January 2012 - Board Minutes

Owatonna Public Library Board Minutes of January 24, 2012

The Owatonna Public Library (OPL) Board of Trustees convened their monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, in the Gainey Room at the Owatonna Public Library. The meeting was called to order at 4:30 pm by President Eric Mattison. Also attending were Russ Dunn-Foster, Jill Holmes, Library Director Mary Kay Feltes, Darla Lager, Librarian in charge of Children’s Services, and Gail Plathe. Don Overlie attended electronically. Assistant Director Renée P. Lowery and Angela Sager were absent.

Mattison asked if there were changes to the agenda. Feltes recommended the presentation of the children’s services report be moved to the top of the agenda. All agreed.

Lager discussed December activities in Children’s Services. Highlights of the month include the visits by first graders from all Owatonna Elementary Schools, St. Mary’s Catholic School, and Medford Public School. Children toured Children’s Services, listened to The Polar Express, and received Library cards and book bags. Each child checked out books. Darla said some of the first graders already had library cards because they had visited with their schools as Kindergarteners. Click here for full December Children's Services report.

The minutes of December 20, 2011, were approved on a motion by Dunn-Foster, seconded by Holmes. The motion passed.

The expenditures report for December was reviewed. Feltes noted that after all bills for 2011 were paid, the library was over budget by approximately $1000. Board members congratulated Feltes on her conscientious management of library finances in spite of unexpected expenses associated with an early retirement, the cost of replacing an aging copier, and a substantial expense for insurance premiums that was added to the departmental budget mid-year. The insurance premiums were formerly paid by administration. In 2011 the expense was charged to each department. Board members noted Feltes’ prudent action to cut the repair budget for 2012 as a necessary and unfortunate situation. Staff cuts are not an option. Repairs are needed throughout the city. A drive down many neighborhood streets will illustrate that, as pointed out by board members. The building will be repaired as needed.

Board reviewed library use for the month of December. At the Owatonna Public Library (OPL) in December, 2011, the number of items checked out was down by 2% over the total for December, 2010. Dunn-Foster noted the library was closed for 4 days over the Christmas holiday which directly impacts the circulation numbers. Customers visited OPL more than 16,300 times in the month, an increase of 4% over the same month in 2010.  Library cards were issued to 165 new borrowers. Library users at Blooming Prairie Branch Library (BPBL) checked out 22% more items when compared to December, 2010. Customers visited 1,309 times, an increase of 15.5%. BPBL added 8 new borrowers. Owatonna lent 1687 items to patrons in other libraries and borrowed 1227 from other libraries for Owatonna patrons. The totals for 2011 are 21,911 lent to patrons in other libraries and borrowed 17,977 for Owatonna patrons. The new system of interlibrary loan has not affected the balance for OPL. It’s advantageous for OPL to lend more items than are borrowed.

Library use includes electronic media. Plathe reported the online use on some library platforms as compiled by Assistant Library Director Renée P. Lowery. Digital downloads have increased from 3,593 in 2010 to over 26,000 in 2011.

In December 234 customers downloaded 1,383 songs in 26 genres using freegal, the downloadable music service. The average daily downloads was 45. OverDrive gives library customers access to electronic books. Two hundred twenty-six patrons downloaded 658 e-books and 70 e-audios during December, an increase over November. Lowery noted the OverDrive statistics can by broken down by format and “branch”. Twenty-seven e-audio books were downloaded using the OneClickdigital service. Owatonna continues to lead other regional libraries in numbers of downloads.

Feltes reported a huge increase in the numbers of questions from library patrons regarding e-readers and downloading e-books and e-audio. In response to this surge in requests for information, Lowery has scheduled two e-book classes, one for kindle users and one for other e-reader (such as Nook) users. The use of electronic media is rising rapidly. The response of library staff to emerging electronic mobile devices is one of the strengths, as pointed out by board members.

Old Business
Independent School District 761, Centro Campesino and Hennepin County Library applied for a Library Legacy Grant. Mary Baier, grant writer for the school district, has received word from Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) that the grant had been awarded, with conditions. The grant will fund the visit of Victor Villaseñor, a Hispanic author from California. He will speak to student groups in Owatonna and Hennepin County.

Feltes has arranged for a library consultant to recommend improvements to circulation areas. In conjunction with this, three library staff members have formed a committee whose focus is to take a preliminary look at public spaces and staff areas to see how they might be de-cluttered, cleaned up and given a fresh look.

The 2011 Easel art display was discussed. OPL purchased the pieces created by Steele County residents and they will be displayed as a collection. Creative ways to exhibit the art are being explored.

New Business
In preparation for a council/staff strategic planning session, the city administrator directed department heads to execute a SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

Strengths, Weaknesses: An Internal Environment Analysis
Feltes asked the Library Board to review the strengths and weaknesses of the Owatonna Public Library. In its examination, the Library Board used a checklist developed by Philip Kotler. (Philip Kotler. Marketing Management. Prentice Hall, 2000.)
Strengths included the library’s connection to the community it serves, and the support it receives from that community. Library users have confidence in the able, dedicated workforce. They know the staff will respond appropriately with reliable information. The library’s reputation in the community is strong. Library staff has a reputation for being informed and knowledgeable. Technical expertise of staff was also mentioned as a considerable strength. Board members praised the longstanding preemptive response to emerging technology. It also noted outstanding community support through monetary donations and memorials that provides the resources to explore and purchase innovative programs and equipment on a timely basis. The library’s membership in Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) was mentioned as a strength. The Owatonna Public Library’s membership provides access to a shared information source through technology. Staff noted that SELCO advances more slowly than OPL requires when implementing new systems and programs. The corporate model is viewed as a weakness of the partnership. Other strengths: Promotion through new library cards, programming advertisement through local media, social media and website and widely distributed print brochures for children’s programs. The location of the library building in the town center makes it a natural gathering place. The meeting room is used almost every day. One board member described our library’s “…small town sensibility with the big city mentality…”
Potential weaknesses include deferred maintenance to an aging facility due to budget cuts. No cushion for unforeseen expenses is another issue. Declining donations due to competition for monetary gifts negatively impacts the library. The culture of giving is exhibited differently among generations. Since bookmobile service was discontinued, Ellendale is not receiving library service. Other budget cuts affected outreach service. Staff still pulls books for daycares to pick up, but delivery to each daycare has been cut. Staff also gathers books for the several rooms at Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) in Owatonna, Medford and Ellendale. These are also available for pick up. On a positive note, Feltes was pleased to report that Healthy Seniors is providing volunteers to deliver books to homebound readers. This service reinvigorates the Books to Go! delivery program that was cut several years ago.
The Library Board also identified external opportunities and threats to the Owatonna Public Library:
There are opportunities to provide collections for immigrants who are settling and have settled in Owatonna and are becoming citizens. There are opportunities to fill in the gap where school libraries no longer exist. Partnering with other agencies is an opportunity to develop resources and other connections in the community.
Budget cuts continue to be a threat to maintaining comprehensive library service to Owatonna and Steele County residents.

Feltes also distributed "Confronting the Future; Strategic Visions for the 21st Century Public Library" by Roger E. Levien. ALA Office for Technology Policy. June, 2011.

In Other Business – Feltes addressed the technology roadmap prepared by Loren Lovhaug for the city of Owatonna. In his opinion the city is well positioned technologically. He recommended hiring a full time assistant technology coordinator. Feltes and Ryan Brown, Technology Coordinator for the city, have been talking about the minimum qualifications for the new person.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:35 pm. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 21 at 4:30 pm. (No meeting was held in February due to the lack of a quorum. Click here for the February Children's Services report.)

Respectfully submitted, 
Gail Plathe