Library Reform Group

February 23, 2008

Notes from the Library Partnership Advisory Committee Meeting on Feb. 15

Filed under: 1 — Patricia @ 9:02 pm

According to Alan Sepe and Garry Bliss, the roof work at Washington Park is nearly complete.  The City and the Library are now negotiating an agreement whereby, in return for a PPL promise to commit to providing library services at the building for 2-3 years, the City will begin renovations of the interior.  It seems counterintuitive, however, to expect PPL to make this commitment when the fate of all nine branches is uncertain. 

Patricia Raub presented the Voice of the Stakeholders report, with suggestions  from patrons as well as from the Library Reform Group on ways PPL could raise money. 

Ellen Schwartz and Vicki Veh presented the Finance Committee report, which led to a discussion of the alternatives available to deal with the $1 million projected deficit.  Although Ellen (the only CPA in the room) felt that PPL was under-reporting its revenues and over-estimating the amount that would be saved by closing branches, it was Vicki’s position that there were only two real alternatives:  to cut operating costs by cutting facilities or to spend some of PPL funds for specific purposes, with the end result of making the library financially sustainable. 

Along the same lines, Garry Bliss recommended that PPL commit to providing the same level of services as it is currently providing for a defined and finite transition period (3-5 years) and that during this time a consultant knowledgeable in facilities, finance, municipalities and library systems be hired to come up with a sustainable and affordable system by the end of this period.  PPL would have to finance services in the meantime with its own funds. 

The Library Reform Group and the Friends Groups believe that it is as necessary to explore more effective ways of fund-raising during this period as it is to consider ways to cut costs, probably by reducing branch services.  (See Mount Pleasant Friends’ President Maureen Romans’ document on “How to Save the Library without Destroying It.”)

 All of these proposals are open for discussion in the LPAC meetings in March, as no decisions were made at the Feb. 15 LPAC meeting as to specific recommendations LPAC wanted to present to the trustees. Because the City and PPL are supposed to sign the second year’s agreement by the end of March, under the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement, those present at Friday’s meeting decided to meet twice in March:  on Friday, March 7, at noon, and also on Friday, March 21, at noon.  The meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 13, has been cancelled. 

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