Left Menu Right Menu

Board Meeting #41

April 9, 2015

2:00 - 3:00 pm


Jane Carlin, Chair
Faye Chadwell, Chair-elect
Chris Shaffer, Past Chair
Michelle Bagley, Treasurer (FY15 & 16)
John Popko, Secretary (FY15 & 16)
Lynn Baird, Member-at-Large (FY14 & 15)
Merrill Johnson, Member-at-Large (FY14 & 15)
Dalia Corkrum, Member-at-Large (FY15 & 16)
Mark I. Greenberg, Member-at-Large (FY15 & 16)
John F. Helmer, Executive Director (ex officio & non-voting)

Key Documents (all are also linked under agenda items)

Agenda item #1

Agenda item #2

Welcome & agenda review (Jane)

1. Budget for FY16 (Michelle)

Expected outcome: Revise Finance Team draft as desired and vote on a budget to recommend for Council discussion via GoToMeeting on April 20 and subsequent electronic vote
Document: Board Memo, Finance Team recommended budget

Content Summary

MB reviewed budget docs previously submitted and highlighted specific items.  Reflects an anticipated 5% increase to the salary pool and a 10% increase in OPE (Other Personnel Expenses) and Benefits.  Reminder that final individual membership fees are influenced by local changes in student FTE, which is averaged over most recent three years.

Option 1:

Characterized as “status quo.”  Projected 1.1% total increase in membership fees designed to cover anticipated salary and benefits increases, with no additional deposits in either reserve fund.

Option 2:

Developed in response to Council request for proposals that would bring the Operating Reserve closer to target and begin building an Agility Reserve.  Projected 3.1% total increase in membership fees designed to cover anticipated salary and benefits increases, with 2% going to Agility Fund.  Two options offered for means by which each institution can contribute to reserves – three-year plan or lump sum.

Board Discussion Highlights

WEST tab and budget have been removed because we were not able to continue the consortial membership and fees in a manner that Council felt comfortable with.  This projected budget does not include the previous year’s collection of $900 in fees for WEST.

Charges to each institution to help strengthen Operating Reserve are presented in a table which itemizes three-year or one-time options.  Can lump-sum approach to restoring Operating Reserve be held and paid in Y3? 

Note that SILS Fees table has been updated for FY16 reflecting the first updating of FTEs since original creation of this table.  We noted that revised costs for FY17 and FY18 do not reflect the FTE changes associated with the revised FY16 numbers.  Several suggestions were made for revising post-FY16 years or clearly noting the context of those numbers.  It was pointed out that the Implementation Fee is phased out in FY18 and then the Subscription Fee kick up significantly in FY19.  Reminded ourselves that this was a negotiated business decision with Ex Libris to help us spread costs out over a longer period of time to help Alliance members with the financial transitions and still bring agreed upon revenue to Ex Libris.  It was always intended that fees beginning FY19 would be labelled “Subscription” but would be the sum of the previous year’s “Subscription” and “Implementation” Fees, plus an agreed-upon percentage increase.

There were no questions or concerns with how budget has been re-ordered to reflect tracking of expenditures by strategic area or other breakdown.

If desired, Council members can be instructed how to expand the Options 1 & 2 to see the entire, detailed budgets, instead of merely the collapsed versions.

Should we consider a re-structured and longer webinar than one hour for Council to review and discuss the budget in advance of an electronic vote?


Will recommend FY16 Member Fees Option 2 for Council approval.

Agreed to recommend the options to Council for a lump-sum payment within the 3-year window or three annual payments in the amounts

Will provide list of tip or options for how members might manage the costs for restoring the reserves to approved level, using either the three-year plan or the lump-sum payment, and in a manner consistent with the culture, expectations, and requirements of their own institutions.

Will bring Council attention to changes to the SILS Fees because of the adoption of updated average FTEs.  Will revise the table after Board discussion to remove the original FY16 estimate and will use FY16 actuals as basis for projections for FY17 and following.

Will prepare Council for an open, optional webinar to help understand this budget proposal for an electronic vote.  Past webinars have run for an hour and seemed reasonably productive and participatory; this one will be scheduled for the same duration.

2. Whitworth University's application for membership: next steps (Jane)

Expected outcome: determine next steps

Content Summary

In response to our request, from Executive Director to Whitworth library director, to address items that Board felt were inadequate for our purposes, we have received a revised letter of application from Whitworth’s library director.  It was our intent that a revised letter would provide information about ongoing services and programs, provide a fuller response to the full range of our membership criteria, and offer a better balance of how they would benefit and how they would contribute.  We did not request and did not receive a revised letter of support from Whitworth’s Chief Academic Officer.

Board Discussion Highlights

There was general agreement that the revised application better addresses our concerns, but there was still strong sentiment that it still was not a very strong letter.  All felt the letter from CAO is weak.  WQe need more information and assurance about total institutional commitment, capacity, and support for the library, beyond the resources that the library currently controls.  There were speculative questions about the status of the university, recent changes, strength going forward, etc. that might be influencing the quality of the application.

Are we ready to move forward to consider the application?

Would a conference call among a subset of the Board and Whitworth librarian, maybe CAO, help us resolve our uncertainties and dis-ease?

Can these uncertainties be addressed adequately by the site visit?

It was noted that some site visits have resulted in an accreditation-like effect within the institution, raising awareness of the campus institutional need to step up support for the library in order to live up to the expectations of Alliance membership.

It was expressed that we might not be able to or want to take this application up fully, including a site visit, until after the July Council meeting.

How do we move forward deliberately w/o unfairly raising their expectations or locking us into a stage that we can’t easily back out of?

Drawing on past member applications, our process, and the experience of some current Board members who served on site visits and voted in Council, many are still lukewarm toward this application.  However, others see Whitworth as a good fit to the Alliance, in spite of weaknesses in its application.  There might be strategic advantages to Whitworth becoming a member:  it could help to “build out” the eastern portion of the Alliance’s region; could set the stage for other, perhaps stronger, applications from the region; other institutions in the regions might be looking to see how respectful the Alliance is toward Whitworth.


Straw pool concluded that we were comfortable creating a small team – Shaffer, Corkrum, Chadwell, Helmer (lead person to be determined later) -- that might eventually conduct the site visit but would first conduct a conference call with the library director in order to better understand the university’s context.  If so, we would be open and transparent, providing the library director with our questions in advance so that she could prepare.  Small group will report back to Board.

3. EBSCO Ex Libris (John H)

Expected outcome: determine next steps

Content Summary

Question from the Chair and Executive Director:  How much staff and team time and energy should we continue to invest on the ongoing stalemate between these vendors over access to certain EBSCO content directly discoverable through Primo?  Helmer suggests members are getting drawn into the weeds, perhaps unwisely, on this very complex topic because of targeted and combative communications from one or both vendors to our members and their staffs.  Shared Content Team is not interested in participating in any more such sessions or communications.  He proposes that the Alliance as a whole, its staff, and our teams complete any scheduled webinars and then declare ourselves out of and above the fray, with no further communications between our official units and either company.

Board Discussion Highlights

Many found Ex Libris’ recent webinar to be unprofessional, unfair, and not well received.

Our individual institutions could continue to work with either vendor on individual

Do we want or need a statement on our website to update the statement of this matter and the position of the Alliance?

If so, what are our options:  Describe or re-affirm our stance?  Update the website with details on any recent contacts or communications?  Acknowledge apparent lack of progress?  State our intent to continue to monitor the progress between the two companies and respond if and when appropriate?

Is silence the better choice, with the current inventory of documents and communications on our website implicitly telling any interested parties of the status of our situation?

We recognize that when our current contract ends for Primo, we might explore alternative discovery system(s).


Agreed that teams should complete webinars currently in the pipeline, then cease active work on this topic.  Helmer will consult the RFP and contract once more to try to identify any additional alternative, flexibility, or leverage we might have.

4. Short updates as time allows

Ex Libris at ACRL

Not addressed.

Data Sharing MOU

Another roadblock.  Still no response from the attorney general at U of Washington, 10 months after original contact.  Do we look elsewhere in Washington at another public university?  Could or should we work through ICCL?  Board supports Helmer’s approaching WSU through Jay Starratt to determine if that might be a more productive avenue for an opinion.  We expressed frustration that whatever responses we get will define the extent to which we can work together, or not.  In response to a suggestion, it was thought that working with or through a Washington private institution would not sway or commit the public institutions.

Summer Meeting plans

Not addressed.

Finance Team update

Recently discussed planning for the work of the Collaborative Workforce Team.  June 10 is target date for a document for Board to be discussed at June 17 meeting.

Next Board Meetings
  • May 12 - GTM - 1pm to 2:30
  • June 17 - In-person - Reed College - Performing Arts Building Room 104
    FY17 Board members invited to attend