Library Board of Trustees – Special Meeting Minutes – 1/9/24

January 9, 2024 at 5:30 p.m.
East Lansing Public Library Board of Trustees Special Meeting
Library Large Meeting Room
950 Abbot Road

The East Lansing Public Library occupies the ancestral, traditional and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg Three Fires confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.

1. Call to Order 5:32 p.m.

2. Roll Call

Trustees present were: Amy Zaagman, Pamela Smith, Ameenah Asante, Shawn Nicholson and Polly Synk. Also, in attendance were Friends President Liesel Carlson, Friends Board Representative Toba Kaplowitz, Interim Library Director Angelo Moreno, and Executive Assistant to the Director Shori Teeple. Nineteen guests were present.

3. Opening
3.1 Approval of Current Meeting Agenda
Nicholson moved
Asante seconded
All in favor

4. Communications
4.1 None

5. Audience
5.1 Public Comment - limited to five minutes per person

  • None

6. Old Business

  • None

7. New Business
7.1 Interviews of Permanent Director candidates:

  • Robert Bell (5:30 p.m.)
  • Kevin King (7:00 p.m.)

7.2 Director Candidate Questions:

  1. Please share some highlights from your professional background and why you believe you are uniquely equipped to lead the East Lansing Public Library.
  2. East Lansing is a diverse community and many different individuals use or could use the library. As we strive to serve our entire community in a welcoming and inclusive manner, how would you create connections with the community, including those you do not identify with and the population that does not frequent the library?
  3. The next few questions will address various aspects of library administration. To start, please share your experience with budgeting and fiscal management. Follow-up to question 3: The library's budget is built off various tax revenues. Do you have any specific approaches to managing during an economic downturn?
  4. ELPL is in the process of releasing a Request for Proposals for strategic planning so the new director will be immersed in those efforts immediately. What experience do you have with formal strategic planning for a public library and how do you believe you would approach this opportunity to develop a shared vision?
  5. Please tell us more about your experience with and approach to personnel management including how you can promote a team-based and supportive culture. Follow up to question 5: Do you have experience supervising unionized employees? There are currently two bargaining units at the East Lansing Public Library. What will your approach to working with employees covered by the negotiated contracts?
  6. To be innovative and creative, how do you continue your learning journey? What mediums are you passionate about?
  7. Tell us about a time you made a professional decision you then regretted. What did you learn from that experience?
  8. How knowledgeable do you consider yourself to be about library technology? Please include your thoughts on the importance of ELPL's engagement on social media. Follow up to question 8: How would you address the following situation? A patron felt they were treated unjustly while visiting the library and complained on social media that they were discriminated against.
  9. A short time ago you had the opportunity to do a tour of the library. Did anything about ELPL surprise you? Do you see opportunities you would like to investigate further to better serve the community? Follow up to question 9: How important do you believe the appearance and maintenance of the building to be to the community's perception of the library?
  10. We are curious about your attitude towards external relations. Describe how as library director you would be visible and active in the community. What types of organizations would you approach? How do you balance this external relations work with the need to be at the library?
  11. What experience do you have working with Friends groups? How would you describe an ideal partnership between the library staff/administration and the Friends?
  12. How would you describe your philosophy regarding customer service in a public library? Follow up to question 12: Do you anticipate active engagement with patrons during a "typical" work day?
  13. Are you familiar with trauma-informed libraries and how would you implement such approaches to support patrons and staff? Follow up to question 13: Can you share any trainings to address needs of patrons (such as Mental Health First Aid) that you have specifically participated in or brought to staff to help develop skills?
  14. We are interested in your knowledge about and approach to collection management; please describe how you would ensure our materials and services are current and relevant.
  15. There has been a growing passion towards libraries in the past twenty years. How would you create and sustain inclusive spaces and open up the library to those who are disenfranchised?
  16. ELPL is a city library under Michigan law. The director has regular interaction with the City of East Lansing and utilizes COEL central services for some functions but the library is uniquely situated with an appointed board (us) that approves all policy and hires the director. Can you share any experience working with library boards and/or with decision-making structures that may prepare you for this scenario?
  17. We have worked hard as a board recently to rework some of our policies for patrons to assure the library serves all patrons in a safe and welcoming environment. Unfortunately, not all visitors observe proper behavior. What specific methods have you utilized to address repeated user behavior that violates the library's code of conduct?
  18. Can you share one of your favorite books or places to read?
  19. Why do you think East Lansing Public Library and our community are the right place for you?

7.3 Additional questions proposed to Candidate Robert Bell:

  1. Follow up to question 2: What position did you hold?
  2. Follow up to question 2: What, if any, innovative contribution did you make in those two years?
  3. As a librarian who has experience in various diverse areas, please describe one major cultural learning experience you have taken away from your time first at the historically black college and university, Tennessee State University, and second, in Thailand and China.

8. Adjournment

Zaagman adjourned the meeting at 8:43 p.m.

Board of Trustees
Amy Zaagman, President
Pamela Smith, Vice President
Ameenah Asante, Secretary
Shawn Nicholson
Polly Synk

City Council Liaison
Mayor Pro Tem Kerry Ebersole Singh

Staff Liaison
Angelo Moreno, Interim Library Director