The Special Meeting of the Eisenhower Public Library District Board of Trustees March 30, 2019
President Braun called the meeting to order at 9:02 A.M..
Present: Braun, Ross, Ringelstein, Magnelli, Parent, Magnuson.
Also Present: Wittmann, Bacarella, Tomzik, Stam, Lewis, McPhillips, Sciaccotta, V. Bitters, M. Bitters, Clark, Blubaugh.
RECOGNITION OF VISITORS
There were no visitors present.
There were no public comments.
Trustee Magnuson was the moderator. She went over the following:
I. Overview of the day
Trustee Magnuson explained to the group how the meeting was going to go. She advised that the meeting would be strategic not tactical. She advised that the Trustees and Managers need to keep in mind their differing roles. The Board and the staff are both strategic and tactical and the Board should support the staff. Trustee Magnuson advised that the outcome they want for today is that they walk away with information to update the plan. Nothing will be finalized at the meeting. Director Wittmann and the staff will then go back, work on the strategic plan and then bring it back to the Board.
II. Review of existing plan
The committee considered tweaking the mission statement.
a. Mission Statement
Trustee Magnuson read the current mission statement. Peggy Tomzik advised that the following statement “the library is a responsive and creative hub of the communities” is where we are now and it accurately describes us. This is a combo mission vision. Trustee Ringelstein spoke about the word “invests” in the statement. She thinks we need to express in the statement that we are ahead of the game. Penny Blubaugh liked everything in the current statement but felt that it is a little long and wordy. It can be made snappier. The Island Within a City book was well written but very dry and lofty. Trustee Parent would like a vision statement. Stacy thinks the statement could be called something different. She mentioned that the words used to communicate to the public are not always understood by them. This creates a barrier. We speak our own language and we need to speak their language. Anything we produce should also be accessible to all staff.
b. Strategic Principles
i.Internal and external communication, is it still us?
The group discussed the following existing potential activities: Internal communication plan, external communication tools, and feedback.
Feedback is always the potential problem. Director Wittmann advised that she liked the word “intentional”. Julie Stam mentioned that the Marketing department was developed because of this statement. The library’s logo is very identifiable. We have become an icon. The icon identifies the Library.
The group discussed the following existing potential activities: community-centered, planning across departments, and assessment plan. The committee discussed their thoughts on the potential activities. Penny Blubaugh advised that the challenge is assessing the number of people registered and the number of people attending programs. Tiffany Lewis agreed with Penny and she advised that getting feedback is sometimes difficult and that it depends on the program. Dan McPhillips mentioned a program called Project Outcome that helps assess programming.
iii. Service and stewardship
Generosity is a wonderful description Trustee Magnuson advised. Director Wittmann advised that she would put projects related to the building maintenance and collection development in this area. Director Wittmann mentioned that one of the biggest things we do is take care of the building. Trustee Parent advised that maintaining the community’s investment is a big part of stewardship. The investment in the people and the work and structure of the staff falls under this per Molly Bitters. Stewardship of our assets and they are diverse, they are people, and collection. Stewardship of our reputation and our image within our communities. Chicago patrons are welcomed but our patrons come first.
Some existing potential technology activities discussed were: explore, adapt, market and connect with technology, teach patrons, command technology inside and out of the library industry, and enhance patron services. Trustee Magnuson advised that the census for 2020 will be held online. Trustee Parent does not know that if the Library is doing it to enhance the library’s reputation, with technology we are connecting patrons with more resources and answers they seek. Director Wittmann advised that the Librarians and the Technology Clerks help people with all different scenarios. Julie Stam advised that in the technology mosaic life style groups only 20% of population are technology wizards. Many people need help with technology in the community. It is not just adopting new technology. There are other needs more important.
c. Markers of Success
The group recognized that not everything is quantifiable. They discussed that in order to achieve markers of success the Library needs to be friendly and inviting, have clear communication, community-centered programming, consistent branding, forward-thinking, dialogue with community that know the library focuses on them, sought after hub of the community, and satisfied patrons who find what they want when then need it. The question is, how do we measure success in these areas? Director Wittmann advised that our challenge is that we try to engage the community with dialog. We need to engage people in a dialog that requires less of their time. She explained that she gets few people at the Coffee with the Director. Most people speak up when they are not happy. She thinks it would be nice if we could engage with people in a way that takes less of their time. Julie Stam advised that the community surveys get few responses. Trustee Magnuson advised that we know there are people we are not engaging with and that we cannot know their needs if they will not respond. They feel it is hard to engage with people who are not connected with the library. We try to go to community events. People who come to those events do not really worry about what they want the library to do. Trustee Ringelstein thinks we should set up a display asking people what they want from us. She advised that if you are interested in something it is always good to ask because you may receive. People just sometimes live with something and do not speak up, but they need to because it can be changed. Trustee Braun believes it is above criticism and Jan Magnuson feels people have faith in us.
III. Environmental Scan
The group discussed that they need to look at the environment. They discussed that they need to see what is out there and what the projections are moving forward. The group discussed where the library is now and what is out there.
The group discussed the people coming to the library right now. Norridge, Harwood Heights residents are our patrons. They also discussed who those patrons are. They agreed that the people using the library are parents bringing children in, students, and older patrons. There is an increase in people in their 20’s and 30’s. There are also many college and graduate students using the library, and seniors. The oldest part of the population is going up. There are also about 80-90 home delivery patrons. They also agreed that young people are not moving in to the community because seniors are not moving out. The people coming in from outside the community are older than the Norridge and Harwood Heights patrons are. Tiffany Lewis advised that Story time attendance sometimes have 75% of non-residents signed up however they do prioritize residents. The group discussed what patrons expect. The group agreed that patrons expect study rooms, somebody to talk to, having their needs met immediately, solving problems, access now, and materials. The group agreed that the library has a reputation that they try to do anything for the patrons. Some patrons have nowhere else to go or are ill. Peggy Tomzik advised that there has been a big shift in the number of patrons who have needs other than library needs. There are people who have nowhere else to go so they visit the library every day. This is an increasing group. Trustee Magnuson advised that there are homeless people that may be lonely or isolated. The group thinks that they need to start thinking about these groups of people. Julie Stam advised that some libraries have hired social workers. Director Wittmann and Penny Blubaugh responded that some libraries have more issues because they are near PADS and transportation. Dan McPhillips advised that there are savvy users who do not interact or engage with staff. He advised that we only hear from them when something is not where it should be.
The group discussed the different ethnic groups in the community. Certain ethnicities use the Library as a resource more than others do. There is a large Middle Eastern population in the community and many of them seem to be heavy library users. The Latinx group is increasing. The diversity of the Library has increased over the last few years. Mongolian, Asian, and the Filipino population has increased. There is a high percentage of Polish speakers, recent immigrants and 2nd and 3rd generations. Serbian, Ukrainian and African Americans. Middle Easterners are younger. The age varies among all of the groups. There is a language barrier with the Polish groups as well as some middle eastern groups; however, Dan McPhillips thinks they are more comfortable asking questions. It is an even split between blue collar and white collar in the community. The community is predominately homeowner occupied however; there are a few rentals.
The group discussed those who have a stake and who use the library. The following community groups were discussed; School Districts, local businesses, homeowners, civic or social groups, governments, Park District, staff, and home delivery patrons.
Assisted Living Community
The group discussed the assisted living community. Central Baptist Village is part of this group.
The group discussed what the School Districts want from the library. The School Districts ask the Library for services to assist education. We teach them how to use our services and we supply them with materials. We help support them on how to make a library. The Schools look for a partnership with the Library. To write successful grants we sometimes need to work with the local schools. The Library worked with the schools when they wrote the Litworks grant. We reach out to the schools. The Library works hard to keep the School Districts engaged with them. The Library initiates the relationship.
The group discussed what local businesses expect from the Library and how they interact with us. Julie Stam advised that business are not always aware of the resources we have. The following groups are actively involved with the Library: The Chamber, Rotary, and Kiwanis. Businesses not active in the community are not aware of the Library. Trustee Braun advised that libraries are sometimes an intro point to the community. Some businesses use the Library’s space to conduct business.
The group discussed what homeowners expect from the Library and how they interact with us. Property values and taxes. Patron needs. Connections. We are fiscally responsible to them. Accountability. The materials they can get. It is a return on their investment. Community meeting availability. Space for people to conduct business. The Library is considered to be a safe place. Occupational therapists use the Library with their patients. Speech therapy and vision therapy. The Library is a routine stop for some people.
Civic or social groups
The group discussed what the civic and social groups expect from the Library and how they interact with us. The following groups interact with the Library on a regular basis: The Senior Assistant center, Kiwanis, Rotary, Friends, local activist groups, Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, and Oak Street Health. These groups expect space, information, technical support, and transparency. Trustee Ringelstin asked if the Library has had blood pressure checks and Trustee Parent was curious if the Library did blood drives. Penny Blubaugh replied that the Library had a blood drive but they are very hard to coordinate.
The group discussed what the government groups expect from the Library and how they interact with us. They expect the following: county, property values, zoning, and information distribution. The group agreed that the state representatives have been supportive, including the fire and police departments, and Park District. There are different priorities with all of the governmental groups.
The group discussed what the Park District expects from the Library and how they interact with us. Trustee Parent advised that there is sometimes some overlap between the Park District and Library programs. We try to not do the same programs they do. They charge for programs we do not. Trustee Magnuson responded that they want to do things with us but they are not the easiest to work with.
Staff expectations were discussed later in the meeting.
The Board took a break at 10:43 am.
Trustee Magnelli and Trustee Ross left the meeting at 10:43 a.m.
The meeting resumed at 11:02 p.m.
The group discussed the Library’s technology on the backend. The group agreed that the Library’s database is stable. Director Wittmann advised that we are becoming a cataloging library so we have more control over accuracy in the catalog and consistency. The internet connection through Comcast has been problematic lately. We need to look at other options for email possibly Google or Microsoft. There has been an increasing volume of security issues like hack attempts and viruses. This takes up resources. Our computers are stable and the phone system is good.
The group also discussed the Library’s technology on the customer’s end.
The Workshop is busy and growing steadily. There is more and more demand for it. We have space issues but we are not lacking equipment. The general equipment is easy to use and maintain, and hard to break. We have a laptop option. Fax machines and scanning stations are fragile when the internet is down. There has been excessive demand and reliability issues related to the internet. PC management software is functional but there are roadblocks. The patron online registration and calendar is lacking in something and the patron end of the catalog could be more user-friendly. We are doing in house usability testing and providing feedback to SWAN. As much as we can do things to make things, better we cannot change as much. It is not great but we are at the mercy of the consortium. There is a lot of one on one instruction because the search logic eludes some patrons. Social media is stable. The virtual collections; Ebooks, streaming, and databases are popular with those who use them. MOD, Hoopla, and some databases are more popular and do well. They are popular with a certain group and the use is growing. We have very little control over cost and in many cases have to work with an intermediary.
The Library website and social media are very important.
D. Library Community
The Library community consists of SWAN, staff at other libraries, ILA, PLA, ALA, RAILS, Library vendors. State Library, which is the source of the Per Capita grant.
The Library community expects cooperation, resource sharing, feedback, fulfillment of legal obligations, completed certifications/requirements, professional development, hope or expectations we engage with lawmakers, and advocacy. They also expect they we honor the reciprocal borrowing, and patron privacy.
E. Our Collection
The group agreed that the collection is getting better all the time. We do a huge amount of weeding and acquisition. Space is a major challenge. Director Wittmann advised that we moved in full and could have used more space in the beginning. She said it is a challenge to maintain depth and meet the needs of popular materials. Julie Stam responded that the collection is patron driven. We have a constant evolution. Trustee Magnuson commented that the selection is phenomenal. It is very easy to discover materials. Trustee Parent responded that there is a balancing act in the Friends book room. The incoming and outgoing of books are a challenge.
F. Our Facility
The group discussed the Interior, exterior, and library grounds.
Space allocation can be difficult inside the library. They discussed books vs. meeting rooms. Trustee Parent advised that the technology infrastructure in terms of networking pathways is remarkable engineering; however, the Smart Room is crowded and there are wiring questions. .
Director Wittmann advised that the furnishings have held up very well; however the carpet is worn in areas. She advised that the finishes were thoughtfully chosen and looked at for longevity. The heating and cooling system is getting better. We have very tall ceilings and this creates acoustic challenges. The bakery is appealing to patrons; however, there have been some security challenges.
The group discussed some of the challenges we have with the exterior of the library. There is not enough parking at times and no convenient drop off and pick up spots. There is limited street parking and a concern of pedestrian safety. The plantings are good; we are making good progress on this. Director Wittmann advised that they are looking to install more exterior cameras and concrete barriers. The location was chosen well and is safe. The Fire and police department are close. We are in the walking distance from the High school. Staff can park in Carstens parking lot on busy weekends and after 5:00 P.M. There is not a lot of repair work, only standard maintenance.
Garden club keeps the large planter beautiful. There is not a good staff entrance. There are challenges to maintain the security of the collection. There is no sidewalk on the side drive. It would be nice to have a second library access on the Wilson side. It would give better access to the courtyard.
G. Our Staff
Director Wittmann advised that we have many staff and we try not to create many new positions, but we can always use more staff. On paper, it looks like we have enough staff. It is good to have a diverse staff. We try to be creative in the use of our staff, not create new positions. The group discussed the different skills needed from staff which are empathy, patience, flexibility, technologically savvy, proactive, engaged, flexible in terms of being able to conceptual shift in situations or skill set, education and understanding of people’s needs, ability to give a referral, awareness of community resources, psychological grounding, active listener, thinking outside the box, and active staff.
Staff expectations from the Board:
The group agreed that the staff expects fair compensation, communication, support from management, policy consistency, and opportunities, familiar with the board, knowledgeable about what the staff does, work community, and treated as people.
The SWOT analysis was discussed throughout the environmental scan.
V. Assess current plan
There was discussion about the wording changes in the current plan. There was discussion about a shift or split of the mission statement with a vision statement.
There was discussion on making a direct mission statement. Trustee Braun thinks the statement does not have to be changed. He said it covers it all in just three sentences. Director Wittmann will look at what other libraries have. She also advised that SWAN just re-did their mission, and vision statements. She does not think we should give up one in place of another. It can be rephrased. We can use public language. We need to be mindful of the way the public takes in information and why we are doing this.
The strategic principals discussed going forward were intentional communication, programming and service, technology, and stewardship.
C. Markers of Success
The group discussed what the markers of success are and how they are going to know what they are doing is right. They recognized that the markers of success are not quantifiable. They discussed numbers vs. behavior. Numbers can distract or mislead. They think it is very tricky on how to measure. Director Wittmann advised that circulation in libraries has been going down, but we have only just started seeing a dip in circulation and many people still visiting the library. Program registration rises but sometimes we do not get many people who show up. The markers of success are sometimes measured by the behavior of staff and not the actual numbers. This is a good thing. Trustee Ringelstein thinks you need both. How to report/gratify. The group discussed if success could be measured by anecdotal events.
Trustee Ringelstein moved, seconded by Trustee Parent, THAT THE MEETING BE ADJOURNED. A voice vote was taken and the motion carried. The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 P.M.