November 8, 2017 Friends Board Meeting Minutes

Board Members Present: Betsy Bleck, Sarah Hughes, Lynn Miracola, Pat Ludwig, Jacque English, Lydia Schleicher

General Membership Present: Ben Nelson 

Co-president Sarah Hughes called the meeting to order at 7:06 p.m. 

Minutes from August 23, 2017 were unanimously approved.

Communications and Announcements


Financial Report:

Lynn Miracola shared that the Friends currently have a total of $296.50 in checking and $5825.54 savings, with no outstanding balances. The fall book sale was successful.

Committee Reports


Jen Chapman submitted a report via email that there are a total of 291 total members in 2017, including both paid and expired memberships. There are 61 paid/lifetime memberships through 2017 and 22 through 2018. There are 46 lifetime memberships and 162 expired memberships. This leaves a total of 129 non-expired members.

The board discussed concerns about how members know their memberships are expired. The general consensus was that the majority of people may not know when their membership expires. The board discussed the option of sending e-mail reminders and facilitating membership renewal online. Sarah added that an internet-based option for generating/renewing memberships may also increase awareness of the option to become an OPL Friends member.

Book Sale

Lynn and Betsy shared that the book sale went well. Betsy stated that there were some challenges with removal of leftover books. The library had originally worked out an agreement to have Milwaukee Working pick up books. However, just before sale they notified Betsy that they would be discontinuing that part of their business. Instead, Lissa worked with the library’s van company to take the books to Salvation Army in Milwaukee. OPL Friends covered the bill for the transportation of books. Betsy will continue to explore other options for dealing with remaining books although utilizing the van company remains a successful option. Lydia asked why we took the books to the Milwaukee Salvation Army location as opposed to other local options. Betsy suggested that Milwaukee coordinates distribution of large donations.

Ben shared his experience twice going to the book sale. Lydia noted how nice it is to not have so many outdated reference books in the sale. It was suggested that remaining books could also be used as decoration for the anniversary float.

Youth Events

Lydia commended Escape from Snape event.

Adult Events:

Betsy shared that currently the library is showing a different foreign film every Monday. Hospitality has been providing refreshments for this event.


Soon, publicity volunteers will deliver “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” posters to local daycares, etc.

Social Media

Jacque & Ben commended the OPL Facebook presence.

Co-President Remarks

Sarah and Lydia thanked board members for attending the meeting and for their continuing commitment to the Friends.

There was some tangential discussion about apparel for the phoenix statues outside the library as well as an endorsement of a Bon Jovi cover band for possible Anniversary celebrations. 

Board Member Remarks:


Library Director’s Report

Betsy reported that circulation is up 2.6% YTD and circulation to city residents is up 7% YTD. Library visits are up 4.1% YTD. She added that program attendance is a little bit down but this is expected as focus has shifted from large group presentation-style programming to smaller group formats, etc. Lydia pointed out that enthusiasm surrounding the library is up. Overdrive circulations is also up YTD. Betsy also clarified that funding is attached to hard copy book circulation vs. e-book circulation.

The Common Council recently passed the City budget which included the library funding. Betsy reported that the library budget was cut $2,000, which was unexpected. The cut was related to a planned assessment of non-city residents’ library needs, which the board had budgeted for in 2018. The non-resident assessment would complement a study of city residents’ needs, currently being conducted by the library and Parks and Recreation department. City council questioned funding a survey of non-residents, noting that it would not target city residents. Betsy clarified that the library has a service population of about 24,000 people with 16,000 residing within the City of Oconomowoc and 8,000 residing outside the city, and the library receives over a third of its funding from non-city usage of the library. The library board will discuss how to move forward with this project, potentially using alternative sources of funding.

Old Business:


New Business:

Annual Meeting Review

Sarah led a review of the annual meeting. The option for arranging chairs in a circle was proposed. Ben pointed out that this may encourage discussion. There was some concern about logistics for presentation. Ultimately the board suggested angling seating in a chevron style for the next large group meeting.

125th Anniversary Update:

Betsy suggested that a board member join the Anniversary Committee as a way to keep the board informed of committee progress. Pat and Jacque agreed to split committee participation responsibilities.

Parade Float:

Ben reported on the general idea of a float that the library could use in multiple parades. The goal of the float is to build awareness. A Float Committee has been formed and the next step is an informal brainstorming session. Ben hopes to include high school kids and the Teen Advisory Board. Betsy and Ben will coordinate the next brainstorm meeting.

Library Board Member Involvement in Anniversary:

Betsy reported that the OPL Board of Trustees is excited about providing manpower for the upcoming anniversary activities.

Library Staff Projects:

Betsy reported that Jennie Fidler is facilitating the Anniversary button/bookmark contest. Staff is voting on semifinalists and public will vote on finalists. Lissa has designed t-shirts that will be available for sale. There will be banners on the building and people will be invited to submit pictures and memories online to be included in a scrapbook. Marilyn and Betsy are working on old card catalogue display and Caitlin’s Filmless Film Club will be making a series of films. They have already filmed the first one involving 125 books as dominoes tumbling into a final box releasing balloons in an anniversary celebration. 

How to Notify Friends of Membership Expiration

Currently, membership status is conveyed using symbols on mailing labels. There seems to be confusion as to how to interpret the varying symbols, however, among the general membership. The board discussed how to notify members of the need to renew. The general consensus was that e-mail should be the primary method of communication. Ideally e-mails would include a link enabling members to renew right away online. There was some discussion about the logistics of receiving membership payment online. Lydia suggested going through the membership list and calling members without listed e-mails to obtain an e-mail address for them. A short script could be developed for these calls. Postcards could be sent to anyone who ultimately does not use e-mail. Betsy agreed to talk to Jen about getting a list of people who do not have e-mails listed. Next steps include researching online payment options, making calls for e-mail  addresses, and suggesting people come to the library in January to renew.

Update on Friends Tricycle Bookmobile:

Ben received an adult tricycle as a donation to be used with the library. He has volunteered to tune it up and create a book mobile. This would be useful for outreach at events like the farmer’s market and in public spaces like the downtown green space. Several ideas were discussed including making it a “free little library” on wheels, including a patio umbrella in the summer, offering bookmarks or OPL swag, including a donation jar, etc. There was also some discussion about using it for remote check out or library card sign up. Storage for the bookmobile has been secured with DPW. The Friends agreed to reimburse Ben for parts.

Consider/Act on Purchasing e-mail marketing through Chamber of Commerce

Betsy presented the opportunity to advertise the Book Sale through the Chamber of Commerce via a targeted e-mail blast. She outlined the two options which are a weekly e-blast or a specific dedicated e-mail. The general consensus was that the weekly e-blast may receive more views. The cost is $25 for one week or $35 for two consecutive weeks. The board unanimously approved moving forward with a two-week blast before the next book sale as a way to boost visibility for both the sale and the Friends. While the dates for the next sale are unknown, Lydia suggested avoiding school spring break.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. February 21, 2018

Pat Ludwig moved to adjourn and the motion was seconded by Lynn. The meeting was unanimously adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

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