Birmingham Public Library Board Minutes
June 17, 2010
Central Library Boardroom
Meeting Called By
Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch, President
Type of Meeting
Regular Board Meeting
Trustees: Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch, President; Judge Shanta Owens, Vice-President, Thomas Adams, Bryding Adams, Nell Allen, Georgia Morgan Blair, Reverend Anthony Johnson(entered during Clarus' report), Samuel Rumore, Dora Sims
Trustees: Gwendolyn Amamoo
Call To Order
- Meeting called to order by President Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch.
- Grace Slaughter from Springville Road Library gave the invocation. Nell Allen presented her with a certificate of appreciation from the library board.
- Bryding Adams moved the approval of the consent agenda. Nell Allen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
- Georgia Morgan Blair moved the approval of the May 20, 2010 minutes with the following changes:
- The director's yearly evaluation should have taken place in May 2010. Nell Allen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
- Bobby Horne, President of the North Avondale Neighborhood Association, stated that the neighborhoods position on closing North Avondale has not changed and urged the library board to keep in mind the following:
- criteria the library board uses to determine which libraries will close.
- closing North Avondale Library will hurt patrons in the Kingston, Tom Brown, and East Birmingham neighborhoods as there are five sets of railroad tracks and no sidewalks leading to the closest library.
- Lila Jenkins spoke on behalf of the patrons of the Eastwood Library. She stated that the neighborhood has already lost an elementary school and that the Eastwood Library is a focal point for all activities in Eastwood. She also submitted a signed petition from the neighborhood residents.
FY 2011 Budget Reduction Plan
- Tom Adams stated that Administration did a great job on the reduction plan.
- Renee Blalock read the Budget Reduction Plan aloud. (attached)
- Sam Rumore asked whether or not there would be any cuts to databases. Renee Blalock stated that most of them are contract-based and are paid in full for the next year.
- Judge Owens asked if Slossfield, Inglenook, and East Ensley libraries would be permanent closures. Renee Blalock stated that they would be permanent closures.
- Bryding Adams expressed concern over the closure of branch libraries on Saturdays. Renee Blalock stated that the branch libraries are open until 6:00 p.m. during the week.
- Nell Allen stated that she walked the distance from East Ensley to Ensley Library and that the distance was no more than .08 of a mile. She also stated that Administration has put together an equitable Budget Reduction Plan.
- Dora Sims asked how many part time positions the library currently has and how many would be reduced. Renee Blalock stated that there are currently 138 part time positions and 23 of those positions would be eliminated by either attrition, cutting vacant positions, or eliminating staff.
- Georgia Blair moved approval of the FY 2011 Budget Reduction Plan. Nell Allen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
- Judge Owens stated that the library should look at eliminating car leases for the director and associate directors and also requiring library staff to pay for individual memberships to ALA, PLA, etc.
Friends Advocacy Committee
- Dora Sims suggested that the library board consider moving forward with hosting a luncheon for City officials as an expression of gratitude for their support during the budget crisis.
- Tom Adams and Nell Allen stated that now is not the time to spend money.
- Dora Sims stated that the funds would come from library board members.
- Gwendolyn Welch stated that it would be a good time to thank City officials and have a luncheon.
- Sam Rumore motioned for approval that some time in the future a luncheon should be held, funded by the library board, thanking City officials. Georgia Blair seconded the motion, which passed (5-3)(YES-Gwendolyn Welch, Dora Sims, Sam Rumore, Judge Owens, Georgia Blair)(NO-Nell Allen, Bryding Adams, Tom Adams)
- Judge Owens stated that the board should participate in fund raising efforts to benefit the library.
- Gwendolyn Welch stated that the board has solicited $2,000 from Representative Oliver Robinson and $250.00 (corporate matching for a total of $500.00) from Curtis Broom to help fund the 2010 NCAAL Conference to be held in Birmingham.
- Mrs. Welch also stated that she responded to a letter from Leona Payne, President of the Jones Valley Neighborhood Association, which stated that the community was not in favor of naming the meeting room at Powderly Library after Miriam Witherspoon. Mrs. Welch responded that the library board voted on July 23, 2009 in favor of naming the meeting room after Ms. Witherspoon and that the announcement to do so had been made both locally and nationally.
Presentation- Clarus Consulting Group
- Kay Kornmeier, Shauntice Allen, and Alice Walther from Clarus Consulting Group gave a presentation on the planning stage for the strategic planning project for the Birmingham Public Library.
Finance and Budget Update
- Nearly all of Ms. Blalock's time has been consumed by budget matters since the last board meeting. Two packets of material regarding the library’s budget have been delivered to board members. The first had information requested by the board at the meeting on May 22. The second included a budget reduction plan which was created in response to instructions from Mayor William Bell. Mayor Bell announced that five branches are to be closed. In a meeting with Mayor Bell, Gwendolyn Welch, and Ms. Blalock, permission was obtained from Mayor Bell to make an alternative plan which would close fewer branches and would identify other ways to reduce the library’s budget in the amount of $900,000 for the FY2011. Mayor Bell gave his permission but stated that he would assess how well the plan was working each quarter. If cuts were not being made, he would instruct his staff to make the necessary cuts.
Buildings, Facilities and Projects Update
- East Lake Project—Three bids for the HVAC mechanical work have been received by the City architect. The lowest one was from Metro D’s subcontractor. The change order/allowance adjustment is being created and the work will now move forward. We hope now that we can predict a completion date and move forward with plans for reopening.
Powderly Project—Communications prep work is being done. AT&T has run and activated the regular lines for the branch. Metro Ethernet is in process. Landscaping has been almost completed by HUF. The contractor has not completed the punch list. Staff is in the process of planning for the reopening. Once the building is turned over to the library and a security system is installed, furnishings can be delivered. Board members will be notified of a date for the grand opening as soon as it is determined.
Publicity and Media
In addition to newscasts and newspaper articles, BPL has had a great deal of media attention regarding the library budget cuts. Jeh Jeh Pruitt of Fox 6 broadcast four segments from the Youth Department on May 28. These segments focused on the three summer reading clubs BPL is sponsoring for the summer—Make a Splash: Read for elementary aged children, the Cotchery Program, the teen program featuring students from W. J. Christian School, and Grand Slam Summer for adults. Wake Up Alabama for Channel 42 broadcast from Central Library's Atrium on June 10. BPL has an upcoming appearance with Bettina Boateng on June 20 and Jeh Jeh Pruitt is coming again on June 24. Both of these appearances will promote the Cotchery Teen events.
- Staff met with Clarus, the firm assisting the library staff and board to write a strategic plan. They will be making their first presentation to outline the process at the board meeting on June 17.
Gifts and Grants Received
- Rep. Earl Hilliard, Jr. gave Pratt City Branch a gift of $4000
- Hope I. Cooper gave $5000 to be used to upgrade the Central Library security camera system and other facilities needs that are not covered in the budget or by the City.
Current and Upcoming Events
Summer reading is underway at all locations. If you have not joined please register for Grand Slam Summer, our adult reading club. Numerous events are planned.
A series of baseball programs will continue through the summer celebrating the 100th anniversary of Rickwood Field. See the Grand Slam Summer brochure or the library’s Web site for details.
Score Big with Make Waves @ Your Library and the Cotchery Foundation signed up over 200 participants. The Tailgate Party will be held at Central Library on June 25 and the Skills Camp will take place the next day at Legion Field. Jerricho and Mercedes Cotchery will be in Birmingham for several days before the event and will make personal appearances at a couple of branches. Jeh Jeh Pruitt will feature the Cotchery program on Thursday June 24 by broadcasting from the Central Library.
BPL Central is hosting a special exhibition and event sponsored by the Alabama Psychological Association (APA). Heads Up Alabama! Psychology Promotes Healthy Living showcases the critical role played by psychological components in overall health and wellness. Three foot tall fiber glass heads mounted on pedestals and decorated by artists chosen by a jury in May will be placed throughout the library. The library is the first venue for this exhibit. There will be an opening reception honoring the artists on July 22. The APA will send invitations and the charge for attendance will be $25. If you would like to be added to the invitation list, please let Ms. Blalock know.
- The National Conference for African American Librarians will take place here in Birmingham from August 4-8. Pam Lyons, Janice Granger, and their committee have done an outstanding job planning for this event. The Central Library will host a welcome reception on August 6. A major sponsor for the reception is the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library. The programs and workshops planned for this conference are terrific. Many members of the BPL staff will be presenting.
Be sure to check the BPL Blog at http://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/ to keep up with all the activities happening at the library. You can subscribe and have any updates sent to your email if you have not already done so.
- Renee Blalock thanked Gwendolyn Welch and Barbara White for their help on the Budget Reduction Plan
- Nell Allen stated that when any one board member is speaking, another board member should not interrupt. She also stated that the board should solicit help/donations from the entire board as well as staff.
- Sam Rumore stated that he is interning in the Archives Department and is learning many things. He will graduate from the University of Alabama with a Masters in Library Science in August.
- Dora Sims asked whether the library would continue with its current budget if the new budget is not passed by July 1, 2010. Renee Blalock stated that yes, the library would work under the current budget. Ms. Sims also expressed concern some residents not wanting the meeting room at Powderly Library to be named after Miriam Witherspoon. Georgia Blair responded that this was only a few residents and that the majority are in favor of naming the meeting room after Miriam Witherspoon.
- Tom Adams asked how the board would thank Hope Cooper for her donation of $5,000 to the library. Renee Blalock stated that she wrote a thank you letter as she does to all contributors to the library.
- Georgia Blair stated that Administration did a great job on the Budget Reduction Plan and that she would help the library and library board in any way that she could.
- Gwendolyn Welch sent Audrey Faush, Nell Allen, and Tom Adams "Thinking of You" cards from the library board.
She also sent a thank you letter via email to Rick L. Jackson from Channel 42 and Hannah Wolfson from the Birmingham News.
- Mrs. Welch attended the Mayor's Town Hall meeting at the North Birmingham Library and also the City Council Budget meeting. She stated that Dora Sims and Gwendolyn Amamoo, as well as many library staff members, also attended the City Council Budget Hearings.
- She thanked Administration for its hard work on the Budget Reduction Plan.
- She suggested that the Birmingham Change Fund may be able to work for the good of the library.
- Gwendolyn Welch gave a special thanks to Barbara White for helping with parts of the library's Budget Reduction Plan.
Irene S. Blalock, Secretary