Grace A. Dow Memorial Library

Library Board


Wednesday, January 21, 2009 7 p.m.

City Hall Council Chambers


I.                    Roll Call

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


PRESENT: Melissa Barnard, Maxine Brink, Sarah Galt, Tami Johnson, Kathleen Kinnish, Norm Neher, William Snover, Marilyn Soules


ALSO PRESENT: Wendy Shields, Technical Secretary; Virginia McKane, Assistant Director; John Palen, Midland Issues


II.                 Acceptance of November 19, 2008 Meeting Minutes

Minutes approved as submitted.


III.               Additions or Changes to the Agenda



IV.              Public Comments



V.                 Director’s Report

Barnard brought in a sample recyclable bag that is being sold at the Library.  The bags are $1.00 and can be purchased at the check out desk.  The Friends of the Library sponsored this project.


Barnard announced that the Library would be participating in a summer camp with other organizations in Discovery Square.  McKane explained that the Midland Center for the Arts, Dow Gardens, History Center, the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio and the Library will be offering three one week camps to educate children about Discovery Square.  The Library will have a half day session each week that features young children producing a puppet play or older children making a pop-up book. 


Barnard reported that the Library will again combine celebrating National Library Week with Happenings.  Happenings ’09 activities include programs focusing on Abraham Lincoln to celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, game nights for teens, the annual tea, a musical program for children and a children’s art exhibit.  The public is invited to contribute Lincolns for the Library in banks located at service desks in the Library. For April, the Books and Bites discussion group will be reading Gore Vidal’s Lincoln.  There will be an extended check out time for this lengthy book.


Kinnish asked about the new Books and Bites afternoon book discussion group.  The group will have their first meeting on Wednesday, January 26 and then on the fourth Wednesday afternoon of each month.


Neher inquired about the status of Battle of the Books registrations.  McKane responded that we will have definite numbers after Monday, January 26, the registration deadline.


VI.              Patron Compliments and Concerns


1.      I had the best time at the Library.

2.      You might look into getting the magazine subscriptions without perfume, cologne, aftershave ads.  I don’t have allergies, but these ads are really too strong.  Thank you.

Patrons may take out these scented inserts and throw them away.

3.      To be able to check out headphones and bring them back on time.

The library offers headphones for use in the library.  They are available at the check out desk.

4.      Your system for printing even the most simple (one paragraph) print job is so spectacularly user unfriendly it is unbelievable!  While a staff member did try to help me it was not worth the extreme hassle.

Staff is available to assist as necessary.  After instructions and first time use, sending print jobs to the printer isn’t usually a problem.

5.      I am very unhappy with the current “Hold” system.  When you put a book on inactive status in your hold file, you do not know how long that action will last.  All of a sudden, five books can revert to active and become available!  I have asked the help desk if they can tell me the dates they will revert to active and they say they cannot.

The library’s automated circulation system does not list the date when a hold is suspended.  Staff can provide the suspend date if requested.

6.      Longer coffee shop hours.

The Arnold Center who operates the Cup and Chaucer Coffee Bar has determined that sales are not sufficient to extend the current hours.

7.      Shorten the number a patron has to use when placing a hold to the last six numbers – just like staff do (plus other four numbers from phone).  More user friendly.

The library’s automated circulation system requires the full library card number.




1.      The new phone renewal system is very hard on those of us without computers.  Old system was very user friendly – press 1 to renew, press 2 to continue.  Now it takes longer to press so many buttons for book identity.  If my finger slips I have to begin all over again.  It’s enough to make me go to Barnes and Noble (which I can’t afford as I’m a senior citizen on fixed income).  To call front desk or Reference Librarian is a waste of your human resources.  I’ll watch next Library Board meeting for suggestions – if I can figure out the new MCTV grid in Midland Daily News.  Merry Christmas.

The old automated phone notification system was replaced because it was at end of life.  The system update was needed to be compatible with the library’s automated circulation system.

2.      Please stick the due date notice on the bottom of the jacket.  I like to read the information.

The due date stickers are difficult to place and not cover up information.  Patrons continue to prefer using this method for the due date even with the receipts provided that list materials checked out.

3.      With all of the City budget cuts, one way the Library could save a lot of money would be to eliminate the wasteful “Book Express” as many copies of books are ordered and only 2-3 kept after a short period of time, with the others being discarded.  Save a job!  Discontinue this service.

The Book Express is one of the library’s most popular collections. The number of copies purchased is determined by the popularity of the author and this is reviewed regularly.  These books are checked out numerous times over the 6 months to a year and a half that they are on the Book Express shelves.  Many of these books are worn by the time that they are moved out of this collection.  Books are then donated to the Friends of the Library to be sold in their used book sales.  The money raised through the sales supports library programs. 

4.      The Library is a great place for young children.  For them to come learn and nurture.  To be youthful yet insightful.  To learn to be smart in their lives.

5.      Making loud, long cell calls should not be allowed anywhere in the Library.  Soft talk is okay.  Please help!  Thank you!

Please alert the staff at the Reference or Youth Services Desks with issues about cell phone use.


VII.            Old Business

a.    Board/Community Communications

Brink contributed the Library Board – Sharing Favorites article in the March/April issue of the Library Connection.  Johnson offered to do the article for the May/June issue. (Snover later volunteered for the May/June article so Johnson will provide an article for July/August)


                  b.   Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative Board Report

Soules reported that the current director is retiring in the fall and the search for a replacement is underway.  The annual audit was performed and received a clean rating.  The Cooperative has released its Summer Reading Program presenter list for 2009.


c.       Library Board Goals Committee Reports

Soules called upon board members to report on the activities of their committees.


Goal 1:  Advise library staff and evaluate processes and procedures related to technology use and instruction at the library.

Board members assigned:  Neher, Galt, Johnson

Galt reported that the committee had met and discussed their goal.  Barnard provided the committee with the Compliments and Concerns from over the past couple of years related to the topic of technology at the Library as well as the Library’s technology policies and procedures.  Johnson did some hands on research by coming to the library and using the computers to help to understand patron’s comments. 


Galt reported that the committee was primarily focusing on the time issue.  Patrons are allowed one hour per day whether there are computers available or not at the end of one hour.  This is partly a function of the automated time management system that does not allow much flexibility. Barnard reported that if the proposed budget is approved the Library will receive funding for a new time management system for the public computers. 


Johnson noted that the Library provides laptop computers for people to borrow for use in the Library.  There is also a computer dedicated to accessing tax forms and publications.  Soules mentioned the computer classes that the Library regularly offers to the public. 


At a meeting with Barnard and McKane, the committee recommended a handout listing computer services.  McKane has begun working on the handout that will be available in the Library and posted on the website.  Barnard said that they hope to have the handout ready by March.


Goal 2:  Participate in the review of the Library’s Mission Statement and development of a strategic plan.

Board members assigned:  Galt, Soules, Kinnish

After initialing working with a possible facilitator, Barnard indicated that it is necessary to look for a different facilitator.  Soules commented that there is not a deadline for this goal.


Goal 3:  Participate in the City of Midland Community Roundtable discussions regarding city services, including the services of the library, to provide input in identifying city budget priorities for fiscal year 2009-2010.

This goal was completed in October 2008.


Goal 4:  Suggest innovative marketing strategies to communicate library services and programs to the community.

Board members assigned:  Kinnish, Soules, Snover

Soules reported that the Northwood University marketing class instructor originally contacted was no longer able to help with this project.  Johnson provided an article on a local marketing association.  The committee plans to schedule a meeting to discuss how to address this goal.


VIII.         New Business

Each Board member received a copy of the “City of Midland Budget Challenges Summary Report” and pages from the “Supplemental Report” that contained comments about the Library.

Barnard reviewed key findings from the report. The Summary Report can be found on the city’s website.


Barnard reported that she attended the day long planning session where City Administrators and City Council reviewed the economic issues facing the city and discussed goals for this year.  City Council members shared their thoughts on a millage increase/service reductions to address the deficit in 2009-2010.  A majority indicated that they are willing to consider a millage increase in addition to budget reductions by city departments.  A proposed budget will be presented to Council in April.


Galt noted the many comments in the reports from people who love the library.  Soules mentioned that Michigan Mideastern Library Cooperative is attempting to determine if people are turning more to libraries in the current difficult economic times by collecting use statistics.


Barnard reported that she had a meeting with the City Manager and the Finance Department to discuss proposed reductions in the Library’s budget.  There are currently four vacant positions at the Library: part time library assistant, part time office assistant, part time clerical aide, and full time reference librarian. It is being proposed that none of these positions be filled. 


Barnard also stated that as a consequence of reducing the number of employees, the Library would have to reduce the number of hours it is open.  The proposed changes are opening one half hour later and closing one half hour earlier Monday through Friday.  Saturday and Sunday hours would remain the same.  There will also be reductions in the programming, printing and public relations budgets.


Soules commented that our resources are shrinking.  The Board felt it was a good solution that preserved the best of our services for the most people. 


Snover inquired about the possibility of volunteers helping to solve the staff shortage.  Barnard stated that we currently use volunteers, but have to limit that usage due to union contracts.  Soules asked if staff would retain their current number of hours.  Barnard responded that they would.  Johnson remarked that the decisions were in direct response to the findings in the report.


IX.              Board Announcements

Snover commented that he went to the library to work on a research project and was pleasantly surprised to find the resources he needed.  He encouraged the public to use the Library when researching an issue or working on a project.


Soules acknowledged the great press the Library receives from local newspapers.


X.                 Adjournment

Brink moved to adjourn.  Motion passed.  Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.