Wednesday, August 14, 2013

One step forward, two steps back?

Last night’s UFL Board of Trustees meeting was lightly attended by about 30 people, including Lissak’s attorney. Confusion (for the third time in a row) about the start time of the meeting resulted in the loss of public comment for several who arrived at 7:30. Public comment ended by 7pm. I'd like to thank those who provided comment, including Kate McDowell, Laura Haber, Al Kagan, and Danielle Chynowith. This meeting provided some answers and resulted in more questions. I’ll call this a 'two steps forward one step back' outcome since I’m feeling charitable this morning.

Steps forward:
 The IMC livestreamed the meeting. UPTV recorded the proceedings. View them here: and here:

An interim director was appointed effective immediately: Kathy Wicks – Lissak’s Associate Director for the past 4-5 years. Lissak remains on the payroll - as her contract was renewed on July 1, and her role at UFL is unclear. She was quite vocal at the meeting.

A national search will commence for the position of Executive Director, timeline to be announced. A working group consisting of Mark Netter and Beth Scheid will craft the search process.

The UFL Board announced a special meeting for Tuesday, August 27 at 6:30 in the UFL auditorium. correction from the UFL website: > Satterthwaite conference room on the ground floor. Under discussion may be the criteria for the search candidates, and the proposed search process among other items.

Of the 259 boxes returned by BWB only 40 remain to be evaluated. Adref staff have carefully (and I'd say heroically) reassessed the contents and 2074 books have been returned to the collection. The target completion date is one month from now. Return rate is approximately 50%, though the remaining boxes have subjects such as finance and health – which have higher weed rates due to temporality. Scherer estimates that at $12.50 valuation per book/ this means over $25,000 in resources have been restored to UFL shelves.

As part of the state library reporting process - Kathy Wicks recognizes the need to learn more about the UFL audience and how to reach them. The public has been directed to send ideas for how to do this to her. These ideas may be incorporated into an actual SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis – "at some point in the future".

The UFL grievance policy revision is in the hands of the city, which is overseeing the process. (according to Chris Scherer). 

Steps backward:
Confusion about the Board meeting start time (again!) – Listed as 7:30 on the library calendar (but corrected by the morning of the meeting), in the reminder email sent out by UFL and as 6:30 in the meeting agenda, and the flyer posted on the announcement board at UFL.

Scherer characterized role of comment on the strategic plan with what appears to be another retrenchment – "The strategic plan will be evaluated and the new director will have input." There was no indication if – or when – the public would be allowed to comment.

Mel Farrell is back from vacation with a new word she likes to use: ‘silly’
She did praise the staff, while reminding the audience “we don’t often have the luxury of hiring immediately” and we shouldn’t worry about this because our ‘eminent staff will carry on.’ Ostensibly we’ve all been worried about a decline in programs and services and we just don’t need to be! Aren’t we silly!

News Gazette coverage – which – again doesn’t quite get things right in ways that inaccurately color the news.

No one said that “many of the removed books have been returned to the stacks.” We were actually told – again – that the numbers are not available, though Mary Towner feels this may be possible once all of the boxes have been unpacked and assessed.

Towner didn’t say: “she believes the actual number of removed books may have been smaller than that [9,343 is the number stated in the article].” What she told us is that not all of the yellow highlighted books on the spreadsheet were removed because the weeding stopped prior to completion.

Continued vigilance is needed, and indeed appreciated by Chris Scherer - President of the Board of Trustees, though he repeatedly warned us not to push too hard - especially on timelines.