Board of Directors Meeting Minutes – May 17, 2022


May 17, 2022, 9:00 a.m.

Virtual Meeting

  1. Approval of minutes for the January 25, 2022 meeting (action required)
  2. Schedule of Requisitions, Contracts and Licenses (info only)
  3. CPS Student Success Account (action required)
  4. Hiring Update (info only)
  5. Programming Update (info only)
  6. CPL Capital Projects and Facilities Report (info only)
    • Commissioner’s Report (info only)
    • In-Person Programming Highlights
    • Equity Initiatives
      • Internal
      • Extremal
    • Culture in My Neighborhood (CIMN)
    • Woodlawn and Obama Branch Libraries
    • Burnham Fellow
    • New Hires and Retirements
  7. Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)
  8. Other Business
  9. Public Comment

Next Board meeting: September 20, 2022, 9:00 a.m. / Virtual Meeting

Open Session Minutes

Physically Present: None

Present by Means of Video or Audio Conference:  Linda Johnson Rice, Christopher Valenti, Lynn Lockwood, Jodi Block, Barbara Bowman, Dominique Jordan Turner, Michelle Boone, Sandra Delgado, Ivy Walker

Absent: None

Approval of minutes for the January 25, 2022 meeting (action required)

The Board voted (9-0) to approve the minutes from the January 25, 2022 meeting.

Schedule of Requisitions, Contracts and Licenses (info only)

Teri Campbell, Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Finance, presented the quarterly report on contracts and purchases made for magazines, books, databases, periodicals and articles of educational and instructional nature. For this quarter (January 1 - April 30, 2022), 4,799 invoices totaling $3,540,036.91 were paid to various vendors. Costs are in line with normal spending.

CPS Student Success Account (action required)

Commissioner Brown presented a recommendation for CPL to add a new patron account type in order to create a Student Success Account. Current patron account types at CPL include Adults, Teens, Juvenile, and eCard. With this pilot program in partnership with CPS, CPL has an opportunity to support our student community, and get library services into the hands of all CPS students. The goal is to provide library resources to students that may not otherwise frequent the library, as well as facilitate use of CPL resources in CPS classrooms.

The Student Success Account would provide access to online library services as well as a limited number of five physical items. Items not returned would lead to the student being blocked from checking out more material, but the student's parent or guardian would be not held responsible for the limited number of five items.

With this account, students would have access to all CPL’s online services, including: 

  • Live, online tutoring
  • CPL’s research and homework help databases
  • eBooks and downloadable audiobooks
  • Streaming videos and music

CPL is finalizing a data sharing agreement with City legal and CPS, will keep the Board updated on a formal announcement.

The Board voted (9-0) to add a Student Success patron account type at CPL.

Hiring Update (info only)

Deputy Commissioner Campbell provided a brief update on hiring at CPL. Ms. Campbell noted that although staff has taken advantage of new opportunities or transitioned to retirement, CPL continues to see robust hiring activity.  Our HR team, along with the Office of Budget and Management and Department of Human Resources are implementing a revised procedure intended to make the entire process more efficient.  To date, CPL has filled 77 vacancies, and is on track to have filled 216 by the end of July.

Programming Update (info only)

First Deputy Commissioner Messner provided an overview of programming taking place across CPL, highlighting the following:

Summer at CPL – City of Stories

This year’s city-wide summer program entitled City of Stories, will be held June 27 – August 14, 2022, with a soft launch date of June 1 for branches. This summer, we will celebrate stories that explore people, community and culture and the common themes that connect us together. We will also encourage our audiences to tell their stories and the stories of their communities, through the avenues of written and spoken word, art-making or digital media production. Additionally, we will explore how sharing stories can help connect with others, build relationships and strengthen our community. This is a call to neighborhoods around the city to investigate the stories we share and to amplify the power of their voices.

A few key partnerships for the City of Stories Summer program include:

  • Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
  • Art Institute
  • American Writer’s Museum
  • Chicago Park District
  • Chicago Public Schools

ChiTeen Lit Fest

The 7th annual for-teens-by-teens ChiTeen Lit Fest took place April 24-30 at branches across the city. CPL saw some of our biggest in-person teen audiences for programs that we've seen since the pandemic began. This year, CPL hosted 3 headliner events at regional locations that were streamed to the YOUmedia Chicago YouTube channel, and had small in-person audiences as well. Headliners included: Jean Deaux, Elizabeth Lim, Noelle Berry, and Rich Robbins.

Gamers Universe

Chicago's very first teen-created gaming convention, Gamers Universe will be held on Saturday May 28, 2022 @ Harold Washington Library Center. Gamers Universe is being hosted by the Chicago Teen Gamers Guild (CTGG), a group of YOUmedia teens. The event is an all-ages convention that will be a celebration of gaming in all of its forms.  

Activities at Gamers Universe will include:

  • Game Demos
  • Panels + Workshops
  • Artist Alley
  • Game Tournaments (Mortal Kombat X + Super Smash Bros. Ultimate)
  • Cosplay Competition
  • Intergalactic Adventure, an original scavenger hunt-style game created by CTGG

We would also like to recognize and thank CPL staff who have been working with teens to make this happen:

  • Justin Shannin, TSYM Admin
  • Jaime Bravo, YOUmedia HWLC
  • Rachel Wilson, Bezazian
  • Nathan Rowlett, South Shore
  • Branch staff who have hosted lead up events created by the CTGG: Humboldt Park, Lozano, Sulzer Regional and West Englewood

Community Connection Fund

The Community Connection Fund was established in 2021, when a group of donors asked what they could do to support more work at the neighborhood level. In response to feedback from CPL staff, they established the Community Connections Fund at Chicago Public Library Foundation to help CPL branch staff respond quickly to their community’s needs. Locations will apply for funding to make connections with their communities and partner with them in developing new and innovative programs. This pilot will be held over the next two years.

Celebrating Diversity at CPL

May - Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

During the month of May, CPL will recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage by exploring this year’s theme of Healing, Mourning, and Remembering. We also encourage patrons to continue their own journey of healing, mourning and remembering beyond the month of May. Library locations will explore events for all ages, including cultural events, film screenings, book discussions and family events.

As part of CPL’s new Voices for Justice Speaker Series, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Anthony C. Ocampo in conversation with author Mia Manansala on May 19th on the topic of Covering intersectionality with being Queer and Filipinx; and at the end of the month, we will host Author Qian Julie Wang of the book Beautiful Country in conversation with journalist Monica Eng on May 26th.

June - Juneteenth

CPL will also host a number of programs in honor of Juneteenth. On June 16th, we will host New York Times Bestseller, Clint Smith in Conversation with Natalie Moore, this is a virtual event. Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic and author of the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery across America, which was a named one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2021.

CPL Capital Projects and Facilities Report (info only)

Deputy Commissioner Clemons reported on CPL capital and facilities projects:  

The AIS capital project interior renovation at Richard J. Daley branch is complete. Staff are shelving items and preparing to reopen and welcome the Bridgeport community back to the library. Renovation highlights include a renovated children’s department, interior lighting + floor + wall + ceiling upgrades, a re-laminated circulation desk, improved public restrooms, new furniture and layout, ADA improvements, exterior masonry repair, and an upgraded BAS. 

Active AIS capital projects include Canaryville, Austin, Sherman Park, Douglass, Beverly, Hall, and Wrightwood Ashburn.

Active CARE projects include Near North and Uptown. Lincoln-Belmont is complete and Hegewisch will follow in the fall. 

Narcan Update

In January, the Chicago Department of Public Health announced their new partnership with CPL last week, placing Narcan, the overdose reversal medication, in 14 branches. With record level opioid overdoses in 2020, Chicago needs this crucial initiative to help battle the growing opioid epidemic. As of May 1, this initiative has expanded to 13 additional locations. CDPH has provided training to over 250 CPL staff on Narcan and overdose education and is planning virtual training and information sessions for library patrons this spring. 

Legler Our City, Our Safety Connectivity Update

CPL continues to engage in the Our City, Our Safety, a Neighborhood Activation pilot project, a place-based whole government response focused on specific corridors in East and West Garfield Park. The goal is to increase neighborhood safety by engaging community in the development and implementation of micro-level projects. CPL is participating by lifting up Legler Regional as an anchor of the West Side and specifically the Madison and Pulaski corridor.

To help change the look and feel of the corridor and bring attention to Legler’s reopening after a yearlong renovation, CPL has and will continue to add physical and programmatic services, including:

  • Expanded Wi-Fi and added furniture to the front lawn
  • Installed banners on the building and street poles along the block
  • Alley updates to redirect traffic and allow for safer passage
  • Collaboration with CDOT on infrastructure investments
  • Hosts a monthly produce market in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository
  • Develops and facilitates a full programming calendar for all patron groups

Commissioner’s Report (info only)

Commissioner Brown presented the Commissioner’s report, highlighting the following:

  • Recent in-person programming highlights included an event celebrating the 100th Birthday for the late Mayor Harold Washington on April 12th, and the addition of a new exhibit, Harold Washington: A Centennial Reflection in the late Mayor’s honor; CPL hosted UIC political professor and former Alderman Dick Simpson in conversation with Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot on April 21st; and on March 11th CPL also hosted Mayor Lightfoot at the Legler Regional Library to promote the Library’s first Artist-in-Residence.
  • In connection with equity initiatives at CPL, the Library has recently completed interviews for a Senior Equity Officer, start date is pending; the Library was granted a 25% increase to its materials budget, the additional funds will be allocated to refresh the children’s book collections, targeting neighborhoods most in need; in February, the Library launched its new Voices for Justice program in support of the City’s Year of Healing initiative.
  • Through Culture in My Neighborhood (CIMN), a new collaborative initiative supporting cultural programming, CPL was awarded $250,000 over a two-year period to bring a broad variety of learning, entertainment, art, theater, music, and other cultural events to neighborhood branches.
  • As part of an effort initiated by the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) to revitalize the 63rd Street/Cottage Grove corridor, the Coleman branch may be a potential tenant in the Woodlawn Crossing project, a mixed-use commercial building intended to help revitalize the historic Black commercial area. CPL and OPC continue to work on the program vision for the CPL branch at the Obama Presidential Center. CPL and OPC leadership have been working with Margaret Sullivan Studio (MSS) to strategize and develop a role and purpose of the facility.
  • Commissioner Brown was accepted as one of the 2022 Daniel Burnham Fellows, an accelerator for executives who, in their roles as leaders in Chicago, play an active part in shaping a brighter socioeconomic future for the city.
  • CPL welcomed several new staff to our Senior Team: Raquel Flores-Clemons as the new LIV for the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature located at the Woodson Regional Library; Abigail (Abby) Sullivan as the new Chief Operations Analyst; Nicole Steeves as CPL’s new Director of Library Technology; and Mary Robinson, CPL’s new Director of Human Resources.
  • Commissioner Brown also acknowledged staff that have recently retired and thanked them for their service to CPL and the City: Rita Gartley, Library Clerk at Edgewater; Standley Howell, Librarian III at HWLC; Bridgette Mc Kinzie, Supervising Clerk at HWLC; Maria Peterson, Librarian IV at HWLC; Barbara Sheehan, Librarian II at Near North.

Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)

Brenda Langstraat, President & CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation updated the Board on contributions and initiatives being managed by the Foundation, including:

  • The launch of their first new donor acquisition campaign with library direct marketing specialists, Carl Bloom Associates; and,
  • The unveiling of the Library Foundation’s 2021 Impact Report, now available to view at, which describes the impact of donor-powered programs.

Other Business


Public Comment

The board addressed comments regarding the continuous support that the Assistive Resource Center/Talking Book Center provides patrons with disabilities; CPLF for updating their website and making it accessible to patrons that are visually impaired; and a recommendation to find ways to make exhibits at the library accessible as well. A representative of ASFME also asked about restoring hours of operation at library locations back to 58 hours per week, a practice previously in place.

Commissioner’s Report

In-Person Programming Highlights

On April 12th in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, the Harold Washington Legacy Committee, and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, CPL hosted the 100th Birthday for Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American mayor. The event was held in the Harold Washington Library Center’s Winter Garden for a packed house of over 350 RSVPs including Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Jesse Jackson. CPL added to the celebration with a new exhibit, Harold Washington: A Centennial Reflection from the Archives and Special Collections Division led by Stacie Williams. The exhibit has seen strong press coverage, including ABC 7.

On April 21st, in partnership with Midland Authors, CPL hosted UIC political professor and former Alderman Dick Simpson in conversation with Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot to discuss his new book Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago. On March 11th CPL hosted Mayor Lori Lightfoot at the Legler Regional Library to promote the library’s first Artist-in-Residence. This 2-year residency is bringing art-related programming to the greater West Side, and will add to the impact of weekly CPS class visits. The event also saw strong press coverage, including CBS.

Equity Initiatives

Equity Officer and Cohort

CPL has completed interviews for a Senior Equity Officer and are coordinating on a start date for the hire. They will be a participant along with six CPL staff in the City’s Equity & Racial Justice Learning Cohort, a rigorous 9-month training to build racial and equity knowledge and skillsets. The goal for each participating City department is to produce an equity action plan that will act as a strategic plan tailored for each department, including the tracking of our progress. Deputy Teri Campbell will be serving as our executive sponsor. The training is made possible by the Chicago Department of Public Health. 

Children’s Collection Refresh

As part of CPL’s effort to be more on par with industry leading library collections, our materials budget was increased in 2022 by Mayor Lori Lightfoot by 25% or $2 million. One of the goals for the increase is to refresh children’s book collections, targeting 20 neighborhoods most in need. To accomplish this goal, CPL is purchasing a core children’s collection of approximately $20,000 worth of essential kids' books for 20 locations. These will include a diverse mix of popular and award-winning books, including Spanish for branches with Spanish collections. This project targets neighborhoods on the South and West sides, which had not benefited from new construction and reopening projects, which provide the opportunity for a collection refresh.

Launching Voices for Justice

In February, to support the City’s Year of Healing, CPL launched our new Voices for Justice program with a visit from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Over 1,000 Chicago students and families tuned in to hear from the Supreme Court Justice, and participate in a lively Q&A. Next came WNBA Champion, Chicago Sky’s own Candace Parker, in celebration of Black History Month, then New York Times Best Seller Mikki Kendall to celebrate Women’s History Month. The series already has over 50k views across Facebook and YouTube, and has been covered by ABC7 Chicago and the Chicago Tribune.

VFJ makes thought leaders, authors, and artists more accessible to Chicagoans looking to engage around social justice and racial healing. Recent speakers include Pulitzer Prize winning critic and memoirist Margot Jefferson and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Cathy Park Hong. The City of Chicago’s Year of Healing, from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Office of Equity and Racial Justice, was designed to respond to community calls for greater cross-neighborhood dialogue and connection.

Culture in My Neighborhood (CIMN)

Culture in My Neighborhood is a new collaborative initiative that supports cultural programming at the Chicago Cultural Center, 18 Chicago Park District neighborhood cultural centers, and Chicago Public Library locations — through grants and commission opportunities for artists and organizations.

CPL has been awarded $250,000 over a two-year period to bring a broad variety of learning, entertainment, art, theater, music, and other cultural events to neighborhood branches.

Woodlawn and Obama Branch Libraries

Coleman Branch in Woodlawn

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) has approached CPL as a potential (16,000 SF) anchor tenant in Woodlawn Crossing, a proposed 40,000 SF mixed-use commercial building at the southeast corner of 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. Located across the street from the CTA Green Line Woodlawn station, the joint venture space would include direct CTA station access. The University of Chicago has been confirmed as the second potential tenant along with a potential retail space.

Woodlawn Crossing would connect nearby affordable housing to library technology, broadband, programming, co-located with transportation—while revitalizing a historic transportation hub and commercial node—anticipating development impact from the Obama Presidential Center. CPL staff are exploring potential financing for the project, which would:

  • Further CPL co-location model: adding transportation access to affordable housing and service with the proposed building located across the street from mixed-income housing
  • Add to revitalization of a historic Black commercial node
  • Extend economic investment West and East of 63rd

The project would be a proactive investment in the transportation corridor leading to OPC and would proactively address the current 30-year-old Coleman Branch needing major cosmetic renovations.

Obama Branch

Work on the Program Vision for the CPL branch at the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) is going well. The CPL team and OPC are excited about the synergies that support the original objectives of the campus partnership. Margaret Sullivan Studio (MSS) has been working with CPL and OPC leadership to develop a role and purpose of the facility, with strategic areas of focus that synergize the goals of CPL and OPC:

  • Storytelling in all its Vibrant Forms
  • Practicing Civic Engagement
  • Celebrating Hyper Local Artists

In January MSS facilitated a staff workshop to develop activities, programs and events based on creating experiences for local community members and museum visitors. MSS is working with the OPC Community Engagement Team to identify community groups to engage and garner feedback, as well as foster future partner opportunities. The community engagement work will inform how the space will be activated and programmed. The final deliverable of the Program Vision will be produced once the community engagement work has been completed.

CPL and MSS will be working with OPC to stay on schedule for the concept design to be incorporated into the architect’s construction documents.

Burnham Fellow

I want to thank the Library Foundation Board for supporting my application to join the 2022 Daniel Burnham Fellows. As a Chicago transplant I’m grateful to be more connected to the City-wide community, especially the Burnham executive leadership cohort. The experience has provided me more historical context as to how planning and development has taken place in Chicago at the downtown, neighborhood and cultural level. I’m looking forward to taking what I learn through this experience and using it to continue to foster a stronger CPL that serves the entirety of Chicago. The Daniel Burnham Fellowship is an accelerator for executives who, in their roles as leaders in Chicago, can play an active part in shaping a brighter socioeconomic future for our city.

New Hires

Director of the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection

Raquel Flores-Clemons has been selected as the new LIV for the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, located at the Woodson Regional Library, effective December 16, 2021. Raquel comes to CPL from Chicago State University, where she worked since 2016 as University Archivist and Director of University Archives, Records Management, and Special Collections. An advocate for equity and access, Raquel maintains a deep commitment to capturing historical narratives of communities of color and engages Hip Hop as a method of archival praxis. Born and raised on the West side of Chicago, Raquel lives near the Austin community with her family. She is excited to start this new chapter in her career and looks forward to elevating the important legacy of Vivian Harsh.

Chief Operations Analyst

We are thrilled to welcome Abigail (Abby) Sullivan to CPL as the new Chief Operations Analyst. Abby joined on April 18th.

Abby has more than 10 years of policy experience with the City of Chicago and most recently served as a Senior Performance Analyst for the Office of Inspector General. Prior to joining the City, Abby spent 4 years as a business process consultant serving state and local government clients to help them meet their operational, technology and regulatory goals.

Abby holds BS degrees in Economics and Public Policy and a Master’s in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

IT Director

Also excited to announce Nicole Steeves as the new Director of Library Technology. Nicole began her new role at CPL on April 18th.

Nicole's responsibilities include overseeing Computer Services, improving troubleshooting processes, and enhancing tech competencies.

Nicole earned her B.A. degree in English from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Master of Library and Information Science degree from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. She started her library career right here at HWLC, working as a librarian in Newspapers and General Periodicals and Literature & Language. She also participated in many systemwide projects with a focus on technology and training.

She was most recently the Library Director of Fox River Grove Memorial Library for almost six years. During this time, she successfully led the library through an on-time and on-budget interior renovation, strategic planning, staff restructuring, and a top-to-bottom technology overhaul.

HR Director

We would also like to introduce Mary Robinson as the new Director of Human Resources.  Mary joined our Human Resources (HR) team on April 18th

Mary is an HR professional raised in Grand Rapids, MI, but living for over 30 years in Chicago working for private companies and local governmental agencies.  Mary began her career in HR as a Sexual Harassment Investigator for the City of Chicago’s Department of Personnel moving up in responsibility in different HR roles for City and County government until last working as a Director in the HR department for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Mary is a licensed attorney holding a BA in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College (PA); a JD from the University of Akron School of Law (OH); and an LLM from DePaul University College of Law (IL). 


  • Rita Gartley - Library Clerk, Edgewater, 26 years of service
  • Standley Howell - Librarian III, HWLC, 22 years of service
  • Bridgette Mc Kinzie - Supervising Clerk, HWLC, 33 years of service
  • Maria Peterson - Librarian IV, HWLC, 32 years of service
  • Barbara Sheehan - Librarian II, Near North, 23 years of service

Chicago Public Library Foundation Report

Brenda Langstraat, 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:


This spring, we launched our first new donor acquisition campaign with library direct marketing specialists, Carl Bloom Associates. The campaign has been a great success, with 350+ donors and more than $27,000 raised so far—a testament to the Library’s powerful impact in our community. 

Exciting Updates 

The Library Foundation’s 2021 Impact Report is live! Available at, it tells the story of what donor support makes possible at our Library. Whether sustaining programs that address longstanding opportunity gaps in our community, or launching new programs—individual, foundation, and corporate donors help keep our Library at the forefront. 

Some examples of these donor-powered programs include:

Teachers in the Library, which provides crucial free homework help and academic skills support from accredited educators to Chicago grade school students and their families. Back in person as of fall 2021, and with a virtual component to increase access, the program has provided hundreds of sessions and seen month to month increases. The program will wrap up for the year in May and restart shortly after Labor Day.  

The CyberNavigator digital literacy specialist cohort—who help Chicagoans build confidence in our online world through 1:1 skill-building sessions—will relaunch in summer 2022 in communities where broadband access is lowest, as well as other strategic criteria. 

Community Cinema recently relaunched with a first-ever grant to connect Chicagoans across generations by providing free, in-branch screenings of popular movies, particularly those that elevate BIPOC directors, writers, and actors.  

The Chicago Public Library Foundation Associate Board launched the second-ever 2022 Read-A-Thon event on April 18 with a theme of Around the World. Over 260 readers have registered to stretch their reading habits and have raised $80,000 to date! Visit for more information. 

Our new and improved website is fully ADA-compliant, and has seen 52% more visitors since 2021. Visit us at to read Chicagoans’ Library stories, explore our impact in the city, and peruse the improved user experience.