Library Board Meeting Liveblog, October 12

(here, waiting for meeting to begin; I’ll leave my typed-up head librarian’s report at the bottom, though it’s incomplete at this point)

5:09pm: called to order.

Absent are Ed Trachtenberg and Kevin Dowd.  Jabian acting as chair.

5:10pm: correcting minutes of previous meeting (in September) — request that an ad hoc gift policy committee meet to review gift policy and provide written procedures. (At some point, I’ll try to motivate myself to scan this stuff.  Likely not tonight.)

5:14pm: Jyoti wants to see how Mark wants minutes handled (secretary emails them for review).  Mark talks about how his previous library used to do meeting agendas/handouts (everything assembled, mailed in paper a week beforehand).  Minutes would be included.

Much mention of killing of trees.

Jabian: From mailing to electronic, we saved on postage.  Does electronic still work?  (Consensus is yes.)

5:18pm: Report of Committee on Administration from last Thursday (?): Judy reports that Denise reviewed procedure for head librarian administrative assistant search.  398 (!!!) applicants.  25 selected for phone interview.  Denise did them all.  Final interviews to 7 external and 4 internal applicants.  Denise McKinley recommended for position.  Recommend that board approves.

5:20pm: Jyoti moves to accept recommendation.  Approved; Denise will call her to offer the position.

5:21: Report of the President.  PILOT from Clark, presentation at GBV Foundation Board Meeting.

Doreen reports that Ed T. had knee surgery and is recovering and sends his regards.

5:23pm: Mass Library Trustees Association meeting first Saturday in November at Worcester Tech.  The awesome Joel from facilities will be presenting about library security.

5:24pm: Discussions with Woodland Academy and how to increase presence there.

Mark begins head librarian’s report.

He spend a few hours at Woodland Academy.  Jabian and Anne Hrobsky have had discusssions with Woodland to have a pilot program there (teacher privileges, letting teachers and students know what’s happening at the library).  They will be working on this more.

5:26pm: Mark gushes about the department heads and everything they do.  “If you work at the WPL, people just want to know you and welcome you.”

He wants to get up to speed on FY12 budget process; all indications are that it will be a tough year.  Meetings scheduled with Finance at City Hall.

Library prioritizing and submitting information for capital planning.

5:29pm: Early retirement — they’re getting more information in a few days and will share with the board.  They know that some library staff are interested.  30% of these petitions can be replaced according to the law, and they will go to bat for positions at the library. They’ll try not to talk “like librarians…all the time.  Equate these positions to language that they’re more accustomed to at City Hall.”

Asked Ann to look at what kind of programs could be done in children’s program room.  Continuing the perception that library is a community center.

PILOT from Clark.  Hopefully will hear more from City Manager about this soon. 

(I just realized that Mark Contois reminds me of Jonathan Creek.  Wasn’t it great to see Alan Davies on Inspector Lewis a few weeks back?)

Jabian asks about the decision about rehiring for library positions — do we know yet what the timeline is?  (Thinking about board advocacy.)  Mark says he wants the employees off the books by mid-November, so it’ll happen quite fast.  Not sure how quickly the decision will be made. 

5:38pm: Donna and Jabian will work on strategy to discussing this with councilors.

5:39pm: Report of Committee on Finance.  Paul reports that the committee received a report from Greater Worcester Community Foundation.  Didn’t receive any $ last year, but our account only lost $350.  Holding there at $26k.  They continue to have great interest in the library.

Trust Fund Budget had to be revised.  Mix-up between two funds budgeting.  Trust Fund: 178,700 for proposed budgeted expenses.  $9k less than previous year.  Of $178k, 80% will come from Green fund.  Committed to returning 25% of the income to the principal ($31,000 back to principal). 

5:43pm: further discussion of expenditures for the past month, but I had a coughing jag so I had to leave the room.

5:44: Denise had a wonderful conversation with the person “who would be working with us, tomorrow if she could.  She’s thrilled.”  No start date at this point because they have to go through the city’s process.  Sense is that it will take three weeks.

5:46pm: Terry – Friends Exec Board met on the 21st.  We need much more PR on how to get people involved with the friends.  Online membership.  Newsletter new mailing at end of November.  Library bookstore doing quite well.  Averaging $2400 a month.  Big book sale 5th and 6th (4th for members).  They will be going with one big book sale a year.

Much discussion of Got Books? and donations to library.  Got Books? is really a statewide issue, those containers go to a for-profit company.  People donate under the assumption that they’re donating, but the books are being sold for profit.  The state MFOL wants to get more information because it’s a bit deceptive.

Bookstore has mirror and a door chime when you walk through the door.  Joel said it was simple to install.

5:52pm: Judy: Celebration of Authors was well-attended, beautiful (220+ people), three authors were excellent.  [Nicole would like to note that I saw the flowers Sprout donated afterwards and they looked awesome]

Big time thanks to Sprout via Maria Lockheardt.  They made flowers out of books.  Authors also said they thought this was a great event.  She’s worried that we might actually outgrow the space at the library.  (Hopes we won’t.)

Maria’s doing grant writing for teen writing program.

Also, Jyoti said that Sprout offered tickets to the event as a door prize at the 10th anniversary.  Mad props all around to Sprout.

5:56pm: Judy talks a bit about gift policy. 

5:58pm: Jabian: old business: about posting our meetings online.  Are we able to do that?  Mark says that Paul put together some information about the open meeting law.  Mark says that he needed to discuss with the city solicitor’s office to see if he could come to a meeting and give an overview of the open meeting law.  He will continue to pursue that. 

Bill says that he’s been promoting the library in the last couple of editions of the InCity Times, etc.

6:02pm: and we’re done.




I continue to meet with community individuals and organizations as often as my schedule  permits.  A few of the meetings I have attended included: Chamber of Commerce Breakfast; Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester Board of Directors and Volunteers Appreciation meetings; City Square Groundbreaking ceremony; Mayor’s Neighborhood Walk in Great Brook Valley; City Council Meeting; Worcester Public Library Foundation meetings; Friends of the Library Board of Directors meeting; Woodland Academy meeting with school administration.  I am most appreciative of library staff for their thoughtfulness and generosity in inviting me to meetings, events, etc.


A Summit of E-books featuring prominent speakers in a webinar format was hosted by Worcester Public Library together with the newly-formed Massachusetts Library System and ARC (the Academic Research Consortium of Worcester).  Forty librarians from Worcester and Central Massachusetts heard about the promises and pitfalls of using Ebooks for school, academic, and public libraries.  One of the speakers was prominent scientist and inventor, Ray Kurzweil.  Our E-resources librarian, Pingsheng Chen, was coordinator of the event.

Our Free Computer Classes are well received.  The Friday morning classes expanded into sections, “Computer Basics for Beginners,” and “Resume and Job Search.”  These five-part classes are meeting the needs of patrons who have to learn the skills of the digital world.  Even to put in a job application at Walmart you have to learn how to use the mouse and how to do lower and capital letters on a keyboard.  There is a waiting list of 30 patrons for November, and we are only a few days into October.  (SEE HANDOUTS)

In addition, the Wednesday evening computer classes have turned into Computer Help Sessions with patrons receiving one-on-one help for their specific computer needs – whether it is using a spreadsheet, re-formatting a resume, downloading from a specific website, or concentrating on research in a particular area.  A team of librarians are ready to give the patrons assistance in response to needs that are specific and that require time away from the regular reference desk.

The second annual Swedgen Road Tour Genealogy Program on Saturday, October 2, drew a crowd of 85 people plus presenters.  The registrants came from four surrounding states as well as from California, Florida, and Texas.  The team of four Swedish Genealogists make limited stops in the United States.  The New England Genealogical Society which co-hosts this program allows any receipts after expenses to be donated to the WPL fund that supports the local history and genealogy collection.

Our Bookletters list of recommended reading featured titles of interest for Hispanic Heritage Month (SEE HANDOUTS.)

Librarians and staff from WPL will attend several sessions of the conference, Outside the Box: Results Support Sustainability, sponsored by the New England Library Association Conference in Boxborough, on October 17, 18, and 19.  Our own Pingsheng Chen, E-Resources Librarian, will be a speaker on a panel on Trends in Reference.  Staff are using their own Sunday and Monday free hours to take part in this training and development opportunity.

Moira McAvey, Librarian in charge of the Foundation Center at WPL, will present an introductory workshop on Searching for Grants from 10:00 to 11:00 on Thursday, October 21, in the computer lab.

A new Reference Blog and a Wiki on Frequently Asked Questions bring information about reference developments and news to note to staff and interested patrons.  This enables frequent updates and allows the information fresh.  The WPL Facebook page keeps adding numbers of subscribers and pushes out information about the Library and Library events.  WPL lives on the social network.

October 24 is the first Sunday of Sunday openings.  This “Opening Day” will feature ice cream sundaes for the public – being dished out by Mark Contois and Company.  This is in keeping with WPL tradition, started by Penny Johnson. 

Another exciting part of the event will be the author talk with mystery writer, Rosemary Herbert.  Her newest title, Front Page Teaser, features a scene in the Worcester Public Library.