Ann Arbor District Library Trustee Honored

Ed Surovell receives Michigan Library Association award

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (July 18, 2011): Library board members quickly dispatched their business in the public portion of Monday’s regular meeting. The 15-minute session included a brief review of end-of-the-fiscal-year finances, as well as a report from AADL director Josie Parker.

Ed Surovell, Rebecca Head

Ann Arbor District Library trustees Ed Surovell and Rebecca Head at the AADL board's July 18, 2011 meeting. (Photo by the writer.)

As part of her comments to the board, Parker congratulated trustee Ed Surovell for receiving the Michigan Library Association‘s 2011 Trustee Citation of Merit – the highest award given by that organization. Surovell – owner of the eponymous Ann Arbor real estate firm – has served on the AADL board for 16 years and was a member of its inaugural elected board in 1996, when the library became an independent entity.

In describing his contributions to libraries over the years on the local, state and national levels, Parker also noted that Surovell’s personal library is the envy of many book collectors. “He understands books at their heart,” she said, “and they clearly live in his.”

Finance Report

Ken Nieman – AADL associate director of finance, HR and operations – gave a brief report on the library’s year-end finances for fiscal 2011, which ended June 30. He noted that this was a pre-audit report, and that auditors would be reviewing the financial statements in August. [The board passed its FY 2012 budget at its May 16, 2011 meeting, for the fiscal year beginning July 1.]

AADL’s unrestricted cash as of June 30 was $7.8 million, and there was an operating surplus of $240,383 through June 30. The library had received 99.6% of its tax receipts as of June 30 – the remaining amounts will trickle in over the next few months, Nieman said. [.pdf of financial statements]

Reviewing the line-item report provided to trustees, Nieman noted that the library had budgeted to give about $50,000 in tax refunds – refunds that AADL would need to pay primarily due to the outcome of appeals at tax tribunals, or in some cases related to property foreclosures. However, that amount ended up being significantly higher in fiscal 2011, he said – nearly $194,000. In previous years, $50,000 had been more than enough to cover refunds, he said.

The report about tax refunds prompted trustee Ed Surovell to quip, “Don’t you wish you’d appealed your taxes now? It means the good guys win once in a while.”

Director’s Report

Josie Parker, AADL’s director, had three items in her report to the board. She started by publicly acknowledging the contributions of Laura Pershin Raynor. Raynor – a long-time AADL employee, children’s librarian and nationally known storyteller – received the Leaders in Literature Award in June from the Ann Arbor Book Festival. During her storytelling career, Raynor has touched the lives of thousands of children, Parker said, both through her work at AADL and from the storytelling she does in other venues. At the festival, it was great to see her work celebrated by kids as well as 20-something adults who had been part of Raynor’s “storytime” sessions when they were younger, Parker said. ”She’s such a good community ambassador.”

Parker also thanked Tim Grimes, AADL’s community relations and marketing manager, who took part in an American Library Association planning group to help develop a new project for the National Endowment for the Humanities: “Bridging Cultures: Muslim Worlds.” The group was charged with identifying books and other resources that will ultimately be distributed to at least 1,000 public libraries nationwide, designed to spur discussion and programming about the Muslim culture. As a result of his participation, Parker said, AADL is one of six libraries chosen to serve as focus groups for the project. The focus groups will help gauge reaction to the books and themes proposed for the project. AADL’s selection as a focus group is a testament to Grimes’ abilities, Parker said.

Finally, Parker congratulated trustee Ed Surovell on receiving the Michigan Library Association’s Trustee Citation of Merit – AADL had issued a press release about the news earlier that day. [.pdf of press release] The award recognizes Surovell’s 16 years of service to date, Parker said, noting that there are two more years left on his current term, and that if he decides to run again, his service could extend even longer. Parker said she was honored to nominate him, and that several others had also written nominating letters, including AADL board chair Margaret Leary, Jim Blanchard Jr., Jesse Bernstein and J.D. Lindeberg.

Surovell was a member of the AADL’s inaugural elected board of trustees, when the library split from the Ann Arbor Public Schools in 1996 and became an independent entity. Parker noted that Surovell has been a steadfast supporter of public libraries at the local, state and national levels. He has served as a trustee of the Library of Michigan Foundation, and has held appointments to the Michigan Center for the Book, the University of Michigan Friends of the Library, and the University Library Leadership Council at both UM and Columbia University.

In addition to his public work, Parker told the board that Surovell’s personal library is the envy of many book collectors. “He understands books at their heart,” she said, “and they clearly live in his.”

Surovell received a round of applause from his board colleagues and AADL staff. He’ll officially receive the MLA award at an Oct. 26, 2011 banquet in Kalamazoo.

Closed Session Set

At the end of each monthly meeting, the AADL board typically votes to schedule a closed session at its next month’s meeting, often for the purpose of discussing labor negotiations. On Monday, board members added a different purpose for an Aug. 15 closed session: getting the opinion of legal counsel. The board voted unanimously to add the closed session to the Aug. 15 agenda.

Present: Rebecca Head, Nancy Kaplan, Margaret Leary, Barbara Murphy, Jan Barney Newman, Ed Surovell. Also AADL director Josie Parker.

Absent: Prue Rosenthal

Next meeting: Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the library’s fourth floor meeting room, 343 S. Fifth Ave. [confirm date]

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