A 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 Charlestown Branch of the Boston Public Library, 179 Main Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 3:00 p.m.
Present at the meeting were: Trustees: Zamawa Arenas, Paul A. La Camera, Jeffrey B. Rudman, and Byron Rushing. Absent from the meeting Board members Trustees Evelyn Arana-Ortiz, James Carroll, Donna M. DePrisco, Carol Fulp, and Berthé M. Gaines.
Also present at the meeting were: President Amy E. Ryan, Maureen Marx, Charlestown Branch Librarian, Bruce Garr, President of Friends of Charlestown Branch; Meredith Weenick, Acting Director of Administration & Finance, City of Boston, Maribeth Cusick, Esq., and Elizabeth DelloRusso, Esq., City of Boston Law Department; Donald Haber, Co-chair Friends of Jamaica Plain Branch; Marlene Nienhuis, President, Friends of South End Branch; Mimi Jones, Friends Dudley Branch; Michael Colford, Director, and Vladimir Yampolsky, Information Technology Operations Manager, Resource Services and Information Technology; Mary Flaherty, Human Resources Manager; Ruth Kowal, Director, Administration and Finance; Christine Schonhart, Neighborhood Services Manager; Mary Frances O’Brien, Central Library Services Manager; Catherine Willis, Technical Services Manager; Edward Maheigan, Budget and Procurement Manager; Sean Monahan, Supervisor of Accounting; Elissa Cadillic, President, Diane Collins, Treasurer AFSCME, Local 1526, Council 93; Marta Pardee-King, Copley Public Services Manager; Gina Perille, Chief Communications Officer; David Leonard, Chief Technology Officer; Laura Irmscher, Collection Development Manager; approximately 40 members of the public; and Nancy Grilk, Clerk of the Board.
Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman presided.
Chairman Jeffery B. Rudman welcomed the attendees, and thanked the Friends of Charlestown Branch Library for the generous offering of food and encouraged all to help themselves. The Chairman advised that no votes will be taken at the meeting as there is no quorum; however the meeting is informational in nature. Mr. John Dunlap, Director of Labor Relations for the City of Boston will not be presenting at today’s meeting in order to provide plenty of time for public comment.
The Chairman outlined the procedures for the meeting noting that anyone from the public who wishes to speak will have the opportunity during the public comment session.
The Chairman welcomed Ms. Maureen Marx of the Charlestown Branch Library and invited her to speak.
Ms. Maureen Marx, Charlestown Branch Librarian provided an overview of the unique history of the branch, the resources and services delivered to the economically and ethnically diverse population of the Charlestown community, and noted that Chairman Rudman is a library user. Ms. Marx traced the branch’s history from establishment in 1862 through the present 1970’s built structure. Chairman Rudman noted that the library’s prior location is now a beautiful museum of Revolutionary War.
Ms. Marx stressed that neighborhood outreach and neighborhood service is the Charlestown Branch Library’s main mission. Community collaborations with neighborhood schools and agencies keep the library vital and relevant. She especially highlighted the Charlestown Friends community advocacy and devoted leadership.
Chairman Rudman thanked Ms. Marx for her years of devotion to the library.
The Chairman invited Charlestown Friends co-President Mr. Bruce Garr to speak.
Mr. Garr, welcomed President Ryan, Trustees, and community members to the library and acknowledged Friends co- chairs Jane Richardson and Pat Simpson who were unable to attend as well as the others that make up the Friends.
One of the oldest Friends groups in the city, the Charlestown Friends have an accomplished 58-year history of working on projects to better library services while promoting the community’s interest. Some of their numerous accomplishments include; the purchase of books with a focus on Charlestown history, furniture upgrades, a beautiful garden, a piano, audio visual equipment, as well as sponsorship of programs, noting that Trustee James Carroll was a recent popular guest speaker. Mr. Garr invited all to attend a three-part program on the life and work of Pablo Picasso beginning March 28 sponsored in partnership with Artists for Charlestown.
He outlined the diligent work of the to provide programs and services through the sale of calendars, note cards, book sales with all funds raised at the grass roots level. Youth programs are a priority because a well read kid will grow up to be a better citizen citing his daughter Casey as a perfect example. Through the Reading is Fundamental program, the Charlestown Friends provide youth with 2 new books. Vital to the community is keeping this and every branch open and adequately staffed, especially with Children’s librarians, is vital and Mr. Garr expressed confidence that the Trustees will find a way because the library is much too important not to.
Chairman Rudman thanked Mr. Garr and the Friends for everything they do to support the branch.
The Chairman outlined the important business of the Trustees Nominating Committee which is to nominate Board Chair, Vice Chair, and Clerk, in addition to making suggestions to the Mayor’s Office for prospective new members and general governance. The Chairman thanked Trustee Paul La Camera citing him as the ideal Committee Chair, he also appreciates Trustee Carol Fulp’s participation as a new Committee member.
The Chairman announced that Trustee Byron Rushing has very kindly agreed to assume the Chairmanship of the Trustees Strategic Planning Committee, and thanked Trustees Zamawa Arenas, Carol Fulp for agreeing to serve on this Committee. The Trustees are grateful to members of the earlier Compass Committee who have agreed to serve on the Strategic Planning Process Committee including President Amy Ryan; Meg Campbell, Executive Director of the Codman Academy Charter Public School; Alice Hennessey, Special Assistant to his Honor Mayor Menino; Mimi Jones, Friends of the Dudley Branch Library; Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero, Esq., associate at Nixon Peabody LLP; and Pamela Seigal, former Trustee of the Boston Public Library, and the Executive Director, Courage & Renewal Northeast at Wellesley College. Under the leadership of Representative Rushing, the group will carry the Compass; Principals for Excellence forward from raw principals to very specific implementation steps. Michael Colford, Director of Resource Services & Information Technology and Gina Perille, Chief Communications Officer will be available to staff and provide administrative services.
The Chairman gave a warm welcome to Nancy Grilk the new Clerk of the Board and noted that Ms. Grilk has numerous acquaintances in the City of Boston from her years working on environmental issues at the City’s Office of Environmental and Energy Services.
The Chairman recognized the illustrious 40-year career of Ruth Kowal, Director of Administration and Finance, and wished her the best in her retirement. He noted that Ms. Kowal has discharged many duties at the Boston Public Library. He further praised Ms. Kowal’s work in particular her gutsy and honorable stewardship during the interim of President Ryan’s arrival and her predecessor’s departure and remarked that he the Boston Public Library is forever in Ms. Kowal’s debt. The Chairman invited Ms. Kowal to say a few words.
Ruth Kowal spoke to her amazing 20 years with the Boston Public Library and feels fortunate to have had such great variety in her career and having worked with wonderful dedicated staff, the Chairman and a Board of Trustees that is always great to work with and has evolved over time. She leaves with mixed feelings as Boston Public Library has been such a part of her life. One of her sincere regrets is the relative short time she spent working with President Ryan. However, she knows she is leaving he library in great hands and wished everyone the best. Ms. Kowal received a well deserved, sustained standing ovation.
President Ryan thanked Ms. Kowal for her kind words, terrific contributions, and remarked that the library will miss her more than she will miss the library. President Ryan also welcomed Ms. Grilk. President Ryan expressed her gratitude for the great work of Ms. Liz O’Shea and Ms. Cheryl Delaney during the interim of the former and current Clerk of the Board.
President Ryan introduced the next step in the decision making process for FY12 operating budget and the major points that Sean Nelson will elaborate on in a PowerPoint presentation. The flow of information continues from the previous Board of Trustees meeting on February 24, 2011. The goals remain the same: to set up a budget that strategically thinks ahead to FY12, and positions the library for future sustainability and excellence. It builds on a system-wide approach to how services are delivered throughout Boston Public Library at the branches and Copley, with a budget that allows the Boston Public Library to live within our means. The budget principals remain the same as last year: it saves money, stabilizes, and moves us ahead as the Library continues to focus on raising addition private funds.
President Ryan reviewed the process since the February 24, 2011 Board of Trustees meeting when the Trustees were presented with budget information with the understanding that the figures are preliminary and subject to change. Nonetheless, through due diligence, the budget is shaped with information available right now. Statutorily, a balanced budget must be submitted to the City of Boston Administration and Finance Department by March 24, the day after the next Trustees Board meeting. The Massachusetts House of Representatives budget is expected to be released by mid-April, and the Massachusetts Senate’s budget in May, so the financial picture will not be complete until June.
President Ryan recalled that there is a revenue shortfall and essential service improvements are needed. Mr. Nelson will speak to this including additional cleaning, improvements to delivery, security, and reshelving with additional part-time hours. Administrative cost cutting measures are also being scrutinized.
Subject to further analysis and review, and with the same financial information as the last Trustees meeting, there is a greater understanding of the estimated costs for FY12 including the filling of critical positions. Since the last meeting, there have been productive meetings with both union presidents to discuss how this could move forward. At the last meeting not filling critical positions but reducing hours and moving staff throughout the system was discussed. Division Director Christine Schonhart conducted a divisional analysis of the branches and determined that with the help of union leadership the initial ideas around staff location could result in layoffs which is not our goal, or from focusing on that option as a money saving strategy. For today’s discussion, staff vacancies were quantified into dollars rather than just moving to reduce hours in order to provide a fuller picture. Critical vacancies mean up to 12 to 15 essential positions that would shore up the branches and central library in FY12. Chief Financial Officer Sean Nelson’s presentation will connect the cash shortfall of FY 11 to FY 12 and the dollar amount associated with the vacancies needed to be filled in order to be effective, along with the essential improvements. Mr. Nelson will walk us through that process.
President Ryan introduced Chief Financial Officer Sean Nelson who presented a PowerPoint overview of the FY 12 Operating Budget Overview. Mr. Nelson reviewed the FY12 estimated budget of $40.84 million which includes filling up to12 to 15 critical vacancies, quantified to be between $700,000 and $750,000; it also includes the $250,000 to $300,000 in essential improvements. The FY12 estimated budget also assumes level funding for materials, a small reduction to IT for facility and utility costs, some increases for building cleanliness, addition of part time hours and additional security hours. The estimated revenue to date is $39.34 million. Based on a revenue estimates to date, the budget shortfall is approximately $1.5 million. To review where we know we are today; the $580,000 variance from where we were in FY11, the City of Boston at just less than 1% cut; State funding at $2.4 million; our other sources are even.
Mr. Nelson detailed the implications of three FY 12 Funding Scenarios
- Scenario A: Full statutory funding from the State: $40.84 million
Currently we receive $.29 per capita from the Library of Last Recourse; statutorily, the Boston Public Library is entitled to $.50 per capita, or about $1.5 million over the Governor’s FY12 recommended budget. Currently the Boston Public Library is directing its legislative advocacy to the Massachusetts Legislature to demonstrate the need for full statutory funding.
- Scenario B: Existing estimated revenue; $39.34 million
Without the full State Library of Last Recourse funding, reductions are a possibility. If we do receive the lower revenue, we will need to look at reductions that include; the loss of Sunday hours at the Copley Library as discussed at the last Trustees meeting, some reduction to the Collections budget, critical vacancies would be remain unfilled, and possible branch closings.
- Scenario C: Reduced State funding below current estimates
A loss of up to $2.4 million would mean we would have to seriously begin to consider layoffs, branch closures, no Sunday hours at the Copley Library, and other reductions previously discussed.
Mr. Nelson’s final slide detailed three FY 12 Budget Reduction Options of: Looking at options without layoffs; one option is to eliminate Sunday hours at the Copley Library (about $240,000), to reduce closures by one half, or to just keep the Johnson Building open on Sundays which doesn’t save all that much, only about $16,000 over the course of a year; Reduction of Collections of 4% or about $175,000, or up to 6% about $265,000 cut which could translate to a reduction of about 6,500 items per branch annually, or 5 fewer items per week without reducing the Copley research collections; and the last option, should there be a demonstrated loss of State funding, is the closure of 1 to 4 branches. He further examined the personnel implications, budget impact and service impact of each of these options.
Chairman Rudman outlined the budget scenarios as we understand them now from the information we have from the State and the City, and observed that if the budget includes existing state and city funding assuming the $580,000 shortfall could be fundamentally met with: no layoffs; no branch closures; and, no general reduction in hours across the system and would close the gap in two ways: Sunday closings of the Copley Library yielding approximately $250,000; and reduction to collections budget of approximately $175,00 to $255,000.
Mr. Nelson added that this is just a revenue shortfall and we need to look at what additions we want to have as well.
Chairman Rudman recapped the present understanding: The way we get to the $1.5 gap is to do 2 things: restore a finite number of critical vacancies; and, make discrete improvements or modifications of the cuts already made last year, and restore security, and improve general library maintenance.
Trustee La Camera turned the discussion to definition of Collections and how it has broadened in the past decade particularly with the growth of DVD and CD collections with the increase in circulation attributed to these items. He observed that the majority of CDs are books on tape, while the majority of DVDs are videos of music and movies. President Ryan clarified that books are on CDs and DVDs are movies. Trustee La Camera posed the question; should the Boston Public Library be in the movie lending business given the prospect of 52 Sunday closings of the Copley Library and encouraged a deeper review of the process. President Ryan noted that the Copley Library has traditionally been closed on Sundays during the summer.
Chairman Rudman remarked that the Trustees are faced with a horrible remedy. He outlined some choices in finding a quarter to a half a million dollars to keep the Copley Library open on Sundays; one way is closing 4 branches would save the entire cost and then some; or, put more people out of work which would be awful; or, reduce hours across the system which would be a stretch to achieve the savings and would be administratively difficult. The Chairman expressed his displeasure at the prospect of closing the Copley Library on Sundays. He remarked that the Collections budget reduction will come principally from books which have taken reductions over the last few years from $6 million down to $4.4 million, a 1/3 reduction without having closed a branch, although hours have been reduced. The Trustees are ready and willing to continue listen to alternative solutions. The truly happy ending is: no layoffs; no branch closures, no slash to the book budget, and no reduction in hours, or Sunday closings at the Copley Library; achievable with the full complement of Library of Last Recourse funding of $3.9 million, plus level funding from last year’s budget from the City, noting that the Mayor has been very supportive of the library’s funding.
Trustee Arenas clarified that elimination of 4 hours per Sunday at the Copley Library would be a temporary measure, and the hours would be restored if funding became available. Chairman Rudman underscored that the appeal of sacrificing these hours is they are the most expensive hours at time and a half and would realize the most savings and, more importantly that people would not lose their jobs.
Trustee La Camera asked for a breakdown of the Collections budget. President Ryan outlined the FY 10 Collections budget by items: books are 55%; serials, 12%; electronic databases, 17%; downloadable books through Overdrive, 3%; with DVD, CD and audio combined at 13%. Laura Irmscher, Collections Development Manager reported that the FY 10 DVD budget of movies was $390,000 making up 25% of the circulation. Trustee La Camera noted that keeping the Copley Library open on Sunday would cost $250,000, verses the DVD budget which he felt a fair swap. A member of the public asked for a comparison of the video (VHS) cost versus the DVD cost; Ms. Irmscher remarked that they are comparable.
Trustee La Camera requested that Boston Public Library staff prepare an analysis of the Circulation budget to be provided to the Trustees prior to the March 23, 2011 Trustees meeting so that Trustees can prepare any recommendations pertaining to the Collections budget, particularly related to DVDs prior to the meeting. It was noted that there are virtues to the Boston Public Library providing DVDs and a broad discussion should precede any change. Trustee Rushing highlighted importance of providing suggestions to the staff in advance of the March 23rd Trustees meeting and not bringing any new recommendations to that meeting.
The Chairman asked for any further discussion among Trustees.
There being no further comments, the Chairman moved to the next agenda item, the Strategic Plan Update and thanked Trustee Byron Rushing for taking on the role of Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee.
Trustee Byron Rushing commended the Compass Committee for their success in crafting the Compass: Plan for Excellence over the past year. This is the beginning and the framework for the Strategic Plan for the library and the work of the Committee and participants is to fill in the details to make an excellent institution even better. Trustee Rushing noted the library is well regarded by the public and with many stakeholders.
He stressed the importance that all stakeholders, everyone who was in any way and in every neighborhood engaged with Compass Committee process, and who participated in the robust discussion on branch closings continue with this phase to shape the details of what the Strategic Plan will suggest that the Boston Public Library do into the near future. With broad participation the Strategic Planning Committee will achieve overwhelming success in completing this process by the end of the calendar year, and expects the Strategic Plan will receive unanimous approval by the Trustees at the final Board meeting.
Trustee Rushing referred to the document handed out titled Boston Public Library Strategic Planning Process and outlined the plan and schedule for the Committee’s work noting that all meetings are open to the public and will also look to particular stakeholder groups to bring their expertise into the process. Beginning in mid-March, the Strategic Planning Committee will establish a detailed work plan that insures that everyone is invited into this process.
Trustee Rushing recognized the excellent work of Gina Perille, Chief Communications Officer for the wonderful Compass: Principals of Excellence brochure that she created, for which she received a well deserved round of applause. Trustee Rushing announced that Ms. Perille and Mr. Michael Colford are the Boston Public Library staff who will help to carry out this process. He reiterated that the first Committee’s meeting will establish a detailed outline of the process to insure maximum participation. He ended by remarking that the importance of the Strategic Plan is it will guide the Trustees and Boston Public Library staff as a planning road map.
Mr. Michael Colford gave an overview of the work that has already taken place which includes reviewing strategic plans of other institutions, taking and took from these elements design styles and ways to move the Boston Public Library’s Strategic Plan. The solid ideas and approved Principals will help to develop the outcomes and strategies to implement them. The outcomes or goals which will be developed largely from the on-line surveys that have already been conducted, staff meetings, and community engagement, provides much useful data to move this process forward. The strategies will be developed through staff input and with external assistance as needed to develop work plans to create the path to bring us to the outcomes. Mr. Colford reviewed the timeline of the Strategic Planning Committee work outlined on the Boston Public Library Strategic Planning Process document distributed and posted on the webpage.
Trustee Rushing announced that Ms. Mimi Jones of the Dudley Square Friends is on the Committee. Ms. Jones enthusiastically accepted her appointment, and expressed her pleasure to have an opportunity to be a part of a process that will be equally as important as the outcome.
Chairman Rudman reiterated his appreciation to Trustee Rushing for taking on this important work.
Chairman Rudman asked for any New Business.
Trustee La Camera addressed the issue of fundraising for the Boston Public Library and announced that the Trustees are working diligently to reconstitute a professional, private fundraising capacity, and very close to bringing on a new Fundraising Officer for the Boston Public Library Foundation. Trustee La Camera anticipates that the new Chief Fundraising Officer will assemble a team followed by the commencement of private fundraising activities. Chairman Rudman commended Trustee La Camera for driving the selection process and finding terrific choices for the position.
Addressing the next agenda item, Mr. Sean Nelson reported the two final Budget Roundtables are scheduled for next week; March 15 at the Copley Library, and March 16 at Codman Square Branch Library. Mr. Nelson reiterated the Budget Roundtables have been informative for both the library patron participants and for his team.
Chairman Rudman opened the meeting to comments from nine members of the public.
Public comments included: discussions around the book budget; appreciation for the Boston of Trustees and the Boston Public Library staff making difficult choices to avoid branch closures and layoffs; discussion around Sunday closure of the Copley Library; DVD policies; support for the Strategic Planning Committee work urging staff and neighborhood participation; commending staff for extensive public input into the budget process; pleased with the work of the search committee for a Fundraising Officer for the Boston Public Library Foundation; and anticipate the continuing input into fundraising opportunities.
There being no other business, the meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency adjourned at 4:32 p.m.
Clerk of the Board
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