Board of Directors Meeting Minutes – January 30, 2024


  1. Approval of minutes for the November 28, 2023 meeting (action required)
  2. Election of Officers (action required)
  3. Administration and Finance Report (info only)
  4. Policy Recommendation Re: Expunge Patron Long-Term Dept (action required)
  5. Programming Update (info only)
  6. Operations and Facilities Report (info only)
  7. Commissioner’s Report (info only)
    • Migrant and Weather Response: A Whole-of-Government Approach
    • Celebrating CPL's 150th Anniversary Success
    • Year-End Highlights: Embracing Growth and Literary Culture
    • Key Priorities for 2024: Building on Success, Charting a Vision for the Future
  8. Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)
  9. Other Business
  10. Public Comment

Next Board meeting: May 21, 2024, 9:00 a.m. , South Shore Branch, 2505 E 73rd Street


Open Session Minutes

Physically Present: Linda Johnson Rice,  Christopher P. Valenti, Lynn Lockwood, Jodi Block, Dominique Jordan Turner, Sandra Delgado

Present by Means of Video or Audio Conference: None

Absent: Barbara Bowman, Ivy Walker, Michelle Boone


Approval of minutes for the November 28, 2023 meeting (action required)

The board voted (6-0) to approve the minutes of the November 28, 2023 meeting.

2024 Board of Directors Meeting Schedule (action required)

Directors Jodi Block and Lynn Lockwood were selected to serve on the nominating committee for the 2024 Election of Officers for the CPL Board of Directors. Directors are appointed for a one-year term.

Jodi Block represented the nominating committee and proposed the following slate for 2024:

  • Linda Johnson Rice, President
  • Christopher P. Valenti, Vice President
  • Lynn Lockwood, Secretary

The board voted (6-0) to approve the 2024 Officers for the CPL Board of Directors.

Administration and Finance Report (info only)

Teri Campbell, Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Finance, presented the Administration and Finance Report highlighting the following:

  • For the quarterly report on contracts and purchases made for magazines, books, databases, periodicals and articles of educational and instructional nature, purchases made between November 1 – December 31, totaled $1,844380.27 for 1854 invoices.
  • CPL ended the year filling 398 total vacancies, including 173 full-time and 225 part-time employees.
  • Deputy Commissioner Campbell recognized Tamela Chambers who was recently promoted to the position of District Chief overseeing District 5; and congratulated staff that has retired since the previous board meeting:
    • Denise English - Librarian II at Woodson, 29 years of service
    • Jiajian Hu - Librarian II at HWLC, 26 years of service
    • Denise Kwan - Librarian I at Garfield Ridge, 24 years of service
    • Patricia Matula - Library Associate at Clearing, 22 years of service
    • Thomas Mikula - Librarian II at HWLC, 48 years of service
    • Steven Morris - Help Desk Technician at HWLC, 24 years of service
    • Sharon Scott - Head Library Clerk at Lincoln-Belmont, 33 years of service
    • Marsha Stanley - Library Clerk at King, 16 years of service
    • Melanie Verneecke - Librarian III at Lincoln-Belmont, 47 years of service

Policy Recommendation Re: Expunge Patron Long-Term Debt (action required)

Deputy Commissioner Campbell presented a policy recommendation that would expunge long-term patron debt. CPL has been “Fine Free” since 2019, removing the daily late fee for returning books after the due date. However, patrons continue to be charged a fee for:

  • lost and damaged items
  • lost and overdue physical museum passes
  • lost and overdue interlibrary loan items
  • reciprocal items, hotspots and laptops

As a result, patron library cards are ‘blocked’ from use when a balance of $30 in unpaid fees is reached, or patrons have 50 overdue items.

Recommendation: CPL requests the approval to discharge old patron account debt from various fines and fees.  

From 1982 – 2015, the accumulated debt totals $12.1M. 111K patron accounts have been impacted by these fees with 86% of the debt resulting from lost item fees.

The board voted (6-0) to expunge the $12.1M is long-term debt.

Programming Update (info only)

First Deputy Commissioner Messner provided an update on programming and initiatives offered at CPL locations systemwide:

Family Fun Fest

The Children Services and Family Engagement department hosted a Family Fun Fest on Sun, January 21st at HWLC. Family Fun Fests are open house events held quarterly in our flagship Thomas Hughes Children's Library, that offer art, science, and free play activities for all ages, as well as some sweet treats for all. During the afternoon, CSFE showcased a magic show, and presented a caregiver workshop in partnership with Big City Readers. We saw a huge increase in participants from the Fall Family Fun Fest in October, with 300 patrons attending this event! 

More children’s events are underway with the Spring Family Fun Fest in April, the Artist's Studio at the Library starting this month, and our big Dia celebration with storytellers, musicians, and book giveaways!

Destination Discovery Story Time

Destination Discovery Story Time had a strong finish in 2023! Destination Discovery Story Time was a featured program at the launch of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. Destination Discovery Story Times are all held both virtually and in-person, bringing the library's experts in storytelling to our cultural partners, while bringing our cultural partners' rich resources to Chicago-area kids and families, whether they join us in person or via Zoom.

In celebration of the work of famous Chicago sculpture, Ruth Duckworth, Destination Discovery Story Time once again joined their friends at the Smart Museum of Art. For this special story time all about sculpture and movement nearly 100 children and families joined in: posing like statues, sharing active stories, and learning about famous works of art from across the globe.

We also held a Destination Discovery Story Time event on January 27th, featuring the Fairy Castle and celebrating the life and work of Colleen Moore, its creator. CPL created book lists for all ages to share at the event and an activity that Librarian Sarah led with kids and families after the story time. 

Design Your Life After High School

The Teen Services and YOUmedia department continues to deliver the College and Career Saturdays: Design Your Life After High School series. Over 100 teens attended the most recent event hosted at the Whitney Young Library on January 20th. In connection to the event, teen interns received their first public speaking coach session and an opportunity to work on their public speaking skills, photography, and documenting the event series.

Over 15 organizations partnered with CPL to host the event including City Colleges of Chicago, Young Chicago Authors, The Golden Apple Foundation, US Small Business Administration and Discovery Partners Institute, to name a few.

Teen Finance 101

CPL is hosting three Teen Finance 101 workshops this week with Lupita from Youth Job Center. 70 interns were invited to attend this as a part of the onboarding process for their internships at CPL. This series launched at the beginning of January: January 22nd, January 23rd, and January 25th. Planning is in motion to continue offering these types of workshops both virtually and in-person in 2024.

Author Event

On January 29th, CPL hosted Common in conversation with Natalie Moore on his new book And Then We Rise: A Guide To Loving And Taking Care Of Self. The new book from the multi-award-winning performer, author, and activist is a comprehensive program for addressing mental and physical health—and encouraging communities to do the same.  A testimony to the benefits of self-care, this book is composed of four different sections, each with its own important lessons: "The Food" focuses on nutrition. "The Body" focuses on fitness. "The Mind" focuses on mental health. And "The Soul" focuses on perhaps the most profound thing of all—spiritual well-being.

CPL Operations and Facilities Report (info only)

Deputy Commissioner Clemons shared an update on CPL operations and facility projects.


Legler Regional Library

Legler Regional Library has reopened to the public and resumed regular hours of operation. The branch had previously closed after emergency construction as a result of the flooding that occurred during the July 4, 2023, weekend. The lower level is still under construction. Repairs included the boiler, relocating the IT closet to a higher floor and repairs to the elevator. During the time Legler was closed the branch continued to do outreach and work with neighboring schools to offer programming. The Douglas and Austin branches also stayed open additional hours during this time to provide services to the Garfield Park and West Side communities.

Legler is also welcoming a mental health clinician at through a partnership with CDPH, start date TBD.


Security Contract Update

City of Chicago has ended their contract with their current security provider, this affects all City of Chicago facilities. The City has selected a new vendor Securitas. During this transition period, there will be a temporary break in service at select library facilities. By mid-February, all branches are expected to be staffed with a security officer.

Commissioner’s Report (info only)

Commissioner Brown’s report highlighted the following:

  • In response to the pressing needs of the migrant community and the challenges posed by emergency weather conditions, CPL has created a New Arrival Working Group in collaboration with the Department of Family and Support Services and has partnered with other city departments to address the migrant housing shortage.
  • The commemoration of CPL's 150th anniversary was a huge accomplishment. The success of our efforts has been assessed through key metrics, including website page views (51,886), media coverage impressions (450,005,577), and the acquisition of new library cards (149,059), with 30k of the 149k library cards created for 81 club patrons.
  • A few of CPL’s Year-end highlights:
    • Library visitors: 5,000,000-plus visitors by the end of 2023
    • Total circulations: 7,000,000 circulations this year, with over 3,000,000 stemming from e-books
    • Events hosted: 19,611 events, drawing an attendance of approximately 322,252.
  • By mid-year, CPL will be releasing our comprehensive Annual Report, that will offer a deep dive into our initiatives, community impact, and the ongoing evolution of the Chicago Public Library
  • As we wrap up the current 2020-2024 strategic plan, CPL plans to focus on four major priorities that represent our commitment to continual improvement, community engagement, and equitable service delivery:
    • Strategy Assessments
    • Staff Development and Operational Efficiency
    • Library Programming
    • Community Investment

Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)

Brenda Langstraat, President & CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation provided an update on contributions and initiatives reached by the Foundation:

  • In 2023, the Library Foundation raised nearly $6 million and welcomed more than 1,150 new donors to support lifelong learning programs at CPL.
  • The event broadcast of the 2023 Library Foundation Awards has reached 10,000+ views to date.
  • As a result in the Foundation’s investment in digital marketing, the Library Foundation has witnessed a 53% growth in users, 74% growth in page views, and 47% growth in user engagement.
  • The Library for the People podcast has reached more than 23,000 downloads.
  • The Foundation has created posters and bookmarks to acknowledge their program partners; these posters are on display at all library locations.
  • The Foundation’s Associate Board is planning to host its noir-themed Night in the Stacks event on April 5.

Other Business


Public Comment

The board addressed comments from patrons of the Ukraine community advocating for CPL to offer additional books and programming specific to their culture that will support the increase of Ukrainian’s migrating to Chicago. Patrons also continue to advocate for a new library for the Washington Park community and have identified space near the corner of 61st and King Drive; requesting that CPL bring more awareness to the mental health crisis that is affecting youth and provide more support to patrons suffering with mental health concerns; and, strongly encouraging the board and staff to make the Obama Library and other newly built library locations ADA accessible with sections within those branches being dedicated to support patrons with disabilities.


Commissioner’s Report

Migrant and Weather Response: A Whole-of-Government Approach 

In response to the pressing needs of the migrant community and the challenges posed by emergency weather conditions, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has taken an active role in a whole-of-government response, addressing housing shortages and ensuring the safety and well-being of those seeking refuge in our city. 

Migrant Support Initiatives: 

  • New Arrival Working Group:
    • CPL has proactively addressed the migrant housing shortage through the establishment of the New Arrival Working Group in collaboration with the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). 
    • Our outreach team, consisting of Spanish-speaking librarians, conducts multiple story times and children's activities per week in temporary shelters, fostering a supportive and inclusive atmosphere.
    • CPL has created information sheets to assist migrants in finding housing, jobs, and other essential information. Additionally, 7% of our system programming is offered in Spanish, with over 20,000 programs in total, and 10% of our staff are fluent in Spanish. In collaboration with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), CPL offers immigration services, emphasizing education about Green Cards and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA). This includes addressing important subjects like immigration fraud.
  • Whole-of-Government Approach
    • Utilization of Various Facilities:
    • In collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, the Park District, City College, and the Chicago Transit Authority, CPL has tapped into various city facilities to address the emergent housing needs of migrants.
    • Humanitarian Crisis and Warming Center:
    • Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, CPL has responded to the humanitarian crisis, housing approximately 100 migrants in the lower level of the Harold Washington Library Center (HWLC). Additionally, during extreme weather conditions, our event space has been transformed into a 24/7 warming center, accommodating around 100 people in need.

No Cost Increase for CPL:  

Importantly, these initiatives do not represent a cost increase for CPL, as library staff are not involved in the intake or supervision of the space, or the provision of essential services—responsibilities handled by City contractors. 

As Chicagoans face unprecedented challenges, CPL continues to embody its vision of equipping all residents with the knowledge and resources to reach their full potential, contributing to a more united, inclusive, and resilient city. These initiatives showcase the library's commitment to community well-being and social responsibility, embracing the role of a central hub in times of need. 


Celebrating CPL's 150th Anniversary Success 

The commemoration of CPL's 150th anniversary, our primary objective was to amplify library narratives, enhance visibility for library resources, and celebrate this remarkable milestone. The success of our efforts has been assessed through key metrics, including website page views, media coverage, and the acquisition of new library cards. 

2023 Overall Website Page Views: 51,886 

  • 32,617 views on the 150th Anniversary section
  • 10,979 views on Library for the People
  • 6,030 views on the Visual Timeline
  • 2,260 views on Faces of CPL

Overall Media Coverage Impressions (to date): 450,005,577  

  • 346,748,506 impressions from 150th-related coverage
  • 53,757,092 impressions from Library for the People Podcast
  • 37,840,118 impressions from Wintrust Mural
  • 11,659,861 impressions from the Citywide Birthday Party

New Library Cards 

This year has witnessed a substantial surge in new library cards, reflecting an impressive 52% increase in new library cards per month. 

  • 2023: 149,059 new library cards (52% increase)
    • 30,508 - 81 Club Cards 
    • 118, 551 - Regular Cards (21% increase)
  • 2022:  98,039 new library cards 

These results underscore the resounding success of our 150th anniversary campaign, as evidenced by increased engagement, extensive media coverage, and a substantial growth in library card registrations. 

Note: 30k of the 149k library cards are 81 club cards.  


Year-End Highlights: Embracing Growth and Literary Culture 

As we bid farewell to another remarkable year at the Chicago Public Library, it's with great pleasure that we share the impressive figures and literary triumphs that have shaped our community's engagement. From the heartening surge in library visitors to the literary treasures discovered on Libby, and the cultural impact of our events, the year 2023 has been a testament to the enduring relevance and influence of CPL. 

Library Utilization Metrics: 

  • Library Visitors: We welcomed a staggering 5,000,000-plus visitors by the end of 2023, averaging over 400,000 visits per month, compared to about 4 million visits in 2022.
  • Libby Usage: Libby, our digital lending platform, experienced a surge with 142,996 users enjoying over 3,100,000 checkouts throughout the year. In just the past year, the circulation of e-books and online audiobooks has increased by 30 percent.
  • Library Card Registrations: 135,237 individuals joined our community by signing up for library cards, adding to our culture of lifelong learning. 

Material Circulation: 

  • Book Checkouts: CPL facilitated a literary feast where 402,789 individual books found eager readership over the course of the year.
  • Total Circulations: In a collective celebration of diverse content, including books, movies, audiobooks, and e-content, our community contributed to a staggering 7,000,000 circulations this year, with over 3,000,000 stemming from e-books alone.

Library Resources and Events: 

  • Digital Passes: Beyond books, our community explored broader cultural offerings with 15,733 digital museum passes used by 11,202 unique users.
  • Events Hosted: CPL brought Chicago vibrant cultural programming with 19,611 events, drawing an attendance of approximately 322,252.

Literary Stars of the Year: 

As recognized by Block Club, some of the most popular physical books checked out from CPL in 2023 include: 

  • Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevi
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  • Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
  • Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman (2022 One Book, One Chicago selection)
  • I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

These numbers and literary achievements reflect the vibrant cultural hub that CPL continues to be, fostering knowledge, community and a love for literature. For a more in-depth exploration, Block Club recently featured an insightful article on how the Chicago Public Library system has evolved since its founding 150 years ago:

Annual Report Release: 

Stay tuned for more detailed insights into our year's accomplishments as CPL will be releasing our comprehensive Annual Report in the next two months. The report will delve deeper into our initiatives, community impact, and the ongoing evolution of the Chicago Public Library. 


Key Priorities for 2024: Building on Success, Charting a Vision for the Future 

As we reflect on the remarkable strides made towards achieving our current strategic plan's goals, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) is poised to embrace a new chapter of growth and service excellence in 2024. The accomplishments of the past years, including the successful hosting of the 150th Anniversary Year-Long Celebration and the establishment of the Equity Office, lay a solid foundation for our next set of priorities. 

Overview of Achievements: 

  • Hosted 150th Anniversary Year-Long Celebration: A year filled with festivities, including a podcast, marked a significant milestone in our history, fostering community engagement and celebration.
  • Established Equity Office: To underscore our commitment to equity, CPL created an Equity Office, complete with an Equity Action Plan and Equity Policy, ensuring inclusivity in all facets of our operations.
  • Expanded 81 Club Initiative: Our outreach efforts grew as we expanded the 81 Club initiative, enhancing community connections and extending the reach of library services.
  • Increased Collection Funding: Recognizing the importance of diverse collections, CPL secured a 30% increase in funding to enrich our library holdings.
  • Summer Participation Growth: In 2023 we witnessed a remarkable 2x increase in summer participation, accompanied by a 3x surge in the number of programs offered.
  • Secured Funding for Spaces: Our commitment to accessible library spaces received a boost with the securing of approximately $500,000 for Capital Strategy and the addition of 5 new library locations.
  • Added Sunday Hours: Responding to community needs, CPL extended operating hours to include Sundays.
  • Mellon Foundation Grant: The Renaissance Project received a significant boost with the awarding of a $2 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.
  • Expanded Partnerships: Collaborations with entities such as the Department of Culture Affairs and Special Events on Culture in My Neighborhood and the Chicago Department of Public Health strengthened our community connections.

2024 Strategic Priorities: 

To conclude the current 2020-2024 strategic plan on a high note, CPL will focus on five major priorities:  

  • Strategy Assessments:
    • Launch a comprehensive equity assessment in collaboration with the community to ensure our services reflect diverse needs.
    • Initiate a strategic process for capital planning to ensure sustainable growth and development.
    • Build on the success of the Immediate Response Working Group to develop and implement a comprehensive safety strategy.
    • Begin the process of crafting a new strategic plan to guide CPL's evolution over the next five years.
  • Staff Development and Operational Efficiency:
    • Design and launch an "Excellence in Service" training initiative, establish expectations for supervisors and branch managers, and enhance operational efficiency through data dashboards and technology.
  • Library Programming:
    • Reengage patrons, enhance community-based programming, provide universal access to the 81 Club initiative and focus on youth engagement and diverse collection development.
  • Community Investment:
    • Continue supporting the immigrant population, establish the first public library within the Obama Presidential Center, advance capital development in specific locations, and enhance social services support. 

These priorities represent our commitment to continual improvement, community engagement, and equitable service delivery. As we embark on this journey, we look forward to another year of transformative growth and positive impact on the communities we serve. 


Chicago Public Library Foundation Report

Brenda Langstraat Bui, President & CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, provided an update on behalf of the staff and Board of the Chicago Public Library Foundation and highlighted the following:

Recent Contributions

  • We are thrilled to share that in 2023, the Library Foundation raised nearly $6 million and welcomed more than 1,150 new donors to support lifelong learning programs at CPL!
  • The event broadcast of the 2023 Library Foundation Awards, featuring honorees Colson Whitehead, Rebecca Makkai, Richard Hunt, and Bob Wislow has reached 10,000+ views to date.
  • Over the last three years, the Library Foundation has invested in digital marketing to raise awareness and broaden our community. In 2023, our website metrics continued their upward trend with a 53% growth in users, 74% growth in page views, and 47% growth in user engagement. We see this increase reflected in our conversion rate, with 51% of users donating when they visit our site.
  • Our Library for the People podcast has had more than 23,000 downloads, with over 50% of them visiting our website after signing up for our newsletter.

Exciting Updates

  • Posters recognizing our program partners have rolled out to all 81 branches. These eye-catching poster stands also include giveaway bookmarks that invite passersby to learn more about the Library Foundation. To date, more than 1700 new names have been added to our database because of these bookmarks.
  • Save the Date: An evening of mystery awaits at our Associate Board’s noir-themed Night in the Stacks event on April 5!