Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (March 18, 2013): Several items during the AADL board’s most recent meeting related to the issue of communications.
Nancy Kaplan, chair of the board’s new communications committee, announced that AADL will hire Allerton-Hill Consulting to do a communications audit and plan for the library, to be completed this year. The decision was made in consultation with AADL director Josie Parker, Kaplan said. It didn’t require a board vote because the amount of the contract is the maximum for not triggering board approval: $28,000. Contracts for purchases over that amount must be authorized by the board.
Board president Prue Rosental, in supporting the decision, noted that during the campaign to pass a bond for a new downtown library – which voters rejected on Nov. 6, 2012 – library advocates learned that “people in the community didn’t know what we do and how well we do it.”
Some of those “what we do” activities were highlighted during two presentations at the meeting: (1) an overview of AADL podcasts produced by staff and patrons; and (2) a report from Eli Neiburger, AADL’s associate director of IT and production, about his recent trip to Germany as a guest of the U.S. State Department and Zukunftswerkstatt (“Future Workshop”), visiting libraries in several cities. The head of the Zukunftswerkstatt was interested in using AADL’s efforts as a model to get German libraries more involved with younger communities, using gaming and other activities. As a result of the partnership with AADL, a dozen libraries in Germany have started running events through the GT System, which AADL staff developed. A league tournament is being held, and three winners will come to Ann Arbor for the May 19 German-American Gaming League Championships, held at the AADL.
Communications was also a topic during public commentary. Libby Hunter, a member of the Protect Our Libraries political action committee, urged the board to be more open and transparent, asking them to allow the public to attend committee meetings, to videotape their meetings for broadcast on Community Television Network, and to explain their use of closed sessions in relation to the Michigan Open Meetings Act. And Don Salberg asked for more information related to the condition of the downtown library, and for details on the board’s rationale for wanting a larger building on that same site.
Also during public commentary, Stewart Gordon spoke briefly about an effort to put a skating rink on the city-owned Library Lane site, adjacent to the downtown library on South Fifth Avenue. He hoped the topic could be put on the board’s agenda at some point.
The one resolution that was on the board’s agenda was unanimously approved: A one-year contract extension with Pace Mechanical Services for $83,865. The contract, which will run through June 30, 2014, covers HVAC equipment and maintenance.
The board also talked briefly about its budget preparations for fiscal 2013-14, which begins July 1. The budget and finance committee will bring a draft budget to the board’s April 15 meeting, with a vote on the budget scheduled for May 20. For the current fiscal year, the AADL has a budget of about $12 million, with a millage rate set at 1.55 mills.