- Birmingham Public Library Board Minutes
- Call To Order
- Jarvis Patton, City of Birmingham
- Public Voices
- Approval of Agenda
- Approval of Consent Agenda
- Terry Oglesby, City Architect
- Janine Langston, Western Regional Coordinator
- Kayla Lawrence, City Attorney
- Operational Items Requiring Board Approval
- Committee Reports
- Unfinished Business
- New Business
- Director's Report for April 2017
- Board Member's Comments
- Next Board Meeting is Tuesday, June 13, 2017
- Submitted By
Birmingham Public Library Board Minutes
April 11, 2017
Central Library Boardroom
Meeting Called By
Georgia Morgan Blair, President
Type of Meeting
Regular Board Meeting
Trustees: Georgia Morgan Blair, President; James A. Sullivan, Vice-President; The Honorable Scott Vowell, Parliamentarian; Gwendolyn R. Amamoo; Willie S. Davis, III; Kimberly Richardson; Eunice Johnson Rogers; Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch
Call To Order
- The meeting was called to order by President Georgia Morgan Blair. Willie Davis III gave the invocation.
Jarvis Patton, City of Birmingham
- In a meeting with Mayor Bell, Georgia Morgan Blair along with other board members discussed the Wylam rebuilding project. The library received a bond of $1.4 million, and there is currently around $780,000. Jarvis Patton recalled a conversation from a year ago that a resolution or ordinance was passed identifying $1.4 million to the Wylam library when Roderick Royal was council president. Roderick lost his seat, and between now and then, other projects were prioritized before the Wylam library leaving the amount to $780,000. Then, there was a conversation with the neighborhood association president at the time with Patton about combining two libraries, Ensley and Wylam, at a location where there used to be an armory. The lack of funding was stalling the project. Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch remembers a conversation about Ensley and East Ensley libraries, focusing on East Ensley. Welch does not recall a proposal coming before the board. Welch recalls in a conversation during a neighborhood meeting discussing the armory location. Patton met with the former director, Angela Fisher Hall on more than one occasion. Kimberly Richardson attended one of the meetings and recalled the mayor wanted to propose joining the libraries, and a plan was being developed. When that materialized, the plan would be provided to the board for review and integration of the strategic plan.
- Patton thought the board had knowledge of this around 10 months ago. Richardson was under the impression the Mayor wanted to be the one to share the information publicly. Judge Scott Vowell asked if the decision has been made to merge the libraries, and Patton responded that the concept is there with no final decision made due to inadequate funding. Judge Vowell asked if there is not enough funding to rebuild the library. Patton responded the original plan was to rebuild the library and not enhance it. Richardson said the issue is there is no additional allocation for Wylam, and the board’s position was to not move forward knowing the project would not be fully funded. Judge Vowell asked if the money currently in the account could be used for upgrades at Wylam. Patton replied that the Mayor would need to answer that question.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch expressed her concern that as a board member, she was not aware of this idea. Patton responded that the former director and former board president was present for at least two of the meetings. Welch charged the future board presidents going forward to bear the responsibility of informing the board of decisions such as these. Welch added someone needs to inform the Wylam community of the status of the library. Welch asked the status of Bush Elementary School. If the school reopens, Welch suggested it would be more feasible to close East Ensley.
- Patton asked the board’s position to report back to the mayor. Richardson answered her position is the same as when it was first talked about: until the board can see a plan or invited to meetings for discussion, the board wants to do what is best for the community. Judge Scott Vowell added that the board has learned that no community wants to lose its library. Welch asked that the board be involved before plans are made to assess what is needed for the communities.
- Patton asked the concerns about closing the library in Ensley, and Richardson said the public would not accept it. Welch stated if a library is under consideration for closing, the board needs to give the community something such as a better, more spacious library.
- Richardson asked if it is the mayor’s position not to release the money for the reading initiative to the library. Patton replied the last thing he heard a few weeks ago was the library and school system had odds about the plan. Georgia Morgan Blair along with Gwendolyn Amamoo, Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch, and Sandra Vick Lee had a meeting with Dr. Contri, Interim Superintendent, Birmingham City Schools who stated he was in agreement with the plan. Richardson said there is no disagreement with the plan between the library and school board to her knowledge. The Education Committee reviewed and approved it, then City Council approved it. Richardson was last told the method of fund release needed to be determined by the city. Georgia Morgan Blair reported that at the last meeting, the mayor expressed he would not release the funds without a joint venture or collaboration between the library and the schools. The mayor asked Blair to make an appointment with him after Blair and Dr. Contri had a meeting. Richardson asked that since there are three months left in the current fiscal year if it was an option to roll over to 2017-2018 since three months is not enough time to implement the plan. Patton suggested prorating the funding for the rest of this year then requesting $1 million be set aside for 2017-2018 fiscal year.
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch asked the mayor’s plan for new escalators at the Central library. Richardson reported that in a meeting with Sherri Nielson, a staircase was allocated to the plan for the full design renovation. However, funding was not available for the $24 million plan, so Richardson asked what the options were. Nielson stated the stairs could not be done in isolation, so there must be a new project design. The next step would be Nielson identifying funds to pay an architect for a newly designed staircase. Patton asked if the board is asking for an escalator. Welch stated she does not recall the board wanting stairs without the master plan. When the foundation met with Mayor Bell, Mayor Bell said if they raised one half, the city would match it. Richardson added the consultant from the feasibility study said the process of a capital campaign is that the major investor/donor makes the commitment first. Richardson, and Jim White, Angela Fisher Hall had a meeting with the mayor to ask for what amount will the city invest in writing. Then, the library would know how much would be needed to raised. Judge Scott Vowell stated that is one of the reasons why the problem with the escalators and elevators has not been addressed because the major renovation would take care of the elevator and escalators anyway. Richardson said the board agreed that if that if stairs could be put in, then it would be tried. Welch said she did not vote to accept stairs in lieu of escalators. Welch believes the board needs to be informed before decisions are made.
- Patton asked the board’s position on replacing the escalators with stairs or escalators. Richardson suggested it could be taken back to the Long-Range Planning Committee. Amamoo added she is not in favor of stairs but would prefer working escalators. Patton asked about the status of the elevators. Sandra Vick Lee stated both elevators were worked on and one elevator receiving more extensive work. Since the repairs have been completed, there have been occasional failures. Judge Vowell asked the difference in cost with stairs versus escalators. Blair presented the board with a quote from 2015 regarding the cost for escalator replacement which was approximately $70,000 per each escalator step. Patton recalled a number closer to $2 million. Welch remembers a figure closer to $400,000. Patton asked that someone from the board let him know what the plan is for the stairs, escalators, and elevators.
- There were no public voices.
- Board members presented certificates of appreciation to the following staff members for their part in the executive search tours: Deborah Drake Blackmon, Loretta Bitten, Tobin Cataldo, Karyn Davis-West, Alisha Johnson, Janine Langston, Edith Major, and Jamilah Woods.
Approval of Agenda
- Judge Scott Vowell moved to approve the agenda and consent agenda. Eunice Johnson Rogers seconded the motion, and it was approved.
Approval of Consent Agenda
- Edith Major made a correction to the personnel actions adding Damein Baity hired as the Business Officer, Sequoria Lewis transferred from Woodlawn to Pratt City, and Byron Williams transferred from Pratt City to Woodlawn. Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch moved to accept the consent agenda. James Sullivan seconded the motion, and it was approved.
Terry Oglesby, City Architect
- Terry Oglesby was not in attendance for this meeting.
Janine Langston, Western Regional Coordinator
- Janine Langston introduced Selina Johnson as the new Wylam branch manager. Johnson previously held the position of head librarian at Carver High School, Birmingham city school. The board welcomed her.
Kayla Lawrence, City Attorney
- As a licensed attorney, Kayla Lawrence certified there were matters to discuss in executive session involving pending litigation or possible litigation pursuant to Alabama code section 36-25-A22. Judge Scott Vowell moved to approve the board enter into executive session. Eunice Johnson Rogers seconded the motion, and it was carried.
Operational Items Requiring Board Approval
- Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch asked Damein Baity for his recommendation for funds that have not been spent before the requisition deadline. Damein Baity had a conversation with Tobin and the city’s financial department to see if the library can continue to invoice the city after the requisition due date since some publications for the library come out in May and June. Welch suggested Baity attend trainings or workshops to become acclimated with the library. Welch asked Baity to keep the board informed about where the library is financially and how funds need to be spent to be on target. Welch asked what would happen if the funds are not fully spent by the library, and Baity replied the city could cut funds if not spent properly. Baity said some things will be implemented throughout the fiscal years to ensure city funds are used adequately. Welch recalled Roderick Royal left $50,000 in bond money for the purchase of the additional lot at Pratt City and asked Baity to see what is left of those funds. Welch expressed she is glad to have Baity on board.
- Kimberly Richardson welcomed Baity. Richardson asked if funds are able to be rolled over from one fiscal year to the next. Baity mentioned it is possible to request the funds to be rolled into the capital improvement funds in order to not lose it. If the prorated reading initiative is awarded for the rest of this fiscal year, there would need to be a plan on how to reach out to the budget officers, finance director, Jarvis Patton, and Mayor Bell on how to request funds for 2018. Baity said that if some of the items for purchase are equipment related, it is possible for it to be rolled over the capital improvement fund. Richardson suggested Sandi share the budget proposal of the reading initiative to see the scope of purchases that include contracts, technology equipment, subscriptions, and book materials. Richardson suggested having a recommendation to approve moving these funds to protect them at the next meeting with the mayor and Dr. Contri.
In regards to the Development Department’s meet & greet programs for the neighborhood associations, Richardson asked if it would be more appropriate to host meet and greets in the areas they represent. Georgia Morgan Blair asked if all neighborhood association officers would be present. Tiffanie Jeter replied that presidents, vice presidents, possibly secretaries, and treasurers would be invited as well as staff from each library. Richardson asked how many neighborhood associations hold meetings in BPL libraries, and Olivia Alison replied we attend sixty-eight meetings per month. Jeter said the idea behind the meet and greet at Central would be to give an overall presentation about what is happening at Central then break off into smaller conversations about what is happening in neighborhoods. It would be an opportunity to build more support and enhance existing relationships. Central was key due to ability to accommodate the amount of attendees and having one event as opposed to multiple events. Publix has expressed willingness to sponsor the event, and the Development staff is working on submitting a proposal to be approved. Welch said she could see Jeter’s point of view that bringing the neighborhoods to Central would give them a better concept that downtown is the hub of activity that then goes out to the branch. Jeter stated the idea behind bringing neighborhood representatives to Central talk about signature events such as Eat Drink Read Write, Bards & Brews, and the teens engineer program. Richardson asked the estimated cost, and Jeter replied she and Melvia Walton are still working it out. Publix would provide food, beverages, and décor. Jeter stated they are trying to keep it at a low cost. Mailed invitations may be one of the costs as well as nonessential items such as lighting. Richardson commented that she believes it is always great to reach out to do engagement with the community, and a concern is that the library is drumming up sponsorship for a new initiative when two existing events have been cancelled due to lack of support. Richardson stated there should always be cultivating of relationships and suggests changing the name of the event to recognition or reception since the neighborhoods and corporations already support the library and recognize what they already do. Jeter added the title for the neighborhood association, and the term “meet and greet” came from the corporate sector based on the feasibility study. Welch added the election for the Birmingham City Schools board and municipal elections will be held August 22 may want to be taken into consideration. Richardson recognizes teamwork and pitching in but cautioned against the grant writer stepping too far out of her job description and edging into special events since it has been a past issue. James Sullivan asked if there are any secured special events, and Jeter responded as of now, Eat Drink Read Write, Bards and Brews, and Teens Engineering.
- James Sullivan made a motion to allow the Development Department to proceed with planning of the “Get to Know Us” events and return to the board with budget details for the events. Willie Davis III seconded the motion. Welch asked if Jeter would be spearheading the event, and Jeter responded the idea came from a team meeting, and she will be doing the legwork for events. The board approved the motion.
- Welch asked Development staff for an update on Young Professionals. Alison reported that Brandon Smith is the staff liaison for the YPs. Currently, there are five members. Tevis Owens is the new president and has a leadership team who are working on recruitment events. Welch expressed concern since there used to be 36 members paying $250 each and now there is 5 paying $100.
- Welch asked why the library is writing a grant for a non-profit, Library Services Group (LSG). Alison explained it is a non-profit organization that provides services to library and is headed by George Stewart, former BPL director. For the past ten years, LSG and University of Alabama cartography lab have partnered to fund the cataloging and digitalization of maps. The $10,000 was awarded to the non-profit and was included in the report to further the partnership. Steward prepares and applies for the grant, and BPL is an in-kind partner. Richardson suggested it be reflected on the report as an in-kind donation since there is no exchange of money, and BPL did not invest time in the development of the proposal. The benefits of the services from Library Services Group accrue to the library.
- Richardson asked if Pat Rumore is still a volunteer for development. Alison stated that now that she is a Foundation board member, she is volunteering through the Foundation and is not working in the Development office.
- Richardson was surprised by the press release with Pat Rumore writing a guest piece for National Library Week on behalf of the library and asked why the library board would choose not to do that. Richardson stated that it is a critical opportunity for the board. Richardson thought it was out of order to allow Rumore to represent the library. Sandra Vick Lee said a presentation will be made to city council the next week to talk about National Library Week and new services, the Alabama library conference, and the volunteer appreciation luncheon. Lee will take a small group of staff with her to the council meeting.
- Welch noticed at the bottom of the statistics, it states that Arts/Lit/Sports department is in the process of being converted to the learning center. Welch said the board approved to change the name of department head but not to change the department. Karyn Davis West responded the materials will not be eliminated, just moved around.
- Georgia Morgan Blair included a report of her meeting with the mayor and invited board members to reach out to her with any questions.
- There were no committee reports.
- There was no unfinished business.
- Gwendolyn Amamoo discussed an incident at the North Birmingham branch. Amamoo stated that every patron who goes into the libraries owned by the City of Birmingham should be treated with respect, and the library staff should not be judge and jury about who is the victim in a situation. Richardson added that she interpretted the incident report as the Trane staff member was in the bathroom along with the patron which she believes is inappropriate. Georgia Morgan Blair believes the staff did not give the patron the benefit of the doubt and was wrong to call the police. Blair hosts a meeting once a month at North Birmingham, and when they were having plumbing issues and had to close the library, Blair did not receive a phone call letting them know. Blair’s group showed up the North Birmingham. Blair suggested the staff take a customer service class. Welch received a call from Sandra Brown, Birmingham Board of Education member of District 9, who stated they were having a neighborhood meeting at North Birmingham, and a staff member was disrespectful to their group close to closing time. Richardson stated that incidents like this will impact relationships with neighborhood associations. Richardson asked Lee to follow up with Sandra Brown.
- Amamoo asked why this incident was isolated in the board packet. Lee tried to notify everyone including staff at the city as soon as possible, and the incident occurred after the rest of the incident reports were compiled. This was the first incident that occurred with a Trane worker. Amamoo suggested that all incidents are treated equal. She expressed this was handled poorly and could have escalated. Sandra Lee immediately notified PEP and Sherri Nielson at the City. Trane was asked to investigate the incident, and that employee was removed from all projects related to the city and sensitivity training was set up with all employees on the job and new subcontracters. Nielson sent this information to Lee on Friday, and Amamoo asked her to share information such as this to the board.
- Georgia Morgan Blair met with Dr. Contri with Gwendolyn Amamoo and Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch. An appointment will be set up with Mayor Bell, Blair, and Dr. Contri to discuss the reading initiative. Welch said Dr. Contri is in agreement with the library’s reading initiative. Richardson suggested getting the agreement between Dr. Contri and the library in writing.
Director's Report for April 2017
- Sandra Vick Lee received a request to host a summer poetry program at North Birmingham again this year and to possibly extend the program. Lee forwarded the details to Kayla Lawrence who noticed liability issues with the program. The library is not officially partners with the program, and the man in charge has possibly solicited funds while using the library’s name. Kimberly Richardson moved to reject the request for the continuation of this program at North Birmingham. Eunice Johnson Rogers seconded the motion, and the motion was carried.
- Sandra Vick Lee sent Georgia Morgan Blair a request to draw down funds from the Weathers fund and Health fund. Blair referred the item to the Finance Committee.
Board Member's Comments
- Blair announced the committees will remain the same except Richardson will chair the Finance Committee, Willie Davis III will serve on the Long-Range Planning Committee, Damein Baity is added as staff for the Finance Committee meetings, Dora Sims will be added to the Finance Committee, and Richardson will serve on the Long-Range Planning Committee.
- Blair highlighted an article in the Birmingham Times about an Innovative Award program, teaching cursive to children at Powderly library.
- Welch received an anonymous letter asking a previous staff member retain their position.
Next Board Meeting is Tuesday, June 13, 2017
- The meeting was adjourned at 7:05 p.m.
Sandra Vick Lee, Secretary