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Library Trustees Meeting Minutes- March 2015

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Allegany County Library Board of Trustees


Regular Meeting

March 11, 2015

Washington Street Library – 4:00 p.m.


Bill Devlin, John Persons, Steve Sniderman, Jason Willetts, and John Taube.

The meeting was called to order by Bill Devlin.

A motion to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of the February 11, 2015 meeting was made by Steve Sniderman seconded by ­­­­­­ John Persons and was approved.

Review of Usage Statistics

  • Review of Income & Expense Report for the month of February, 2015
  • Review of Profit & Loss, Budget vs. Actual Report for the Fiscal Year (YTD, July 1, 2014- February 28, 2015)
  • Review of Special Accounts

A motion to accept both the statistical report and the financial reports of February, 2015 was made by Steve Sniderman seconded by John Persons and was accepted.


Allconet Update and Board of Education partnership

John provided an update of the Library System’s relationship with the Allconet partnership and outlined how the library and the partnership benefit from our annual payment.   John also updated the Board on the potential to receive the same services from a Board of Education partnership.  The primary difference between the two services is the improved quality of the fiber service through the Board of Education.

 Filling upcoming Board Vacancy

Dedicated Board member Dinah Searles announced her resignation from the library board effective June 1, 2015.  She is moving out of the area.   The Board agreed that each Board member would bring two potential candidates to the April 8, 2015 meeting for consideration by the Board.  During the April meeting, the Board will select candidates to interview.  And at the May board meeting, we will review the results of the interviews and select two candidates to submit to the County Commissioners for consideration.


South Cumberland Library Renovation –Update

John updated the Board on progress and reviewed the constraints associated with including the addition at the rear of the building.

John outlined two factors to consider as we decide to proceed with the addition or not.  The first issue to consider is that according to City Zoning codes, the library is a “nonconforming structure” due to the fact that it occupies greater than 35% of the property and because it is at variance with setback regulations.   We could petition the City Zoning Board for a waiver, but zoning regulations already state that “nonconforming structures” may only be enlarged insofar as they will remain within the property setbacks.    Since we are already out of compliance with setback requirements we would need a very strong argument to expand.

The second consideration to weigh as we deliberate the addition is the opportunity cost of the addition.    Current estimates put the addition between $145,000 and $170,000 or roughly $315 per square foot.  While the estimate for the renovation of the existing space is closer to $200 per square foot.

Given the potential greater benefit of using the renovation funding on the existing building rather than on the addition, John then recommended that we reject the inclusion of the addition in the renovation project.   The savings of this decision can be put to use to offset any escalation in costs since the original estimate as well as provide for better finishes, furnishings and materials inside the existing building envelope.

Approval of John’s recommendation was moved by Jason Willetts, seconded by Steve Sniderman and approved by board vote.


Proposed FY2016 operating budget update

John and staff have been drafting staff schedules to keep the Washington Street Library open on Saturdays after July 1, 2015 as requested by the Board.  Given the available funding in the proposed budget, it is proving to be very difficult to both open the Washington Street Library for six days a week and ensure that other branches can routinely maintain their posted schedules.  We would like the Board’s opinion on the potential compromise to close a weekday in exchange for opening on Saturdays at the Washington Street Library.

The issue would be at Washington Street Library with 4 staff members and a six day work week the schedule would have all staff work Monday through Thursday and 2 people on Friday and 2 on Saturday.    In the proposed budget we were using the Washington Street staff as buffer coverage in the event that another branch needed to cover for an absence.  Typically those events occur on Fridays and Saturdays, so a 6-day week schedule takes that buffer staff out of the mix.  The goal is to get to a 5 day week at Washington Street so all 4 staff could be scheduled each day so as to create the buffer staff if one is needed elsewhere.

John and staff will continue to review options as the budget cycle progresses.

 Outreach to Financial Planners

John Persons and John Taube reviewed a potential letter to alert local financial planners of the benefits of naming the library system as a beneficiary in client’s financial plans.    The Board was in favor of the letter and made several suggestions on content and tailoring it for specific audiences.  John Taube will incorporate the changes, mail it out, and provide a list of intended recipients at the April Board meeting.



The Library System’s Budget presentation to the County Commissioners is Thursday March 19, 2015 at 1PM in the Commissioner’s Meeting room at 700 Kelly Road, Cumberland, MD.

Long time staff member Pam Neder has announced that she will retire as of May 31, 2015.  We will miss her experience and leadership skills.  We have begun arrangements to search for her replacement.

John and Staff are still investigating car donation program similar to those used in public radio.

John and Board President, Bill Devlin wrote the county Commissioners requesting that the library system be included in distributions to local agencies from the proceeds of the Rocky Gap Casino.    John has followed up with a voice mail and will continue to reach out to the Commissioners for next steps.


Library Events and Partnerships


Last Saturday we celebrated School Readiness Fair at the County Club Mall with over 15 community partners making sure kids were as prepared as they could be for school and how they could take advantage of the many services available to them.  We saw just over 2000 people walk thru.


Hug a book month

This April we are partnering with the Frostburg State University Children’s Literature Center for Hug a Book Month.    Inspired by the book, Hug Machine by Scott Campbell, we will be promoting the Children’s Literature Festival by photographing kids and families hugging their favorite books at all 6 library locations.  Scott Campbell will also be visiting the LaVale Library to speak to the community as well as classes from Parkside and Cash Valley Elementary schools.


Working with the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing, we have started an

Indie Lit Book club to promote our joint Indie Lit Festival held each October.  We also like to support the small and regional publishers in our area, while also bringing new literary talent to our community.


We are participating in Free Comic book day on May 2, 2015.

Free Comic Book Day is the comic book industry’s annual event where they give away comic books.  Since there are no comic book stores in Allegany County, we are standing in their place and using the event as a soft kick off to promote our summer reading club.


Our Summer reading clubs are a great way to keep in touch and keep reading over the summer for kids and learners of all ages.  Last year we had over 14,000 participants of all ages.     Again this summer we will have a rotating series of events every Wednesday at every library from June to August.


Also over the summer we are working with the Allegany Museum and others to bring a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit on sports in our hometown and our local sports legends.  For our part we will be hosting a special book discussion about Lefty Grove in our George’s Creek Library and feature sports heroes in our story hours the week of June 29, 2015


MD Military historical society traveling exhibit

A display celebrating Maryland’s military forces in the war of 1812 will be shown at the Washington Street Library in the weeks around and during Heritage Days (6/13-6/14/2015).


Working with the Allegany Arts Council, We have submitted grant applications to the Community Trust Foundation for the following programs:

  • Next winter we hope to introduce digital art days. This program is to introduce students to digital arts technologies, which are used in a host of industries, including those that require STEM-trained employees.
  • Symphony Saturdays in the fall of 2014 at the South Cumberland Library
  • Support for the 2016 issue of the Backbone Mountain Review


Our grant application to digitize several of Al Feldstein’s books is also under consideration by the Community Trust Foundation.


Next Board Meeting is April 8, 2015 at 4PM at the LaVale Library

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