Board of Directors Meeting Minutes – June 16, 2020


June 16, 2020, 9:00 a.m.

Virtual Meeting

  1. Approval of minutes for the January 21, 2020 meeting (action required)
  2. Schedule of Requisitions, Contracts and Licenses (info only)
  3. Overview of CPL during COVID-19 Closure - March 21 through June 7, 2020 (info only)
  4. Phased CPL Services and Operations (info only)
  5. Program Update (info only)
  6. CPL Capital Projects and Facilities Report (info only)
  7. Commissioner’s Report (info only)
    • Live at the Library
    • Strategy Update
    • Anti-Racism
    • Promotions, Departures and Retirements
  8. Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)
  9. Other Business
  10. Public Comment

Next Board meeting:

September 15, 2020, 9:00 a.m.

Location TBD



Physically Present: None

Present by Means of Video or Audio Conference: Linda Johnson Rice, Christopher Valenti, Lynn Lockwood, Jodi Block, Barbara Bowman, Alexi Giannoulias, Ivy Walker, Dominique Jordan Turner, Patricia Gaytan Perez

Absent: None

Approval of minutes for the June 16, 2020 meeting (action required)

The Board voted (9-0) to approve the minutes for the June 16, 2020 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 (January 1 – June 9, 2020) invoices that were paid totaled $2,829,250.01 to various vendors.

Overview of CPL during COVID-19 Closure - March 21 through June 7, 2020 (info only)

Commissioner Telli provided an overview of CPL operations during COVID-19 closure. While CPL closed to the public on March 22, we continued to provide vital resources to our patrons by moving many of our activities to virtual and electronic platforms. Administrative and other processes that staff worked on while CPL was closed included:

  • Creating new website content on our kids, teens and adult pages; especially on COVID-19 resources;
  • Increasing our e-books and other electronic resources to support the increase in usage of our e-content;
  • Creating video story times and other virtual programming, including “Live from the Library”;
  • Connecting to curriculum and online courses for students and families in conjunction with Chicago Public Schools;
  • Using our 3D printers to create and supply personal protective equipment like non-medical face shields and face masks;
  • Developing our summer program plans.

CPL staff was also involved in two citywide initiatives during our closure.

  • In partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and The Salvation Army, CPL and the Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events were the lead institutions in the COVID Citywide Feeding Plan. Deputy Commissioner Maggie Clemons directed efforts through the City’s Emergency Operations Center, with 311, to establish a satellite call center at Malcolm X College. Residents who tested positively for Coronavirus, lived with someone who tested positively, or were told by their health care provider to self-quarantine could call 311 and be directed to the call center for a 7-day food delivery by The Salvation Army. Over the course of 8 weeks, we dispatched meals to over 11,000 households.
  • In addition to the call center, Desiree Kettler and Mary Ellen Messner led the citywide food donations effort. Together, they connected with over 30 organizations bringing some $4 million dollars in donations to the City.
  • Lastly, CPL staff also conducted outreach by phone to support the 2020 Census and to ensure every Chicagoan is counted.

Phased CPL Services and Operations (info only)

As part of CPL’s reopening plan, Chicago Public Library worked with the City’s Workforce Committee, the Department of Assets, Information & Technology, and the Chicago Department of Public Health to help plan for a safe resumption of library services for staff and patrons. CPL also sought guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the American Library Association, and the Urban Libraries Council, among other organizations.

Staff were called back to work on May 20 to prepare for an early June opening. Each branch developed a Facility Assessment Plan that included:

  • New, temporary guidelines reflecting safety protocols, such as requirements for face coverings;
  • Building capacity limits, reconfiguration of our floor plans and removal of furniture to enforce 6’ of social distancing;
  • Additional security to help manage the new guidelines and access to library buildings;
  • Plexiglass barriers at service points such as circulation and reference desks;
  • Practicing frequent hand washing, wiping down of shared materials and equipment and use of hand sanitizer.

Since opening to the public on June 8, the Library has made adaptations to reinforce safe practices and provide services as comprehensively to our communities as possible, such as:

  • Temporarily shortening public service hours so that staff can work freely on tasks in the building when the public is not present;
  • Increasing virtual programming, online and telephone reference assistance;
  • Increased custodial and security services at every location
  • Supplying adequate personal protective equipment for staff including the use of non-medical face shields, gloves, and keyboard & mouse covers, should staff prefer to use them.

CPL will be reviewing our plans and preparations every two weeks as we move through Mayor Lightfoot’s plan for reopening Chicago, and will make adjustments with guidance from the CDC and CDPH as restrictions are lifted.

Program Update (info only)

Mary Ellen Messner, First Deputy Commissioner, provided an overview of CPL’s summer programming. The Library’s Summer Learning Challenge and Teen Summer Challenge, will launch July 6 and run through August 16. This year CPL has partnered with My Chi, My Future, in working to keep Chicago’s students engaged and educated during the summer.

Through the 2020 Summer Learning Challenge, youth ages 0-13 will be “Building Stories” and learning more about the distinctive architecture and neighborhoods of Chicago. Children can explore their homes, their neighborhoods and their city through science exploration, hands-on learning and the arts. They can also “Build Stories” by learning about architecture and design using science, math and engineering skills.

The Teen Summer Challenge for youth ages 13-18, themed “Sound Off,” encourages teens to use their voices to get involved in activism and empowerment. “Sound Off” will focus on programs virtually that connect teens to the intersection of music, social justice and activism, empowering teens to create and change the world around them.

This year’s Summer programs will feature significantly expanded digital offerings, including a combination of online programming and increased digital content for children, teens and families. In coordination with guidance given by the Chicago Department of Public Health, CPL will not hold large in-person public programs; however, branches remain open to circulate material and provide essential digital and physical resources to patrons.

The Library’s summer program serves as an important element of the new citywide initiative My Chi My Future, which aims to connect youth in Chicago to our variety of rich, engaging, safe, and youth-centered out-of-school experiences that empower them to discover and cultivate their talents, passions, skills, and identities. My Chi, My Future is designed to help young folks develop physically, mentally, and emotionally amongst their peers, as well as build relationships and networks with mentors and caring adults, helping lay the groundwork to college, careers, trades, entrepreneurship, and life-long learning.

CPL also supports our adult learner through Chicago Digital Learn, specifically designed for those with low levels of digital literacy. There are currently over 25 courses available with more courses being added over the summer.

CPL’s virtual programming will include:

  • In partnership with Make Music Chicago for an annual daylong citywide celebration of music, a part of the Year of Chicago Music.
  • In partnership with the Chicago Council on Science and Technology to present An Evening Inside the Multiverse - Sunday, June 21.​
  • CPL presents Jacqueline Saper, author of From Miniskirt to Hijab - Monday, July 13 at 6pm.​  

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.

Merlo – construction is near completion the branch expected to open in just a few weeks, date TBD after discussions with the Alderman. 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.

Altgeld – renovations for Altgeld are near complete; staff is currently packing up the old branch and will move into new location on June 29th. Opening date for the public TBD. 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 being offered through CHA.

Legler Regional Library – scope includes re-establishment of the Legler branch to regional library status. Phase 1 of renovations still in progress, a few delays due to COVID; renovations 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 closed to the public in September 2019.

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, CPL is reviewing plans with the architect; 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. Scottsdale and King have successfully completed the CARE Program this year. Branches underway to complete the CARE Program for 2020 include: Pullman, Wrightwood-Ashburn, Logan Square, Bezazian, Hall and Galewood Montclare.

Commissioner’s Report (info only)

Commissioner Telli began her report with sharing a video from CPL’s “Live from the Library” digital story time series. The program features a combination of librarians, celebrities, athletes, and other Chicago notables, video-recording themselves reading children’s books.

Stats from the program include:

  • 8,300 - New / additional Facebook followers.
  • 336,000 - Number of minutes viewers have watched CPL video content on Facebook.
  • 7,000 - New / additional Instagram followers, a 50% increase in just over 1 ½ months, taking us over 21,000 followers.
  • 50,000 - Number of people who have viewed our Instagram videos.

Commissioner Telli also highlighted the following initiatives:

Strategy Update: CPL was positioned to launch our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan on March 18. We postponed the launch due to COVID-19. We will be working with the Mayor’s Office to determine a new launch date for the strategy and what format that launch will take. You might remember that the Plan outlined six objectives, 20 strategies, and measures of they will take to ensure success.

Anti-Racism / BLM: In support of the Anti-Racism and Black Lives Matter movement, CPL is taking our role very seriously and also looking inward at our policies and procedures both on the public side but also internally.

As a result of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing unrest, our Content Curation department worked with other CPL staff to create recommended eBook lists for readers in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the cause of antiracism. Books on these vital topics have been featured in CPL’s staff picks and on recent Best of the Best lists. These new and updated lists provide some of the best and most recent titles exploring these topics in depth, as well as other information on these topics on our website at

Promotions, Departures and Retirements


  • Greg Diaz, District Chief, District 4
  • Jason Driver, District Chief, District 3
  • Dana Revilla, District Chief, District 2
  • Nesha Saunders, District Chief, District 6
  • Veleda Simpson, Director, Woodson Regional Library


  • Michelle Frisque, Chief of Technology Content and Innovation, TCI


  • Raana Butt, Library Associate, TCI
  • Verniece Hill, Sr. Personnel Assistant, HR
  • Glenn Humphreys, Librarian IV, Special Collections
  • Mary Jones, Librarian IV, Brainerd
  • Sally Jones, Librarian III, Blackstone
  • Susan Jorgensen, Librarian IV, Portage Cragin
  • Maureen Kennedy, Library Associate, Sulzer
  • Jose Perez, Librarian III, Humboldt Park
  • Michael Peters, Library Division Chief, Humanities
  • Anthony Powers, Librarian IV, Austin-Irving
  • Iffat Rehman, Sr. Library Clerk, TCI
  • Jennifer Ross, Director of Library Personnel, HR
  • Naseem Saiduzzaman, Supervising Clerk, TCI
  • Hubert Thompson, Librarian II, Hall
  • Anat Tisch, Librarian II, Sulzer
  • Judy Velez, Human Resources Business Partner, HR
  • Barbara Waindle, Librarian I, Woodson

Chicago Public Library Foundation Report

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

  • Chicago Public Library Foundation and CPLF Board has received proactive inquiries from donors surrounding support of the anti-racism movement. The Foundation will work with the CPL team and board to launch a campaign related to BLM, at least a 2 year commitment on the Foundation side to leverage private investments to address the immediate need. Also looking to work with CPL to possibly develop an author series or other ways to bring communities together in conversation around this topic.
  • With limited programming being offered in library locations during this time, the Foundation is also working with funders to reinvest funds previously allocated to programs in branches.
  • Since the “Live at the Library” program launch, from April through May, the Foundation had a 350% increase in impressions (websites and social media visits).
  • The number of first time donors have also increased.
  • The Carl Sandburg Awards will be presented virtually this year, date TBD in late October; the Foundation is working with FCB to produce the live event, this year may include an Arts award as well as Literary Award this year.

Public Comment

The Board addressed a comment from Tessa Vierk, co-founder Chicago Tool Library, non-profit tool lending library that provides equitable access to tools, equipment and information. Ms. Vierk has partnered with a few of Chicago’s libraries in the past and is looking to expand their partnership with CPL to assist Chicagoans in their efforts to learn, share and create.

Next Board Meeting

The next board meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 9:00 a.m., location TBD.

Commissioner’s Report


Live From the Library team: Patrick Molloy, Olivia Kuncio, Lexie Heinemann, Caroline Broeren (librarian stories), Liv Hanson (Readers advisory)

Chicago Public Library’s mission is more urgent than ever as our residents – particularly our children – sought new ways to grow and learn while staying safe amidst the COVID-19 crisis that closed all of their library branches for the first time in over 150 years. While the branches were physically closed, we worked hard to provide access to information, ideas and knowledge to children around the world through e-books and other online resources. But it became clear that we needed to explore the possibility of adding virtual programs!

A small but mighty group from CPL, CPLF and FCB got together when the Stay at Home Order first went into place, virtually of course, and quickly created a digital story time program on social media called “Live from the Library.”

The program features a combination of librarians, athletes, celebrities, and other Chicago notables video-recording themselves reading children’s books. We collect the videos in advance and one recording by a librarian from one of our 81 locations, and another from notable Chicago public figures, to bring communities together through the love of storytelling.

We have been fortunate to have some significant people with Chicago ties reading for our program such as President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago First Lady Amy Eshleman, Senator Tammy Duckworth, CPL Commissioner Andrea Telli, CPL Board President Linda Johnson Rice, Cardinal Blaise Cupich, former Chicago Bear and CPL Board Member Israel Idonije, Oprah Winfrey, Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) from Duke University, Common, Jane Lynch, Hebru Brantley, John C. Reilly, Rhymefest, Jeff Tweedy, Pete Wentz, Keke Palmer, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Pena, Michael Shannon, Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child, Joe Mantegna, DJ Caleeb, Sister Jean from Loyola University Chicago, and many other authors, athletes, newscasters, actors, actresses, other notable Chicagoans, and, of course, librarians.

The reading program occurs every weekday at 10:00 A.M. CST on CPL's Facebook page, and posted on Instagram as well. Each day, you can check out these stories at

Not only has this program been fun for us to put together and provide for Chicagoans, it has helped us test new ideas that is helping create a playbook for our new digital program strategy moving forward!


CPL is positioned to launch its 2020-2024 Strategic Plan having postponed the launch because of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order that included the closing of all library locations on March 21. Commissioner Telli and the executive team are working closely with the Mayor’s Office for a summer launch. The Plan will outline CPL’s six objectives, 20 strategies and the measures they will take to ensure success.


On June 1, 2020, the Content Curation department, in consultation with other CPL staff, created recommended eBook lists for readers in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the cause of antiracism. Books on these vital topics have been featured in CPL’s staff picks and on recent Best of the Best lists. These new and updated lists provide some of the best and most recent titles exploring these topics in depth. We created a short URL at so staff could include the link in any displays, bookmarks, flyers or other handouts.

We have seen an immediate interest in these titles since publishing these lists for adults, kids, and teens. We have increased the number of eBook copies for these titles, and we are currently working to make as many of these titles available for unlimited access as we can. We’ve been able to serve hundreds of additional patrons this way already.

The unlimited access eBook model makes titles available immediately with no waiting list, but CPL pays a certain fee each time a patron checks out the eBook. There is a significant cost involved with an unlimited model for a population the size of Chicago. We’re currently evaluating the impact on our budget and looking to partner in the future with the Chicago Public Library Foundation to seek additional funding. 



Greg Diaz – District Chief, District 4: Near North, West Town, West Loop, Water Works, Little Italy, Lozano, Chinatown, King, Chicago Bee, Daley, McKinley Park, Canaryville, Hall, Blackstone, Manning.

Greg is a lifelong member of the Chicago Public Library, and has worked for CPL since 2003. Greg has a BA in English & Moving Image Arts from UIC, and a MSLIS from UIUC.

In his time with CPL he has worked as a page in branches and in Special Collections, served as an adult and children's librarian, and most recently served as the branch manager of the South Chicago Branch. Greg has served as the Chair of the Hispanic Services Committee (now Latinx Committee), and is a founding member of the Games Team.

Jason Driver – District Chief, District 3: Legler, North Austin, North Pulaski, Humboldt Park, West Chicago Avenue, Austin, Douglass, RMD, Little Village, Toman, Brighton Park, Garfield Ridge, Archer Heights, Back of the Yards.

Jason is a lifelong Chicago resident, born and raised on the South Side, and graduating from Kenwood Academy High School.  He started his career as an Adult Library Associate at the West Lawn Branch before moving on to Hall branch in 2004 as a Children's Library Associate, and later, Children's Librarian.

He was promoted to Children's Services as the LIII Early Literacy Specialist in 2014. In this role, he helped to manage many early learning programs, Brinson staff trainings, and special initiatives, including the Little Readers component of the Summer Learning Challenge and KPMG 0-5 book giveaway, among others.  He helped to launch a department-wide mentoring program for newly hired Children's Librarians and started an annual system-wide storytelling festival, A Village of Stories. 

Jason previously worked in social services for the Department of Children and Family Services and taught adults with developmental disabilities at Harold Washington College. Jason holds a B.S. in Psychology from Illinois State University and an MLIS from the University of Illinois.  He is eager to roll up his sleeves and get to work with the communities in District 3.

Dana Revilla – District Chief, District 2: Sulzer, Northtown, Rogers Park, Edgewater, Budlong Woods, Bezazian, Uptown, Lincoln-Belmont, Merlo, Lincoln Park.

Dana is celebrating her 20th year of service at CPL and has served in many roles throughout her career. Majority of her time has been spent at the Sulzer Regional Library as Head of Adult Services, in her current role of Director since 2015, and also serving on CPL’s Senior Staff and BRAT team.

As Director of Sulzer, she has supervised a regional staff of up to 45 and has been able to streamline protocol and processes, as well as creating institutional knowledge for the Regional Libraries and Chicago Public Library as a whole. Dana’s leadership philosophy combines parts of Human Design Thinking, Harwood Institute, and a passion for public service and the library’s role in community.  Dana looks forward to expanding her brand of leadership to the North District—District 2.

Some career highlights include: Overseeing a multi-million dollar TIF renovation; managing large budgets Sulzer Family & Hoellen Foundations; Created the Sulzer Improvement Team—providing opportunities for committee work and leadership across departments; continually increasing thoughtful and relevant programming for the highest circulating location outside of the central library; Streamlining daily operations with shared reference calendar and shared documents.

Nesha Saunders – District Chief, District 6: Woodson, Kelly, Coleman, Greater Grand Crossing, South Shore, Whitney Young, Avalon, South Chicago, Jeffery Manor, Vodak-East Side, Hegewisch, Altgeld, Pullman.

Nesha is a graduate of California State University San Bernardino. While attending CSUSB, she participated in AmeriCorps and realized her love for advocacy work and community organizing. Nesha moved to Chicago in 2005 and went on to receive her M.A. in Women and Gender Studies from Roosevelt University.

Nesha began her career at the Chicago Public Library in 2007 as a page at Sulzer and went on to become a Children’s Librarian at Scottsdale Branch and South Chicago Branch. In 2015, she became Branch Manager at Douglass Branch. While at Douglass, Nesha collaborated with University of Illinois in Chicago – Making the Westside, to bring programming funds to the community, and worked with Technology, Content and Innovation to provide Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebooks to the North Lawndale community. She collaborated with Greater Food Depository to establish a Healthy Market to provide the residents of North Lawndale with fresh fruits and vegetables. She also assisted with the $2.2 million branch renovation.

Nesha holds an MLIS from Dominican University, before becoming District Chief, she was also the Branch Manager of Blackstone Branch serving the Kenwood/Hyde Park community. 

Veleda Simpson – Director, Woodson Regional Library

Veleda has an extensive career in the library field. For more than 20 years she has performed several roles in the profession as a Branch Services Administrator, Children’s Librarian, Elementary School Media Specialist, and Law Firm Reference Librarian.  She has also been active in ALA and was elected to the Executive Board of the Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) Member-At-Large for 2016-2018.   

Veleda is a proud double HBCU alum having earned an MLS from Clark Atlanta University and a BA from Hampton University.  Veleda’s lifelong passion is for underrepresented children and parents in urban communities; she has done significant work to create programs and resources to improve the education and experiences of these communities.  Veleda grew up in Atlanta, GA on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement and was raised in a community that preached education, equality, and justice as our inalienable rights.  In 2017, Veleda founded a Chicago nonprofit organization, Project Higher Ed, which is committed to helping Chicago area African American students and families to establish strategic pathways to and through college.

Veleda officially begins her role as Regional Director on June 16th and is looking forward to meeting and working with the Woodson staff.


Michelle Frisque, Chief of Technology, Content and Innovation moved on from CPL to start her own company focusing on IT consulting for libraries and small not-for-profit organization. Her last day of service with CPL was May 19, 2020. During her time at CPL, Michelle has led us through the implementation of Bibliocommons and Polaris, upgraded public computing making CPL the largest provider of free Internet and computer access in the city, initiated digitization projects, deftly managed the library's partnership with the city's Department of Information Technology, oversaw the development of the Online Reservation System for meeting rooms, and was accessible and collegial to everyone in this organization and beyond.

We thank her for leadership, enthusiasm for the staff and the work of CPL.


  • Raana Butt, Library Associate, TCI ​
  • Verniece Hill, Sr. Personnel Assistant, HR​
  • Glenn Humphreys, Librarian IV, Special Collections​
  • Mary Jones, Librarian IV, Brainerd​
  • Sally Jones, Librarian III, Blackstone​
  • Susan Jorgensen, Librarian IV, Portage Cragin ​
  • Maureen Kennedy, Library Associate, Sulzer​
  • Jose Perez, Librarian III, Humboldt Park​
  • Michael Peters, Library Division Chief, Humanities​
  • Anthony Powers, Librarian IV, Austin-Irving​
  • Iffat Rehman, Sr. Library Clerk, TCI​
  • Jennifer Ross, Director of Library Personnel, HR​
  • Naseem Saiduzzaman, Supervising Clerk, TCI​
  • Hubert Thompson, Librarian II, Hall​
  • Anat Tisch, Librarian II, Sulzer​
  • Judy Velez, Human Resources Business Partner, HR​
  • Barbara Waindle, Librarian I, Woodson​

Chicago Public Library Foundation Report

  • Fundraising Update
  • Public Library Foundation Community
  • Plan for Carl Sandburg Award Presentation