Library Reform Group

May 17, 2008

PPL Trustees Meeting–May 15

Filed under: 1 — Patricia @ 2:01 pm

Here is an informal report from the May 15 PPL Trustees meeting.

The trustees were given copies of LPAC’s May 5 Proposed “Roadmap” to a Sustainable Library System (see the document on our blog).

Two significant things happened at the Trustees’ meeting (other than the fact that they had a quorum, which was not the case at their previous meeting):

1. They tabled until next month the vote to approve the Service Goals Implementation Committee report.  Kas DeCarvalho and Mark McKenney both objected to it, Kas mostly because he hadn’t seen it before, and Mark because the plans for the future totally ignored the branches. Joel Stark suggested that Bill Simmons, chair of the meeting, should take note of that, since Kas DeCarvalho (as the Mayor’s representative on the Board) and Mark McKenney (as the Governor’s representative)  represented two major sources of funding for the library.  Bill Simmons still wanted to vote on the original motion to approve but PPL lawyer Dan Prentiss advised him that a motion to table takes precedence over a motion to approve.

2. Kas DeCarvalho apologized for his part in Linda Kushner’s Op Ed claim that the LPAC meetings weren’t being properly reported on to the Trustees and deferred the LPAC report to Mark McKenney, since DeCarvalho hadn’t attended the last LPAC meeting.  Mark McKenney did an excellent job, I think, in explaining the co-location discussion, including why the city and library should be included in funding the study.


Proposed “Roadmap” to a Sustainable Library System

Filed under: 1 — Patricia @ 12:56 pm

Those attending the Library Advisory Partnership Committee meeting on May 5, 2008, make the following recommendations to the PPL Trustees and the City of Providence:  

  1. That PPL continue to provide the current level of library services at the Central Library and all nine branches during the coming fiscal year, with the City contributing $3,300,000 plus the wage and cost of living increases as stipulated in Article 4 of the Memorandum of Agreement.  Any additional funds necessary to fund the present level of services, with the same number of branches and staff, would be paid according to a formula negotiated by representatives of PPL and the City of Providence, with the understanding that this is a temporary situation intended to give LPAC time to devise a plan to move to a financially sustainable library system within the next two years.  

  2. That the City and PPL finance a city-wide assessment of the library system, including condition of the buildings, population demographics and trends, and relative costs of renovating facilities vs. selling them and relocating library services in others. This assessment would be begun by July 1 and completed by October 1.
  3. That LPAC ask the URI Library School to undertake a review of the literature regarding library co-locations to determine their costs and benefits, and to interview librarians and city officials who have participated in this process.  This report would be prepared over the summer and presented to LPAC by August 31.  

  4. That the Long-Term Planning Subcommittee of LPAC, with the assistance of the School Committee’s Chief Financial Officer and the Chair of PPL’s Buildings Committee, draft a proposal to be submitted to LPAC for review and revision.  By December 1, the proposal will be submitted to the PPL trustees and to the City for approval.  This proposal will recommend combination of steps to be taken to achieve a financially sustainable library system:
  • It will use the data from the City-Wide Assessment to determine the feasibility of selling some existing PPL buildings and the cost of relocating library services currently provided in these buildings.
  • It will draw upon the information from the URI study of co-locations to plan the transition of library services at some facilities to co-locations.
  • It will encourage area businesses, colleges and universities to “adopt” branches.


It will determine the relative type and level of library services appropriate to or conditioned by the co-location and ensure that efforts to provide library services for all ages, populations and patrons be accessible through some combination of central and branch locations.


These measures are intended to enable PPL to continue to provide adequate and comprehensive services for library patrons throughout the City, at lower cost to PPL and the City.

Report from LPAC Meeting on May 5

Filed under: 1 — Patricia @ 12:53 pm

The Long-Range Planning subcommittee reported on their recent May 2 meeting in Public Property Director Alan Sepe’s office.  Sepe mentioned at that meeting that the City was considering retaining a consulting firm to prepare a Library Facilities Survey, which would include a conditions report, demographic report, energy audit, and survey of the current volume of use in each of the ten buildings (including Central). This Master Plan would draw upon the data already collected in recent PPL surveys and should take about 3 months to complete.

As long as the results of the study were regarded as data to be taken into advisement when making long-term plans for the library system that would also include a consideration of historical and political factors as well as demographic and physical factors, then I think we all would welcome such a report. Sepe emphasized that, as of the May 2 subcommittee meeting, the City had not definitely decided to commission this report.

Members of the Long-Range Planning subcommittee also have met with various local people in an effort to begin to find co-locations for some of the branches.  So fair, subcommittee members have met with Councilman Seth Yurdin of Fox Point and with John Sinnott of Struever Bros. about possible Olneyville sites.  More meetings are scheduled.  The subcommittee thanks Councilman Michael Solomon for his help with past and future Olneyville meetings.

Alan Sepe reported on May 2 that work is continuing on the interior of Washington Park, and the interior should be finished by the end of this month. As of May 2, the Library still hadn’t signed an agreement with the City to provide library services in the building for at least the next two years, but we have been told that this will happen.

At the May 5 LPAC meeting, the group felt that a Master Survey of PPL facilities, such as the one the City is considering, would be very helpful in making decisions about moving to a sustainable system.

It was also suggested that we might want to find a graduate student from the URI Library School who would be willling to undertake a research project to determine the successes and possible pitfalls of shifting library services to neighborhood co-locations.  Mark McKenney, LPAC member and PPL Trustee (representing the State of RI), has contacted the director of the URI Library School, who seems fairly certain that she can find someone to do this research this summer.

LPAC members at the May 5 meeting decided that we would like to present an informal resolution to the PPL trustees at their May 15 meeting, and to City officials, urging them to undertake the Master Survey of PPL facilities, as well as to encourage the URI study of co-locations, and to use this information to set priorities for achieving sustainability.

See the LPAC resolution in a separate posting.

The next meeting of LPAC is scheduled for Tuesday, June 3, at noon.

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