Saturday, July 6, 2013

Urbana Free Library Trustees Meeting, July 9

Will you be attending the next Urbana Free Library Board of Trustees meeting on July 9? Learn more & register your interest in attending:

Updates and Resources

In addition to the regular blog posts, please be sure to take a look at the pages (in the right-hand column):

  • In the News - links to traditional and social media accounts of ongoing events at Urbana Free Library
  • Community Questions - a list of questions asked by various individuals who attended the June 19 Trustees meeting
  • Take Action - a variety of ways to help ensure a healthy future for Urbana Free Library, its staff, and our community

In the next day, look for a FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide to events, actions, and policies.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Director Responds to the Past Month's Controversies

Please read the Director's report to the Board of Trustees in advance of next Tuesday's meeting: you can find it here.

Here's part of what Lissak said about the problematic Strategic Planning and process:
"I would strongly discourage any rewrite of the Strategic Plan. We had an especially strong community committee that was very representative of Urbana. The plan includes concrete measures of our efforts and a method for the Board to evaluate and revise the plan annually" (p. 3)
 And here's a selection from her comments on weeding:
"The non-fiction weeding controversy surfaced mid-month. The controversy began with false allegations sent in a letter to City Council and Board, and the false statements then spread through social media" (p. 4)
If you find her response satisfactory, then consider your / our work done. But if you find yourself outraged—as many of us who have been working closely on this issue do—then I hope you will come to the Trustees meeting on Tuesday, July 9, in the Library's Auditorium. It's scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Trustees Meeting!

The next meeting of the Urbana Free Library's Board of Trustees is scheduled for Tuesday, July 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Library's ground floor auditorium. There has been some indication that the start time for the meeting might be moved to 6:30 p.m., so please check back here for the most current information.

If you are interested in speaking at this meeting during the public comment portion, please note the following guidelines from the Trustees' By-Laws:

Designated comment period 
Public comments are the first items addressed under Petitions and Communications in the agenda. The presiding chair may require persons wishing to speak to sign in before the start of the meeting and to provide their names, addresses, and topics to be discussed. Prior to speaking, each person must be recognized by the presiding chair and must state his or her name and address for the public record.

Time limits
Public comment is limited to no more than five minutes per person and to no more than two hours per meeting, unless extended by consent of a majority vote of the members present. The presiding chair shall monitor each speaker’s use of time and shall notify the speaker when the time allotted has expired.
Limits on group comments
If the presiding chair recognizes that more than twenty persons desire to speak, he or she may limit each speaker to comments of no more than three minutes. 
Whenever any group of persons wishes to address the Board on the same topic, the presiding chair may ask that a spokesperson be chosen from the group. If additional matters are to be presented by other persons in the group, the presiding chair may limit the number of such persons and may limit the presentation to information not already presented by the group spokesperson.

Invited comments Persons invited by the presiding chair to address the Board are subject to such time
limits as the majority of the members present may prescribe.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Consider showing your support for the librarians and staff!

As a former librarian and current library school faculty member, I recognize how hard the librarians and staff at UFL work. I hope you'll consider showing your support for them by adding your name to this online petition. More than the collections they manage, more than programming they offer, the librarians and the staff are the Library's true heart.

Consider your signature a virtual 'hug' to each of them.


This blog is intended to serve as a clearinghouse for information as well as a space for collegial dialogue related to Urbana Free Library (UFL / The Library). The goal for this blog is to support Urbana community members and other interested persons in advocating for a stronger, more responsive, inclusive Urbana Free Library for the immediate, mid, and long term.

Background Information

In June 2013 the Library removed 9600 adult nonfiction books in only 4 days. Thousands of books about art, religion, home improvement and more were boxed up and sent to a vendor.

The director told staff to discard books quickly – just by looking at lists instead of by using professional knowledge.

According to reports, the director pressured and bullied Adult Services librarians into discarding books that the public wants to keep in the library.

Libraries regularly “weed” books that are outdated, in bad condition, or no longer relevant to the public, but it shouldn’t happen this way.

What’s next to go?

Led by an outside consultant, the Library created a strategic plan for big changes. Some of these planned changes have been made public. Some have not been articulated publicly by the Administration, but have been described by various staff members. For example, there are plans to significantly reduce the magazine, CD and DVD collections. Some public spaces such as the 1st floor reading rooms may be repurposed.

What's the bigger picture?

People in the community are mostly unaware of these plans. Our voices have not been heard. We want these plans to be made public and a chance to get clear answers.

The Library belongs to the public and the people of Urbana should help decide its future.

How has the Administration responded?

Hundreds of Urbana citizens and library lovers from around the country have contacted the Director and the Board, to demand answers.

The Administration has blamed staff in press interviews and has yet to answer our questions.

The Board has said it will open the Strategic Plan for comment, but will our voices be heard?

We need information, but staff who have come forward to talk have been threatened and have no protection from retaliation.

How can I speak out?

The Library Board meets Tuesday, July 9 at 7:30 pm in the library’s auditorium. We hope you’ll come and tell your friends about it.

Contact information for the Board is here:

Contact the Director at or 217-367-4057