Stories indexed with the term ‘summer reading program’

Library Moves Ahead on Front Entrance Work

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (June 16, 2014): The main action item for this month’s meeting was approval of a contract with O’Neal Construction Inc. for construction management of the downtown library’s front entrance renovations.

Ann Arbor District Library, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Screenshot of Ann Arbor District Library’s summer game website. The game kicked off on June 13. (Image links to

Months in the works, the project involves adding new doors and a redesigned facade facing South Fifth Avenue, along with changes to address accessibility issues. O’Neal will bring back a proposal for a guaranteed maximum cost for the work, which the board will be asked to approve at its July 21 meeting. Construction is expected to begin after the art fairs in late July.

The board was also briefed on the start of the annual summer game, which launched on June 13. The board meeting was held at the Traverwood branch, with a game code for 500 points for those who attended. Very few people attended the meeting, however, and no one spoke during the two opportunities for public commentary.

The board got its usual updates on finances, events and library statistics. Trustees also approved resolutions of thanks for three outgoing members of the Friends of the AADL board: Pat McDonald, Mary Kay Cotter and Fred Meyer.

During the meeting, Parker announced that Eli Neiburger has been promoted to deputy director. He received a round of applause from the board. He has previously served as AADL’s associate director of IT and product development.

Responding to a follow-up query from The Chronicle, Parker said Neiburger will be responsible for all departments other than finance, facilities and human resources. AADL has an active search underway for a chief financial officer, who will have responsibility for those three areas.

The change follows the departure of three key staff positions earlier this year. Ken Nieman, former associate director of finance, HR and operations, left in May for a job as CFO at the public library in Sonomo County, California. Former human resources manager DeAnn Doll, who’d been with AADL for about 15 years, also left in May – she’s now director of human resources for Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida. And Celeste Choate – AADL’s former associate director of services, collections and access – was hired as executive director of the Urbana Free Library in Urbana, Illinois. She started that new job in April.

At the end of the June 16 meeting, board president Prue Rosenthal praised Parker and Neiburger for the extra work they’ve taken on during these transitions, and for making the changes seem seamless to patrons and the board. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Library Board Gets Feedback

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (July 15, 2013): For the second consecutive month, the AADL board held its meeting at one of the district’s four branches – this time at the Pittsfield branch on Oak Valley Drive.

Ann Arbor District Library, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

One of the “yarn bombed” trees in front of the Pittsfield branch of the Ann Arbor District Library, where the board held its July 15, 2013 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Fifteen people spoke during public commentary, a much higher than usual number. About half of the speakers, including several children, were there to earn points in AADL’s summer game, and spoke about their appreciation for the library and for the game in particular. Codes, which can be used to collect points in the game, were given to anyone who showed up to the meeting or spoke at public commentary. Later in the meeting board members received a briefing on the game from Eli Neiburger, AADL’s associate director of IT and product development, who talked about its role in encouraging kids to read and write during the summer months.

The board also was briefed on the recent Kids Read Comics convention, as well as new collections of non-traditional items – like home tools and microscopes.

In his financial report to the board, Ken Nieman, AADL’s associate director of finance, noted that library ended the year about $43,000 under budget for tax revenue. That amount includes $37,000 from tax refunds that AADL had to make to the county and various municipalities throughout the year, following decisions made by local tax tribunals. AADL had expected to make $75,000 of such refunds, but refunds totaled about $112,000 for the fiscal year, which ended June 30.

AADL director Josie Parker highlighted several staff accomplishments during her report to trustees, including news that an anonymous donor has given his classic video game collection to the library. The collection – which will be used for AADL events, but won’t be in circulation – includes cartridges and discs from the 1980s and ’90s, and a few game consoles.

Parker’s own achievement was highlighted by trustee Margaret Leary during the meeting: inclusion in a new collection of essays titled “Library 2020: Today’s Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow’s Library.”

During public commentary, Bob Rorke – a consultant working for the Protect Our Libraries political action committee – raised questions about AADL’s decision earlier this year to hire Allerton-Hill Consulting. Referencing excerpts from emails that Protect Our Libraries obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Rorke argued that the consulting contract is not a generic communications audit or project – but rather it’s political. He indicated that Allerton-Hill provides political advocacy for the passing of public financing issues, and asked the board to review this contract and determine whether it’s legal under Michigan law.

Public commentary also included thanks from Robb Wolfe, executive director of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, for AADL’s ongoing support. Other topics raised by speakers touched on the condition of the downtown library, appreciation for events hosted by the library, and a report from the recent American Library Association conference.

The meeting also included a tribute to Karl Pohrt, who died earlier this month. Trustee Ed Surovell, an avid book collector, noted that many people knew Pohrt as the founder and owner of Shaman Drum Bookshop in downtown Ann Arbor. “But he was so much more than that,” Surovell said. [Full Story]

Library to Restart Downtown Facility Review

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (Nov. 22, 2011): After pausing a project to redevelop the library’s downtown building three years ago, the AADL board voted at their November meeting to provide funds for consultants to help resume the process.

Ann Arbor District Library downtown building

The Ann Arbor District Library four-story downtown building, located on the northeast corner of Fifth and William. The crane on the left is part of the construction of the underground parking structure to the north of the library. (Photos by the writer.)

A transfer of $45,000 from the library’s fund balance to the administration’s consulting budget will be used to start the process for determining the future of the AADL’s downtown location, director Josie Parker told the board. In late 2008, economic conditions had prompted the board to call off plans to construct a new downtown building – a process that had been well underway. It’s time to start that discussion again, Parker said.

The downtown library is adjacent to several other projects that will impact its future, including the large underground parking structure – and whatever is eventually chosen to be built on top of it – being constructed immediately to the north of the library.

In other business, the board approved a one-year lease extension of the office space that houses the Ann Arbor News archives. The library took possession of the archives in January 2010. AADL is digitizing and posting the archives online, as part of the library’s Old News project.

The board also was briefed about an audit for its 2010-2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30. The auditor – Dave Fisher of the accounting firm Rehmann – described it as a clean audit. He suggested that the board consider implementing a fund balance policy in response to a new reporting standard issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). The board’s finance committee plans to take on that issue.

In her director’s report, Parker noted that AADL had again received the Library Journal’s five-star rating. It’s the highest rating awarded to libraries, and AADL was the only library in Michigan to achieve five stars.

Later in the meeting, Eli Neiburger – AADL’s associate director of IT and product development – gave a presentation about the library’s popular summer game, which this year had added an online component and achieved an unprecedented level of participation. He noted that although the game is AADL’s version of the traditional summer reading program, the word “reading” isn’t used to promote it. Feedback from previous years indicated that reading seems too much like homework, and discourages participation. ”Take the word reading out of the game, and people will read a lot more,” he said. [Full Story]

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]