03.22.18 – Trustee Dev Meeting – Minutes

03.22.18 – Trustee Dev Meeting – Minutes

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Conducted at Lee Memorial Library: 500 West Crescent Avenue, Allendale, NJACTION ITEMS APPEAR IN BLUE

Call to order

Tom Madru called the meeting to order at 1:50PM. Present at the meeting were:

Committee Co-Chairman Tom Madru (Trustee – Park Ridge), and Committee Members Larry Bergmann (Trustee – Livingston), Patricia Durso (Executive Administrator – Allendale), Lynn Kloss (Friends of the Library – Teaneck), Darlene Swistock (Executive Assistant – BCCLS), and Peter Wendrychowicz (Trustee – Mahwah).  Absent: David Cubie (Committee Co-Chairman and Director – West Orange), and Mike Banick (Director – Millburn).  

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the January 18, 2018 meeting were approved on a motion by Tom Madru and seconded by Larry Bergmann.  Peter Wendrychowicz abstained. 

Review of Cubie Proposal for 2018 Deliverable

David Cubie had previously proposed a three-part educational series to be executed under the Advocacy Committee umbrella in 2018.   

  • The first session, to be hosted by the Trustee Development Committee, would introduce the Johnson legislation to trustees and others, giving attendees tools to determine whether the circumstances and timing are right for their libraries to pursue ballot campaigns to increase funding.   
  • The second session, potentially to be presented by the Government Relations and Public Policy Committee, would teach stakeholders alternative methods they could exercise to get a referendum on the ballot. 
  • The third session, preliminarily assigned to the Friends of the Library Committee, would advise on conducting an effective advocacy campaign within one’s community, including the roles library employees, Friends and others can play.  

Tom Madru encouraged all Trustee Development Committee members to read the Johnson legislation as published.  He noted a number of specific requirements with which Committee members should become familiar (i.e. a petition requesting a ballot measure must be filed with the municipal clerk a minimum of 90 days before a general election and is valid only if it contains the signatures of a minimum of 15% of the registered voters in that municipality who voted in the prior general election.) 

Factors to Consider for the Trustee Development Presentation

Peter Wendrychowicz noted that recent changes in Federal tax law, particularly a $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes, may negatively affect the support for mounting a ballot referendum for libraries.  He believes that there will be barriers of perception to overcome, as residents of some towns may already feel besieged with additional tax burdens. 

Darlene would like the Committee to develop analogies that put into perspective how little the cost of improving public libraries would be over many years.  For example, some taxpayers balked at funding $125MM for library construction bonds, but when the funding was presented as $35 – only $1 per person per year over 35 years – many dropped their objections.  The presentation should contain an appropriate frame of reference for describing the cost of a successful ballot initiative to the citizen-taxpayer. 

Tom asked whether the Committee members prefer presenting an introductory session on our own or would rather tap outside speakers who have expertise.  Peter Wendrychowicz suggested bringing in Pat Tumulty, President, NJLA and possibly Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D), sponsor of the legislation.   

Lynn Kloss noted that Assemblyman Johnson represents her home district.She was charged with contacting his office to determine his availability to deliver a presentation on his signature legislation.  Peter will subsequently liaise with Pat Tumulty. 

Darlene Swistock proposed having a big tent presentation with main speakers followed by break-out sessions.  The latter sessions would be presented by stakeholders in BCCLS libraries that have already conducted successful capital campaigns or those who have convinced municipal officials to fund their libraries over the one-third mill rate.  Livingston Library was cited as an example of one such library, whose officials could articulate their approach and tell their success story along with the benefits accrued.  

Darlene suggested that BCCLS could potentially co-host this gathering with another consortium, like PALS Plus.  Speakers might be more inclined to present to a broader audience.  Further, she noted that Library Link NJ is offering a subsidy of up to $750 for staff development, and suggests that we determine if monies to pay guest speakers for a session such as ours would qualify for consideration.  The LLNJ web site has further information.  Darlene and Patty Durso will review the application. 

Peter is concerned that there be adequate space for the number of attendees of any educational session our committee sponsors.  He is comfortable offering Mahwah as a meeting site for the session but fears that, being “at the top of the state,” his library is not centrally located to attract a wide audience.  Darlene suggested approaching Mimi Hui, Director, Hasbrouck Heights Public Library, to ascertain the availability of the municipal Senior Center, which she has secured for BCCLS events in the past. 

Conducting a Survey

Larry Bergmann would like to gauge the level of interest in the aforementioned sessions.  He suggested conducting a survey of BCCLS library directors (in consultation with their trustees) to determine if they have interest in mounting a referendum.  He believes that “there will be more interest than not.”   

Patty agreed that a survey would be a useful tool and provide insights.  However, until the Johnson legislation is introduced and explained to trustees, some may not legitimately be able to say whether they would pursue a ballot measure.  Patty asserted that effective survey questions should bolster, rather than dampen, interest in learning the fundamentals.  She proposed such questions as:  1) “Are you/your trustees looking to raise additional funds outside the 2.5% cap to support your library?”  2) “Would you/your trustees attend a class to learn about processes and tools to do so?” (as opposed to inquiring: “Will you be pursuing a ballot referendum in your town next Election Day?”).  

Patty and Peter will work together to develop a short survey and will present to the Committee for review/approval before release to directors.  Patty will set up the inquiry in Google Survey.  The Committee will anticipate sending to directors on April 2 with a return due date of May 2.  The Committee will review the responses at its next meeting. 

Status of Sessions Proposed for Friends and Government Relations Committees

Tom wanted to ensure that the 3-session proposal advanced by David was ratified by the chairman of the new Advocacy Committee and that it had been shared with the Government Relations and Friends Committees before proceeding.  No chairman for Advocacy has yet been named.  Darlene noted that Kurt Hadeler will issue a call for committee volunteers in advance of the next System Council meeting on March 28. 

At present, the Government Relations and Public Policy Committee is planning an instructional session with Tina Koretzki of the State Library on the Construction Bond Act.  Riti Grover, Committee Chairman, in concert with committee members, is also developing an advocacy toolkit to advance library interests at the federal level.  Riti expects that she will have a better understanding of the grant process surrounding the Johnson legislation after the NJLA Public Policy meeting in April, and will consider how/whether her committee should participate in a Johnson legislation education session thereafter. 

Ellen O’Keefe, Chairman of the Friends of the Library committee, has noted that her committee hosted an advocacy meeting in December, 2017, though she offered to put together a refresher document to be distributed to BCCLS libraries via email.  

Lynn announced that the Friends Committee will present its 2018 program, Build Your Capital Campaign, on June 6 at Maywood Library.   The agenda will include instruction on: Understanding the types of people and positions necessary to run a capital campaign; Developing a mission statement; Defining strategies and timelines for marketing and public relations efforts; Setting financial goals and objectives.

Peter and Larry suggested the following schedule for educational sessions under Advocacy: 

June:                Friends of the Library Cmte.     Build Your Capital Campaign

September:    Trustee Development Cmte.      Johnson Legislation Primer & Profiles

November:     Government Relations Cmte.    Nuts & Bolts of Getting a Referendum on the Ballot

January:          Advocacy (general)                    Refresher 


The Committee Meeting closed at 3:55PM on a motion by Peter Wendrychowicz and seconded by Tom Madru.  All present voted in favor. 


Thursday, May 10, 2018 at Livingston Public Library, 10 Robert Harp Drive, Livingston, NJ.