Birmingham Public Library Board Minutes
August 20, 2014
Central Library Boardroom
Meeting Called By
Gwendolyn R. Amamoo, President
Type of Meeting
Regular Board Meeting
Trustees: Gwendolyn R. Amamoo, President; Georgia Morgan Blair, Vice-President; Patty A. Pilkerton, Kimberly Richardson, Dora Sims, Judge Scott Vowell, Katrina Watson, Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch
Call To Order
- Meeting called to order by President Gwendolyn R. Amamoo.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch gave the invocation.
- Georgia Blair moved the approval of the agenda. Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch seconded the motion, which passed.
- Georgia Blair moved the approval of the consent agenda with corrections to the July 24, 2014 Board minutes and pulling the Personnel Actions and Interim Director's report. Dora Sims seconded the motion, which passed.
Personnel Action Report
- Georgia Blair moved to restructure the monthly Personnel Action report, effective September 1, 2014. Under merit increases, the date of the most recent evaluation will be listed. Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch seconded the motion, which passed.
Regions Bank, Tutwiler Fund
- Barbara Watson and Chris Walker, representatives from Regions Bank, presented a report on the financial standing of the Margaret C. Tutwiler Fund.
- The Library Board was asked to review and (at a subsequent meeting) adopt a new Investment Policy Statement.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch moved to send the proposed Investment Policy Statement to the Finance Committee to be reviewed and recommendations be presented to the Library Board as a whole. Dora Sims seconded the motion, which passed.
- Angela Hall stated that the Library would like to withdraw $5,000 from the Margaret C. Tutwiler fund each fiscal year to fund Library materials in the Southern History Department.
Terry Oglesby, City Architect
- Andre Bittas, City Architect, is currently working on funding for the reroofing project at the Southside Library.
- The VAV box replacements at the North Birmingham Library has been completed. Testing will be conducted to ensure that the boxes are working properly. The North Birmingham Library will reopen to the public on Friday, August 22, 2014.
- Terry Oglesby met with a contractor to discuss the cracked tile at the entrance to the Central Library-East Building from the parking lot. The contractor is currently working on matching the tile that currently exists and pricing the project to level the floor.
- The City is currently in the process of seeking proposals to repair the additional leaks that were found on the crosswalk at the Central Library. These leaks are coming from the roof.
- City Council has approved underground testing for the North Avondale Library to help try and determine why the foundation is not level.
- The underground testing at the Titusville Library has not been presented to the City Council for funding.
- Judge Vowell expressed concerns with the air conditioning units failing at several library branches. Terry Oglesby responded that Public Works receives many requests for repairs and does their best to prioritize and complete maintenance/repair requests and also that Public Works are short staffed and work with very little money.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch requested a prioritized maintenance/repair list from public works. Terry Oglesby stated that he was not aware if such a list existed. Angela Hall will gather documents for library repairs that will be coming up very soon.
- Kimberly Richardson asked Terry Oglesby whether or not maintenance/repair issues could be anticipated and Terry responded that some could be and some maintenance/repair issues were age related and that some equipment parts were not available for purchase because they are outdated.
Nicole King, City Attorney
- Nicole King, City Attorney, suggested that the Library Board enter into executive session to discuss pending litigation.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch moved to enter into executive session. Dora Sims seconded the motion, which passed.
- Judge Vowell moved to accept the recommendation made by Nicole King, City Attorney, to uphold the termination discussed in executive session. Georgia Blair seconded the motion, which passed.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch moved that Administration contact the Jefferson County Personnel Board or a comparable entity in order to secure personnel training for all Library Assistant III's and pay grades above. Georgia Blair seconded the motion, which passed.
Overview of Activities for this Period
- Although it has been quiet around here, things have been extremely busy over the past two weeks.
- If you need to reach me by phone, please call me in the office at 226-3614 or by cell at 213-7832.
- Let me thank all who attended the retirement celebration on August 1 for Renee Blalock. She had a great time and so did her family members. Special thanks to Renee’s children Brooke Coleman and Daniel Hartzog for their challenge to the Foundation Board. The group, along with at least three BPL Trustees, pledged more than $50,000 in honor of Renee to the BPL Foundation.
Since the last visit by our architects on July 23, we are now waiting on final estimates for the cost of the renovations—especially in the East Building. The Foundation should have an updated report on August 20 with numbers submitted by Brasfield & Gorrie. This company served as the contractor for the construction of the East Building in 1984.
- BPL Circulation Department Head Janice Granger and I served on the Host Committee for the Association of African American Museums Annual Conference which took place here in the City from August 5 through August 9. At least 300 delegates participated in various components of the conference. Local members of this organization also participated on the Host Committee for the American Association for State and Local History Conference which took place in Birmingham from September 18 through 21, 2013 where I served as Chair of the Host Committee.
- I have visited our four regional libraries during this period and the Pratt City Branch library as well. It is my plan to visit libraries in each region as our Maintenance Repair Workers visit those locations to make needed repairs. The team is working in the Western Region as of this writing.
- On Friday, August 15, I informed Board President Gwen Amamoo that we received notice from the City's Human Resources Director, Peggy Polk, that a freeze had been placed on filling vacant positions. After my City Department Head's Meeting on Monday, August 18, I should have more information on what is being planned at this time. We currently have at least 26 vacant positions throughout our system. Edith Major, Stephanie George and I had a brief conversation with Peggy Polk on Friday afternoon and asked if we could continue to move forward with five positions which were approved by our President on Wednesday, August 13.
- There was a disappointing turn out for the BAAM Festival scheduled for August 15-17, 2014 in Avondale Park. Before recommending a decision to close the Avondale Regional Branch in the future, we will first work to get signage added to the parking lot indicating parking is for library patrons only. I will talk with Traffic and Engineering to get a determination on where our parking begins and ends.
Update of Library Services
- The Public Libraries In Jefferson County (dba JCLC) Board of Directors, at their July 2014 meeting, voted to give patrons the option to renew items which do not have holds on them at least twice. This could give patrons an opportunity to have items at least 9 weeks before returning them.
- I have been voted in as the new Treasurer for JCLC. It seems as though this is a lifetime appointment or at least for the duration of my employment with BPL.
BPL will participate in the City of Birmingham's Empowerment Week 2014. We are scheduled to have a book signing with Nick Patterson on Thursday, September 11 from 12 until 1. Additionally, we will host a "Read it Forward" for the book The Giver. The new film based on this book is scheduled to be shown during Empowerment Week as well.
- We have a new group of 4 students who began last week from Holy Family Cristo Rey High School. This is a great opportunity for us to share the "library work experience" with high school students.
- Our library staff recently participated in the RESPECT Back To School Rally (August 9) and the Baby Palooza (August 16). Many thanks to Karyn Davis and Janine Langston for coordinating these efforts. More information about both events should be included in the Public Relations Report from Chanda Temple.
- I met with Stephen Fancher, Director of Public Works, and two of his deputy directors on Monday, August 4 to discuss our building needs and funding for those projects.
- Fancher indicated that on-going funding to maintain the library's property is not really in place, certainly not as a separate line item. The library's needs are placed in a pool of funding with the other approximately 500 city properties. Fancher also mentioned that he lost millions from his current budget and several staff positions.
- Quotes are being obtained for needed equipment to make repairs at the Springville Road, Five Points West, Avondale and Southside libraries. More information can be found in Billy Connor's Building's Report.
Accomplishment of Objectives Set Forth in Strategic Plan
- I will work with Olivia Alison to update the Advocacy Plan and our "Speakers Bureau" Document. We have used the document to help create talking points for our upcoming renovation project.
- Staff is working on an application for an IMLS National Medal. This application will focus on the work done in our Archives Department and the resulting programs.
Financial Report and Grants
- Danny Dorroh, BPL Business Manager, is in the process of closing out our Library Fund for the 2014 Fiscal Year. We will not have a report on this fund available for this month's board meeting. The City's 01 fund Report is included in your packet today. Please review and let me know if you have any questions.
- At next month's Board Meeting (September 25), you will have a budget for our State Aid which will clearly identify our anticipated expenditures in this area. The projected amount that we will receive for Fiscal Year 2015 is approximately $137,000. This will be extremely helpful as we look at funds for travel relating to the American Library Association (ALA) and the Alabama Library Association (ALLA) in 2015. In 2016, we will once again have an opportunity to send staff to the Public Library Association (PLA) Conference.
- Recent discussions regarding insurance for retirees have brought new challenges for the City's budget. As of this writing, a freeze has been placed on filing vacant positions. We currently have 26 positions which have been unfilled and at least two more full-time positions have not been advertised.
- Our Development Team has been busy during this period preparing updated information for our Foundation Board. You can expect either me or Mrs. Amamoo to be prepared to share regular updates on how things are going with the Foundation.
- The Foundation Strategy Team (Jim White, David Herring and Tony Smoke) has received a proposal from Power 10, a company focused on assisting with fundraising for capital campaigns. Once the final dollar cost for the renovation is complete, we will be ready to bring this team on board.
- Our Grant Writer Carrie Campbell and other BPL staff are working on a number of grant opportunities for BPL. They are preparing 3 grants for youth and 3 grants for adult programs which are due between now and September 15. Wish us luck!
Where I Need Your Assistance
- I have three personal goals as Interim Director for the Birmingham Public Library. The first is to keep us on track with our renovation of the Central Library—we really need these renovations and I hope that all of you share my interest in realizing this dream. My second goal is make certain that I do everything possible to keep the lines of communication with the Board open and clear. I hope you will continue to let me know what your needs are and I will continue to make certain they are addressed. If you need anything, please let me know. Third, I believe this is the period during which we need to strongly promote library advocacy. Getting our story out to the public will be paramount during this time.
- Our Director of Development Olivia Alison is interested in meeting with each of you individually to discuss our plans for the renovation and to discuss just how you can help us. When she calls, please schedule a time to speak with her if you have not done so already.
- If you are associated with groups that might be interested in a presentation on the library, please let me know. I would be happy to prepare a talk and deliver it before your group.
What I Am Reading or Listening To This Month
I checked out my first audio book ever Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton. The autobiography, in a nine-disk set, has given me a great appreciation for all of the individuals who work day and night to protect our country and work in our best interest on the international front. Also, all of you probably know that I love New Orleans. I'm reading an oldie but goodie titled The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. The story is set in New Orleans and it's great to have a real life reference to the many sites mentioned in the novel.
- Dora Sims moved to approve $500.00 to be drawn from the Library Board Trustee Fund, to provide gift cards for Staff Day 2014. Judge Vowell seconded the motion, which passed.
- Katrina Watson requested that when a Library Board meeting is rescheduled for an earlier date, that all Board members receive an electronic copy of the Board packet. Mrs. Watson requested that the Library Board's Long Range Planning Committee meet to plan a Library Board retreat to discuss Board dynamics, interactions, and communication.
- Georgia Blair stated that a Personnel Committee meeting will be held on Monday, August 25, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. in the Board room. All Board members are invited to attend.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch recommended that signage be placed at each branch location to remind staff, as well as patrons, to wash their hands before exiting the restroom.
- Dora Sims stated that she is excited about the plans for the Central Library renovation.
- Katrina Watson attended the school supply giveaway and is excited to have been a part of extending the offering to the Pratt City Branch. Mrs. Watson stated that Deborah Drake Blackmon, Pratt City Branch Manager, was very helpful during the school supply give away and also suggested that in the future, patrons be required to sign up for a library card before receiving their school supplies.
- Judge Vowell expressed his concern about the maintenance issues at the library branches, specifically the failure of air conditioning units.
- Georgia Blair attended the 99th birthday party of Charlie Pierce on Tuesday, August 19, 2014. Mrs. Blair also attended the funeral of Mr. Howard Johnson, a black mortician in Bessemer. Mr. Johnson compiled a massive collection on Alabama's Black-Owned funeral homes that has become a part of the archives at Alabama State University.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch congratulated Ensley, North Avondale, Smithfield, and Wylam for an increase in circulation, commended Angela Hall for visiting branch libraries, congratulated Cynthia King for the acknowledgment of her work at the library, and inquired as to whether or not Angela Hall, Interim Director, has received her 5% increase in salary after being named Interim Director. Angela Hall indicated that Board President Gwendolyn Amamoo and Personnel Officer Edith Major are working on this.
- Dr. Ammon stated that the Foundation Board and Friends have merged and suggested that the Library Board consider meeting once every quarter rather than every month.
- Angela Hall stated that during former Mayor Larry Langford's time in office, approximately $200,000 was removed from the library's operating budget for building repairs and placed under Public Works for one year only. Ms. Hall suggested that Board members ask the Mayor and City Council to consider returning those funds to our budget. After mentioning an energy audit to show costs, Ms. Hall was asked by Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch to provide a copy of the energy audit conducted by Alabama Power.
- Gwendolyn Amamoo asked about the library serving as a fiscal agent for the Alabama Humanities Foundation grant and what our policy is for doing this. Mrs. Amamoo asked Angela Hall to share a copy of the agreement with Attorney Nicole King, for review. Mrs.Amamoo thanked Angela Hall for the Interim Director's report, and stated that she liked that Angela Hall listed what she is currently reading/listening to.
Angela Fisher Hall, Secretary