Board of Library Trustees Meeting
July 16, 2020
Zoom virtual meeting
Carlo Fassi, Chair
Ronnie King II, Trustee
Celia Nass, Trustee
Guy K. Anderson, Trustee
Steven Eagerton, Trustee
Fernando Meza, Trustee
Jill Langford Dame, Trustee
Matt Swanson, Trustee
Virginia Berg, Trustee
Donald Horner III, Trustee
Mario Payne, Board Secretary
Tim Rogers, Library Director
Julie McNeil, Deputy Director for Public Services
Gretchen Mitchell, Deputy Director for Support Services
Tristan Denmark, Special Assistant to the Director
Sara Gunter, Administrative Aide
Richard Mott, Manager for Strategic Initiatives
Chris Boivin, Assistant Director for Community Relations & Marketing
Amber Holley, Assistant Director for Learning Services
Tracy Pigott, Manager, Professional Development and Training Services
Charlene Adkins, Collection Development Manager
Michael Sullivan, Region Manager, East Region
Marc Hardesty, Trustee
Jim McCain, Office of General Council
Tia Leathers, Duval County Public Schools
Joyce Morgan, Council Member
Chester Aikens, Executive Council Assistant
Glenn Weiss, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville
Judy Klein, Friends of the Bill Brinton Murray Hill Branch Library
Margaret Smith, Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library
Roxanne Henkle, Friends of the Willowbranch Library
Sharon Coon, Friends of the Brentwood Branch Library
Marianna Kane, Friends of the Beaches Branch Library
Stephanie Miller, Region Manager, North Region
Keli Likins, Region Manager, South Region
Lynne Baldwin, Region Manager, West Region
Lynn Jacobson, Systems and Technology Manager
Chuck McNeil, Assistant Director for Financial Services
Marshelle Berry, Main Branch Manager
Ray Albury, Assistant Director for Facilities Management and Planning
Zoe Carr, Community Resource Manager
1. Call to Order/Housekeeping
Board Chair Carlo Fassi called the Zoom meeting to order at 12:01p.m after confirming that a quorum was present. He welcomed everyone to the meeting, and reviewed some basic housekeeping items and information about virtual meetings.
2. Welcoming of Invited Guests
Chair Fassi welcomed Executive Council Assistant Chet Aikens, assistant to one of the Board’s new City Council Liaisons, CM Joyce Morgan.
3. First Call for Public Comment
No visitors requested the opportunity to address the Board.
4. Honors and Recognition
There were no honors or recognitions this month.
5. Consent Agenda
a) June Board Meeting Minutes – June 18, 2020
Chair Fassi asked for a motion to approve the Consent Agenda, which was comprised only of the minutes of the June 18 BOLT meeting. At this time he asked for volunteers to serve as the designated motioner and seconder for this meeting; he also recognized that CM Morgan had joined the meeting. Trustee Jill Dame was appointed the designated motioner and Trustee Payne the designated seconder. Trustee Dame moved to approve the minutes of the June 18 BOLT meeting as submitted and Trustee Payne seconded the motion. The Clerk of the Board did a roll call vote. Trustees Eagerton, Horner, Nass, and Swanson all voted yea; Trustees Haworth, Hardesty and King were not yet present, and Trustee Anderson could not be heard, nor did he vote via Chat. The Consent Agenda passed unanimously.
6. Chair’s Report
Chair Fassi gave a report on the Library Foundation. He said they have begun their annual giving campaign and that BOLT members should expect a letter, either physically or via email, from new Executive Director Janet Wesley. Chair Fassi said it is customary for the Board to have 100% participation in giving to the Foundation, and he would encourage all of the current Board members to continue that tradition.
Chair Fassi said the Mayor presented his proposed budget to the City Council yesterday and the Library was very fortunate that our budget was not cut. He said we are looking forward to presenting our budget to the Council’s Finance Committee to discuss the many important things the Library is doing for the City of Jacksonville in these difficult times. Along with no cuts, Chair Fassi advised that the new library location on the Northside of town was allocated funding in the CIP portion of the proposed budget.
Chair Fassi said he would be naming Trustee Swanson as Chairman of the Special Committee on the Main Library Conference Center, whose charge is to review the future of that source of revenue and to review how the Conference Center can continue to be a successful form of revenue for the Library. Chair Fassi said that he and Trustee Swanson would have a noticed public meeting in the next month to discuss the members of said committee, and that anyone interested in joining the committee should let Director Rogers know. He said he would also be appointing members from the Foundation Board and Library staff to the committee.
Chair Fassi said he would be appointing the members of the Nominating Committee for next year’s leadership; as of right now, he has Chairman Emeritus King, and Trustees Nass, Meza and Horner as his selected members. If anyone else is interested in serving on the committee, they should let Director Rogers know. He said the committee will be meeting over the next four to six weeks to propose the slate of officers for BOLT leadership next year, which is due by the September BOLT meeting. Chair Fassi added that, given the news of a staffer at the Main Library testing positive for COVID-19, he would like to say that Director Rogers has consistently kept him informed and updated about all pandemic-related issues at all library branches, and that he hears the same from the Mayor’s office and City Council, so he wanted to commend the Library staff.
7. Director’s Report
Director Rogers thanked Chair Fassi for his kind words and said he would pass them along to staff. He discussed the current state of the COVID situation at the Library, mentioning that while he knows we have staff who are feeling anxious and/or vulnerable, their safety is our main concern. He talked about the team option currently being explored for staff, and discussed the process followed when an employee at any branch tests positive. He mentioned the changes made this week regarding the decision to not open additional library branches, and said he does not think we should try to open anymore branches until after the RNC, but we will definitely try to keep the currently open branches operational. He said that he has spoken to the Mayor’s office and they agree with this idea.
Director Rogers mentioned the infrared camera that measures temperatures and said he would like to purchase four more, as he thinks it will be safer for staff. He mentioned that the government has issued additional C.A.R.E.S. dollars through the state library, and we will be applying for some of those funds to offset the cost of these cameras. He said that we will continue to ramp up our digital services.
Director Rogers mentioned how nice it was to see so many representatives from the Library’s Friends groups at the meeting. He also gave information about the upcoming budget hearings, and said we are pleased that the Library is seen by our local government as a vital component of both crime prevention and education in the community; our budget reflects that. He invited anyone present to attend the budget hearings if they are interested, while saying that we are not yet sure whether they will be conducted virtually or in-person.
Director Rogers said we are still trying to figure out what the next phase of library service looks like, and that going back to the way things were is not really an option. He said he thinks we will be looking at a hybrid blend of services where digital service becomes much more integrated. He encouraged the attendees to join one of the virtual classes offered by the library if they have a chance.
Trustee Dame asked Director Rogers what the Library is doing in terms of media and public relations to let people know the library is open, which locations are open, etc. Chris Boivin was present and answered this question; he advised that CR&M has made several media/news appearances to discuss open library branches, branch hours, library services, etc. He said they have also been sending out press releases to keep people informed about hours and openings, and the Library’s social media posts have been directing people to the webpage on our site with information about library reopenings. Chris also said they have been sending out some targeted email blasts as well. He said they will likely not be making any additional media appearances until more libraries open, which will be after the RNC in late August. Chair Fassi said he has a Google alert set up for anything about the Jacksonville Public Library, and he is continually being notified of posts.
8. Unfinished Business
a) Mural for the Bill Brinton Murray Hill Branch Library
Chair Fassi asked Director Rogers to give a quick recap on the issue of the mural on the side of the Murray Hill branch library; Director Rogers did so. He advised that the issue was tabled at the last BOLT meeting and is therefore included as unfinished business on today’s agenda. Chair Fassi stated that for issues which have been tabled, he will require a motion for how to proceed, and he opened the floor for motions. Trustee King made a motion to approve the mural, and Trustee Payne seconded the motion. Trustee Dame clarified that the motion was to remove the issue from the table for reconsideration; Chair Fassi agreed that any motion would be to remove the issue from the issue from the table for reconsideration, so he was confused by Trustee King’s motion. Trustee Dame further mentioned that she did not make the motion to remove the issue from the table, as the designated motioner for the meeting. She continued by stating that after the last BOLT meeting, she spoke with the Brinton family several times. She said she is generally convinced that, while a library branch was named after Mr. Brinton, and that does not give the family perpetual decision-making privilege regarding decoration, usage, etc. of that branch, does feel that painting a mural on the exterior wall would be inappropriate at the Murray Hill branch library that is now named for Mr. Brinton. Therefore, she is not supportive of moving forward with the mural. Chair Fassi said that while he does not have a vote unless there is a tie, he would have to agree with Trustee Dame’s statements on the matter. He said not only does he think it would be disappointing to the Brinton family, but he also feels that the process by which the mural was brought to the Board was rushed. Given the permanent nature of a mural on the side of one of the Library branch’s buildings, he was concerned that as proposed, only a small percentage of the Artist Selection Committee would be composed of representatives of the Library. He said he is not opposed to the concept altogether, but he is not supporting the manner in which the mural is currently being pitched.
Chair Fassi asked if there was any additional discussion, and Glenn Weiss said he was disappointed by the last two comments about the project, and that he had spoken with Cathy Brinton at length about the project; she said she would be glad to serve on the selection panel. He said that he and the Brintons discussed the merits of a mural when juxtaposed with Mr. Brinton’s lifelong work against blight, and he did not get the same feeling as Trustee Dame. He said the Cultural Council had suggested that an additional Board member could be appointed to the Artist Selection Panel, as well as a representative from the branch’s Friends group and the manager of the branch. He said they want to be very sensitive to the library’s goals. Glenn said the Cultural Council is glad to continue talking about the project. He mentioned that the Murray Hill Preservation Society is also in support of the project, and said of course the Cultural Council would love to go ahead with it.
Chair Fassi thanked Mr. Weiss and asked if there was any further discussion. Seeing none, he reiterated that to be completely clear, a ‘yea’ vote would simply add the issue to the table, and he would then need another motion to approve the item. A ‘nay’ vote would be to keep the issue tabled, and it would essentially die. Trustee King said that he may have misunderstood the motion he was making, and therefore he would like to rescind his motion to keep the issue on the table. Chair Fassi said that with no motion, the item remains unfinished business and there would be no action on it today. There was no motion.
9. New Business
a) LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) Grant Changes
Chair Fassi asked Director Rogers to brief the Board on the LSTA grant changes; he did so. Director Rogers explained that due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Library asked the State for a deadline extension on the grant, as normally the money must be spent by the end of July. The State did extend the deadline so that the Library has until the end of September to complete the grant. He said the changes will also allow all training to be switched from in-person to online training; really what changes is the fundamental way the work is performed, but the result of the work does not change. Trustee Dame moved to approve the proposed changes to the LSTA grant and Trustee King seconded the motion. The Clerk of the Board did a roll call vote. Trustees Horner, Nass, Payne and Swanson all voted yea; Trustees Haworth and Hardesty were not yet present, and Trustees Anderson and Eagerton voted yea via Chat. The changes to the LSTA grant passed unanimously.
b) Authorization to Close Libraries During Pandemic
Chair Fassi stated that he and Director Rogers spoke quite a bit about this agenda item. He said they originally discussed authorizing the libraries individually, but he thinks that granting the Director authority to open and close branches directly, in consultation with his leadership team, until the end of the year makes a lot of sense. Chair Fassi said given COVID-19 and how fluid the situation in Jacksonville is, he is very supportive of this measure, and he felt it should be made clear that the Board is granting this authority to the Library Director. He ceded the floor to Director Rogers, who went on to state that the Board is the only body with the authority to close the Library itself or to change its hours. He stipulated that of course, as the Library is part of the City, the Mayor has the power through executive order to close down the City, which would close the Library like in March of this year. The Library Director does not have that authority, except in the event of an extreme emergency. Director Rogers said he feels it would be prudent to have the authority to close the Library, and to be very specific about how long this authority is valid. He said he does not feel this is something the Director should have the ability to do ad infinitum. He explained that part of why this is being discussed now is because they believe there may be a need to close library buildings in the future for a longer period of time, in relation to low staff and/or early voting. Director Rogers said there is also the reality that the health screenings we are doing at libraries will not be possible during early voting, as the mask/medical screening could be seen as a voter suppression issue, so there may be a need to close a building for a few weeks while early voting is going on. He said we will certainly try to avoid it at all costs, but we do not want to discourage people from voting. He mentioned that we are still working though some of the legal issues with the Office of General Council and the Supervisor of Elections, but we cannot foresee all of the situations where this could pop up moving forward. Trustee Payne asked, from a safety standpoint – he understands that we don’t want to get anyone sick or have anyone sue the library, but how could that be voter suppression? Isn’t the Library able to give people masks? What is the Library supposed to do, as we want people to vote, but we also don’t want to be liable for peoples’ mistakes in judgement? Director Rogers said the plan is to have individuals who are only entering the Library to vote enter through a different door (we are not responsible for that, the SOE is); the area will be separated from the rest of the library. Anyone voting who then wanted to enter the library would not be able to do so without going through the screening process, getting a mask, etc. He said the Library and the SOE will encourage people to wear masks, but they cannot keep people from voting because they are not wearing a mask. Trustee Dame moved to allow the Library Director to close and reopen any and all libraries due to COVID-19 effective immediately through the end of the year, and Trustee Payne seconded the motion. The Clerk of the Board did a roll call vote. Trustees Horner, Nass, and Swanson all voted yea; Trustees Haworth and Hardesty were not yet present, and Trustees Anderson and Eagerton voted yea via Chat. The motion passed unanimously.
10. Committee Reports
There were no Committee reports due to none having met.
11. Mayor’s Office and Ex-Officio Reports
CM Joyce Morgan spoke, saying that she wanted to thank the Board for the opportunity to serve this year and she looks forward to gaining more knowledge about the Library, the Director, and the Board of Trustees. She said she thinks we have an awesome Board and an awesome director, and she looks forward to adding her voice in support for all that we do and to keep us going in the right direction for our community.
Tia Leathers of DCPS brought attendees up to speed on the DCPS MOU with the Library. She discussed the parent guide sent to parents, students, and employees, and said anyone on the Board who would like one can request it be sent to them. She said she would also share the age change in the Library’s Unattended Child policy with DCPS to try to eliminate conflict in terms of teacher/school assignments.
12. Friends Reports
Margaret Smith gave a short report, as did Roxanne Henkle, Marianna Kane, Sharon Coon and Judy Klein. Trustee Dame pointed out that today’s vote not in favor of the mural at the Mural Hill branch library does not mean that we don’t love the Murray Hill library, and we encourage them to bring forth ideas to improve their facility; we are very much interested in enhancing the branch. Judy Klein said they have also been tending to the landscaping and the flowers that the Friends group planted outside of the branch.
13. Second Call for Public Comment
No visitors requested the opportunity to address the Board.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:04p.m., following Director Rogers congratulating Trustee Berg (formerly Haworth) on her recent marriage.