- Welcome to the Blackstone Library (info only)
- Approval of minutes for the May 16, 2023 and October 11, 2023 meetings (action required)
- 2024 Board of Directors Meeting Schedule (action required)
- Administration and Finance Report (info only)
- Policy Recommendation Re: Library Card Replacement Fee (action required)
- Policy Recommendation Re: CPL Equity Policy (action required)
- Budget Update/Kelly Fund Approval (action required)
- Programming Update (info only)
- Operations and Facilities Report (info only)
- Commissioner’s Report (info only)
- The Obama Branch: Find Your Voice and Bring Change Home
- Fostering Equity in Neighborhood Library Staffing
- Enhancing the Chicago Public Library Experience
- Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)
- Other Business
- Public Comment
Next Board meeting: TBA
Open Session Minutes
Physically Present: Linda Johnson Rice, Christopher P. Valenti, Dominique Jordan Turner, Jodi Block, Lynn Lockwood, Barbara Bowman, Sandra Delgado
Present by Means of Video or Audio Conference: None
Absent: Michelle Boone, Ivy Walker
Welcome to Blackstone Branch (info only)
Marcus Lumpkin, branch manager of the Blackstone branch, opened the meeting with a warm welcome to the board and guests. Serving the Kenwood and Hyde Park communities, the Blackstone branch was the first branch of the Chicago Public Library system. The branch opened in 1904 and underwent renovations in 1980. Blackstone was named after Timothy Beach Blackstone, president of the Chicago and Alton Railroad and the first president of the Union Stockyards and Transit Company. As with all CPL branches, Blackstone has dedicated spaces for children, teens, and adults, provides free Wi-Fi and computer assistance, delivers free programs regularly and sustains partnerships with community organizations.
Approval of minutes for the May 16, 2023 and October 11, 2023 meetings (action required)
The board voted (8-0) to approve the minutes of the May 16, 2023 and October 11, 2023 meetings.
2024 Board of Directors Meeting Schedule (action required)
The board voted (8-0) to approve the 2024 Board of Directors meeting schedule as follows:
- Tuesday, January 30, 2024
- Tuesday, May 21, 2024
- Tuesday, September 17, 2024
- Tuesday, November 19, 2024
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 September 1 – October 31,2023 totaled $2,055,120.77 for 1787 invoices.
- Hiring activity continues as new staff join the CPL team to fill open positions. We currently have a substantial list of qualified candidates and hope to end the year with fewer than 200 vacancies.
- Lastly, Commissioner Campbell recognized staff that have retired since the previous board meeting:
- Wanda Allen - Admin Assistant at HWLC, 30 years of service
- Donna Arndt - Clerk at Sulzer, 33 years of service
- Michelle Carnes - Division Chief at HWLC, 9 years of service
- Mary Dressler - Librarian III at Portage Cragin, 24 years of service
- Frederick Parker - Librarian III at Lozano, 37 years of service
- Melanie Vereecke - Librarian III at Lincoln Belmont, 47 years of service
Policy Recommendation Re: Library Card Replacement Fee (action required)
Deputy Commissioner Campbell presented a policy recommendation regarding the library card replacement fee, for board approval. CPL’s current policy charges a fee of $1 to replace a lost or damaged library card; this $1 fee was intended to offset the cost that the library incurs to replace them. This policy was paused during the pandemic as a temporary safety measure to slow the spread of disease.
- CPL allows for free replacement cards to kids and teens in the fall when we conduct the annual Library Card Initiative with schools (Sept - Dec). This year, we issued 150th anniversary cards instead.
- CPL does not charge a replacement fee to teens when they are moving from a kid's card to an adult card.
- CPL does not charge a replacement fee to those patrons who want to use a true name.
- CPL has not reinstated the collection of this fee since the pandemic.
- The library card costs approximately 23 cents per card, the revenue collected is minimal.
CPL Administration requests approval to end the policy of charging a replacement fee for lost or damaged cards to remove barriers and avoid service interruption.
The board voted (8-0) to approve the new library card replacement fee policy, removing the fee charged to patrons to replace lost or damaged library cards.
Policy Recommendation Re: CPL Equity Policy (action required)
Deputy Commissioner Campbell and CPL’s Equity Office team has been working to establish an Equity Policy. The Equity Policy will be consistent with the City of Chicago’s commitment to equity and inclusivity, and with the mission of the Mayor’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice (OERJ), CPL commits to normalizing concepts of racial equity, organizing staff and partners to work together for transformational change, and operationalizing new practices, policies, and procedures that result in more fair and just outcomes.
With this policy, Chicago Public Library (CPL) explicitly and formally commits itself to being a more racially equitable library system. This Equity Policy is to uphold our mission by advancing equity as an outcome and a process that results in fair and just access to opportunity and resources that provides everyone with the ability to thrive.
The board voted (8-0) to approve CPL’s new Equity Policy.
Budget Update/Kelly Fund Approval (action required)
Teri Campbell, Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Finance, provided an overview of the sources included in the CPL budget request, which was recently approved by City Council. For 2024, the total budget requested is $157,947,621. This budget includes: City Operating budget of $98,366,000 (this portion of the library fund is directly controlled by the Library Commissioner); the budget request for services through AIS totaled $24,593,449, to maintain all of the libraries facilities; Other City Support $29,960,172, traditionally shared amongst the city and includes interest payments, benefits, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, and HWLC property management; Chicago Public Library Foundation’s contribution is budgeted at $5,000,000, approved by the CPLF board, in support of in person programming and initiatives. The 2024 operating budget underwent an approximate $4000 increase from 2023 due to an increase in security and utility costs, a modest increase in tuition reimbursement and to also, level staffing.
For board approval, CPL requested $55,000 from the Kelly Fund to support professional development training for staff and planning for special programs and events, including but not limited to the Library’s annual All Staff Institute Day and Cindy Pritzker Lecture series.
The Board voted (8-0) to approve the 2024 Kelly Fund Budget request.
Programming Update (info only)
First Deputy Commissioner Messner provided an update on programming and initiatives offered at CPL locations systemwide:
This year's Warm Welcome to the Library events, hosted in partnership with Operation Warm, will give away 1,200 coats at six library locations around the city this fall. Our goals with this partnership are twofold: to provide kids with the winter gear they need to be safe and warm, and to welcome families who may not be regular library users into the library.
These fun, celebratory events include activities for kids and families, book giveaways for each child who gets a coat, and opportunities to get a library card for families who participate in the event. With the recent influx of new Chicagoans from places that don't experience our extreme winters, we anticipate a greater demand for coats this year, as well as an opportunity to reach families who may not be familiar with all the resources our city's public libraries can provide. Branches that will host the program this fall include:
- November 11th – Budlong Woods
- November 15th – Woodson
- November 26th – Uptown
- December 2nd – Chicago Lawn
- December 6th – GGC
- December 6th – Manning
One Book, One Chicago Season Finale
On November 15th, CPL held the OBOC season finale with Tommy Orange as he discussed his book There There and the importance of literature highlighting urban Native voices, while also talking about his career and what the author may have in store for the future. A book signing will be held after the event.
Julie Koslowsky, CPL’s Director of Teen Services, provided a special report on the 81 Club.
Since launching in September 2022, the 81 Club has put the power of 81 library branches and limitless online resources – directly into the hands of CPS students and teachers. The 81 Club brand was created in partnership with youth to ensure students feel a sense of belonging and continue to view libraries as trusted and safe spaces to engage and explore. Six schools participated in an implementation pilot and all 5,500 students in pilot schools received 81 Club cards. These participating schools reported first time connections & improved relationships with their local library as a result. In 11 months, over 26,000 81 Club accounts have been created, with the greatest reach this fall.
As the program continues to grow, CPL plans to implement tools to recruit a library liaison in every school through our partnership with CPS. CPS & CPL have also collaborated to map library resources across schools and libraries to surface access gaps and ensure equity.
2020 – 2024 CPL Strategy
As CPL’s current 2020 – 2024 Strategy sunsets, our Executive Team has begun working with consultants at T&Co, through the Civic Consulting Alliance, to support some pre-visioning work prior to our official strategy refresh next year. Specifically, we have been discussing our mission, vision, values, and our strategic pillars. More information will be shared as we move through the process of developing our 2025-2029 Strategy.
CPL Operations and Facilities Report (info only)
Deputy Commissioner Clemons shared an update on CPL operations and facility projects.
Update regarding 2023 CARE projects, provided in partnership with AIS to upgrade neighborhood locations with new paint, lights, hvac systems, parking lots repairs, etc.
- West Englewood has completed the CARE process and is now open to the public.
- Rogers Park is in the process of going through the CARE process.
- Branch selection for 2024 CARE projects is forthcoming.
- (no change) Legler remains closed as a result of the flooding that occurred during the July 4th Emergency contractors have been contacted to expedite repairs. Immediate repairs included the boiler, relocating the IT closet to a higher floor and repairs to the elevator. Once those issues have been satisfied, the library can open to the public while the remaining repairs are being addressed. Legler continues to offer programming and work with neighborhood schools.
- (no change) Back of the Yards and North Pulaski were recipients of the Invest SW program, they will be located within multi-use facilities. Working with the developer and architect to determine groundbreaking date.
- (no change) Regarding the Woodlawn branch, CPL is in discussion with the community to determine a final location by the end of the year.
Citywide Warming Center Support
CPL locations serve as warming centers, welcoming everyone who needs relief from cold temperatures. You are providing critical access to library services and resources.
All locations closed the following:
- Sunday, December 24 - Christmas Eve
- Monday, December 25 - Christmas Day
- Sunday, December 31 - New Years Eve
- Monday, January 1 - New Years Day
Chicago Department of Public Health Partnership
CPL has partnered with CDPH to launch Public Health Vending Machines in 5 locations throughout Chicago, including the Harold Washington Library Center and the Uptown Branch. Sites were selected based on location in overdose hotspots, geographic coverage on North, South, West, and Central parts of the city. The machines contain harm reduction supplies like Narcan, fentanyl test strips, safe sex kits, general hygiene products like shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, etc., menstrual hygiene kits, and items like warm gloves, hats, and socks. All items are free of charge.
During the first week, the vending machines experienced 90 engagements. Additionally, 135 items were dispensed at HWLC, most items vended were general hygiene kits and Narcan; and 60 items were dispensed at Uptown and included men’s and women's socks and underwear.
Commissioner’s Report (info only)
Commissioner Brown’s report highlighted the following:
- CPL continues to work with the Obama Foundation to refine the design of the Obama branch. The branch design aims to foster connections, kindle inspiration and empower its visitors with the tools to initiate change within their own lives. A few offerings at the Obama Branch include:
- A collection of 26,000 items,
- Presidential Reading Room,
- YOUmedia sound-booth,
- Maker Space, and
- a versatile community area.
- CPL has engaged the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA) to collaboratively develop a methodology that ensures a minimum staffing level at each branch, establishes roles fostering branch leadership and career pathways and provides coordinated support to our diverse neighborhoods.
- CPL is embarking on a journey to develop and introduce a new customer and public service approach tailored to the unique characteristics of the communities we serve. In this endeavor, our dedicated CPL staff will collaborate with esteemed learning scientists to explore innovative strategies that foster a warm and inquisitive environment, encouraging meaningful interactions between our staff and patrons.
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:
- Over 600 donors helped to raise $1.5M for our mission as part of the 2023 Library Foundation Awards honoring authors Colson Whitehead and Rebecca Makkai, artist Richard Hunt, and civic leader Bob Wislow.
- More than 30 members of our Board and donor community joined us on November 15 for the One Book, One Chicago reception and Keynote featuring author Tommy Orange.
- In November, the Library Foundation welcomed Avani Narang as a new member to the Foundation board.
- Our Associate Board will host their ninth annual Night in the Stacks event on April 5, 2024.
The board addressed comments from the audience regarding recognition and library services for people with disabilities; also encouraging the board and staff to make certain newly built branches are ADA accessible and have sections within the library dedicated to support patrons with disabilities. Guests were also advocating to have a new library built in the Washington Park area at 61st and King Drive.
The Obama Branch: Find Your Voice and Bring Change Home
In partnership with the Obama Foundation, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has been diligently refining the design of a branch that aims to foster connections, kindle inspiration and empower its visitors with the tools to initiate change within their own lives.
This 5,000-square-foot branch aspires to engage visitors through a pioneering digital content program, inviting them to explore a curated "Explore-Chicago" collection and discover the stories of community change-makers. Additionally, the space is poised to continue CPL's successful legacy by launching residency programs for artists, creators, authors and organizers, nurturing creativity and community spirit.
To ensure that the branch authentically reflects the needs of our community, CPL has conducted a community engagement workshop, listening to the invaluable insights of stakeholders. Within its walls, the branch will house a substantial collection of 26,000 items, including a Presidential Reading Room, a YOUmedia sound-booth, a Maker Space and a versatile community area.
Beyond these offerings, CPL remains steadfast in its commitment to breathe life into this branch and the surrounding campus. Our programming will be dedicated to supporting educational milestones, fostering digital equity, promoting literacy, and enhancing neighborhood well-being. The branch will display both world-class art and the vibrant creation of a local Chicago artist, contributing to the rich cultural tapestry of our city.
Moreover, the Obama Branch will serve as a catalyst in activating the broader campus, from the potential inclusion of digital collections within the museum to hosting thought-provoking author talks in the Forum. There are even discussions of establishing a seed lending library within the Presidential Garden and leisurely storytime walks throughout the playground area.
In addition, CPL is exploring innovative ways to harness the unique location of this branch, piloting civic engagement initiatives that focus on empowering our youth and fostering community development.
Fostering Equity in Neighborhood Library Staffing
In light of the evolving impact of COVID-19 on visitor patterns and a persisting vacancy rate, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has embarked on a journey toward more equitable and consistent resource allocation within our neighborhoods. In support of this important endeavor, we have engaged the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA) to collaboratively develop a methodology that ensures a minimum staffing level at each branch, establishes roles fostering branch leadership and career pathways and provides coordinated support to our diverse neighborhoods.
Central to this effort is our commitment to transparency. We recognize the importance of ensuring that our dedicated staff members have a more comprehensive understanding of the decision-making process behind staffing. By fostering transparency, we aim to align staffing decisions with our mission.
The invaluable partnership with CCA has yielded an equity methodology that takes into account various factors to determine staffing needs, including:
Neighborhood characteristics that may signal greater demand for library services.
- Percentage of children and older adults in the community.
- Access to broadband services within the neighborhood.
- Number of residents who are English learners.
- Educational attainment levels, particularly the percentage of high school graduates.
- Median household income within the community.
This methodology also considers the library's utilization, including metrics such as:
- Attendance at library programs.
- Foot traffic and visitor numbers.
- Circulation of materials.
- Placing and fulfillment of holds.
- Computer session usage.
At present, CPL's Executive Team is actively reviewing recommendations, and our next steps will involve engaging with our dedicated leadership team and the AFSCME union. We recognize that implementing these recommendations will be a multi-year endeavor, and we are committed to ensuring a balanced and equitable approach to staffing across our library branches, thereby enhancing our ability to serve all of our communities with excellence.
Enhancing the Chicago Public Library Experience
As part of our ongoing commitment to enhancing the library experience, CPL is dedicated to creating spaces that are both inviting and respectful, where personal growth flourishes and communities grow stronger. Our Strategic Plan places a strong emphasis on ensuring that every individual who walks through our doors feels valued and welcomed, regardless of their background or needs. We recognize the importance of being responsive to the diverse information, digital and learning needs of our community, and we are fully committed to delivering on this promise in an equitable manner.
To realize this vision, CPL is embarking on a journey to develop and introduce a new customer and public service approach tailored to the unique characteristics of the communities we serve. In this endeavor, our dedicated CPL staff will collaborate with esteemed learning scientists. Together, we will explore innovative strategies that foster a warm and inquisitive environment, encouraging meaningful interactions between our staff and patrons. To draw inspiration, our staff will also glean insights from businesses and organizations renowned for their exceptional customer experiences.
In tandem, we will conduct thorough research to identify best practices in customer and public service gleaned from public libraries across the nation. This wealth of knowledge will serve as the cornerstone upon which CPL defines its customer and public service values. Guided by these principles, we will develop a comprehensive training program for all CPL staff, with a primary focus on enriching customer and public service interactions both with our patrons and among our colleagues. Through these collective efforts, CPL seeks to create a library experience that quietly but powerfully transforms lives, fosters inclusivity, and enriches our entire community.
Chicago Public Library Foundation Report Board of Directors Meeting
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:
- More than 600 donors helped to raise $1.5M for our mission as part of the 2023 Library Foundation Awards honoring authors Colson Whitehead and Rebecca Makkai, artist Richard Hunt, and civic leader Bob Wislow. The free broadcast of the Awards, which is available to watch at https://cplfoundation.org/awards/, has had more than 3,000 views to date. We thank all CPL Board members who so generously supported the experience.
- More than 30 members of our Board and donor community joined us on November 15 for the One Book reception and Keynote featuring author Tommy Orange.
- The Library Foundation welcomed one new Board member in November. Avani Narang is Managing Director of Indus Communities and Executive Director of Indus Cares. She was an Associate Board member since 2017 and held a number of leadership roles before transitioning to the Board of Directors.
- Save the Date: Our Associate Board will host their ninth annual Night in the Stacks event on April 5, 2024!