(sorry — not here from the beginning; we’re discussing funding cuts)
5.35: Penny Johnson: recommendations to City Management. Programming is something all staff do, but not all (in response to Susan Gately asking about programming impacts).
Ed T.: are there funds specifically for youth that could be matched by companies?
Penny: example is Victoria Trachtenberg fund; question about whether there’s funding for the people to do the work. Programming that takes preparation time is something we would not be able to do and maintain the hours we have now.
Ed T.: why can’t we get staff funding via matching funds?
Jabian Gutierrez: how many hours will be reduced?
Penny: there will be some layoffs. It’s not going to be four layoffs, but it will be some (= less than four). Until she knows from City Hall, she won’t have exact figures.
Jabian: what hours would be reduced?
5:42: Penny: This is the two-shift issue. My assumption would be closing another morning. Right now, only open two 12-hour days at main library. So, one of those twelve-hour days would be made a one-shift schedule (perhaps 12:30-9:00)
Jabian: would there be a way to identify some of our most popular programs and keep them?
5.43: Penny: Anne Hrobsky has been working the closest on scheduling. It is hard to quantify; she believes they are stretching to keep the hours we have now. It means that people whose jobs are not to work public service desks are working them. We understand that that’s life, but normally a cataloguer should work 40 hours a week on cataloguing, not at a public service desk. That work doesn’t go away if they’re sick or on vacation (or working a public service desk). Talking Book staff who are working from state funds…
5:47: Not only are we looking at how we’re going to manage this, but we’re looking at different scheduling options. For example, we’re doing more book-purchasing packages (not depending on a professional librarian here, but on someone who says “all libraries are buying this, so you should”). They’re stretched so thin right now that something has to give, and it’s either hours or programming. We’re also looking at new ways to achieve our work; for instance, people are not using the self-checkout desks. [Note from Nicole: I taught a few people how to use them on Saturday]
5:48: Doreen discusses helping someone on a different floor (first versus second) because there were not enough people to help him on that floor. She has a couple of emails that were directed to her as head of reference that should have been answered quicker. It’s not totally visible, but at some point you have to say “These are our standards, these are what we have to keep.” We’re not really sure how to implement this. We put in for an application for an iPhone, so that someone can answer the phone as well as answering live patrons. It’s not the best, because we used to have a dedicated person just for the phone, but at least we can help people.
5:50: Penny is also worried about staff and morale. Staff will be disappointed if they don’t do the things they love the most, but we have to explain the situation to them.
5:52: It’s not like we’re going to say “we’re going to close two hours and do two programs.”
Comment from Gerri (staff member): since 2003, we’ve cut seven positions, so we have to use technology to automate ordering, purchasing. Discussion of staffing shortages, and how the backroom staff are stretched.
5:53: Penny: when I came, there were four professional librarians doing cataloguing; now there’s one. Some of that has been resolved by automation, but you can’t go lower than one.
5:54: Judy: what about state requirement for hours?
Penny: we will have the number of unique hours required (63) because of FPBL on Mondays. If we don’t have 63 hours, we’d need a waiver. We’ll also need a waiver for the municipal appropriation requirement. For the hours, we’d receive a reduction in state funds. Regional money is gone. State aid is down. It’s not just city money we’re looking at, but other sources of funding. Waiver on hours would impact the money we receive from the state.
Judy: what about PILOT money?
Penny: Wendy has been trying to get an answer from the budget office, and we don’t have an answer on how this is used. When I spoke with Christina Andreoli, they weren’t having a lot of success going beyond the WPI money. I think we have it, it’s up to us to decide what we want to do with it. Not sure whether we’ll see additional money.
5:58: Paul Mullan: I wish to not be redundant, but would like to speak in favor of reduced hours. Doesn’t see the reduced hours as equivalent to reducing programming. He sees programming as extras; if we can’t keep the library here, then we aren’t providing what we say is the most important thing: letting people take advantage of the resources we have. By being open by as much as we can…; if there’s resources allocated to programming, he thinks city hall would think that was an extra. The Foundation doesn’t like to give us money just to keep doors open if we’re not also cutting programming. Going against a promise we made to them.
6:02: Jyoti Datta: do you think the figure includes the PILOT money?
Penny: I think so, but it’s unclear, and we need to ask the city manager directly, which I will do tomorrow when I discuss with them. She will get that information and covey it to the group.
If we tell the public that we’re closing for certain hours, it’s a greater impact than cutting programming. When we closed on Mondays, there were people I expected to complain, but people said, “I understand that we have to cut back because it’s tough times.” It’s not an easy answer, but if we cut programming and not hours, we need to communicate that we’re offering as many hours as possible to provide services and resources from staff.
6:06: When will Council hearings been? Penny believes the manager will sign on budget by end of the week, then it will be packaged and sent to the council for hearings.
When you looked at this with Lucy, they said 10%, now they’re saying 3%.
Bill Coleman: The community feels beat up on. The neighborhoods feel beat up on. When they closed branch libraries, everyone promised [that they’d be brought back] and nothing happened. They need to hear from higher voices that this is important. The city manager was on Jim Polito talking about the focus on public services. Before Friday, we should call Polito, Blute, Levy, Stolz, and have a rallying call [from the library board members] before the city manager announces his budget.
As he came down here, he ran into Paul Cellucci [Nicole saw this as she walked in] who was talking in the Saxe Room. Each one of us has a strong voice, get on the radio.
Kevin Dowd: I think that recommendation is an important one to be a board with a voice. Can we give Penny some direction?
Penny: Given the information we have currently, the option that we should be following is to maintain the hours. Bill Coleman motions to direct Penny in this way; Judy seconds.
All in favor.
6:15: Donna, Regional Legislative Affairs Committee report: On March 30, two sessions in which councilors came to sessions with one-hour tour of some major pieces. (First session: Councilor Lukes & Smith, second: Petty, Toomey, Eddy, Rushton); hopefully they’ll remember as they have budget discussions. Drafting a letter to thank them for coming. Recommendation to Bill Coleman: also, to T&G to thank the councilors (not by name) for coming.
[Nicole: I wish they’d recorded this tour for Youtube; it also reminds me that I should do a short video on how to use those self-service machines and showing the kids’ touch-screen computers. Also, why is the WiFi in the library 100% easier to use than that at city hall?]
Judy: discussion of minutes for Thursday, April 8
6: 23: Kevin: directing people to the ante-penultimate page of the committee on staffing. We’re happy with the process in place. We’ve already begun advertising for position. Deadline for decision is May 7, and then a week later they will discuss candidates who are fully qualified. Hope to make job offer by July 2 at the latest and have person in position by August 2. Judy’s already received a first application and passed it on to Denise.
6:24: Terry Dorsey: report of the Friends: bylaws are being rewritten for the Friends group. The board voted to give $500 to Paul Reynolds for all the work he does. The Internet sales last month were over $900 (due to one $600 book to Brazil and a $200 book). Due to staffing issues, Alice has been working many hours and they do have a form of security in there. Since a staffing change in the bookstore, averaging $100-200 in sales a day. Yearly meeting on Sunday at 2pm. Best Friend of the Friends this year is [redacted because it’s a surprise]. As an aside, the refreshments at the meeting with be from Worcester Tech, so they will be awesome.
6:28: Judy: Foundation Report. Retreat last week was a fruitful meeting, run by Peter Pearson run by St. Paul library Foundation. He outlined principles of good foundations, which will be good checkpoints for us to examine. Discussions of different kinds of funding. His board in St. Paul has 49 individuals; we should be recruiting like crazy, for people with influence and/or affluence. They have huge events in St. Paul. This helped solidify the relationship between the library board and the library foundation board.
6:33: Kevin: Bob Nolan and Alice Welch will be part of ad hoc committee in search for new librarian, to bring in foundation and friends.
Terry: reporting on trustee symposium. Very similar to retreat from last January. Thought the speaker was wonderful.
6:35: Bill Coleman: on advocacy: perhaps we can ask people around the city what they read and put something up with pictures in the entranceway. [Nicole: right now, I’m reading Joyce Maynard’s memoir At Home in the World; Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann; War and Peace; and a book about the Pythagorean theorem…in case you’re interested]
Bill gives out the number for WTAG; Denise warns that her phone number is one off and she gets a lot of calls for ‘TAG.
Tara & Kevin recommend a simpler working like “Smoking Area — Thank you for your cooperation” for the sign in front.
Bill presents Penny a flashlight that doesn’t require batteries. So that she can lead people out.
Question about getting the torn banner; the gentleman doesn’t have a PO, and he hasn’t heard back. He’ll keep following up.
…and we’re done.