Library Board Liveblog

5:09 – call to order.  Joel got me a drink; he must know I still have a cold!

Ed thinks he’ll be back for the February meeting; I’ve left updates out, but he’s been ill.

5:10 – going over minutes.  I don’t have them in front of me, so I won’t respond on this.

5:13 – Report of the President.  (Kevin is here.)  It’s Judy’s last meeting — “originally I thought it was a life sentence”, but it’s gone by fast.  Kevin – “The board is stronger because you’re a member.” 

New board members were chosen & Kevin will write them a welcome letter on behalf of the board.

“Year of three head librarians.”  One of the big accomplishments was bringing Mark on board.  “It’s important to remember that the professionals that work here held this place together incredibly.  … You guys and those not in this room did a fantastic job.”  recalls a flood where Joel & his team helped. 

A year ago in January they had a board retreat; will discuss whether to have another later on.

5:16 – “we have a way to go” regarding goals for the board.

5:17 – Judy thought the facilitator did a good job guiding the board in the group setting.

Kevin – “to be a board that was more active especially in legislative affairs and advocacy.”  Thanks Donna for her work in this area.  “Making advocacy a yearlong event, thinking about budget yearlong.”  Thanks Jabian and the rest of the board as well.  Doreen, Wen & Anne brought the City Councils in to see this facility.

5:19 – Kevin’s one goal: Most important responsibility to have closer relationship with Foundation. 

Susan comments on Bob’s presence & how meaningful it’s been to have him participate every month.  Bob says he is “addicted to it.”  “Thanks for having me at the table.  It means a lot. … I don’t have a date tonight.”  (laughter)

5:22 – Mention of the Friends – a “trio” that keeps this place phenomenal.

A lot of success in terms of automation and updating of technology.  New desk & tables at FPBL, opened up the area.  [Pictures to come on that today or tomorrow.]

This year will be the time to write a new strategic plan.

5:23 – Mark thanks Jyoti and Jabian for coming to City Hall with him to meet the five candidates for the board; an “enjoyable evening.”  The Mayor & City Clerk (Rushford & LeDuc) were very helpful as well.  Any of the candidates would have been good.

5:25 – continues with head librarian’s report; tremendous amount of work in youth services; connections with the public schools.

The furniture for FPBL had to be assembled on-site, it all came together with mucho help from the staff.

Doreen – “I wish you could have seen patrons’ faces” when they see the new setup.  “A boost for the staff too.”  They’ve lost a branch head and a children’s librarian at FPBL, so this helps.

Thanks to Maria for the $ for the new desk.

Mark – within hours, he got a phone call; the very next day he got a letter; both complimentary to the new furniture.

5:30 – nice meeting with the Mayor, who came to the library, with the director of CWMARS, discussed that CWMARS is located in the city, mention of a bookmobile.  Mayor is enthusiastic about getting bookmobile on the road this summer.  Over the last four days, he’s [JOB] been trying to put together funding on that.

5:31 – Last week, Jim Izatt [of talking books] & Mark made an impact statement regarding budgets in Boston.  Rob has been instructed to do a budget with a 7.7% cut.  21% cut in talking book library.  Talking Books have done better than other areas in the budget in recent years. 

Perhaps will work with Donna on advocacy for Talking Books.

5:34 – “49 week notice” that we need to keep advocating for Talking Books to stay here and not be consolidated [perhaps with Perkins in Watertown].  Talking Books has been here since 1978.

5:35 – Kevin notes that John Binienda is a big supporter of the Talking Book library.

Friday, March 11, 2011 – library legislative breakfast will be here.

5:37 – Jyoti – timing of minutes.  (?)  [I think – my mind wandered]

5:38 – Donna – Finance – minutes of November 9 finance meeting:
Discusssed FY2011 Combined Trust Fund Expenditures
Wei Jeng-Chu’s ALA membership in the amount of $365 approved. 
Joel W’s meetings had been approved but he had not yet attended.
approved one staff member attend URI

oral report of today’s Finance meeting – request for payment of funds –
Saxe Fund $53 for ALA and MLA membership for Denise
Travel & Conference – add’l for a conference
Green Fund – board & staff recognition in Feb for about $1000 (probably will be about $850)
volunteer recognition – $1300
proposed board retreat in January – not to exceed $1000
board appreciation gift to staff – $200
$4350 for movie licenses – main, FPBL, and GBV
$1500 for insurance for murals on loan from the Smithsonian
total for Green – $9600
total for Saxe – $203

5:46 – Friends met on November 16.

They’re having a 25 cent booksale on January 29; have a Friday morning preview versus a Thursday evening preview.  Bookstore now has gift certs.  In October, bookstore – $2424ish; booksale from last month $2219.50 – $494 in children’s area.  Not quite as high as they used to be, but pretty good.

Friends want to join the National Friends of Library organization (ALTAF)

New pass to Worcester Historical Museum (given free)

Fitchburg Art Museum passes for $75.  Thinking of passes for Fruitlands and DeCordova.

Thinking of permanent sign for the Friends to indicate their sponsorship of programs ($150) whenever there’s a program sponsored funded by Friends, all or in part.

Marionettes will be here on Dec 29.  Tickets available tomorrow!

end of Friends report

5:50 – Judy & Maria – Foundation Update.  Judy reiterates need for strong relationship between the three organizations.

Maria – Foundation had an open house last week at FPBL.  Thanks board members who came.  Three city councilors, Mike Moore, Bruce Gaultney were at FPBL that night as well.  Processing year-end gifts to the foundation. 

Maria – working on LSTA grant for library; board recruitment efforts.  Meetings with TD Bank, Melinda Boone, Anne Lisi.  Tomorrow, tea to promote foundation’s planned giving to longtime members of the friends.  First expenditure of head librarian’s fund.

Bob reports that we have made big inroads with Fallon (Bill C. had recommended this last time).

Maria – Fallon has provided resources for in-kind design resources, board recruitment, and the author’s event.

5:56 – Susan – can we keep Judy as the liaison to the foundation?  Kevin thinks not, when she’s no longer a board member.

5:57 – Nominations for the four offices

Kevin, Bill Coleman for P

Terry, Susan, Jabian for VP

Jyoti for Secretary (Dante is nominated but declines)

Donna for Treasurer

voting will take place in January

Also, financial committee will accept nominations in January.

6:03 – Old Business –

Donna would like to discuss library’s budget – advocacy letter to city councilors regarding local budget and loss of positions due to early retirements.  This Thursday, meeting with city CFO & Mark.

Regarding state budget, Donna requested more legislative agendas for FY12.  Once there’s an impact statement from the mayor, they’ll be better able to address this.

6:05 – more Old Business –

Bill C. – offering ICT quarter page.  Also, putting 20-30 minute infomercial on WCCA and government channels.  cameo from political leaders?

6:07 – New Business –

Annual retreat: having retreat in 2-hour timeblock after January meeting.  There might be time constraints about this (putting a vendor in the system).  So — might not be in January, but first would like to see if people would like to have a retreat.

Terry felt last time was too late; 6-8pm timeblock suggested by Kevin would be good.

Jyoti worries that the social aspect of things might be curtailed; Kevin suggests that keeping the meeting tight would help keep this on the early end of things.

6:12 – If we can’t do it in January, Kevin will communicate that and find another date.

Jyoti – heard Mark speak about marketing.  Do we have a partnership with WAM at this point?

Maria – loose relationship. 

Jyoti recommends strengthening relationship.  [Sorry — I’m getting tired of typing.]

Bill – Worcester State University – since Pres. Ashley was on the board, can we send a letter of congrats to them for being elevated to a university? 

6:16 – Bill, continued – Eric (works as a volunteer at the library) — Bill feels that he’s an incredible role model, triumphed over adversity, he’s in college and would like to see the young people working here recognized.

Kevin – can that be folded into the existing event and call those people out individually?

Anne – starting in January, 4 students from WPI will be putting together a game presentation and will be working here for a couple of months. 

6:20 – Jyoti – back to Worcester State U. – concern is that we’d then need to be vigilant about recognizing other schools, etc., going forward.


PILOT, briefly, of interest

I was reading this article about Boston residents’ attempts to keep the Faneuil library branch open, and I thought the following was interesting; emphasis is mine:

Getting area colleges, universities, hospitals and similar tax-exempt institutions to pitch-in to keep the branch afloat was among the more popular ideas residents discussed at the prior meeting.

The city already solicits voluntary payment-in-lieu-of taxes from such land-owning, tax-exempt organizations, but not all pitch in a proportionally equal amount. Disparity between how much these institutions give to the city prompted the mayor to create a task force last January to review the current PILOT system and make recommendations for improvement.

“This is a city-wide problem,” [mayor’s office representative Justin] Holmes said, citing that 53 percent of property in Boston is tax exempt. “The city in many ways is challenged to get these organizations to make payments.”

Note that “last January” is January 2009; it’s unclear from reading the (very comprehensive) Boston PILOT task force page whether the interim report (pdf of the whole report; pdf of the executive summary) was adopted.

Q has been repeating, in multiple locations, that the City Council has not held the City Manager responsible for not providing quarterly reports on PILOT negotiations, and that he has not “gone after” the non-profits in as aggressive a manner as Q would like. 

What I liked about reading the interim report of the Boston PILOT task force was that some of its goals were to clarify how much the non-profits were costing the city (in services), to show the benefits those non-profits were providing to the community, and (eventually) to show methods on how to calculate PILOT contributions for different types of non-profit institutions.

(Just read the whole report; you’ll find it a pleasant antidote to the yelling — both audible and print — that has gone on in Worcester about PILOT.)

The problem, as I see it, is not a lack of reporting regarding PILOT, but a lack of clear direction for a PILOT program beyond getting money (sometimes in exchange for closing off various streets) from universities.  It doesn’t seem that a real discussion was requested, or a real program implemented, as long as we got our money.  That has, and will continue to be, a disservice, both to the citizenry and to the non-profits, because we don’t really have any good statistics on services used, benefits received, etc., and we’re not basing PILOT (as far as I can tell) on a standard calculation.  If part of the impetus for PILOT is that the non-profits receive basic/essential services and aren’t paying for them, then why are we allowing those non-profits to direct their payments towards the library and parks, and not, for example, police and fire? 

These are the kinds of discussions and discoveries that we’re missing out on by the approach (or lack thereof) we’ve been taking.

(Aside: is it just me, or has become more aggressive about using the now-free user ID/password to access articles?  Is this in anticipation of a paywall?)

CWW: Marionette Show at the WPL

Starting tomorrow (Wednesday, December 15) you can pick up free tickets in the WPL Main Branch Children’s Room for a marionette show on December 29.

This year’s marionette show is once again presented by the Tanglewood Marionettes.  The show is Perseus and Medusa (which has always been one of my personal favorites).  The Tanglewood Marionetes are absolutely amazing and you should not miss the opportunity to see them!

This is also a super-popular event, and you should try to get the tickets asap (that is, tomorrow).

There will be three shows on the 29th — at 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. This is recommended for ages 5 and up.

Reminder: Citizen Advisory Council meets tomorrow

The Citizen Advisory Council is meeting tomorrow night at 6:00pm at the Worcester Public Library to interview for openings on city boards and commissions.  You can see the most current list of openings is here.

If you can’t make tomorrow night’s meeting, but are interested in applying for a specific board, you should still send in your application and resume and indicate which of the following CAC meeting dates would work for you:
March 30, 2011
June 29, 2011
September 7, 2011

Types of Boards

I’ve written a bit about the process of applying, but I haven’t really explained the differences in the types of boards.

Some of the most prominent boards (such as Conservation Commission, Election Commission,  License Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals — all of which have openings right now) are regulatory boards.   The city website describes regulatory boards in the following way: Regulatory boards and commissions have responsibilities relating to the application and enforcement of laws and regulations, and have the power to adjudicate disputes regarding the application of laws and regulations; issue permits or licenses; hear appeals from aggrieved persons complaining about administrative actions. The City Manager appoints all members without need for City Council confirmation.

Executive boards (such as Historical Commission, Off-Street Parking Board, Elder Affairs, and Mayor Thomas J. Early Scholarship Committee — all of which have openings right now) “establish policy for City departments, and supervise departmental operations through an executive officer who is the administrative head of a City agency. The City Manager appoints all members without need for City Council confirmation.”  (This description is from the city website.)

Advisory boards (such as Advisory Committee on the Status of Women, Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, Commission on Diabilities, Community Development Advisory Committee, and Hope Cemetery Commission — all of which have openings right now) “provide advice and information to the City Council, the School Committee, and the City Manager. Such advice is not binding upon these agencies. Nominees to advisory committees must be confirmed by a majority vote of the City Council.”   (This description is from the city website.)

My impression is that the regulatory and executive boards typically require more work, time, and expertise than the advisory boards.

Why should you apply?

There are a few reasons I think people should apply to serve on a board.

If you’ve got a special expertise or knowledge that fits with a board, you should definitely apply. 

If you follow a board closely and are frustrated with what you see, you should apply.  There are openings on many prominent boards —  Conservation Commission, Election Commission, Historical Commission, License Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals — so if you’re inclined to contribute to the city in a big way that doesn’t require running for office, this might be your chance.

I like serving on an advisory board because it doesn’t require a great amount of time, because I learn a lot, and because it gives me an appreciation for the work that goes into maintaining the cemetery.  I’d recommend serving on an advisory board if this is more your speed.

If you feel that the same old people always get onto boards, you should apply for the ones that you feel you are qualified for and/or can contribute to.  If it seems like the same old people always get onto boards, it’s because those people continue to apply for boards.  Nothing will change if you don’t apply.

Some boards you should consider…

Worcester Redevelopment AuthorityEver wanted to say that you’re in charge of Union Station?  Are you an amateur urban planner?  This might be your board!

Cable Television Advisory Committee We’re already starting to talk about the renewal of the Charter contractNOW is the time to get onto this board if you want to be involved in that process.  (And if that weren’t incentive enough, you also get to chill with Tom Colletta.)

Mayor Thomas J. Early Scholarship Fund Board of Trustees Would you like to serve on a board or commission but you coach in the fall and can’t commit to a board that meets all year long?  This is the board for you!  The busiest time of year for the members is in the early and late spring.

Off-Street Parking Board – Do you think about parking meters in city parking lots way too much?  Do you have dreams about city-owned parking garages?  Do you have Google Alerts set up for parking privatization?  If so, this is the board for you!

Trust Funds Commission – Do you love accounting?  Do you have two friends who also love accounting?  Get your two friends to apply with you, and you all can have a good time once a month talking about…accounting.