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July 15, 2013 Minutes of the Regular Meeting

MONDAY, JULY 15, 2013


President Rosenthal called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


Present: Head, Kaplan, Leary, Murphy, Barney Newman, Rosenthal, Surovell
Absent: None
Staff: Choate, Neiburger, Nieman, Parker, Wilson (recorder)

(Item of action)

Trustee Leary, supported by Treasurer Kaplan, moved to approve the agenda.

AYES: Head, Kaplan, Leary, Murphy, Barney Newman, Rosenthal, Surovell
NAYS: None

Motion passed 7-0.

(Item of action)

Trustee Murphy, supported by Trustee Leary, moved to approve the minutes of June 17, 2013.

AYES: Head, Kaplan, Leary, Murphy, Barney Newman, Rosenthal, Surovell
NAYS: None

Motion passed 7-0.


President Rosenthal proposed an addition under New Business A. Resolution Acknowledging the Contributions of Karl Pohrt to Our Library and Our Community.

Trustee Leary, supported by Trustee Murphy, moved to approve the amended agenda.

AYES: Head, Kaplan, Leary, Murphy, Barney Newman, Rosenthal, Surovell
NAYS: None

Motion passed 7-0.


Robb Woulf

Good evening, I’m Robb Woulf and I have the pleasure of serving as the executive director of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. We’ve just concluded thirtieth season last week. I wanted to take a few minutes and stop by your meeting this evening and personally thank Ann Arbor District Library for your support for the 2013 season. Having worked with our friends at the library for a number of years, I felt it was important that I come out and let you know just how much the festival values our partnership with the library and how grateful we are for the library’s participation in our event. This past season more than one hundred events were presented indoors and out over twenty-four days. Some of those wet days but days nonetheless. Because of the library’s support hundreds of families attended AADL’s Kids Rock concert series at Top of the Park on the weekends. Hundreds more visited our kid’s zone tent where library staff and volunteers hosted interactive hands-on activities for children and their parents and still hundreds more tested out their super-powers in a special video art exhibition that had a superhero projected on the historic façade of Burton Memorial Tower over three spectacular events. These projects along with a number of artists workshops held at the downtown library were offered admission free. These would not be possible without the library’s generous support. I know my time is limited so on closing I just want to say I often think of summer festival as a big head venture that allows our community to come together and explore, discover and experience the arts and the world around them and in many ways I see that same sense of adventure in the work that the library does as you continue to offer the community an extensive array of materials, programs and resources for all ages and interests. On behalf of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, again I thank you for the library’s continued support and partnership. It is deeply appreciated, it has made an impact and I’m told by Eli I get extra points for tonight.

Lyn Davidge

Good evening, as you can see I have recently returned from the annual conference of the American Library Association, which this year was in Chicago. I will hereafter refer to it as ALA. When I was working as a librarian at the University of Michigan it was a fun custom in my department for those who went away on vacation or who went away to conferences to bring back little trinkets and goodies for the rest of the staff. My personal favorite was a pencil embossed with Sharon’s staff guard, but that’s another story. Since I retired I have been a visitor of AADL and so you have become more than ever my staff here. I’m one of your constituents, I’m a taxpayer, I’m a member of the electorate that put you in office. So it seemed appropriate to bring you back some goodies from ALA. I didn’t see any of you there, but it was a huge conference and we may have missed each other. If you haven’t recently attended any other conference, I hope you will consider doing so. It would be a great way for you to experience the big picture for yourself. You can independently network, learn, come to understand the many views and many facets of the complex issues facing libraries today. And gain insight on the possibilities of the collaboration among libraries of different types. Now, I realize that I have to put this paragraph in I want to be very clear, that no, no, no, I am not advocating an expensive junket for all of you at taxpayer expense. I realize that there are a variety of individual reasons any one of you may not be in a position to independently attend ALA for, as I say a variety of reasons. But I hope with my goody packet that I brought tonight will get you thinking about it. At ALA both the conference and the various exhibitors offer special flags for attendees to attach to their name tags. And mine here reads ALA member, life member, exhibitor, because I helped out in the national storytelling network booth one day and friend of labor. Now if you had been there or if you were there, you got a fancy red flag that says trustee to attach to your name tag and I have put one of those in each one of your packets along with information about two ALA divisions. First of all the Public Library Association and second, United for Libraries which is specifically the division for trustees. I’m sorry that I can’t stay for the rest of the meeting but I have another commitment this evening. Karen has a packet for each of you and I hope that you enjoy them and that you have a happy summer. Thank you.

Cheryl & Samantha Orosz

Good evening, my name is Cheryl Orosz and this is Samantha. We are avid summer game players and we came partly because of the offering of summer game points but also to tell you we really enjoy the summer games and we appreciate the opportunities that it affords for community building and playing. Everybody in our family plays. My husband is at the Townie Street Party this evening collecting points and my other daughter is at another program event this evening with friends, where there are other children we are told. But we are also very avid online players and we have created badges. We think it’s a great way to enhance research skills and there are real life skills being developed and we wanted you to know that.

Yingchen Jin

Hi, my name is Yingchen. I like the library a lot. I don’t have many chapter books of my own and I love reading and I love to go to libraries close to my home in Ann Arbor. I like participating in the summer game because you can win stuff. I didn’t know about the summer game last year, but now this year since I know about it, I want to try my best to get many game points. I really, really love libraries.

Lydia Valtadoros

Hi, my name is Lydia Valtadoros. I’m going to Slauson Middle School this year and I am eleven years old. I really appreciate the library program because of all the things it offers, especially the summer reading program and online game because I really like searching through the catalog and finding all the different codes to enter. Thank you.

Philip Valtadoros

Hi, I’m Philip Valtadoros, I’m Lydia’s brother. I’m thirteen and going into eighth grade at Slauson Middle School. The library reading game, I really like it and all it offers. It’s like a big incentive for me to read over the summer. I also play the online game and I really enjoy that, especially since I’ve gotten on the board. I want to thank the Library for all you do.

Bob Rorke

At the June Board meeting I mentioned to you a public minded paper of clinical purposes of violation of Michigan law with the execution of the contract with Allerton Hill Consulting. Since the June meeting I’ve received communication from the Library that my perceptions were not shared by the Library Board. Tonight I would like to read a few email excerpts gathered by FOIA by Protect Our Library PAC that created my misperception. How did we get into this contract with Allerton Hill? On December 12, 2012, Director Parker received an email from Luke Schaefer an Assistant Professor from the U of M School of Social Work. Professor Schaefer wrote I am an Ann Arbor resident who watched the library bond issue with interest. My colleague and friend Joel Gagne runs a consulting firm that helps public entities communicate more effectively with the public, particularly around tax levies. His firm has a track record of working on campaigns that have resulted in hundreds of millions of additional dollars in public investment. December 14th Director Parker responded to Professor Schaefer writing him an email saying thank you very much for your email and the possible link to Mr. Gagne. We are happy to talk to him, and to you, about the AADL and the unsuccessful bond proposal for a new downtown library. I shared your interest in our situation with my executive committee and they too would appreciate joining a conversation if we decide to have one. On the 19th of December Director Parker emailed President Leary, and said thanks so much Margaret, Eli, Celeste and I were on the phone today with Joel Gagne from Allerton Hill and we were impressed. I sent him more information and he is going to look things over and talk to us again next week. After that they may have a proposal. He asked us why it failed and after discussing it with us, pretty much sums it up we were working blind. He suggested that we needed a two year lead time for another vote if a vote is the decision. He was easy to talk to and did not sound like a used car salesman. His company is all about research, data and communication. He also said that communication should be 80% from the library and 20% from an advocacy group. Very different demeanor than the pitch from MW – Martin Waymire. Just as a matter of interest I have not received a proposal from Epic/MRA which is another political consultant. On December 20th President Leary communicated with Director Parker responding, thanks I looked at their website and immediately saw things we did less well than we could have. The first lesson I saw was never surprise the voters. Later on December 20, 2012 Director Parker emailed President Leary, writing I am taking in so much information right now from every direction and am purposefully not trying to make decisions or make judgments. The consultant from Allerton Hill was very blunt about our chances of success anytime in the next couple of years. It’s not possible. I’m hearing that from everyone who wants to talk to me and I’m listening. It’s very humbling, but not hopeless. On January 14, 2013 Allerton Hill submits their references in writing to the District Library. And who were their references and how were they described their work? Lou Glorie will read the references for you. Thank you.

Lou Glorie

On January 14, 2013 Allerton Hill submits their references in writing to AADL. Who are their references and how did they describe their own work? References are David Conley of RW Baird. David works for an investment bank that specializes in public bonds throughout the Midwest. David has seen our communication work first hand. We have helped their clients pass millions in bonds. We currently enjoy a partnership with them developing communication plans. David Axner, Superintendent of Dublin City Schools. We worked their campaign last November. They lost their operation issue the year before. They have strong opposition in the form of the conservative Buckeye Institute. We were able to overcome this with strong messaging and better organization. Vicki Gnezda, Communications Worthington City Schools. We are working with the district on their long term communications issues. They have had long standing opposition, which includes a board member. With our help they were successful in passing their last two issues and overcoming their opposition. Rick Hanes, Superintendent of Piqua City Schools. We worked with them both from a district end and a campaign end to pass a bond in 2010. No real organized opposition. Very conservative part of the state, our polling only had them at 35% approval of the project.

Don Salberg

Good evening, my name is Don Salberg, I’m a longtime resident of northeast Ann Arbor. Back in November of last year at the time that the library millage referendum was placed before voters one of the issues that the library board placed before the citizens needed to do some maintenance and upgrade particularly to the electrical systems so that there would be adequate power outlets for individuals to power their devices, that there may have been some ADA compliance problems with the elevators and that the boiler and cooling units may need to be replaced. It was understood that this should wisely be deferred if there was the possibility of a new library that would be built that would mean necessary maintenances and upgrades unnecessary that would be included in the new library. The millage was defeated and now in June eight months later I urged the library board to start maintenance and upgrade arrangements to meet the necessary demands that were identified in November. Subsequently in the ensuing month I contacted Karen Wilson, who I have not heard back from her. And I am unaware as to whether or not any of these maintenance and upgrade projects have been started and I would hope there have been RFP’s out to electricians to upgrade the electrical system. If you’ve already down that, or you are waiting for proposals to come back. I understand that the ADA compliance issue is not a serious problem and I also understand that maybe even the heating and cooling units do not need to be replaced at this time. But if so, I think it’s about time that efforts are made to get this accomplished. And if money for that is not available from general funds, I understand can be taken from reserve funds since these are one time expenditures and qualify for money from the reserve fund. Thank you.

Manish V.

Hi, my name is Manish and I would like to talk about the online summer game. I think it is very fun and it’s fun to play the badges but, and you can read and listen and you can record what you do and have a chance to search all through the AADL catalog. But it’s kind of weird that some people have hundred thousands point prizes and I don’t think that’s really possible. I don’t know how people do it, it’s really hard to get points.

Ashish Venumuddula

Hi, my name is Ashish and I love this library because it’s very convenient for the people who live in the neighborhood over here. So I can walk or bike and it’s very pleasant. I don’t have a complaint about this library, but I do have a complaint about the downtown library because their kids section needs more non-fiction books. Especially on airplanes, I got a book on one of them and I got this huge book about that big, and I started reading and I’m like what are they talking about. Other than that I love the libraries.

Elaine Cash

Hi, my name is Elaine Cash. I just want to express my gratitude and appreciation to the library and librarians. My family, my children and I really enjoy playing the summer game and as a mother of two kids I’m always looking for activities for children in a kid friendly environment and I’m really happy to go online and see that there are always events going on at the library and they are free and always interesting and I really want to say thank you for that.

Anna Solomon

My name is Anna Solomon and I live in the Eberwhite neighborhood of Ann Arbor and I talked here a little while ago as a new mom and in appreciation for what you do for new families. One thing that I want to talk about tonight is I’m a program director of a local autism services agency and one of the things that we do offer as part of our mission is educating communities throughout Michigan. And we often give free talks at the Ann Arbor Library. And one of our goals was to go around the state and give free talks to other communities through their public libraries. And to our shock and surprise you are actually pretty unique in that a lot of public libraries don’t offer those kinds of community talks that you offer. I just took it for granted until I started looking around the state and realized that it’s - what I don’t understand it, I don’t understand, - and I’ll say we just want to come and give a community talk. So I just wanted to say thank you for that service you provide. It’s really unique, yet one more unique thing at the Ann Arbor Public Library does. Also I did start doing summer gaming and I’m really having a good time doing that too and I got my seventh month old son enrolled as well.

Donald Harrison

My name is Donald Harrison and I just wanted to comment on a recent event at the library which was a streaming of the film Room 237 which is about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and all kinds of theories, some of them pretty wild. It was really a fascinating, fantastic movie and not just the movie but also bringing in one of the main characters, one of the main interviewees for that film. So, for me that was really a great evening of cinema at the library presented free for the community, a really great turn out. It was close to capacity. So you could say well that the downtown, the basement was adequate, but it was one of the most uncomfortable screenings I’ve been to in recent memory. You pretty much had to sit sideways with my neck sort of turned at an angle to see most of the screen and so I think that room, you know again you can talk a lot about capacity you know there are problems with downtown. But when you are screening something or doing a presentation it’s not just the number of seats it’s actually the quality of the venue itself. So, I would definitively think twice about going back to see a film if I thought there were going to be more than thirty or forty people there just in terms of terrible sight lines, just the fact it wasn’t built for that. So I don’t know what the solution is but moving forward I would love to see more events like that happen at the library. The programming is really fantastic but it just again reminded me that something needs to be done about having more fantastic events and not just focus on the number of bodies and seats but the quality of all the experience you can have. And the summer game is awesome.


Associate Director Nieman reported June financials were pre-audit. June showed unrestricted cash balance just over $8 million. Tax receipts just over $11 million, reflecting 100% of the budgeted amount, have been received through the end of June. The fund balance stands at just over $8.2 million. Three line items are over budget and budget amendments will be presented in August.

Auditors will be arriving on September 16th to begin the 2012-2013 audit.

(Item of action)

Secretary Head, supported by Trustee Leary, moved to approve the June 2013 disbursements.

AYES: Head, Kaplan, Leary, Murphy, Barney Newman, Rosenthal, Surovell
NAYS: None

Motion passed 7-0.



Chairperson Kaplan reported the committee had not met.


Chairperson Kaplan reported the committee had not met. A committee meeting is scheduled in August.


President Rosenthal reported the committee had not met.


Chairperson Leary reported the committee has a meeting scheduled for tomorrow.


Chairperson Murphy reported the committee has a meeting scheduled at the end of summer.


Director Parker reported that Eli Neiburger and Tim Grimes were once again invited by the Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Institute to participate on a new NEH project focusing on immigration. They will again serve on an advisory group representing public libraries. It is quite an honor to be called upon twice.

During the art fair this week hold periods for materials at the downtown library will be extended so patrons can retrieve them after art fair has ended or they can be sent to branches for pickup. Due dates were also extended with no items due during art fair.

AADL received two Family Favorites awards from the Ann Arbor Family Magazine. One for best free activities and one for best storyhour. AADL also received a certificate of recognition for our participation with the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative.

Recent gifts received include an oil painting entitled Bridge Construction in July, donated by the artist, Elaine Wilson. This painting will hang in the Pittsfield branch. Another significant donation received from an anonymous donor is a “classic video game collection”. As we do not circulate video games this collection will be used in future programming and video gaming events.

A second laptop bar was recently added to the Downtown library second floor providing additional seating, power outlets and lighting for up to eight. The vertical file collection was removed to accommodate this upgrade.

Trustee Leary acknowledged Director Parker’s recent inclusion in the book Library 2020: Today’s Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow’s Library edited by Joseph Janes. She recommended the title to all.

Erin Helmrich, AADL librarian, was introduced and updated the Board on “yarn bombing”, a form of knit graffiti and public art. Two programs were recently held at Pittsfield. Summer game codes can be found in the yarn bombed trees. The downtown library garden was also yarn bombed and has game codes.



Trustee Surovell, supported by Trustee Leary, moved that the Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees, in conjunction with the Library, itself wishes to acknowledge the passing of Karl Pohrt, one of our community’s great citizens. He was such an enormous part of what we, as a library, put forward and of what we all aspire to. We regret deeply his early passing. We wish his family well, and hope that his work continues far into the future, and we celebrate all that he added to our community.

Board members expressed their sentiments regarding their personal experiences with Karl Pohrt.

AYES: Head, Kaplan, Leary, Murphy, Barney Newman, Rosenthal, Surovell
NAYS: None

Motion passed 7-0.

Eli Neiburger

Associate Director Eli Neiburger stated the summer game began with a blazing start. Over 1,500 players were registered at the end of the first week. The game includes the classic paper cards and also a very active online component found at Badges are collected and points redeemed at the game shop online.

AADL hosted Kids Read Comics for the second year in a row. Over 900, of all ages, attended this event over two days. Twenty-eight events and programs were held. Fifty tables were provided for artists and votes were submitted for a variety of awards. Summer game codes were also available. Kids Read Comics was AADL’s contribution to the Book Festival.

Celeste Choate

Associate Director Celeste Choate updated the Board on several recently added collections. The origin of the unusual collections began with the Ladies Library Association donation of monies for art books and then a circulating art print collection. These prints circulate constantly and images can be found in the catalog. Recent additions to the collection include Kids Book Clubs To Go, Home Tools and additions to Science Tools. The Up for Grabs collection consists of popular items available for walk-in one week checkout. Dinosaurs are the next collection in the making.


Bob Rorke

I would like to continue speaking about the contract with Allerton Hill that was born out of the bond defeat in November. The initial interest in the consulting firm was for political purposes. The references from clients are all political. After the original proposal there was back and forth one was from February 5, 2013 from Trustee Leary to Director Parker and she says “his second point which relates to communications is our inability to express what we want AADL to become that it is not yet. That’s what I think Allerton Hill can help us with and my understanding is that they would design that message only after finding out what single fairly simple thing that resonates with most voters.” A month later after on March 2, 2013 Trustee Leary emails President Prue Rosenthal “My opinion at this moment is that AADL should consider making a plan very broad, no details and make it public. Perhaps in March. Otherwise I fear the other side may take away the initiative and create a conversation in which Ann Arbor District Library has little role thus creating political forces and opinions building on what people remember from last election and getting father away from whatever we might decide to do. I am not sure this is a good idea but could you consider it? That is to talk about what to tell the public but then I get back to the need for the communication audit, the plan, the message before we talk, so I am back where I started.” This contract is not wise it’s not a generic communication audit it’s a communication project, it’s a project that, I’m just asking for one more time, how this came about and whether it is legal under Michigan law. Thank you.

Trustee Murphy reminded the Board and the public that public comment is limited to speaking once regarding the same topic during the meeting for each commenter.


Trustee Murphy, supported by Trustee Leary, moved to adjourn the meeting.

President Rosenthal adjourned the meeting at 8:31 p.m.