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Board of Trustees

Feb. 17 , 2010

BPL Operating Budget Overview (PDF)
BPL Draft Budget Planning for FY11: A Discussion Document (PDF)

Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston
Meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency
Wednesday, February 17 , 2010 at 8:30 a.m.
Orientation Room, Central Library
700 Boylston Street, Copley Squar


1. Chairman’s Report,

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman

  • Review and Approval of Minutes for the Trustees Meeting held on January 19, 2010
  • Recognition of Ms. Vivian K. Spiro, Chair, Associates of the Boston Public Library

 2. Proposed Award of Contract for providing moving, unpacking, shelving, and recording services of the Boston Public Library materials at the City of Boston Archival Center

Ms. Ruth Kowal, Director, Administration & Finance


VOTED: “that, there be entered into with W.B. Meyer. Inc., 255 Long Beach Blvd., Stratford, CT 06615, the most responsive and responsible bidder, a contract publicly advertised, for Providing Moving, Unpacking, Shelving and Recording Services, of the Boston Public Library Materials at the City of Boston Archival Center, for the period March 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010, at a total cost not to exceed one million twenty six thousand, six hundred seven dollars and eighty cents ($1,026,607.80). The Boston Public Library Evaluation Committee performed an evaluation of the proposals presented by two vendors as described in the Request for Proposals (RFP), and through this process determined the proposal presented by W.B. Meyer, Inc. represented the best value for the Boston Public Library”

Two proposals were received in time for the 12:00 noon ( Boston time) bid opening on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 as follows:


W.B. Meyer, Inc. Highly Advantageous $1,026,607.80
255 Long Beach Blvd
Stratford , CT 06615

BiblioTech, Inc. Advantageous $841,155.00
5 Whittemore Place
Westbrook , CT 06498

3. President’s Report,

Ms. Amy E. Ryan

  • Presentation and discussion on preliminary FY11 Boston Public Library Operating Budget

 4. Public Comment

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman

5. New Business

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman

6. Adjournment

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman

 Executive Session to Discuss Legal Issues

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman


Upcoming Trustees Meetings:

  • Tuesday, March 9, 2010 , 3:00 p.m. , West Roxbury Branch
  • Tuesday, May 11, 2010 , 8:30 a.m. , Annual Meeting, Copley Square Library
  • Tuesday, September 14, 2010 , 8:30 a.m. , Copley Square Library
  • Tuesday, November 16, 2010 , 3:00 p.m. , Roslindale Branch Library

 Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston
Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman; A. Raymond Tye, Vice Chairman; Evelyn Arana-Ortiz; Zamawa Arenas; James Carroll; Donna M. DePrisco; Berthé M. Gaines; Paul A. La Camera
Amy E. Ryan
Clerk of the Board
Jamie McGlone

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Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston
Meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency
Wednesday, February 17 , 2010 at 8:30 a.m.
Orientation Room, Central Library
700 Boylston Street, Copley Square

A Special Meeting of the Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston as a Corporation and as an Administrative Agency was held at the Boston Public Library, McKim Orientation Room, Copley Square Library, on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 8:30 a.m.

Present at the meeting were: Trustees Evelyn Arana-Ortiz, Zamawa Arenas, Donna M. DePrisco, Berthé M. Gaines via telephone, Paul A. La Camera, Jeffrey B. Rudman.

Also present at the meeting were: President Amy E. Ryan; Alice Hennessey , Special Assistant to Mayor Thomas M. Menino; Meredith Weenick, Associate Director, Administration & Finance, City of Boston; Maribeth Cusick, Esq. , Elizabeth Dello Russo, Esq. and Ian D. Prior, Esq., City of Boston Law Department; Samantha Doepken, Esq. Labor Counsel, Office of Labor Relations; Jean Capizzi , Operating Analyst, Office of Budget Management; Andrew Ryan, Reporter, The Boston Globe; Jan Spitz, Executive Director, the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library; Vivian K. Spiro, Chair, and Betsy Hall, Executive Director, Associates of the Boston Public Library; David J. Vieira, President, City Wide Friends of the Boston Public Library; Don Haber, President, Friends of Jamaica Plain Branch; Marleen Nienhuis, President, Friends of South End Branch; Dr. Charles Carroll, President, Friends of Hyde Park Library; Mary Ann Nelson, Friends of Parker Hill Branch Library; Brian Clancy, President, and Daria McLean, Director of Development, Boston Public Library Foundation; Deborah Kirrane, WilmerHale LLP; Ruth Kowal, Director, Administration and Finance; Mary Flaherty, Human Resources Manager, Sean Nelson, Chief Financial Officer; Edward D. Maheigan, Budget and Procurement Manager; Michael Colford, Director, Resource Services/Information Technology; Christine Schonhart, Neighborhood Services Manager; Gina Perille, Communications Manager; Jim Meade , Manager of Library Buildings; Diana Preusser, Assistant Neighborhood Services Manager, Cluster 1; Sarah Markell, Assistant Neighborhood Services Manager, Cluster 2; Elissa Cadillic, President, AFSCME, Local 1526, Council 93; Anna Fahey-Flynn, President, PSA /CWA, Local 1333; members of the Library administration, staff, public, and Jamie McGlone , Clerk of the Board.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman presided.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman welcomed the Stakeholders, Affiliates, Media, and Colleagues of the Public Library of the City of Boston to the Boston Public Library for a Special Trustees Meeting to discuss the future of the Boston Public Library and to proceed with the budget planning process for FY2011.

Chairman Rudman welcomed and introduced Ms. Vivian K. Spiro, Chair, Associates of the Boston Public Library in recognition of her outstanding leadership of and commitment to the Boston Public Library. Ms. Spiro announced the Associates of the Boston Public Library recently helped to secure a $500,000 donation that will be expended over three years to continue and expand the Library’s conservation efforts.

The Associates have long been dedicated to supporting the Library’s preservation and conservation needs including last year through the efforts of the Associates the Library received an anonymous donation of $100,000 to describe, conserve, and digitize the Library’s significant collection of anti-slavery materials.

This same donor, through the Boston Foundation, has made the most recent generous gift to hire a Preservation Officer to manage and coordinate the long term preservation of the Library’s diverse and extensive collection of tangible and digital assets. The grant will also support further fundraising and public relations activities focused on preservation.

Ms. Spiro noted special appreciation to the team of President Amy Ryan, Ms. Susan Glover, and Stuart Walker who worked closely with the Associates to secure this exceptional generous donation. A prolonged round of applause followed.

Jamie McGlone, Clerk of the Board, paid tribute to Miss Jane Manthorne noting with deep sadness her passing on February 12, 2010 . The former Assistant Director of the Boston Public Library and Clerk to the Board of Trustees was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award by Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science where she received her master’s degree in 1949. In 1987 the Women’s National Book Association named her as one of 70 women in the nation “who has made a difference in the world of books”.

Chairman Rudman introduced President Ryan noting that today’s discussion would focus on re-imaging a library that is both innovative and financially sustainable. The Chairman noted three points by way of introducing the President underscoring the BPL is financially broke and is facing a $3.6 million deficit for FY11.

In a time of 10% unemployment, burgeoning public debt and diminishing public revenue, the Library is far from alone in feeling the pinch. While things have gotten worse over the last two years both at the municipal and state level, the Chairman noted that the Honorable Mayor Thomas M. Menino has done better by the BPL , much better than Mayor Bloomberg has done by the New York Public Library, but the Mayor cannot give the Library what he does not have.

The Commonwealth has hit the BPL hard with respect to Library of Last Recourse funding but there is no point in recriminating and nobody on Beacon Hill was moved by bad faith or a generalized hostility to literacy. In any event, the Chairman underscored we are down $3.6 million which is the cause of the crisis we face and the reason for this Special Trustees Meeting.

The second substantive point the Chairman noted is the critical need to embrace innovation. The BPL has to a high degree marched to the same drum beat for a century and a half. While there was nothing wrong with that beat and the march was glorious, but today we are over bricked, over mortared and under wired. The success under President Ryan’s watch of the library’s website and downloadable digital resources has been extraordinary and therefore we must embrace technology.

The Chairman noted the third point is procedural with respect to how we get from the fiscal challenges of the moment to a tomorrow worthy of a great public library underscoring that it must be a matter of very robust public debate. To that end, the Library went to great measures publicizing the Special Trustees Meeting and in the course of the meeting President Ryan will present a significant amount of empirical data.

In preparing for the meeting, the Chairman noted President Ryan has been assiduous in distinguishing what is unarguable from what is highly subjective and to quote the late crib from Senator Patrick Moynihan “we are all entitled to our own opinions but we are not entitled to our own facts”.

The Chairman outlined the agenda for the Special Meeting that would begin with remarks from President Ryan, the Trustees will follow, and a public comment session will be provided. The Chairman asked the attendees to look at the matter at hand holistically and systemically and at the conclusion of the meeting the BPL website would have information of the budget process coupled with an opportunity for the public to share budget suggestions and other ideas via an automated form, via email at feedback@bpl.orgor via US Post at Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116.

President Amy E. Ryan, in her report to the Trustees, noted today’s presentation and discussion on the preliminary FY Boston Public Library Operating Budget is a continuation of the budget discussions at the Trustees Meeting held on January 19, 2010 that reflected initiatives to set the Boston Public Library up for success over the next five years.

The President underscored that in light of the current financial constraints it is also an opportunity to reshape the Boston Public Library with a view to 2015. To further that end and thinking ahead to 2015, the discussions yielded that the Boston Public Library will be transformed to meet the changing needs of the citizens of Boston who constitute our primary clientele.

The future vision for the Boston Public Library remains the same as the past several years committed to a 21 st century library that touches every Bostonian in one of three ways – online, in libraries, and in the community and a leader in delivering core services including: hours, books, technology, virtual content; and lifelong learning for children and adults.

The Boston Public Library will be a leader in closing the digital divide, committed to the preservation of cultural treasures as reflected in the remarks and commitment of Chair Vivian K. Spiro, driven by the Boston Public Library Compass: Principles for Excellence initiative, and developing an institution that is financially sustainable and the right size for Boston.

The President noted that the future vision for the BPL takes into serious consideration customer demand and highlighted increasing usage of the Boston Public Library online, in libraries, and in the community. Since 2006, there has been a 31% increase in books, CDs, and DVDs borrowed from the BPL . In FY09, the BPL crossed three thresholds: more than 5 million hits to its website, more than 300,000 Boston residents using library cards, and more than 40,000 Boston residents newly registered for library cards.

During the first six months of FY10, the Boston Public Library continued in responding to that customer demand as reflected in nearly 4 million hits to its website and on track to surpass last year; more than 95,000 public wireless internet sessions, which is 20,000 more than occurred over the same period in FY09; and a 9% increase in teens using their library cards this year as compared to the same period last year.

The President strongly reiterated the critical need to embrace the new dimension and ocean of the internet and the BPL has responded in a number of ways and the most demonstrative is the use of downloadable media that continues to climb. If this were an official “digital branch” of the Boston Public Library, it would be the branch with the sixth highest circulation of the 26 branches system-wide.

Therefore, the President noted that this data sets the stage for how to respond and anticipate for the citizens of Boston and their evolving needs within the context of budget principles. The BPL has three overriding budget principles that have driven the FY11 budget discussions to position the library for the future and begin transformation of services for 2015.

The President reported that FY 11 spending reductions will take place across the board in three areas: system-wide operations; at the Central Library; and in the Neighborhood Branches. The BPL will take a planful approach which factors in the cumulative impact of back-to-back years of budget reductions particularly over the last two years to ensure the BPL will be financially sound and fiscally responsible while minimizing reliance on one-time solutions.

President Ryan provided background information on the current funding environment which is a result of the world-wide economic downturn and back-to-back years of sharply reduced revenues. The City of Boston is projecting minimal growth in FY11 and cannot sustain level funding for City Departments and State Aid remains the second largest source of revenue for the City of Boston and the State needs to close a $2.7 billion budget shortfall to maintain the current level of services.

Within this funding environment, the President reported that the preliminary estimates discussed on January 19, 2010 have been modified: the City of Boston has updated their revenue projections and the BPL FY11 budget reduction is now estimated to be 1% rather than 5% reduction. While this news is welcome and appreciated, the BPL still has a serious projected FY11 shortfall of approximately $3.6 million primarily due to the reduction in State funding including deferred collective bargaining costs, personnel increases, standard operating costs, technology requirements and critical needs.

The President added that as we think about this significant shortfall there is a sense of urgency and the status quo is not acceptable. The Boston Public Library cannot sustain the system as it is now configured because it is now not working well in light of experiencing lunch closures at some of the smaller branches, vacancies remain unfilled including children’s librarians that result in running an organization that is too close to randomness.

President Ryan provided an overview of preliminary FY11 budget options and two approaches for moving the BPL forward including: consolidation of service points to strengthen the strongest resources to respond to the citizens of Boston ; and maintaining the existing structure of the library system but drastically reduced.

The President provided an overview of the preliminary FY11 budget options for the Copley Square Central Library within the context that public libraries have drastically changed since 1972 when the Johnson Building opened and the reference desk was the nexus of operations. That has changed but while people still come into the library we have accomplished a new way of looking at how people use libraries both online and in the community.

With respect to staffing for a 21 st century library, the President reviewed the option of the consolidation of total service points for walk-in, telephone, and online customers from 14 to 20 at the Central Library which would both eliminate positions and begin to close the budget gap. Additionally, the option would include keeping all Sundays open except for five Sundays preceding Monday holidays and continue reduced hours in the Children’s, Teen, Music, and Fine Arts Departments based on data reflecting low usage times.

The public impact of consolidating service points at the Central Library include the Central Library remains open 7 days per week (October – May), unified service points for walk-in customers, protection of digitization efforts to provide information and entertainment that reach beyond library walls, and “Collections of Distinction” identified and strengthened.

The President provided an overview of the preliminary FY11 budget options for the Neighborhood Branches within the context that the Boston Public Library is committed to delivering 21 st century library services that respond to the changing needs of the citizens of Boston in buildings, online and in the community. To further those ends, there are two plausible public service options for the BPL ’s neighborhood branches in FY11: hours reduction and the consolidation and closing of libraries.

The President reviewed Public Service Option 1: Hours reduction that would reduce hours at 18 branches by 50-85% in which 8 large branches would remain open at current levels, 18 other branches “paired” and each open 1-3 days per week, Saturday hours reduced or eliminated at the 18 “paired” branches, “Paired” branches share staff among locations and staff may work at up to 3 different locations per week.

The public impact is dramatic including the loss of approximately 600 public service hours per week at branches, 26 existing branches remain open, potential confusion about branch hours and pick-up of books on hold, less convenient hours for children, families and working adults, some Homework Assistance Program mentors transferred to other locations, and some buildings closed a majority of the time.

The President reviewed Public Service Option 2: Transform Branch Services that would strengthen services at 16-18 branches by adding staff, computers, collections, and technological access and 8-10 branches would be identified for closure. Further, branches would continue to be open 6 days per week, increase Saturday schedule to year-round, add public computers to open branches, add staff to open branches, add books, CDs, DVDs to open branches and add popular programs and services to open branches.

The public impact would reflect the closure of 8-10 branches and increased travel time to branches for some Boston residents while improvements would include in staff-to-customer ratio, enhanced selection of books, CDs, and DVDs, shorter wait, shorter wait for public computers and increased computer training for the public, library buildings would be in use six days each week, additional Homework Assistance Program members available, and popular programs offered through outreach and collaboration.

The President noted that should Public Service Option 2 move forward it would be necessary to address what services the citizens of Boston wanted or needed from those particular branches and how to respond to those services not necessarily building-bound.

The President provided background information on ways for streamlining, reducing, and consolidating System-wide Operations and Support including reductions in contracted services including the number of leased vehicles, reducing and eliminating equipment service contracts, changing HVAC contractual arrangements to achieve savings, and continuing to implement a variety of energy conservation measures to reduce utility costs.

Additionally, the library would continue to streamline and consolidate system-wide activities including facilities maintenance and cleaning, operational modifications of technical services, and reduce state-funded services such as interlibrary loan, reference and research services, and the procurement of electronic databases.

The public impact from streamlining, reducing, and consolidating System-wide Operations and Support would include access to non- BPL materials and electronic databases as well as access to BPL resources by non-Bostonians may be curtailed, fewer new books and A/V, and longer wait for popular books and bestsellers.

In summary, the President underscored it is early in the process and while decisions would not be made today this is the first step in moving forward in concert with the community and other stakeholders to think about the next steps. The President noted the Boston Public Library also has contractual obligations with its two unions and some of these proposed options will require bargaining over the impact of changes.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman thanked the President for her very thoughtful presentation and concurred that although no decisions would be made today the City budget process calls for some conclusions by late March or early April 2010 and welcomed comment from the Board.

Trustee Donna M. DePrisco urged the Chairman to call a Special Meeting in addition to the Regular Trustees Meetings for the opportunity to review the options and would work on seeking the restoration of State support for the library and continue to review and analyze the library contracts for cost savings.

Trustee Paul A. La Camera reported that efforts are underway in collaboration with the State House leadership to build support for the Boston Public Library in light of the dire economic fiscal challenges facing the Commonwealth. Trustee La Camera applauded President Ryan and the staff for the thoughtful options presented and while neither is particularly attractive the Board has embarked on a long and deliberative public process to position the BPL for the future.

Trustee Zamawa Arenas concurred with Trustee La Camera and President Ryan on the need for a thorough analysis and review of the options that requires a lot of thought and listening and looks forward to hearing from the community for their input before any decisions are made.

Trustee Evelyn Arana-Ortiz has been researching best practices across the country and while times are very grim economically she underscored this is an opportunity to transform our services and creatively think through ways to be better and stronger than today in the future delivery of library services in concert with The Boston Public Library Compass: Principles for Excellence process underway.

Trustee Paul A. La Camera noted that while there are two very hard Public Services Options on the table as presented by President Ryan and that no one would ever be excited about closing a branch library the first option relative to hours reduction vs. the transformation of branch services would terribly weaken the entire library system while the second option would strengthen the system.

Trustee Donna M. DePrisco concurred that the Public Services Option of hours reduction would be extremely confusing to the public and it could never work but proposed the consideration of temporarily closing of some branches. Trustee Evelyn Arana-Ortiz agreed the first option would adversely impact customer service and suggested exploring option two based on clear criteria.

Chairman Rudman welcomed public comment from the audience with statements two minutes a person in the order of the names that appeared on the sign up sheet with the caveat to forbear special pleading for individual branches.

Mr. David Vieira, President, City-wide Friends of the Boston Public Library, began his remarks within the context of the ongoing Boston Public Library Compass: Principles for Excellence initiative that has included public input from the community and urged the Board to consider the community ideas and suggestions for the future of the BPL .

Mr. Vieira remarked that while he may be stating something unpopular there are some branches that probably need to be closed because some of them are functionally obsolete and suggested a compromise between the closing of the branches and hours reduction limited to perhaps three or four branches because ten branch closures would be devastating to the system.

Ms. Marleen Nienhuis, President, Friends of South End Branch suggested the Board of Trustees resign and replace itself with Trustees who know how to have a strong presence at the State Legislature, Congressional, and Foundation level as well as in the neighborhoods of Boston.

Dr. Charles Carroll, President, Friends of Hyde Park Library addressed the serious lack of staffing at the Hyde Park Branch Library that serves a large community and family based constituency resulting in very few supervised or scheduled activities for the community and in particular teens.

Mr. Carroll recommended recruiting a youth librarian who is a technical educator as well to respond to the technological needs of the community and navigating the resources of the Boston Public Library with the goal of keeping all of the libraries open in the city rather than undertaking a transfiguration of the library system.

Mr. Don Haber, President, Friends of Jamaica Plain Branch noted Public Services Option One regarding hours reduction reflects a possibly flawed analysis and asked what is the definition of a large branch relative to physical criteria or a branch based on circulation and the number of users and questioned how is the delivery of library services going to work for those branches that survive. Mr. Haber further noted that branch circulation is a very noticeable factor in the transformation of branch services.

Ms. Mary Ann Nelson, Friends of Parker Hill Branch Library, noted while her neighborhood branch is among the lower circulating branches she suggested charging the 300,000 BPL library card holders $10.00 that would raise $3 million to keep the branch libraries open coupled with exploring other revenue streams.

Mr. Daniel Johnson, Friend of the Egleston Square Branch, noted that while circulation may not be so robust in comparison to other branches he urged the Board to consider keeping the branch open in light of its critical role for providing a haven and place of safety for the children in the neighborhood.

Ms. Elissa Cadillic, President, AFSCME, Local 1526, Council 93, noted she represents two thirds of the BPL staff and expressed concern that there was no mention of the human impact on the staff at the BPL in the discussion of the Public Service Options which she finds disheartening particularly in light of the possibility of 104 employees facing layoffs.

Ms. Theresa Lynn, Friends of West Roxbury Branch and Director of ReadBoston, encouraged the Board to take into account people who are not using the library in the spirit of serving the needs of all the citizens of Boston especially those who do not have access to computers and technology.

Mr. Joseph Eubanks Jr., patron of the Egleston Square Branch, suggested in the future better publicizing of the Trustees’ Meetings in the neighborhoods and inquired about the future plans for the former Grove Hall Branch Library that has been surplussed to the City of Boston .

Ms. Laura Pattison, Kirstein Business Library Economic Development Librarian, echoed Ms. Elissa Cadillic’s concern for the human impact on the staff in light of the possibility of layoffs and spoke on behalf of the Research Library that provides access to distinct and historical educational resources and services for lifelong learning for all citizens.

Ms. Koletta Kaspar, Friends of Faneuil Branch Library, urged the Board to find the $3.6 million somewhere and not to close any branches because each is like a little satellite nation and miniature cultural art centers reiterating that each local branch is a safety center and cultural gem of the neighborhoods.

Mr. David Sawyer, patron of Jamaica Plain Branch Library, urged the Board to explore other areas of the budget in which cuts could be made to address the $3.6 million gap and noted there are no statistics or usage data mentioned in the two preliminary FY11 plausible budget options presented for moving the BPL forward coupled with considering charging patrons a minimal amount for usage of the Boston Public Library.

Chairman Rudman noted the strategic feedback is very valuable for the Board to consider including the need for reviewing circulation data and addressing the expressed concern for the human impact on the staff that is very much in the front of the thoughts of all concerned about the future of the Boston Public Library.

Following discussion, Chairman Rudman asked President Ryan to conduct a continued review of the preliminary FY11 strategi c b udget options, including the request for statistical data received from the public comments, and to kindly report back at the next scheduled public Trustees Meeting on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, 3:00 p.m., Boston Public Library, McKim Popular Reading Room, first floor, Copley Square Library.

In other business, Ms. Ruth Kowal, Director, Administration & Finance, presented background information on the proposed Award of Contract for providing moving, unpacking, shelving, and recording services of the Boston Public Library materials at the City of Boston Archival Center.

The proposed Award of Contract was revisited from the January 19, 2010 Trustees Meeting and re-bid following a challenge from the unsuccessful bidder at the request of the City of Boston Law Department coupled with changes made to the Request for Proposal. Ms. Kowal noted the Boston Public Library received bids from two vendors and again was recommending the award be made to W.B. Meyer, Inc. in light of the highly advantageous rating and in response to the requirements of the RFP.

Trustee Donna M. DePrisco suggested the proposed Award of Contract be tabled pending a further a review and analysis of the Request for Proposal and work specifications of the award of contract for the project. Following further discussion, the Board agreed that the proposed Award of Contract would be tabled for further review and analysis of the Request for Proposal by the Board and would be presented at the next Trustees Meeting.

There being no new business, the meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency adjourned at 10:05 and the Board voted to go into Executive Session to discuss legal issues.

Respectfully submitted,


Clerk of the Board

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