Board of Directors Meeting Minutes – January 21, 2020


January 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m.

Harold Washington Library Center

400 S. State Street

  1. Overview of the Harold Washington Library Center (info only
  2. Approval of minutes for the November 19, 2019 meeting (action required)
  3. Schedule of Requisitions, Contracts and Licenses (info only)
  4. 2020 CPL Budget Update/Kelly Fund Budget Approval (action required)
  5. Division Overview: Technology Content and Innovation (info only)
  6. CPL Capital Projects and Facilities Report (info only)
  7. CPL 2020-2024 Strategy Update (info only)
  8. Commissioner’s Report (info only)
    • Fine Free Update
    • Sunday Hours Update
    • Program Division Update
    • Mayoral Initiatives
    • Retirements 
  9. Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)
  10. Other Business
  11. Public Comment

Next Board meeting:

April 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m.

Northtown Branch

6800 N. Western Ave.


Physically Present: Linda Johnson Rice, Christopher Valenti, Lynn Lockwood, Jodi Block, Barbara Bowman, Alexi Giannoulias, Ivy Walker, Dominique Jordan Turner, Patricia Gaytan Perez

Present by Means of Video or Audio Conference: None

Absent: None

Overview of the Harold Washington Library (info only)

Michael Peters, Division Chief of the Subject Area Services department, opened the meeting with a brief history of the Harold Washington Library Center. Named after the city’s first African American Mayor, the library was the result of a striving international design/build competition that aimed to house the Central Library’s collection in one building. The library opened in 1991 measuring over 750,000 square feet and more than 70 miles of shelving.

HWLC offers an overabundance of services to Chicago residents and its visitors. The library houses a Maker Lab that features introductory workshops and open shop for personal projects and collaboration; the Thomas Hughes Children's Library, which offers customized learning experiences for early learners, elementary learners and tweens; a YOUmedia space for high school students to explore, create, collaborate and develop new skills; a Special Collections and Preservation division that showcases rare and unique materials focusing on Chicago as well as the Civil War; meeting and study rooms along with free music practice rooms that have pianos and over 40,000 volumes of printed music; free Wi-Fi on every floor and over 1.2 million holdings, available to the public seven days a week.

Approval of minutes for the November 19, 2019 meeting (action required)

The Board voted (9-0) to approve the minutes for the November 19, 2019 meeting.

Schedule of Requisitions, Contracts and Licenses (info only)

Baronica Roberson, Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Finance, presented the quarterly report on contacts and purchases made for magazines, books, databases, periodicals and articles of educational and instructional nature. For this quarter (November 1 – December 31, 2019) a total of 1776 invoices were paid totaling $1,696,575.74 to various vendors.

2020 CPL Budget Update/Kelly Fund Budget Approval (action required)

Deputy Commissioner Roberson provided an update on CPL’s 2020 budget request that was approved by City Council in November. The operational budget of $137mil was slightly higher than last year in order to compensate staff that will begin working at branches on Sundays. The increase also includes a $500,000 increase in the book budget and $1mil being allocated for furniture and shelving at branches. Other funding sources include $4.4mil from the Chicago Public Library Foundation which is based on the needs and operations for the coming year.

CPL is presenting for approval a request of $100,000 from the Kelly Fund to be used for professional development and special programs & events such as the Carl Sandburg Dinner, All Staff Institute Day (ASID) and the 2020 ALA Conference which will be held in Chicago this year.

This will bring CPL’s total budget for 2020 to $141,836,540.

The Board voted (9-0) to approve $100,000 from the Kelly Fund to be used for professional development, special programs and events in 2020.

Division Overview: Technology Content and Innovation (info only)

Michelle Frisque, CPL’s Chief of Technology, Content and Innovation, provided an overview of the department and highlighted technology improvements that the Library has made over the past few years. As one of the largest providers of public technology in Chicago, CPL has supported technology needs throughout the city in many ways, including but not limiting to:

  • Launching a new library website and apps for iOS and Android
  • Upgrading public computers and making Chromebooks available in all locations
  • Replacing public photocopiers with Bayscan Bookscans which allow patrons to copy, print, scan and send to email
  • Launching the Wi-Fi hotspot lending program at select locations
  • Implementing online reservations for CPL study and community rooms
  • Adding self-check units
  • Increasing speed and bandwidth 400% systemwide, from 2GB in 2010 to 10GB in 2018
  • Expanding e-Content and online digital collections; Park District Photo Archive, Philip David Sang Collection and Millennium Park, U.S. Equities Realty Collection are some of the new digital collections recently added.

In 2020, CPL will pilot a new Windows public computing image to be deployed systemwide that will include:

  • Windows 10
  • Multiple browsers
  • Microsoft Office 2013
  • Selected specialty software used in YOUmedia and the MakerLab

CPL Capital Projects and Facilities Report (info only)

Maggie Clemons, Deputy Commissioner of Library Operations and Patron Experience (LOPE) highlighted CPL’s active capital projects.

South Shore – construction of the South Shore branch is now complete, opening day anticipated for February 3rd with a Community Day celebration planned in March. The branch was designed by 2FM and CPL; project managed by 2FM with Paschen as the General Contractor. Renovations included an addition of early learning and teen spaces; envelope repairs incorporating roof, windows and doors, repairs to elevator, interior doors, replacement of interior staircase, upgraded circulation desk, new lighting, flooring and paint throughout.

Altgeld – renovations for Altgeld continue with anticipated completion by June. The branch is being designed by Koo & Associates; project managed by CHA. Scope includes buildout of a combined CPL library branch with an early childhood center. Construction is currently 35% complete with substantial completion expected by April. Branch is projected to open by Summer 2020.

Merlo – construction is near completion with projected opening date in March 2020 in time to be utilized as a polling site. The branch was designed by Ross Barney Architects; project managed by the Public Building Commission. Scope included a full gut renovation with addition of early learning and teen spaces.

Legler Regional Library – scope includes re-establishment of the Legler branch to regional library status. Phase 1 of renovations still underway and include the build-out of a computer lab on the second floor, upgrades to power and data, relocation of the community room and other upgrades. Legler is being designed by RATIO Architects; project managed by the Public Building Commission. The branch has closed to the public in September 2019 and is expected to reopen in September 2020.

Obama Presidential Center Branch (no changes) – Design by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects; project managed by OPC. Proposed scope includes 5,000 sq. ft branch library on the Obama Presidential Center campus. Project is still in design development. OPC and CPL have verified the floor plan and programming requirements; expected completion TBD.

2FM’s CARE Program – Select CPL locations have been undergoing 2FM’s CARE program “Clean and Repair Everything” which provides in-depth seasonal and deferred maintenance, carpet replacement or cleaning, paint and a general refresh of the facility on the part of CPL and 2FM staff. Projects have required branches to be closed short term for 3 to 4 weeks. Branches that will have successfully completed the CARE Program this quarter include Vodak East-Side and Roden, both will re-open to the public January 21st. Additional CPL locations that will undergo the CARE program in 2020 include: King, Pullman, Scottsdale, Wrightwood-Ashburn, GMC, Logan Square, Bezazian and Hall.

CPL 2020-2024 Strategy Update

First Deputy Commissioner Messner provided an update on the development of CPL’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. In January 2019, under the leadership of Ms. Messner, CPL began working with consultants from Instride Advisors to activate the process of developing a plan that will guide the library through the next five years. CPL thoroughly surveyed staff, CPL partners and the public in the development of a strategy that builds on the creativity and success of the last 10 years, while aligning with Mayor Lightfoot's priorities for the city moving forward.

The language and design of CPL’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan has been finalized and they are preparing to produce deliverables in time for its official launch on March 18th. The Plan will outline CPL’s six objectives, 20 strategies and the measures they will take to ensure success.

Commissioner’s Report (info only)

Commissioner Telli provided an update on the following initiatives:

  • As a reminder, CPL went Fine Free in October 2019. Since then, overall circulation in 2019 is up 19% and patrons returning items on hold decreased by 5%. 45,000 patrons have renewed or received a replacement library card since CPL went Fine Free; 11% of these patrons had $10 or more in fines that were waived.
  • In December, CPL began Sunday hours at select branches across the City. In addition to regional locations, Sunday hours are now available at Northtown, Dunning, Portage-Cragin, Little Italy, Hall, Toman, Chicago Lawn, Whitney Young and West Pullman branches.
  • CPL Program highlights are detailed below:
    • One Book, One Chicago continues through February; over 150 programs have or will take place around the theme Season For Change. The book selected for this season was The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert.
    • In an effort to help build a more dynamic author series at library locations, CPL will begin dedicating funds to engage a lively, ongoing series of notable authors.
    • CPL’s Winter Learning Challenge was held December 16th through January 6th and encouraged kids to read 20 minutes a day during winter break and explore their own interests by getting creative and making something new. CPL also hosted their annual Teen Winter Challenge, a city-wide art competition accompanied by creative programs that will last through the end of January. Winning submissions will be displayed in the Van Buren corridor at HWLC later this year.
    • The YOUmedia program expansion continues with 12 new program locations being added by the end of 2020.
    • For the third year in a row, CPL partnered with Operation Warm for a coat and book give away. The event “A Warm Welcome to the Library” took place at 10 branches across the city, 1800 books and 1800 coats were given away to children ages 3 to 13. Rev. Martin L. Deppe Papers: A Collection Preview will be on display October 26 – March 30 in the Special Collections Exhibit Foyer on the 9th floor. The exhibit coincides with the opening of the Rev. Martin L. Deppe Papers in Special Collections at the Harold Washington Library Center.
  • Mayoral Initiatives:
    • CPL will begin working with the Mayor’s office to launch My Chi. My Future, a multi-tiered strategy to help young people form connections, foster learning and promote safety over the summer months.
    • CPL will also assist Mayor Lightfoot’s team with the INVEST S/W community improvement initiative that aims to enhance 10 neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides.
  • Retirements between January and June 2020 include:
    • Ruby Chapman, Librarian III, Brainerd Branch (23 years of service)
    • Mary Redd, HR Sr. Personnel Assistant, HWLC (34 years of service)
    • Kenneth Taylor, Motor Truck Driver, HWLC (35 years of service)

Chicago Public Library Foundation Report

The Chicago Public Library Foundation report presented by Brenda Langstraat, President of the Foundation, highlighted the following:

  • The Foundation will be relocating to a shared space that will also be occupied by CPS and other philanthropic organizations.
  • In preparation for the launch of CPL’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan launch on March 18th; the Foundation, in collaboration with CPL, has sponsored a breakfast that will unveil the final strategy plan to CPL staff, partners, funders and potential donors; the breakfast will be held in the Winter Garden at HWLC.
  • The Foundation will be the recipient of the proceeds from the Royal at Bounce event, a casino-night for nearly 500 VIP athletes, celebrities, and corporate representatives hosted by the children of Michael Jordan. The event will be held as part of the NBA All-Star Game.
  • The annual Night in the Stacks event is scheduled for April 3rd, hosted by Chicago Public Library Foundation Junior Board.

Public Comment


Next Board Meeting

The next board meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. at the Northtown Branch located at 6800 N. Western Ave.


Commissioner’s Report


As promised here is the most up to date information we have about the impact of the policy changes that went into effect in October.

Overall circulation in 2019 is up 9% from 2018. Overall circulation (including check outs, renewals and downloadable items) was up 33% in December compared to last year.

Base circulation for this December (checkouts in Polaris only; no renewals or downloadable media) is up by 5.47% over December 2018, continuing the trend we’ve seen since October. For the final quarter of 2019, base circulation was up 4.76% over Q4 2018. This is all the more impressive since until we raised the hold limit in May, we were experiencing a 5% decrease in base circulation of physical items year over year.


The pattern we saw in October and November in 2019 of patrons returning items on hold on time (at least as often as previously) didn’t hold in December. We saw a 5.63% decrease over last December, with 79.06% of items other patrons were waiting for being returned on time last December vs. 74.62% this December. The rates for just DVDs were 84.66% last December vs 79.19% this December, a 6.45% decrease.

The December numbers put us in the red for the quarter, with 78.67% of items other patrons were waiting for returned on time in Q4 2018 vs. 77.77% in Q4 2019, a 1.14% decrease.

While the numbers for items returned that were due more than 6 months ago are not as high as they were in the beginning, they are still a significant increase of 94%. In Q4 2018, 2,819 were returned that were more than 6 months overdue; in Q4 2019 it is 5,466 items!

Patrons Coming Back

Since 9/18/2019, 45,198 patrons have renewed their card or gotten a replacement card. 11% of these patrons had more than $10 in fines waived in September 2019.

5,450 of these patrons had cards that expired more than 5 years ago; only a small number of these patrons (5%) had more than $10 in fines waived in September 2019.

There is no way of knowing if these figures are larger or smaller than last year.


On December 16, Mayor Lightfoot joined CPL to announce the launch of Sunday hours at branch locations, which began Sunday 12/22. In addition to HWLC and the Regionals, patrons can now visit nine branches from 1:00-5:00 pm.

Locations now open Sundays are Northtown, Dunning, Portage-Cragin, Little Italy, Hall, Toman, Chicago Lawn, Whitney Young and West Pullman. Many thanks to staff at these locations for stepping up to this exciting ask to serve their communities and greater Chicago by offering more access to library services and resources.

As the Commissioner said at the announcement, "Every hour a library is open is another hour when patrons of all ages can come in to continue learning and growing in a safe, helpful environment."

One month in and branches are seeing a steady increase in patron visits. On 1/12, these nine locations served over 750 patrons. CPL is working closely with the Budget Office and the City's Department of Human Resources to hire new staff in 2020 to ensure all branches will operate on Sundays by the end of the year. The next phase of the Sunday hours roll out is planned for early 2nd quarter.



One Book, One Chicago’s 2019-2020 season continues through the end of February, as we explore the theme Season For Change through The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. Over 150 programs have or will take place throughout the season across the city, and thousands of people have read the book. Some upcoming highlights include –

Friday, January 31 at 3pm - tour a community partner! Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability will offer a tour of their facilities including the Searle Biodisel Lab, Urban Agriculture Program and LEED certified building

Tuesday, February 4 at 12pm – take action! Partner organization DePaul University presents an open to the public on campus open house of environmental community organizations answering the question, What Can I Do About Climate Change?

Monday, February 10 at 6pm – climate author series continues! Come hear from expert David Wallace-Wells, author of the bestselling book The Uninhabitable Earth, interviewed by Chicago Tribune environmental reporter Tony Briscoe

Wednesday, February 19 at 6pm – Season Finale! Celebrate all we’ve learned this year at our mainstage season finale event, featuring Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction. Elizabeth will be interviewed by Donna Seaman, Booklist Editor

Friday, February 21 at 7pm – trivia night! Test your knowledge of Chicago’s natural history and environmental programs with urbanologist Max Grinnell at local watering hole GMan Tavern. Prizes for all teams! Please note this is a 21 & over event


In the past, many top tier and second tier authors would embark on national book tours to publicize new works, appearing mostly at bookstores, libraries and other public venues. Book tours were sponsored and subsidized by publishing houses. Over the past decade, the financial bottom line/profit margin for publishing houses has diminished. As a result, book tours have evolved into a new, more lucrative model. Many—if not most—author book tours now incorporate paid—rather than free—events. Publishers now work with bookstores, private clubs and other venues to guarantee book sales at events that require paid attendance. One’s paid attendance at a literary event generally includes a copy of the author’s new book (thus guaranteeing a number of book sales), a seat at the event along with refreshments. And in the case of some top tier authors, an additional honorarium payment to the author is required. This model has drastically reduced the number of top tier author appearances at venues that provide only free, public events—such as Chicago Public Library.

In order to build a dynamic author series in today’s publishing environment, it is imperative that Chicago Public Library dedicate funds to engage a lively, ongoing series of notable authors based on the model described above.


Children Services and Family Engagement’s DIY: Do It Yourself Winter Learning Challenge ran from Monday, December 16 through Monday, January 6. This self-paced, out of school time learning challenge encouraged kids to read 20 minutes a day during winter break and explore their interests by getting creative and making something new. Branches created displays, ran programs and offered drop-in activities to support the challenge. The CPL website featured books, library programs and suggested activities to help kids keep their brain working during their time away from school. Kids who read for 20 minutes a day for at least 5 days and documented their learning received a prize.

Teen Services also held their annual Teen Winter Challenge (TWC), a city-wide art competition accompanied by creative programs facilitated by teen librarians across CPL. For the first time, this year’s program will run for 3 months to allow for more programming and to give teens more time to work on their applications. All submissions are due by January 24. Winning submissions will be displayed in an exhibition in the Van Buren corridor later this year. Additionally, all submissions made to TWC will be featured in a catalog as a means to support and celebrate everyone’s work.

TWC has also added a new painting program called Little Bits of Spring. Staff and teens are encouraged to paint 3” x 3” canvases with a natural theme (all supplies provided by the department). The final products will be installed in a grid to be showcased at the TWC exhibition. (See photo)


CPL continues its expansion of the YOUmedia program with the addition of 12 new program locations by end of 2020. Recent branch openings in late 2019 include Austin, Douglass and Jefferson Park. New locations in 2020 include: Altgeld, Avalon, Edgewater, Merlo, South Chicago, Sherman Park, South Shore, Toman and Wrightwood Ashburn. This will bring the total number of YOUmedia program locations to 31 by end of 2020.

At the Douglass branch, the YOUmedia program includes Studio in the Library which provides state funding to hire studio mentors. Squeak from Pivot Gang started a 4-month DJ mentorship at the branch in January since they now have a recording studio as a result of the recent branch renovation.


In fall 2019, Children’s Services and Family Engagement partnered with Operation Warm for the third year in a row to put on “A Warm Welcome to the Library” events at 10 branches across all 6 regions: Woodson Regional, Thurgood Marshall, Whitney Young, Coleman, Brighton Park, McKinley Park, Northtown, Portage-Cragin, Chicago Lawn and Douglass. Branches were selected to highlight new and reopened branches wherever possible. Through these events, we gave away more than 1800 coats and 1800 books.

“A Warm Welcome to the Library” events feature a new coat and book give away for children ages 3 to 13, a musical performance and STEAM activities. The purpose of these events is to reach new patrons by offering resources that are sorely needed in our communities. Librarians arranging these events reached out to at least one organization they had not worked with before. We saw many families who were not library regulars and were able to provide information about library services they could use in the future.

Operation Warm’s library events at CPL were featured in American Libraries online magazine in December 2019:



This summer, Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to ensure that every young person is connected to a variety of rich, engaging, safe, and youth-centered out of school experiences that empower them to use their talents, passions, skills and identities. With these goals in mind, MY CHI. MY FUTURE is a multi-tiered strategy, launching this spring, to help young people form connections, foster learning and promote safety over the summer months.

MY CHI. MY FUTURE has three strategies:

1)         City-wide campaign

2)         Community Ecosystems

3)         Interest Pathways

City-wide campaign

Parents, families and young people will be encouraged to develop a summer plan by identifying engaging activities that span the full summer. During CPS’ spring break (April 6-10) , the initiative will promote the wealth of programs available through departments including Chicago Public Library and the Department of Family and Support Services and other sister agencies, such as the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Housing Authority, and community-based not-for-profits.

Community Ecosystems

Specialized programs and initiatives will be developed in four communities of need: Austin, Roseland, Back of the Yards and West Garfield Park. Chicago Public Libraries has libraries in each of these communities and will target enhanced programs at branches for summer 2020.

Interest Pathways

The initiative will also develop interest pathway networks in four areas: architecture & design, music, computer science and civic leadership. The library is well-positioned for these areas as the theme our Summer Learning Challenge for children is architecture and for teens, the focus is on music.


INVEST SOUTH/WEST is a community improvement initiative from Mayor Lightfoot to enhance 10 neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides. Through the collaboration of many partners including government, philanthropies and community leaders, the City will align more than $750 million in funding over the next three years.

INVEST S/W communities include those in which CPL has a strong and historical branch presence, including:

Austin, Auburn Gresham, Bronzeville, Englewood, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, New City, Roseland,

South Chicago, and South Shore


  • Ruby Chapman, Librarian III, Brainerd Branch (23 yrs. of service)
  • Mary Redd, HR Sr. Personnel Assistant at HWLC (34 yrs. of service)
  • Kenneth Taylor, Motor Truck Driver at HWLC (35 yrs. of service)

Chicago Public Library Foundation Report

2019 Recap

  • Mission/Vision/Values
    • In Every Neighborhood. For Every Chicagoan.
  • Alignment with CPL strategy

2020 Key Strategic Initiatives

  • Promote/advocate for CPL as a hub of access, equity and inclusion
  • Empower more Chicagoans to realize their personal and philanthropic values by supporting new and ongoing initiatives that elevate us all.
  • Foster increased collaboration and connectivity through strategic alignment with individuals, corporations, the nonprofit community and city agencies.
  • Donors as Activators—broaden donor base
  • Move to Impact House?

Upcoming Events and Partnerships

  • Aether partnership
  • February 13, Casino Royale
  • March 18, CPL Strategic Plan Launch
  • April 3, Night in the Stacks