Stories indexed with the term ‘library budget’

Ann Arbor Library Gets Its Game On

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (June 20, 2011): On Monday, AADL board members learned that they each earned 200 points toward the library’s online summer game – just by attending the meeting.

Screen shot of the Ann Arbor District Library website

Screen shot of the Ann Arbor District Library summer game website. (Image links to

Eli Neiburger, AADL’s associate director of IT and product development, gave a brief presentation on the library’s new online component of its standard summer reading program. In addition to earning points for traditional activities like reading a book, the game includes tasks that are done online, like tagging an item in AADL’s catalog or commenting on a blog post. After July 5, points can be traded in for merchandise that will be available at AADL’s soon-to-be-launched online store.

The online aspect is another way to engage more people with the library, Neiburger said, while not demanding an intensive amount of staff time.

Also during the 30-minute meeting, AADL director Josie Parker updated the board on several issues. She’s been invited by the Ann Arbor city council to address that group at its July 5 meeting, to talk about the library’s needs in the context of plans to develop city-owned parcels. That development might include the top of the underground parking structure – known as the Library Lot – that’s under construction adjacent to AADL’s downtown building.

Parker also noted that AADL’s attorney is reviewing a recent decision by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board to repay the AADL $74,666 in excess tax increment finance (TIF) funds. There’s a question about whether additional funds are owed to the library and other taxing entities.

At the end of her report, Parker briefed the board about her trip to the UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries, held in Monza, Italy earlier this month – the three-day event focused on the future of the written word. She’d been invited to participate in a panel discussion on the topic of the library as a public service. There was acknowledgement among the attendees – librarians, publishing executives, academics, authors and others – that the digital production of material will prevail during the next decade or so, Parker said, but there was no real consensus about what that will actually mean.

In addition to hearing staff reports, the board also approved minor adjustments to wrap up AADL’s FY 2010-2011 budget, which ends June 30. Board members had approved next year’s budget at their May 16 meeting. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Library Board OKs 2011-12 Budget

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (May 16, 2011): With little discussion, the library board approved their $12.034 million budget for fiscal year 2011-12 on Monday night, reflecting a 2% revenue decrease from this year. The budget keeps AADL’s millage rate unchanged at 1.55 mills – well below the 1.92 mills that the district is authorized to levy.

Ann Arbor District Library Friends Book Shop sign

A sign directing patrons to the Ann Arbor District Library Friends Book Shop, operated by the nonprofit Friends of the AADL in the lower level of the downtown library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. (Photos by the writer.)

Also on Monday, trustees voted down a proposal to videotape monthly board meetings for broadcast. Nancy Kaplan raised the issue at last month’s meeting, and brought forward a formal resolution this month. It was defeated on a 2-4 vote, with support only from Kaplan and Barbara Murphy. No trustees spoke about their reasons for voting against it.

Last month, library staff cited limited resources and quality control as reasons for not videotaping the public meetings, which typically last less than an hour. The governing bodies of most public entities that receive tax dollars from Ann Arbor residents videotape their meetings. Besides the library, the few governing bodies that do not videotape their meetings are the University of Michigan board of regents and Washtenaw Community College board of trustees.

In other action, board chair Margaret Leary reported on the board’s annual evaluation of AADL director Josie Parker. Leary read aloud a letter to Parker that effusively praised her leadership and the library’s success, but noted that because of economic conditions, she would not be receiving a raise in the coming year.

Trustees also had praise for the nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, and unanimously authorized a one-year extension on the space use agreement that allows FAADL to operate its bookstore in the downtown library’s lower level. Proceeds from the store support the library. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Library Board OKs FY 2011-12 Budget

At its May 16, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor District Library board unanimously approved its 2011-12 budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2011. Though the board is allowed to levy up to 1.92 mills, the $12.034 million budget is based on tax revenues from a 1.55 mill levy, which the board authorized in a separate vote. [In 2009, the board had lowered its millage rate from 1.92 mills to the current rate of 1.55 mills. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s state equalized value, or SEV.] No one spoke during a public hearing on the proposed budget.

Major expenditures include $5.684 million for salaries and wages, $1.51 million for employee benefits and $1.85 million for … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Library Signs Digital Music Deal

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (April 25, 2011): At Monday’s meeting, AADL staff reported on a recent groundbreaking deal they’ve struck with the digital music publisher Magnatune, as part of a broader effort to provide more digital offerings to library patrons.

Nancy Kaplan

Nancy Kaplan, the newest Ann Arbor District Library board member, is introducing a proposal to videotape library board meetings for public broadcast. The board is expected to consider a resolution on that issue at its May 16 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

The deal – which is getting national attention from library professionals – gives patrons unlimited access to a downloadable catalog of about 12,000 tracks in a wide range of genres. Though it doesn’t include songs by popular artists on major record labels, AADL director Josie Parker told the board that the selection should appeal to a community like Ann Arbor, which values alternative music.

The library is looking for other ways to increase its digital offerings of audiobooks, films, music, and free or open eBooks. Possibilities include tapping collections like Project Gutenberg, which has about 50,000 titles, and working with local authors, musicians and filmmakers who might be interested in making their work accessible to library patrons.

Also at Monday’s meeting, board member Nancy Kaplan advocated for televising the board’s monthly meetings, and said she’d like to bring a formal proposal to the board for a vote on May 16. Other groups like the Ann Arbor Public Schools board and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority currently hold their meetings in the same location as the AADL board – the fourth floor conference room of the AADL’s downtown building on South Fifth Avenue. AAPS and AATA meetings are televised by Community Television Network. Parker agreed that there are benefits to televising the meetings, but cited issues of quality and control as reasons why they haven’t decided to do that yet.

In other business, board members got a preview of the 2011-12 budget, for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2011. They plan to keep the millage level unchanged – AADL levies 1.55 mills, not its maximum allowable 1.92 mills. There will be no layoffs, but no pay increases. The board will take a formal vote to approve the final budget at their May 16 meeting, which will also include a public hearing on the issue.

And in a discussion about the nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, Parker asked the board to consider putting a direct link to that organization’s website on the front page of the AADL website. The move would be “a pretty public vote of confidence for them, and recognition for everything they’ve done,” she said. The AADL had distanced itself from the Friends several years ago in the wake of financial oversight issues that have since been resolved. The group operates a used bookstore in the lower level of AADL’s downtown branch, with proceeds – $100,000 this year alone – benefiting the library. [Full Story]

Library Board Meeting: A Short Story

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (Feb. 21, 2011): In a meeting that lasted just under 15 minutes, board members heard a regular monthly financial update, approved committee appointments and rescheduled their April board meeting so that it won’t conflict with Passover. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor District Library Gets Clean Audit

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (Nov. 15, 2010): Two financial issues drew much of the focus at Monday’s AADL board meeting.

Dave Fisher

Dave Fisher of the accounting firm Rehmann Robson delivered highlights of the Ann Arbor District Library's financial audit at the AADL board's Nov. 15 meeting. (Photo by the writer.)

Dave Fisher of the accounting firm Rehmann Robson was on hand to review the district’s financial audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010. He described the library as in solid financial shape, especially in relationship to other entities in Michigan that rely on property tax revenues. The library has no long-term debt and its fund balance is strong, he said. But he added a cautionary note that like other taxpayer-funded entities, the library would likely be grappling with a continued drop in property tax revenues in future years.

Property tax revenues emerged again in a discussion during the director’s report. AADL director Josie Parker drew attention to a Nov. 15 column published in The Ann Arbor Chronicle regarding the ongoing negotiations between the city of Ann Arbor and the Downtown Development Authority. The column pointed out an issue that Parker has been tracking as well: the potential for tax increment financing funds captured by the DDA from public entities, including the AADL, to be used to offset a parking fund deficit caused by striking a new parking deal with the city. The board ultimately passed a resolution at Monday’s meeting, directing Parker to seek legal counsel on the issue.

Board member Ed Surovell said he wanted to make sure the board was defending their right to collect taxes, and that they’re being as responsible as possible to the citizens of the district. “I think this is dead serious business,” he said. “The appropriation and misappropriation of tax revenues is the lifeblood not just of this library, but of a democracy.”

Also during her director’s report, Parker described the results of a site review by staff of the Michigan Commission for the Blind, which manages the federal program that the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled @ AADL is part of. The review, conducted every two years, is the first one since the AADL took over management of the WLBPD from the county, a transition that occurred in early 2009. AADL received several commendations for its approach to providing WLBPD services.

At the end of the meeting, outgoing board member Carola Stearns – who lost her seat in the Nov. 2 election to challenger Nancy Kaplan – gave a poignant speech, thanking the library staff and her colleagues on the board. In connection with a possible downtown building project, she urged the board to explore alternative funding sources, beyond paying for the project solely with taxpayer funds. [Full Story]

Library Feels Impact of Construction Project

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (June 21, 2010): Construction in the area surrounding the downtown library came up in a couple of ways during the library board’s June meeting held this week.

Construction along Fifth Avenue in Ann Arbor

The view from the entrance of the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, looking west. In the foreground is construction from the Fifth Avenue streetscape project. Across the street is a city-owned surface lot that will be closed when the AATA rebuilds the Blake Transit Center, seen to the right.

Vibrations from work on the Fifth Avenue underground parking structure, just to the north of the library building, have caused problems with the building’s HVAC system – the library temporarily lost air-conditioning as a result. In a related move, the library board voted to award a contract for HVAC maintenance and repair to Pace Mechanical, despite arguments that it should go to a local company.

And in her director’s report, Josie Parker noted that a public parking lot used by library patrons will close as early as next spring, due to the rebuilding of the AATA’s Blake Transit Center. The city-owned surface lot is located at the northwest corner of Fifth and William, directly across from the library.

The Chronicle followed up with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, which oversees management of the surface lot for the city, for more details on possible contingencies for patron parking, as well as other access issues that could arise when Fifth Avenue along that block is closed for at least a year, starting Aug. 1.
[Full Story]

Library Board Adopts 2010-11 Budget

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (May 17, 2010): At its May meeting, the AADL board adopted a budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year – keeping the millage rate at 1.55 mills. Though the tentative budget discussed at the board’s April meeting had projected a $200,000 shortfall, the library staff is now anticipating less of a drop in tax revenues for the coming fiscal year. That increased optimism on the revenue front means that the approved budget does not require tapping the library’s fund balance.

Board members also discussed awarding a contract for HVAC work, and heard from the representative of a company that’s not being recommended for the contract. The board revised the library district’s boundaries in the Northfield Township area, and approved new legal compliance and conflict of interest policies. [Full Story]

Library Board Addresses Budget Shortfall

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (April 19, 2010): Facing a projected $200,000 shortfall for the 2010-11 fiscal year, the Ann Arbor District Library board discussed tapping its fund balance to cover the gap, rather than raising its millage or making additional cuts. The district is anticipating a decrease in tax revenues for the fiscal year beginning July 1, based on a drop in local property values. AADL director Josie Parker told the board that her staff had already identified $700,000 in expense cuts, but didn’t feel they could do more without service cuts or layoffs.

The board is expected to vote on its budget for the coming fiscal year at its May 17 meeting. [Full Story]