district on libraries, what she hears as part of the county board, and issues she is focused on.

Ridgedale constituents are thankful for the reserves pick up during the library closure. The Commissioner hears some concerns from patrons of the Southdale Library about the upcoming building project, but she believes that as the project progresses into planning the community will fully embrace the project. She feels the highest value the library contributes to its residents is education; the opportunity for people to learn and be informed, not just by books, but by the people that are available at libraries as well. The library is in a unique space in terms of providing information to people.

District 6 has a lot of interest in roads, trails, and pedestrian and bicycle access; which has been growing. The South West LRT will be an important part of the future in this region. Commissioner Callison reported she also serves on the board of directors for HCMC, and is chair of the Workforce Development Program. Her focus is on reducing disparities within the County and continuing to serve those that need the services most. Within the County Board, her goal in 2018 is for the board to continue to focus on local issues and make the board a unifying force in the community.

Commissioner Callison and the County Board will begin interviewing the 28 applicants to fill the three vacancies on the Library Board in 2018 on January 30. Erin Vrieze Daniels inquired what the County Board looks for when selecting future Library Board members and what makes people stand out. Commissioner Callison reported the commissioners each look for different things, but they are overall committed to having a variety of viewpoints, skills, experiences and geographical coverage.

Commissioner Callison will be doing a State of the County in March or April and encourages Library Board members to attend. The commissioner thanked the Library Board and staff for their service. Katherine Blauvelt thanked the commissioner for attending.

Library board dialogue

Hennepin County commitment to reducing disparities - David Hough, County Administrator, and Chester Cooper, Assistant County Administrator - Operations

David Hough thanked the Library Board for their service and outstanding work. He expressed that he and Mr. Cooper are very proud of the 41 libraries that Hennepin County operates and the leadership the board brings to help us be one of the best systems in the nation. He views the Library as a resource, and a lifelong learning and engagement point.

Mr. Hough shared he is blessed to oversee an organization of 9,100 employees across five business lines in the 31st largest county in the country. His goal upon becoming County Administrator was to align the organization and create collaboration through Hennepin County core values of Continuous Improvement, Customer Service, Diversity and Inclusion, Employee Engagement and Workforce Development in 35 departments. Mr. Hough outlined that reducing disparities drives Hennepin County business and that no one can get the job done alone, we as a County have a role to play. The seven disparities Hennepin County is focused on are: education, employment, health, housing, income, justice and transportation.

Mr. Hough shared we are positioning for the future through disparity reduction in Hennepin County by making the approach or changing approach in service delivery and using innovative solutions and changing technologies. By engaging earlier and proactively in the front end we create a more sustainable model for the future. Mr. Hough concluded we must support the most vulnerable of our residents while promoting self-sufficiency and moving towards equity.

Mr. Cooper thanked Mr. Hough for doing a wonderful job in presenting an overview what we started out calling an initiative, but now know as the way we do business from this point on in Hennepin County. Cooper stressed that we, as a County, cannot do it alone. The County needs the Library Board’s help in engaging the community and the private sector. Mr. Cooper is encouraged by the programming and education the Library provides to help reduce disparities and sees the work the Library is doing is part of the County goal, which benefits all residents of Hennepin County.

Katherine Blauvelt thanked Mr. Hough and Mr. Cooper for their presentation and expressed the board is thrilled to be a part of reducing disparities with the County and is proud to be ambassadors with them.

The Library’s role in reducing disparities - Lois Langer Thompson, Library Director, and Johannah Genett, Resource Services Division Manager

Director Thompson and Johannah Genett reviewed how are we as a library are responding to the seven disparities through an overview of programs and services including homework help, early learning spaces, connecting with educators, programs for students, internet and computer courses, and the small business entrepreneur expo. Other areas include the County’s $15.00 minimum wage for our teen tech squad members and other library employees, reviewing educational requirements for jobs to expand the candidate pool, providing health education programming, partnering with food insecurity and transportation programs, partnering with a Social Worker at the Minneapolis Central Library and providing a welcome, safe and inviting place to be.

Director Thompson shared that the library uses a disparity lens and has been review in gaps in our capital projects planning and policies.

Johannah Genett presented the Library’s proposed capital framework for how we approach our capital projects with a goal of reducing disparities. Genett shared that the overall goal remains same, we still strive for every patron entering a Hennepin County Library to experience the same standard of a clean, inviting, and safe environment. While the goal hasn’t changed, we’ve found the current 12-year model is too prescriptive and we will be moving to a renovation schedule based on impact of usage, community in context, and building condition. Once the framework of the new model is in place we will continue to assess and evaluate how this plan is meeting patron needs and will continue to improve as needed.

HCL developed a map with Hennepin County partners to identify and find information about our communities and see which communities are facing the most significant disparities. Genett reviewed the map with the board and stressed that people in need use all 41 of our locations, but the map tells us where we can make the most difference and impact with our services.

Genett shared that the data reviewed with the board is only one piece of the equation and that there are other stories that are not obvious to us by looking at data alone. We will be considering what else we know about our communities that will also influence the framework. Director Thompson reminded the board that the data used for capital projects is focused on capital projects. Other data will be used for other programs and services.

Sandy Johnson voiced her appreciation of an updated process that looks at each building and the use it has. Director Thompson thanked her for service to the board over her three terms and her advocacy for diversity and inclusion over the years.

David Hough shared the County Board of Commissioners has been supportive of this change in model, and he thinks it is really important that preservation be at the top of the list to maintain quality and that our investment is taken care of. He sees HCL as a premier system and a jewel in the HC crown.

Director’s report

Library, Community and County Updates

  • HCL was recently given a donation from a member of the public to recognize staff excellence at the library. With that gift, we designed and purchased a notebook for each Hennepin County Library employees.
  • Director Thompson introduced Jennifer Egan at the January FHCL Pen Pals events and is looking forward to introducing Colson Whitehead in February.
  • Citizen Advisory Board Open Appointment interviews will be held 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 30, at the Government Center, 24th Floor, County Board Room.
  • Library Legislative day will be held in March, Lois Lenroot-Ernt; Research, Policy, External Relations Coordinator, will be HCL’s lead and will reach out to board members with further information. Library Board members are encouraged to participate if able.
  • Director Thompson was asked to serve on the Minnesota Digital Advisory Board.
  • HCL will be posting for a Deputy Director position soon, Library Board members are encouraged to advertise the posting if willing once available.
  • Director Thompson attended the Public Library Advisory Committee in Dublin, Ohio.
  • Assistant County Administrator Chester Cooper and Director Thompson met with the local Friends group presidents in September of 2017 and talked about moving from raising funds to raising communities. Recently, the Washburn Friends group donated the money to the greater community for system wide projects to reduce disparities. Director Thompson shared it has been great to see Friends groups on board and joining in to reduce disparities across the system.
  • HCL automatic renewal was rolled out at the beginning of the year and is being received positively by patrons.
  • Director Thompson and Library Board members Adja K. Kaba Ann and Sandy Johnson attended the FHCL sponsored opening reception of the powerful TESTIFY exhibit on January 11. Football Hall of Famer and former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, along with Diane Sims Page, Executive Director of the Page Education Foundation, publicly present TESTIFY, a preview of their collection of Americana. The wide-ranging exhibit features art and artifacts from pivotal eras in American history while also providing a platform for visitors to share their thoughts, feelings and personal experiences.
    • The exhibit has garnered local and national press and attention.
    • Justice Alan Page has been spending time at the exhibit throughout and has several other events planned at Minneapolis Central Library in conjunction with the exhibit.

2018 Policy Review, Lois Lenroot-Ernt

Lois Lenroot-Ernt provided an overview of past policy review methods, schedules, and analysis of those methods compared to other systems and county partners. The 2018 project plan will continue with the practice of having the Library board review policies as a committee of the whole as adapted in 2017. The polices that will be reviewed together in 2018 include Commissioned Public Art, Donations, Library Bill of Rights and the Patron Data Privacy. The review schedule will include a focused conversation in March, a review of policy drafts in May, a first read or second discussion in June or August, a second read in September, and board approval in November. Some policies may be approved earlier in the process.

Board members are encouraged to incorporate an equity lens into their policy discussions by using Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and the County’s Health in All Policies (HIAP) equity tools. Policy discussions will include equity questions, along with the Board’s Formal Business’ key questions. Board members were provided with equity discussion sample questions.

There was an error in the schedule provided in the packet. The Fee and Fine policy and the Donation Policy will be reviewed in 2018, the Patron Services policy will be reviewed in 2020. Board members will be sent a corrected schedule. The board is encouraged to read policies online ahead of the next meeting to be better prepared to engage in and hold a dialogue on policies in March. Erin Vrieze Daniels expressed support for the new plan.

President’s report


  • If members have any interest in attending a library related conference in 2018 please reach out to board president Chris Damsgard.
  • The board was asked to review the 2017 Library Board Accomplishments and contact the board clerk if any items are missing, incomplete or incorrect.

Committee reports

Ridgedale Library Art Selection Committee - Caitlin Cahill

The committee selected local artist Bebe Keith’s proposal of decorative panels of glass that align where the sun will rise on various solstice dates throughout the year. There will be a plaque on the floor to inform patrons and students of the science related to the art. The committee is very excited to have selected a piece that reflects education combined with art that fits the unique space of the Ridgedale Library.

Friends of Hennepin County Library - Katherine Blauvelt

  • FHCL is still compiling 2017 end of year donations, the fourth quarter is their busiest donation quarter.
  • FHCL is reporting positive growth for the year.
  • FHCL partnered with the Pages and the Library on the Testify exhibit, holding a reception with over 200 people including former Vikings Players from 1970’s where Director Thompson and Commissioner Peter McLaughlin spoke. FHCL is receiving positive feedback from donors about the exhibit.

Unfinished business


New business

  • Sandy Johnson inquired if there will be special preparations in place for the Super Bowl and related events being held in Minneapolis. Director Thompson reported that the Minneapolis Central Library is outside of the perimeter; the library will be open and welcoming visitors; there will be extra cleaning, and security patrolling; and the parking ramp will turn into event parking.
  • The February 28 Executive Committee meeting will need to be rescheduled, a poll will be sent to committee members, all board members are welcome to attend.
  • Erin Vrieze Daniels shared that her colleagues loved the recent Star Tribune story on HCL book selection and that she was impressed with our spring program offering of Work of Art where HCL provides practical business skills training to artists.


There being no further business, Sandy Johnson made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:53 p.m.; seconded by Margy Ligon. Motion passed. The next meeting of the Hennepin County Library Board will be held at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 28, 2018, at the Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board Room, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401.

- Samuel Neisen, Secretary