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Meetings
Board of Trustees

April 7 , 2010


Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston
Meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency
Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 8 a.m.
Rabb Lecture Hall, Concourse Level, Johnson Building
700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA


Agenda

1. Chairman’s Report

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman

  • Review and Approval of Minutes for the Trustees Meeting held on March 24, 2010

 2. President’s Report

Ms. Amy E. Ryan

  • Report on Public Participation

Ms. Koren Stembridge, Director, Partnerships and Communications

  • Presentation and discussion of Branch Options
  • Review and discussion of FY11 Boston Public Library Operating Budget

3. Public Comment

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman

4. New Business

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman

5. Adjournment

Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman

Upcoming Trustees Meetings:

  • Special Trustees Meeting, April 9, 2010, 8:30 a.m., Rabb Lecture Hall, Copley Square
  • Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 8:30 a.m., Annual Meeting, Rabb Lecture Hall, Copley Square
  • Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 8:30 a.m., Rabb Lecture Hall, Copley Square
  • Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 3:00 p.m., Roslindale Branch Library
  • Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 3:00 p.m., South End Branch

Upcoming Community Online Chat:

  • April 7, 2010, 6 – 7:30 p.m., www.bpl.org, Online Moderated Chat

Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston
Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman; Evelyn Arana-Ortiz; Zamawa Arenas; James Carroll; Donna M. DePrisco; Berthé M. Gaines; Paul A. La Camera

President
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, April 7, 2010 at 8 a.m.

Rabb Lecture Hall, Concourse Level, Johnson Building
700 Boylston Street, Boston MA
Minutes

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 Boston Public Library, Rabb Lecture Hall, Copley Square Library, on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 8:00 a.m.

Present at the meeting were: Trustees Evelyn Arana-Ortiz, Zamawa Arenas, James Carroll, Donna M. DePrisco, Berthé M. Gaines via telephone, Paul A. La Camera, and 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., and Elizabeth Dello Russo, Esq., City of Boston Law Department; 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; David J. Vieira, President, City Wide Friends of the Boston Public Library; Don Haber, Co-chair, Friends of Jamaica Plain Branch; Marleen Nienhuis, President, Friends of South End Branch; 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; Koren Stembridge, Director, Partnerships and Communications; Mary Flaherty, Human Resources Manager; Sean Nelson, Chief Financial Officer; Michael Colford, Director, Resource Services/Information Technology; David Leonard, Chief Technology Officer; 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; Diane Collins, Treasurer, AFSCME, Local 1526, Council 93; Anna Fahey-Flynn, President, PSA/CWA, Local 1333; approximately 275 members of the public; and Jamie McGlone, Clerk of the Board.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman presided.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman welcomed the Friends of the Branch Libraries, Stakeholders, Affiliates, Media, and Colleagues of the Public Library of the City of Boston to the Boston Public Library to continue the discussion on the future of the Boston Public Library and proceed with the budget planning process for FY2011 and thanked the community for their letters of support for the Boston Public Library.

The Chairman outlined the procedures for the meeting noting that everyone who wishes to talk would be given the opportunity during the public comment session and observed that the wonderful turnout of library friends reflects the love and passion people bring to their libraries to celebrate and speak up for them which is a tribute to the Boston Public Library.

The Chairman addressed the review and approval of the Minutes for the Trustees Meeting held on March 24, 2010. Following discussion, on a motion duly made and seconded, the Minutes for the Trustees Meeting held on March 24, 2010 were approved and posted on the BPL Website www.bpl.org.

Ms. Koren Stembridge reported on the overwhelming public participation that has occurred since the last Trustees Meeting on March 24, 2010 relative to the continuing conversation about the FY2011 budget. In terms of messages coming via the budget feedback page of our website, through mail, by fax, or by phone to date the library has received more than 950 messages and more were received this morning that would total over 1000 messages.

Ms. Stembridge noted that suggestions for raising revenue have fallen off significantly and the bulk of current messages are either in support of individual branches, or in support of keeping all branches open. The library has also received messages from individuals who use and value the Central Library, from individuals who use and value online resources, and from individuals who have offered suggestions for which branches could be closed or which services should be eliminated.

The library has also received messages offering additions to some of our Measures data. The bulk of these additions have had to do with additional schools and public transportation routes to be added for specific branches. It is clear that all Boston Public Library branches are in close proximity to one or more schools and to one or more public transportation routes.

Additionally, the library is in receipt of petitions from several branches that were presented to the Clerk of the Board with signatures, including: Allston-Brighton – 480; Charlestown – 901; East Boston – 300; Egleston – 440; Jamaica Plain – 2,138; Lower Mills – 4,046; Orient Heights – 562; Parker Hill – 1,562; Roslindale – 193; South End – 264; and Uphams Corner – 479. The library is also aware that there are more petition drives underway and we continue to monitor comments posted on Facebook, Twitter, and other online sources.

In response to questions and messages the library has taken the following actions: continuing to update the budget page on the library’s website, posting new information weekly and updating the Measures data based on information provided by our staff and the public. Further, the library has hosted 4 Community Meetings around the city and will hold a 5 th online conversation this evening. As we move beyond this immediate budget conversation, we will be following up with individuals who have made specific offers of fundraising support, programming ideas, and volunteer time in concert with the Boston Public Library Foundation.

Ms. Stembridge noted that several common themes have run through all of the Community Meetings including: the importance of the library in the lives of children, seniors, and new Bostonians; the appreciation for libraries that are within walking distance from people’s homes; the significance of libraries in people’s personal histories – as places where they learned to read, or where their children learned to read; the idea that bigger branches are not always better; and messages of appreciation for BPL staff who go above and beyond to make libraries true community gathering places.

There were also themes that were unique to specific neighborhoods: in East Boston, there was concern over the geographical separation between their community and the rest of the city; in Allston-Brighton, there was fear of losing another community building in the Oak Square area; and in both East Boston and Jamaica Plain, there were questions about stalled capital projects.

In total, the library has heard from over 100 individuals at the four Community Meetings. In addition to library-sponsored meetings and feedback opportunities, there have been meetings and rallies planned by neighborhood Friends of the Library groups, as well as by other library advocates. President Amy Ryan and her administrative team are attending as many of these as we can and the President recently attended a meeting at Faneuil Branch Library with Councilor Mark S. Ciommo, and one this past Saturday in Dorchester with Councilor Maureen E. Feeney. We also receive regular information from branch staff about activities and meetings in their communities.

Ms. Stembridge underscored that no matter what the outcome of the Board’s decision on Friday, the community feedback process has been invaluable – it is a treasure trove of information about the services our customers value and the ways in which the library touches lives. We will keep this feedback at the forefront as we move forward to implement the vision for the library’s future.

Ms. Stembridge expressed appreciation to everyone who has sent an email, written a letter, or attended a meeting on behalf of the Board of Trustees, President Amy Ryan and all front-line staff members, whose efforts and talents the community graciously acknowledged in their messages, and urged the public to continue sending their feedback on the future of the Boston Public Library.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman reported that the Board and President were informed yesterday from the City of Boston that the City funding for FY11 will be level funded from Fiscal Year 2010 and the Board expressed their appreciation of the Mayor’s efforts to address the funding gap of $3.6 million facing the library.

President Amy E. Ryan, in her report to the Trustees, first expressed her appreciation to the members of the public and the staff who have displayed tremendous commitment to and affection for the Boston Public Library during this challenging process.

The President noted that today’s discussion is a continuation from the last Trustees Meeting on March 24, 2010 that is driven by the financial challenges facing the library and the focus is on Branch Scenarios in concert with the scenarios presented previously on Administrative and System-wide Support and the Copley Square Central Library.

The President underscored the library has scrutinized the administration and management of the library in terms of contracts, energy conservation, and streamlining the processing and cataloging of books and materials that follows cuts made last year which mostly affected the Copley Square Library including the elimination of positions.

President Ryan presented an overview of three proposed Branch Library Scenarios for the Board’s consideration in anticipation of voting on a recommended option at the Trustees Meeting on Friday, April 9, 2010 to fulfill the legal FY11 budget requirements that would be submitted to the City of Boston on April 10, 2010.

The President reiterated the proposed scenarios reflect the overarching financial picture facing the library in conjunction with the tremendous public and staff input on re-shaping and transforming the future of the Boston Public Library into a 21 st century library and aligned with the BPL Measures approved by the Board on March 24, 2010.

The scenarios also were developed to complement the vision that the Boston Public Library will touch every Bostonian: In Buildings: Copley and the Branches; Online Access: from Libraries, Home, Work, and on the Go; and in the Community: Services Beyond the Walls. Further, libraries are more important and useful today than ever before given that demand is rising at the same time that funds are shrinking requiring the BPL to save money, stabilize, and begin a transformation for the institution’s future.

President Ryan presented and reviewed each of the three branch library scenarios noting that the City of Boston would have to bargain the impact of hours reductions with the unions for staff who may be expected to work at multiple locations.

  • Option 1: All twenty-six branches remain open, 8 lead libraries (plus Central Library in Copley Square) maintain existing hours of operation, 18 branches paired and hours reduced
  • Option 2: Twenty-two branches remain open with existing hours of operation; 4 buildings close. In this option, the following buildings would close: Faneuil, Lower Mills, Orient Heights, and Washington Village
  • Option 3: Nineteen branches remain open; 7 buildings close. In this option, the following buildings would close: Egleston Square, Faneuil, Jamaica Plain, Lower Mills, Orient Heights, Uphams Corner, and Washington Village

President Ryan reviewed the rationale pertaining to the proposed closure of the four branches in Option 2. The President recognized the Fanueil Branch is a beloved library in the Oak Square community and it is an aging facility in need of repair and is not in compliance with the American Disabilities Act. The Brighton Branch is scheduled to reopen in late fall 2010 following after a $5.5 million capital reinvestment and in light of the Fanueil Branch being in close proximity to two “Lead Libraries” makes it a candidate for closure. The President added that if this option were to proceed the Fanueil Branch would not close until the Brighton Branch re-opens.

The President noted that the Fanueil/Oak Square neighborhood has many community organizations and underscored that the library would explore potential partnerships with such organizations including the Brighton Historical Society, YMCA, Boston College Neighborhood Center , and the Presentation School Community Center .

To that end, the President noted that the 15 computers at Faneuil would be relocated to both Brighton and Honan-Allston Branches to increase computer access at those branches and the Homework Assistance Program tutors and mentors would be redeployed to branches as well.

The rationale for the proposed closure of the Lower Mills Branch in light of its loyal following in the community stems from the demand of services being diminished since the opening of new branches in Mattapan and Milton as reflected in the public use measures for Lower Mills ranking in the lower percentile coupled with limited ability for technology expansion.

The President noted the Lower Mills Branch is located in close proximity to the Codman Square and Adams Street Branches and the computers at the Lower Mills Branch would be redeployed to either those branches or different community partners. The Lower Mills area is a community with a strong local business district and the library would explore potential partnerships with organizations such as the Gallivan Community Center and others.

The Homework Assistant Program at Lower Mills would be redeployed to the Codman Square and Adams Street Branches and the library would relocate the Lower Mills computers to the nearby branch libraries to increase computer access at those branches.

The President reviewed the rationale for the closure of the Orient Heights Branch which also has a loyal and dedicated following of users noting the branch occupies an aging building in need of repair and the children’s room is located on a lower level requiring additional staffing making it less operationally efficient.

Further, in recent years the demand for services has diminished as evidenced by the branch public use measures and given the limited space restrictions of the branch programming and programming attendance also tends to be low.

The President noted that a feasibility study for a new East Boston Branch has been done and suggested that should Option 2 go forward a new East Boston branch be the first priority for the BPL’s capital projects program.

The library would also explore potential partnerships with organizations including the Orient Heights Community Center , the Guild School , and others. The Homework Assistance Program and computers would be redeployed to the East Boston Branch thus increasing capacity at that location along with computer access.

President Ryan presented the rationale for the closure of the Washington Village Branch which also has a loyal and dedicated following in the community and is located in the Old Colony Housing development. The branch occupies the space of two converted apartments, offering no possibility to expand technology or collections and due to the lack of space the branch is often in the lower percentile for programs offered and program attendance.

The Old Colony Housing development is undergoing renovations that will result in a new community center. The library has had discussions with the Boston Housing Authority and the principal of the Perkins School about exploring the possibility of providing alternative services. The Homework Assistance Program would be redeployed to South Boston Branch or in conjunction with a community center while the computer would be relocated to South Boston or community partners.

President Ryan reviewed background information on Option 3 in which transformation would be launched by keeping 19 branches open and 7 buildings closed. In this option, the following buildings would close: Egleston Square , Faneuil , Jamaica Plain, Lower Mills, Orient Heights , Uphams Corner, and Washington Village .

Under this option, the BPL will be able to offer innovative services in libraries, online and in the community. All remaining locations could expand night-time and Saturday hours which would add approximately 85 hours per week at the branches and the net loss of hours at the branches would be 225 per week.

The BPL staff would develop partnerships with community organizations and increase promotion of existing programs and services throughout Boston . This option meets the budget, fills current vacancies, and provides approximately 14 positions for transformation services city-wide and no branches would be paired or staff shared at different locations.

The BPL will be able to locate additional computers and laptops and provide training to the community at library locations and with community partners coupled with collections and computers from closed locations being located to other BPL locations.

The rationale for the potential closure of Egleston Square Branch which also has a dedicated and loyal following is evidenced by the diminished public use measures, the building currently is not ADA compliant, and close to several other libraries including Dudley, Connolly, Grove Hall and Parker Hill.

The Egleston neighborhood has a diverse group of community organizations and the library would explore potential partnerships with such organizations including 826 Boston , Egleston Square YMCA, Head Start, Dimock Center , and senior housing. Under this option, there is capacity for significant outreach activities in the Egleston Square area, as well as the opportunity for expanded hours at the Connolly and Dudley Branches.

The rationale for the closure of the Jamaica Plain Branch, which also has a passionate and dedicated loyal following, is that it is located in an aging facility in need of repair with no room for expansion of collections. The building is not ADA accessible, and is without the technical infrastructure needed to expand computer services. The branch is adjacent to a large community center and in close proximity to Connolly and Egleston Square branches.

The Jamaica Plain neighborhood has many community organizations and the library will explore potential partnerships with such organizations as the Curtis Hall and Agassiz Community Centers , Spontaneous Celebrations, and others.

The rationale for the closure of the Uphams Corner Branch which also has a loyal base of users is located in a mixed-use building that is in disrepair and the Children’s Room is located on the lower level making it operationally inefficient. Further, demand for services has diminished in recent years, the facility is ADA accessible only during the adjacent health center operating hours coupled with the lack of technical infrastructure needed to expand computer services.

Under this option, there is capability for significant outreach partnerships and outreach activities in the Uphams Corner area as well as the opportunity to expand hours at the Dudley and Grove Hall branches.

Trustee James Carroll observed that the outline of the potential impact on the system under Option 3 reflects significant potential activities for transformation and expansion initiatives including: early literacy services for families; more public computers and training; outreach to community organizations; exhibits and educational programs at the branches and schools; Reading Readiness; out of school time programs to support school curriculum; literacy services for new Bostonians; ties with area schools; book club activities for all ages, deposit collections of books in the community; and other services responsive to the neighborhoods.

The Board discussed the desirability to foster and pursue firm commitments for both capital projects and the expansion of services in the neighborhoods in the event of any branch closures in conjunction with solidifying a definition of services that would be available to communities affected by these closures.

The President noted the outpouring of community support and hundreds of offers to help the Boston Public Library through this difficult time and that the library is working with the Boston Public Library Foundation to raise additional funds that could be targeted to services and initiatives the public value in potentially affected areas.

To further that end, the Board asked that the agenda for the next Trustees Meeting include a review of potential library services and initiatives that would be deployed in the affected areas of branch closures to mitigate the impact on the future delivery of neighborhood library services.

Trustee James Carroll strongly advocated for the leeway and the capacity for the transformation of new library services powerfully articulated in President Ryan’s vision that the city is desperately in need of, for the future of the Boston Public Library, to touch every Bostonian in buildings, online and in the community.

Trustee Carroll observed that while the Board has an eye on the pain and the anguish of the library staff and the community. The Board equally needs to have an eye on the capacity of the Boston Public Library to adapt and change toward the delivery of services in a new way as reflected in Option 3 which provides significant steps toward transformation into a 21 st century library.

Trustee Carroll noted that Option 1 protects the status quo which is not working for the citizens and staff of the BPL as a sustainable institution and reflects the gutting of 18 neighborhood branches to provide services to one or two days a week.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman commended the work of Trustee Paul A. La Camera and others on their advocacy for seeking additional revenue and legislative opportunities and the public for rallying around their support for and celebration of the staff, resources and services of the Boston Public Library.

Following extensive discussion, President Ryan recommended and endorsed Option 2, the plan that closes four branches and maintains hours at 22 locations. The PowerPoint presentation from the meeting along with a document summarizing proposed budget reductions at the Central Library in Copley Square, in System-wide Operations and Support, and in the neighborhood branches are available at www.bpl.org/budget. The Chairman underscored that no vote would be taken at today’s meeting.

The President further noted that Option 2 represents the most prudent option which preserves as many branches as possible, fills critical vacancies, and allows for improvements that do not require staff to work at more than one location and to build critical partnerships with the community.

President Ryan added that the library staff would work throughout the summer to develop the services the library would continue to provide and earmark a timetable for the branch closures in the fall except for Faneuil which would remain open pending the reopening of the Brighton Branch Library. The President reiterated that the library would turn to the Trustees, staff, public, and the Friends to look at how to move forward with this newly constituted BPL.

Trustee James Carroll suggested it would be valuable if the service opportunities and potential partnerships of the neighborhoods involved could be identified to inform the Board on the future transformation of library services in the neighborhoods.

Trustee Paul A. La Camera reflected on the public community meetings held throughout the city noting concerns that resonated regarding the transparency of public participation in this process and the call to give the deliberations more time to explore and generate potential fundraising and additional revenue opportunities in concert with the Friends and supporters of the Boston Public Library.

Trustee La Camera further noted that while it is the Board’s fiduciary legal responsibility to vote on the FY11 operating budget at the Trustees Meeting on Friday, April 9, 2010 in order for the budget to be filed with the City of Boston, he expressed personal concern and compassion for the staff and families who would be laid off and the affected communities targeted for closures.

Trustee Evelyn Arana-Ortiz reflected on the suggestions consistently repeated at the community meetings to give the process more time to engage the community with opportunities to validate and support the future vision of the Boston Public Library.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman invited public comment from twenty individuals who signed the Public Comment Session sheets to speak for two minutes each. The highlights of the public suggestions are summarized as follows:

  • Expressed concern for the permanent closure of branches and the unlikely possibility of the affected branches to ever reopen
  • Urged the Board to vote approval of Option 1 in anticipation of circumstances improving economically
  • Noted concern for further branch closures in the near future in light of aging facilities that are in critical need of repair and the need to build new branch libraries in the areas where these aging facilities remain
  • Petitions totaling 1,817 signatures from across the City were presented to the Clerk to save the branches
  • Suggested that Option 1 reflect the Central Library and Lead Branches as equal partners in sharing the pain of closures and the future vision of the BPL needs to be embraced by the public
  • Suggested the Board explore additional fundraising opportunities to address the budget gap
  • Expressed support for the future vision of the BPL and the additional community partnerships and initiatives earmarked for the impacted neighborhoods in Boston Public Library
  • Expressed concern for the rushed community process and the critical need to have outreach programs in place before any branches are closed
  • Noted concern for the potential closure of the Egleston Square Branch that would impact four schools located within six blocks of the branch and many disenfranchised citizens
  • Urged the Board to declare a State of Emergency and engage the citizens to rally around saving the branch libraries
  • Suggested the Board harness the tremendous energy and enthusiasm displayed at the community meetings to address the budget gap including development of a strategic fundraising plan
  • BPL/ PSA representative urged the Board to vote for Option 1 as reflected in the wishes of the community expressed at the community meetings
  • Advocated for teaching children about the love and experience of physical books and less emphasis placed on technology in the transformation of branches
  • Urged the Board to channel the enormous public support around the development of creative partnerships in the affected neighborhoods
  • Recommended Option 1 in which all of the branches would share in the pain equally and concern for the proposal to close the Jamaica Plain Branch which is the busiest branch in the entire city
  • Advocated for the staff positions slated to be eliminated at the Central Library and the future delivery of services at Copley
  • Urged the Board to advocate for additional money to fill the financial gap including an enhanced fundraising and development office
  • Advocated for Option 1 to allow the library to explore additional revenue streams in concert with the currently engaged community across the City
  • Urged the Board to develop a model program for the development of partnerships and community initiatives that would be rolled out before any branch closures
  • Shared with the Board additional petitions to save the Orient Heights Branch in light of three schools located in the immediate neighborhood

Trustee James Carroll reported on the ongoing work of the Boston Public Library: Principles for Excellence as the follow-up to the Trustees Neighborhood Services initiative. The purpose of the Compass Committee is to chart a new direction for the Boston Public Library and adopt a set of principles that will define the future vision of the Boston Public Library which will be presented to the Board for adoption at the Trustees Meeting on May 11, 2010.

The Chairman thanked the community for their input and suggestions and reported that the next Trustees Meetings will be held on Friday, April 9, 2010 at 8:30 a.m., Rabb Lecture Hall, Copley Square Library to continue the discussions and vote on a Branch Budget Option and the FY11 Boston Public Library Operating Budget required to be submitted to the City of Boston. There being no other business, the meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency adjourned at 10:15 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Clerk of the Board

 

 

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