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Board of Trustees

March 23 , 2011

Meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency
Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 8:30 a.m.
Boston Public Library, Central Library at Copley Square
Rabb Lecture Hall, Concourse Level, Johnson Building
700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA


  1. Chairman’s Report, Trustee Jeffrey B. Rudman
    • Review and Approval of Minutes for the Special Trustees Meeting held on February 24, 2011 and the Trustees Meeting held on March 8, 2011
  2. President’s Report, Ms. Amy E. Ryan
    • Report on the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Permanent Space
      Ms. Jan Spitz, Executive Director, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
    • Report on the upcoming Civil War exhibitions and programs
      Ms. Elizabeth Prindle, Education, Interpretation and Outreach
    • Report on Strategic Planning: Online Survey, Community Input, and Data Review
      Ms. Gina Perille, Chief Communications Officer
    • Discussion of the Recommended FY12 Boston Public Library Operating Budget
  3. Public Comment
    Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman
  4. Recommended FY12 Boston Public Library Operating Budget
    Mr. Sean Nelson, Chief Financial Officer
    VOTE: "to authorize the President, or her designee, to submit the proposed FY12 Boston Public Library Operating Budget to the City of Boston"
  5. Adjournment Mr. Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman

Upcoming Trustees Meetings

  • Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 8:30 a.m., Annual Meeting, Rabb Lecture Hall (please note this is a change in location), Central Library in Copley Square
  • Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 8:30 a.m., McKim Orientation Room, Central Library in Copley Square
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 3:00 p.m., Egleston Square Branch Library, 2044 Columbus Avenue, Roxbury, MA 02119

Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston
Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman; Evelyn Arana-Ortiz, Vice Chairman;
Zamawa Arenas; James Carroll; Donna M. DePrisco;
Carol Fulp; Berthé M. Gaines; Paul A. La Camera; Byron Rushing
President, Amy E. Ryan;
Clerk of the Board
, Nancy E. Grilk


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Minutes of the Meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency
Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 8:30 a.m. 
The Boston Public Library
Rabb Lecture Hall, Concourse Level, Johnson Building
700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 

A Meeting of the Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston as a Corporation and as an Administrative Agency was held at the Boston Public Library, Rabb Lecture Hall, Copley Square Library, on Wednesday, March 23, 2011at 8:30 a.m.

Present at the Meeting were: Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman, Trustees Evelyn Arana-Ortiz, Byron Rushing, Donna M. DePrisco, Zamawa Arenas, and Paul A. La Camera.  Absent from the meeting were Trustees James Carroll, Carol Fulp and Berthé M. Gaines

Also present at the meeting were:  President Amy E. Ryan; Boston Public Library and City of Boston staff, and members of the public.

Chairman Jeffrey B. Rudman presided.

Following a motion by the Chairman to approve the Minutes of the Trustees Meeting held on March 8, 2011, which was seconded, the Minutes were approved.  

President Amy Ryan presented an overview of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (Map Center) which was established in 2005 as a public/private partnership with generous endowment from philanthropist Norman B. Leventhal.  The Boston Public Library agreed to construct the Map Center in the McKim Building of the Copley Library. The Map Center’s mission is to make 200,000 historic maps and 5,000 atlases dating from 15th century to the present, accessible to the general public and to promote their creative use in research and scholarship, education and civic engagement.  The collections are global in scope with a particular strength in maps and atlases of Boston, Massachusetts and New England and are ranked among the top 10 in nation for its size, the significance of the pre-1900 historic material, and its advanced digitization program.  Capital funds for the McKim Building restoration include State and Federal funds, corporate and individual donations, trust finds, and are restricted to the renovation and restoration of the Map Center. 

President Ryan introduced Mr. Robert Melzer, Chairman of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Board of Directors. Mr. Melzer reported that the Board is very much focused on children’s education and teacher training. Mr. Melzer thanked the Trustees for their support and expressed gratitude Chairman Rudman for his involvement from beginning of the project.  He added that President Ryan’s work with the Board has been spectacular.

Ms. Jan Spitz expressed her thanks to the Trustees and the President for their support.  Ms. Spitz underscored education as one of the primary missions.  She noted that the new center is in a prominent location and abuts the beautiful courtyard in the McKim Building.  Construction begins in mid-April and the Map Center is expected to open to the public in September.  It will be a place of discovery for everyone; children, connoisseurs of maps, the curious and casual visitors.  The architects and exhibition designers are creating an engaging place that will be a portal to the world.  There will be changing exhibits of the collection with programs for people of all ages.  These important documents will be secure climate-controlled storage area. The digitization of collections is a primary focus.    A teacher advisory committee will provide extensive outreach to Boston Public Schools utilizing curriculum and tours of the Map Center.  The Map Center will open to the public in the Fall.

Chairman Rudman thanked Mr. Melzer and Ms. Spitz for the fantastic work they have accomplished.

Next on the agenda, President Ryan introduced Ms. Beth Prindle, Manager of Exhibitions and Outreach.  Ms. Prindle announced the launch of the year-long commemoration of the 150 anniversary of the Civil War. She described it as the largest scope of a single-subject in her tenure at the BPL.  Much of the initiative has been made possible through external funding and collaborations.  She is pleased to report that WGBH and 3 affiliate groups have signed on as the public media sponsors. 

The marque exhibit is the Map Center’s exhibition, Torn in Two, which opens on May 12 in the changing exhibits room in the McKim Building, and is generously sponsored by Liberty Mutual. The exhibit will feature maps and objects from the BPL Special Collections. When it closes here in December, the exhibit will embark on a national tour bringing national attention to the BPL’s extraordinary collections. Other related exhibits opening a the Central Library include Winslow Homer prints, photos by premier Civil War photographer Matthew Brady and an exciting exhibit titled Home Front focusing on Boston during the Civil War that tells the story through the eyes of people who lived it in Boston.. The Lowell Lecture series kicks off this fall with a range of Civil War speakers who will bring a broad spectrum of scholarship and expertise that will appeal to a variety of audiences. Each branch library will have at least two programs. A movie series and book lists are being developed for use throughout the system.  The BPL has a dedicated web page for Civil War activities and a brochure listing all of the BPL activities and offerings will be available in next few months. 

President Ryan introduced Chief Communications Officer, Gina Perille to provide additional information requested at an early Trustees meeting about the public survey results, along with information being harnessed for the next stage of the Compass Strategic Planning Process.  Ms. Perille reported that the information relative to branch usage is published on the BPL By the Numbers web page.

Ms. Perille reported on the On-Line Survey information that was included in the Trustees packets.  An objective, on-line October/November 2010 survey garnered 15,632 replies with information on: how people use the library; how they find out about services; and, how they see future services.   The survey included about 1600 non-users, defined as people who haven’t used the library and/or visited the BPL web site in 1 year or more. They were directed to a different, non-user survey page to learn why.  Responses ranged from: use a book store; location of libraries; and, other which mainly indicated they had either just moved here or just moved away.  Two techniques were used to drive people to the on-line survey: placing 4,000 postcards with key outreach questions in each branch library, placing 10,000 non-user, outreach postcards in more than 200 non-BPL locations. The percentage of non-user responses increased dramatically after the postcard campaign. Ms. Perille has culled the free text that users responded to in their own words. 

A summary of the survey results are on the web page and the complete set of comments are available through Ms. Perille’s office, along with “wordles.”  One surprise was the large number of responses from people who asked for services that the library already offers, seen as an opportunity for the library to do additional promotion.

Another stream of information feeding into the Compass Strategic Planning Process in several ways is the City’s Boston About Results (BAR), a City Budget Management Office performance management tool which contains city–wide department specific information, and wide-ranging BPL information for which the past 8 quarters are posted.  During the Strategic Planning Sessions last year participants were asked to comment on what a fulfilled Principle would look like and generated about 40 pages of comments and is the base for the current Strategic Planning Process.

The fact that the on-line survey tracked with the manual responses gave Ms. Perille a level of confidence in the sample.

The Trustees expressed their gratitude for the Ms. Perille’s report noting the information will be especially helpful in the current Compass Strategic Planning Process.

Chairman Rudman asked that Ms. Perille reflect on what she has learned how it would help the Trustees better understand how a voluntary membership drive would work.

President Ryan reported on the decision making process for the BPL’s FY12 Operation Budget.   The Trustees recommended budget will be submitted to the City March 24, and the Mayor will submit the entire City budget to the City Council on April 13. Following City Council budget hearings the budget will be finalized by July 1.  The BPL held 4 Public Budget Roundtables across the city which served to inform the public and to hear from the community.  President Ryan thanked the Trustees and the public for participating in this extensive process beginning in December and for helping to make tough choices.

The House budget is due out in mid-April; the Senate budget in mid-May, followed by the reconciliation process and the final budget by July 1 when the BPL will get final numbers on state support.

In shaping this budget, the BPL was committed to thinking strategically to set the BPL up for sustainability and excellence, while operating within BPL means.  With what is known now, there will be no further layoffs and no branch closures; however this depends on state funding, and if the BPL receives less than the Governor’s current recommended budget, the Trustees must reconvene and review these options.  On the other hand, if the BPL receives full statutory funding of $39.9 million, the BPL will not have to make the cuts that will be discussed today.

Today’s discussion and recommendations are based on what we know today which is $39.34.  This is not where the BPL wants to be in the future which is to be further along in collections, innovative services and early literacy services. The public input that Ms. Perille just outlined, will help to inform our discussion.
President Ryan called on Chief Financial Officer Sean Nelson to provide a presentation of budget options including full, statutory funding, and recommendations to close the budget gap based on the budget recommendation in the Governor’s Budget.  Steps to close the budget gap are: the elimination of Sunday hours at Copley (saving $243,000 in overtime costs); reduction of the Collection Budget by 6% (saving $265,000); and, hold up to 15 positions vacant (saving $400,000 to $750,000). These steps will prevent layoffs, branch closures, add essential service improvements, and provide administrative measures to meet the budget.

President Ryan provided a summary of the information in An Overview of the BPL’s DVD Collection document that was distributed to the Trustees.  She further outlined two Collection Budget options:

  • Reduce the Collections budget across the board by 4% or 6%
  • Eliminate the DVD budget.


The Trustees discussed the information provided on DVD usage by the branches and the content of DVD which vary from Do It Yourself information to English as a Second Language to movies and television series. DVDs are available in multiple languages.  

President Ryan submitted her Budget Recommendations to the Board of Trustees:

  1. No layoffs;
  2. No branch closures;
  3. Add essential service improvements;
  4. Implement cost cutting measures including use of Kirstein Trust Funds to support operating costs for use of Kirstein Enterprise Revenue to support personnel;
  5. Eliminate Sunday hours at Copley, saving overtime costs;
  6. Reduce the book budget by 6% across the board; and,
  7. Hold up to 15 positions vacant.

This recommendation allows the cost cutting measures of Sunday hours at Copley and the Collections Budget to be reinstated should funding become available.

The Trustees discussed President Ryan’s recommendations.  Trustee La Camera suggested a reduction for the DVD budget in order to keep the Sunday hours at Copley, and use the remaining funds to add serious DVDs to the collection. Several Trustees agreed that Sunday closing will impact services, however it is seen as temporary and if additional funding is found, the restoration of Sunday hours would be a priority should funding become available. 

The Chairman recapped the current situation of $39.34 million:  the President’s recommendations are provisional and tied to the present $2.4 million state allocation. If the BPL receives more or less of this, the recommendations will change.

An option of cutting the Collections budget as a whole by $243,000 to maintain Sunday hours at Copley was discussed which would reduce the Collections budget by $500,000, or an 11% cut.  

Chairman Rudman opened the floor for public comment related to the budget.

Public comments ranged from the impact on the loss of Sunday hours; opposed to continued reduction in the Collections budget;  praise for the open, public, decision-making process; support for professional staff making Collection decisions; the need to continue to conversations with officials for more state and city funds; seeing the Sunday closing as a public statement and will draw more attention to the need for funding, whereas cutting collections is more behind the scenes; cuts are equitable; consider cutting e-books from Overdrive.

There being no further public comment the Chair returned to the agenda for a vote on the Recommended FY12 Boston Public Library Operating Budget.  President Ryan and Mr. Michael Colford will meet with legislators at the capital and will continue to work with the Representative Rushing, House Library Caucus Chair, Representative Kate Hogan, the Massachusetts Library Association Legislative Chair and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in support of full statutory funding.  

Following a brief discussion on the possibility of delaying a vote to recommend the FY12 BPL Operating Budget, the Trustees agreed to move forward with a vote with the understanding that if the income numbers change, the recommendation will be revisited by the Board.

Following discussion, on a motion duly made and seconded, it was   
VOTED:  “To authorize the President, or her designee, to submit the proposed FY12 Boston Public Library Operating Budget to the City of Boston”. 

Trustees Rushing, Arenas, Arana-Ortiz, and Rudman voted in the affirmative; Trustees La Camera and DePrisco voted in opposition.

There being no other business, the meeting of the Corporation and Administrative Agency adjourned at 10:00 a.m.

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