Library Board Adopts Strategic Plan

Also, Friends of the AADL donates $50,000 to library

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (March 15, 2010): At their March meeting, the Ann Arbor District Library board adopted a new strategic plan for the next five years – a process that’s been in the works for several months.

The board got a monthly update on the library’s finances, and were briefed on a $50,000 donation from the Friends of the AADL. They also heard a report on a project to digitally archive the program history of the University Musical Society – the first project of its kind in the world, according to AADL director Josie Parker.

Financial Report

The board reviewed the library’s financial summary for last month. As of Feb. 28, the library’s unrestricted cash balance was $10,415,047, compared to $11,486,059 in January. Additionally, the library has $11,296,440 from tax receipts. Overall, the library had a fund balance of $7,184,310 at the end of February. AADL’s fiscal year ends June 30.

Several operating expense line items were over budget through February. This included custodial expenses, as a result of carpet and window cleaning in July and November; utilities, which had higher bills than usual in January and February; communications; and supplies, due to the purchase of shelving for the Ann Arbor News archive storage in January. [See Chronicle coverage: "Library Nears Deal on Newspaper Archives" – the deal was finalized at the end of 2009.]

Ken Nieman, AADL associate director of finance, HR and operations, told board members that the library has been paying more in Internet and phone charges than they had anticipated. The library budgeted $12,833 for communications in February, but the actual cost totaled $19,123. Year to date, expenses related to communications are $141,622, compared to a budgeted $102,667. “We just didn’t budget correctly,” Nieman said.

Disbursements and Committee Reports

The board unanimously approved a list of various disbursements for the month of February totaling $654,246. Board members then heard committee reports, starting with the budget and finance committee.

AADL director Josie Parker said the finance committee had met and discussed local economic conditions and the current funding landscape for libraries. They did not yet have a proposed budget for the board to review for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2010.

There was no discussion at the board meeting about AADL possibly partnering with the Washtenaw Community College on a new downtown building. That topic had been raised at a recent retreat by WCC trustees. [See Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Satellite Campus for WCC? Options include partnership with Ann Arbor District Library"] After AADL’s March 15 board meeting, Parker told The Chronicle that she had nothing to say on the topic.

Jan Barney Newman, the board’s vice president, reported that the policy committee had discussed changes in the board’s bylaws that would affect the officers’ terms. The changes relate to a previous board decision to move the date of the elections for board trustees to November instead of May. Newman said the committee would make its recommendations concerning the matter during the board’s next meeting on April 19. [Election changes were discussed in detail late last year – see Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Library Board Moves Elections"]

Five-Year Strategic Plan

AADL board president Rebecca Head gave a report on the strategic planning committee, saying the group had made some minor adjustments to the draft of the AADL strategic plan for 2010-2015. The changes included adding the board’s vision, mission and values statements to the document, and making some minor wording changes in the text. [The board had discussed the plan in detail at a February working session – see Chronicle coverage: "Board Renews Library Building Discussion."]

At their regular monthly meeting on March 15, there was minimal discussion, aside from a question about one of the objectives in the section related to products:

Sustain the community value of the public library amidst closed digital content markets and decreasing availability of physical materials by designing digital products that establish new distribution relationships with content producers, push the boundaries of current copyright law and ensure public ownership of and access to content.

Prue Rosenthal wanted to know what constituted “closed digital content markets.” Eli Neiburger, AADL associate director of IT & product development, explained that iTunes would be an example of such a market, since the library can’t obtain a license to purchase music from it.

Rosenthal made a motion to adopt the proposed strategic plan, which includes objectives for the library in the areas of finances, communications, and organizational development as well as services, products and facilities. Jan Barney Newman seconded the motion. The board voted unanimously to adopt the plan. [.pdf file of AADL's five-year strategic plan]

Donations and Projects

AADL director Josie Parker informed board members that the library had received a $50,000 donation from the Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, a nonprofit that runs a bookshop in the library’s lower level and donates proceeds to the AADL. Parker said the organization had made another $50,000 donation earlier in the year.

Parker also discussed the library’s efforts to digitally archive the program history of the University Musical Society. She said the library has digitized the first 100 years of program history so far, with 30 years left to go. “This is the first archival program like it in the world,” Parker said.

The library also plans to create a digital database of the UMS card catalog, which contains information about performers.

Board president Rebecca Head announced that the library is currently working with to host a PEEPS photo contest, an annual tradition the library took over from The Ann Arbor News, which ceased operations last summer. Guidelines for the contest – creating dioramas using the marshmallow treats – are available on the AADL website.

Board members present: Rebecca Head, board president; vice president Jan Barney Newman; treasurer Prue Rosenthal; secretary Margaret Leary; trustees Barbara Murphy, Carola Stearns and Ed Surovell. Also: AADL director Josie Parker.

Next meeting: The board’s next regular meeting is on Monday, April 19, 2010. The public portion of the meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the library’s fourth floor board room, 343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor. [confirm date]