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.
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.