Board of Library Trustees Meeting
October 15, 2020
Zoom virtual meeting
Carlo Fassi, Chair
Celia Nass, Trustee
Steven Eagerton, Trustee
Fernando Meza, Trustee
Jill Langford Dame, Trustee
Matt Swanson, Trustee
Marc Hardesty, 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
Chris Boivin, Assistant Director for Community Relations & Marketing
Amber Holley, Assistant Director for Learning Services
Chuck McNeil, Assistant Director for Financial Services
Virginia Berg, Trustee
Jim McCain, Office of General Counsel
Tia Leathers, Duval County Public Schools
Margaret Smith, Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library
Jeannette Ali, Friends of the Brentwood Branch Library
Judy Klein, Friends of the Murray Hill Branch Library
Marianna Kane, Friends of the Beaches Branch Library
Roxanne Henkle, Friends of the Willowbranch Library
Richard Mott, Manager for Strategic Initiatives
Marshelle Berry, Main Branch Manager
Charlene Adkins, Collection Development Manager
Raymond Albury, Assistant Director for Facilities Management and Planning
Jackie Spiritas, Region Manager, East Region
Zoe Carr, Community Resource Manager
Lynnea Jacobson, Systems and Technology 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, and welcomed everyone to the meeting.
2. Welcoming of Invited Guests
There were no invited guests at the meeting.
3. First Call for Public Comment
No visitors requested the opportunity to address the Board.
4. Consent Agenda
Chair Fassi listed the items on the consent agenda: the meeting minutes from September 17th, the August 2020 Finance Report, and the Resolution Recognizing Friends of the Library Week Oct. 18-24. He mentioned a short video that was put together to say ‘thank you’ to the Friends; unfortunately, it could not be played at an audible volume. He then read the resolution aloud, and finished by saying there were a number of Friends groups representatives at the meeting and he looked forward to hearing their reports later in the agenda. Chair Fassi asked for a motion to approve the Consent Agenda as presented; Trustee Swanson motioned and Trustee Meza Seconded.
ACTION: Item 4) Consent Agenda was approved unanimously (Trustees Dame, Eagerton, Horner, Meza, Nass, Payne and Swanson voted yea; Trustees Berg and Hardesty were not present).
5. Chair’s Report
Chair Fassi gave a report, mentioning that this meeting would be the BOLT’s final meeting via Zoom; meetings will start being held at the Main Library in November. He said that he has been in constant communication with Director Rogers, and the Library will be taking every precaution for safety. He said the library system will also likely be holding other City board meetings in various branches, and he would like to thank the leadership for ensuring the safety of all involved. Chair Fassi said that the Library Conference Center ad hoc Committee will be a part of Trustee Swanson’s Finance Committee, and that he (Chair Fassi) will be appointing ex-officio members from the JPL Foundation Board and staff from the Library to serve on the Committee.
Chair Fassi said his last item to report on is a discussion on the City’s mask policy; it has come to his attention that the Mayor’s mask mandate expires at the end of this month, and through conversations with Library administration it is clear that staff’s preference is to ensure that masks continue to be worn at Library branches. He said he does not believe a decision should be made this afternoon, but he would like to open it up to the Board to discuss a potential mask policy. Director Rogers has worked with the Office of General Counsel to prepare a draft policy, which the Clerk of the Bolt screenshared so the Board could read, and Chair Fassi said if Chair Dame agrees, he would like to have the Governance Committee review the policy before the BOLT takes a final vote. He said the City of Jacksonville’s mask mandate expires on October 27th, and if the Library were to issue their own mask policy, he would prefer it be in place if and when the Mayor’s mask policy expires. Trustee Meza expressed his concern that guests required to wear masks in libraries past the Mayor’s mandate may not listen and/or may become hostile to other guests and staff. Director Rogers said that is a concern of his as well since the mask mandate started in early Spring. He said we currently have security at every location and JSO at some locations, so the hope is that the circumstance could be mitigated by working with the customers and explaining our requirements. In the event they could not, security is on-site and can assist. Trustee Meza also asked about patrons who claim to have a doctor’s note and therefore don’t have to wear a mask; while a private business can refuse service to a customer for any reason, how would the Library handle this situation? Director Rogers said this has been an issue since the Mayor’s mandate went into effect, and the section titled ADA Accommodation. outlines the steps we would take to serve them. He mentioned that the wording in the policy draft is the same as the language in the Mayor’s proclamation, which says that if someone has a disability but wants to use our services, we must provide some sort of accommodation to allow them to use that service, but it may not be inside the building. He expressed this has happened at the Main Library and the situation has been addressed by bringing them items of interest into the lobby. He said they have worked with OGC to identify a number of accommodations that can be made, and that each branch manager has the ability to make additional accommodations if they feel they can do so. He said the biggest issue we’ve found is computer usage, as there is no way for the Library to bring computers outside of where the temperature screening is done, so when that occurs we must allow the customer access despite the policy saying a mask is required. We have worked with the City’s Department of Disabled Services and found the only alternative to this was to eliminate computer usage across the board, which is not a viable alternative. Trustee Swanson asked about the necessity of the policy, if the Mayor’s mask mandate coincides with public health advice? Chair Fassi said Director Rogers has obtained a letter from the Duval County Department of Health recommending the Library systems retains a mask policy in place, and can have it provided to the BOLT. Trustee Swanson asked when/how often it is re-evaluated; Director Rogers said he would think on a monthly basis, like the Mayor has been doing, and it can be discussed at each BOLT meeting. He clarified that the letter from the Health Department said they concurred with the guidelines of the CDC, which encourages people to wear masks. He specified that the Mayor is looking at the whole of Duval county when making his decisions, while the BOLT would be looking at only the 21 library locations when making theirs.
JPL Friends representative Margaret Smith asked about the unique situation they are in by running a bookstore within a branch; Director Rogers said they need to look at the impact to the store and make that a part of their decision(s) as well. He said that he and Margaret will discuss the issue offline, then speak with OGC about it. Chair Fassi clarified that we are not aware of what the Mayor is going to decide in terms of the mask mandate; we are moving preliminarily right now. He further said that if the discussion leads to anything, he would think that a special noticed meeting of the BOLT should be noticed on October 27th.
Trustee Payne mentioned keeping liability and bad press in mind; we don’t want anyone to sue the Library. Trustee Dame asked Director Rogers if we have heard that any other City offices (KHA, etc.) might be exploring their own mask policy? Director Rogers said he had not heard of anyone. Chair Fassi asked Ms. Tia Leathers of DCPS if she was aware of any policy changes regarding face coverings for students and staff? Ms. Leathers responded that they have not changed their policy and they are still wearing masks, but the situation is fluid. What she knows right now is that things will stay as-is through December and there will likely be a new plan in January, but right now there are no plans to stop wearing masks. Chair Fassi noted that currently, UNF and FSCJ are in the same posture. Trustee Swanson said JU has a mask mandate in effect; it is being continuously evaluated but there are no plans to change it right now. He noted this is a sensitive topic that has the potential to be divisive, and that he agrees with Chair Fassi that if the Board decides to move ahead with creating a policy, they should hold a special meeting. He would like to have a member of the Duval County Health Department present at that meeting to advise the Board and to ensure that we follow local public health guidelines. He also said he wanted to make sure enforcement of the mask policy is something Library staff feels comfortable with and capable of. Director Rogers agreed with both of Trustee Swanson’s points, and said he believes staff feels they have the necessary tools to handle these issues. He said he would also plan to speak with Library administration and staff to discuss the plan moving forward, as the City mask mandate would not be in place. Chair Fassi recommended the issue goes through a committee process prior to going before the full BOLT; Governance Chair Dame was in agreement with it going through the Governance Committee, though she noted that there is not a lot of time before October 27th. Chair Fassi agreed and said that, due to time constraints, the issue would be brought for discussion to the full BOLT in a special meeting. He asked the Clerk of the BOLT to determine the Board’s availability for a special meeting on or before October 27th, and said that he would brief the relevant City Council members. He emphasized the importance of giving this issue the discussion it deserves.
6. Director’s Report
Director Rogers said he prepared the full Director’s Report in the full packet and said he would be happy to answer any questions anyone might have. He wanted to highlight a few things; he mentioned the RFP/RFQ for the architects for the Library to Serve Oceanway and New Berlin was passed on to Public Works, and the added money for public art at the branch. He expects to have an architect on board in January.
Director Rogers mentioned that the Library was approved to fill 30 vacant positions, which should help greatly with opening more library branches. He mentioned the article on eBooks that was included in the packet, saying that it was sent to us by Friends representative Roxanne Henkle and he found it to be both relevant and timely, as we have seen a 50% increase in digital library usage since the COVID-related shutdown. He also mentioned the NEFLIN ROI report that was included in the packet, and disclosed that for the year, he is the President of the NEFLIN Board of Directors.
Director Rogers mentioned the Friends video and thanked the Friends for all they do. He said former Trustee Ronnie King would be honored at the November BOLT meeting with a resolution and a book dedicated in his honor; the same will be done for Trustee Guy Anderson when his replacement is seated, but he is continuing to serve until that happens. Trustee Payne was reappointed in former Trustee King’s seat, as he moved during his last term.
Chair Fassi encouraged anyone who has not already turned in their Annual Evaluation of the Director to submit it to the Clerk of the BOLT as soon as possible in preparation for the second Personnel Committee meeting next week where they will be reviewed.
7. Unfinished Business
There was no Unfinished Business from previous meetings.
8. New Business
Item 8a) FY21 BOLT Meeting Calendar was taken up as the first item of New Business. Chair Fassi said he wanted to open the floor up for discussion on the FY21 BOLT calendar, as it has come to his attention through Director Rogers that there are Trustees whose membership on the Board might be in jeopardy due to conflicts with their professional schedules on Thursdays, and he wanted to explore the idea of another day and time for meetings. He asked any Trustees with pressing issues to please speak up, and asked that the Clerk of the BOLT get an idea of all Trustees’ availability, while noting that any change in meeting day and time would likely take place in January or February of 2021. The proposed calendar was included on page 69 of the agenda packet for the Board’s perusal. Chair Fassi asked if there were objections to moving the BOLT’s day of general meetings; Trustee Payne said the Thursday 12pm meeting time is very convenient for him and he would be happy to see it stay the same, while also noting he does not want it to interfere with anyone’s job. Trustee Meza said he has no objections to keeping the meeting the same, and asked if he were to come upon a conflict would he be able to attend via Zoom? Director Rogers asked Jim McCain from OGC to speak to this; Mr. McCain said the general rule is that attendance can be counted on electronic devices provided that there is a physical quorum present and a circumstance the Board itself accepts as excusing the absence. Director Rogers said he recalls that it is up to the Board to determine the applicability of the circumstance, so it is their decision on whether or not the absence will be excused, correct? Mr. McCain advised that is correct. Trustee Eagerton asked if this would be decided by the in-person quorum or the full Board; it would be the quorum. Trustee Dame said she is one of the Trustees who has trouble with Thursdays; it is one of the worst days for her due to Thursday being Leadership Jacksonville program day, so she would appreciate a survey of availability being done. Trustee Swanson said that Thursday also presents a conflict for him due to his new position at JU, as he has a meeting he cannot miss every Thursday that ends at noon and he finds being late disrespectful. He asked for a clarification regarding if a Board member participates via Zoom, is that member unable to vote on items that come before the Board? Mr. McCain said no – if the absence is deemed excused (the reason for being unable to attend in-person is acceptable), that Board Member is considered as being present at the meeting and can vote. Chair Fassi closed the discussion on the issue by asking the Clerk of the Board to survey the full BOLT members’ availability, beginning the next fiscal year. He will therefore table this item until the November meeting.
ACTION: Item 8a) FY21 BOLT Meeting Calendar was tabled until the November BOLT meeting, receiving no objection by the Board.
Item 8b) LSTA Grant Agreement: Special Collections Preservation Project was also taken up as New Business. Director Rogers explained that the grant for $46,400 will be used to purchase a scanner that drops down to scan brittle items without flattening or damaging them; the public will also be able to utilize this scanner. The Library also plans to use the scanner to digitize the Times-Union collection, perhaps using Mayor’s Youth At Work participants. Ms. Roxanne Henkle asked what the parameters are in terms of scanning copyrighted material; Director Rogers advised the parameters would be the same as scanning or photocopying any copyrighted material, requiring permission from the copyright holder to do so. He said our plan is not to scan copyrighted material as part of this grant. Chair Fassi asked for a motion to approve Item 8b) LSTA Grant Agreement: Special Collections Preservation Project. Trustee Swanson motioned and Trustee Meza seconded.
ACTION: Item 8b) LSTA Grant Agreement: Special Collections Preservation Project was approved unanimously (Trustees Eagerton, Payne, Dame, Hardesty, Horner, Nass, Meza and Swanson voted yea).
9. Committee Reports
a) Finance Committee
Chair Fassi called on Finance Committee Chair Swanson to give his report. Trustee Swanson apologized for not having a public meeting this month, but said the next meeting will take place on Friday, November 13. He said it will be a longer meeting, to allow for a fiscal year-end review from Mr. McNeil and Director Rogers, and also to discuss plans for moving forward. Chair Swanson said they have thoughts on how to handle the Conference Center, and that he wants to avoid obligating Board members to spend additional time in meetings, so he thought the Finance Committee could ‘absorb’ what the ad hoc Conference Center Committee was going to do. The Finance Committee will discuss the overall direction of the Conference Center, along with their Finance charge.
b) Governance Committee
This committee did not meet.
c) Capital Improvements Committee
This committee did not meet.
d) Personnel/Executive Committee
Chair Fassi reminded the Board that this committee will meet for the second time next Thursday at 11am to review the JPL Director’s annual evaluation.
e) Foundation Report
Chair Fassi mentioned there will be a special Foundation meeting sometime within the next few weeks to discuss staffing needs.
10. Mayor’s Office and Ex-Officio Reports
Ms. Tia Leathers of DCPS gave an enthusiastic hello, then advised the policy change in the contract between DCPS and the Library was approved at the last school board meeting.
11. Friends Reports
Margaret Smith of the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library gave a report, as did Ms. Jeannette Ali of the Friends of the Brentwood Library, Roxanne Henkle of the Friends of the Willowbranch Library, Judy Klein of the Friends of the Murray Hill Library and Marianna Kane of the Friends of the Beaches Branch Library.
12. Second Call for Public Comment
No visitors requested the opportunity to address the Board.
Prior to adjourning Chair Fassi reminded the Board they would be hearing from the Clerk of the BOLT on two issues: the FY21 BOLT meeting calendar, and their availability on meeting to discuss the mask policy before October 27. He again reminded the Board members to return their annual evaluation to the Clerk if they had not yet done so.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:22p.m.