Library Board Meeting: A Short Story

AADL board members quickly dispatch short agenda

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.

Financial Report

Ken Nieman, associate director of finance, human resources and operations, reviewed some of the information from a written financial report in the board’s meeting packet. [.pdf file of financial report] The library’s unrestricted cash balance as of Jan. 31, 2011 was $11.8 million; its positive fund balance totaled $7.7 million. To date, the library has received 96% of its budgeted tax receipts for the year.

Five items are over budget, he said, but except for employee benefit expenses, all are expected to come back in line by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2011. For the fiscal year-to-date, employee benefits are $58,918 over budget – an amount reflecting an increase in healthcare costs as of July 1, 2010. Though they should start to see that number fall in the coming months because of cost-cutting measures they’ve implemented, Nieman said he didn’t think the healthcare costs would come completely back in line. Otherwise, he said, January was a fairly normal month.

Ed Surovell said he’d like to know what a “normal” month means. Nieman replied that it meant there was nothing out of the ordinary. “We like to keep the numbers side of things nice and boring,” he said.

Director’s Report

Commenting on her written report, AADL director Josie Parker highlighted two items that she said reflect the library’s public outreach and involvement in public education. [.pdf file of director's report]

On Jan. 30, AADL hosted its second Preschool Expo at the University of Michigan’s Palmer Commons. The library started the event last year because there was a need in the community to bring together preschool options in one location, Parker said, to make it easier for parents to find out what’s available. This year about 350 people attended, and 42 preschools participated. AADL held the event in partnership with Washtenaw Success by Six, Child Care Network and the UM Work/Life Resource Center.

She also reported on the AADL program that brings all second-grade students from the Ann Arbor Public Schools to the downtown library during the school year. By June this year,  all 59 classes will have made the trip, with transportation costs covered by the nonprofit Friends of the AADL. The program includes a tour of the library and a storytime session. Children are also issued library cards, if they don’t already have them, Parker said. In May, AADL staff make visits to all fifth-grade classes in the school system, she said, as a way of reconnecting before students go to middle school – an age when there’s often a drop-off in library use.

Parker said there’s talk at the state level of identifying third-grade proficiencies as a priority. AADL programs bracket that age group, she said, and  the library works with the public education system even though public education isn’t formally the library’s mission. She cited AADL’s summer reading program as another example of that effort – the program works on children’s reading profiency when they aren’t in school. Parker said she wanted to highlight this work during a time when public institutions are being asked to do so much, with fewer resources.

Prue Rosenthal – the board’s vice president, who chaired Monday’s meeting in president Margaret Leary’s absence – congratulated Parker and Eli Neiburger, AADL associate director of IT & product development, for invitations both had received to speak at upcoming events in Italy. Parker has been invited to speak at the second UNESCO Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries, to be held in June in Milan, Italy. The forum’s theme is “The Book Tomorrow: The Future of the Written Word.” Neiburger will give a presentation on March 31 to the U.S. Embassy in Rome’s Spring Event for Italian Librarians. Neiburger, who will deliver his talk online from Ann Arbor, will speak about e-books, e-readers and tablets, and the implications of those devices for libraries and others.

Committee Assignments, Change of Meeting Date

Without discussion, the board voted to approve the following committee assignments:

  • Budget & finance committee: Barbara Murphy (chair), Nancy Kaplan, Ed Surovell
  • Director’s evaluation: Margaret Leary (chair), Jan Barney Newman, Prue Rosenthal
  • Policy: Jan Barney Newman (chair), Rebecca Head, Nancy Kaplan
  • Strategic planning steering: Margaret Leary (chair), Rebecca Head, Prue Rosenthal

Board members also voted to move their April 18, 2011 meeting to the following Monday, April 25. Prue Rosenthal explained that some members celebrate Passover, which falls on April 18.

Present: Rebecca Head, Nancy Kaplan, Barbara Murphy, Prue Rosenthal, Ed Surovell. Also AADL director Josie Parker.

Absent: Margaret Leary, Jan Barney Newman.

Next meeting: Monday, March. 21, at 7 p.m. in the library’s fourth floor meeting room, 343 S. Fifth Ave. [confirm date]