What’s Happening Administratively at the EL Public Library?

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

The front entrance of the East Lansing Public Library

At a meeting on Sept. 1, the East Lansing Public Library Board of Trustees heard updates from ELPL’s Director Kristin Shelley about renovations – both current and forthcoming – before entering into a closed session to discuss contract negotiations between the City of East Lansing and non-supervisory workers at ELPL. The Board is appointed by City Council and responsible for oversight of the library.

Significant renovations will continue at ELPL well into the fall.

As ELi previously reported, three mature honey locust trees in front of the ELPL building were cut down in August.

At that time, several ELi readers expressed concern about the environmental effects of removing the large trees. Responding to a request for comment from ELi, Shelley said despite regular pruning and inspection, the trees had caused significant damage to the sidewalk, ramp, stairs, roof, and drains.

Shelley told the Board of Trustees on Sept. 1 that, as of that date, the sidewalks were torn up and the replacement concrete would soon be poured. Next, the circle drive to access the book drop-off will be redone.

Board of Trustees President and former mayor Diane Godderis referred to “the chatter” surrounding the tree removal and asked if Shelley had received any more comments on it.

Shelley responded that she had not and reported that another tree limb had fallen during a storm prior to the trees’ removal. Trustees Amy Zaagman and Lance Wilkenson said that ELPL could not have buckling sidewalks and be accessible to all members of the public.

ELPL has been planning forthcoming renovations for some time and the Board voted for the tree removal during the summer of 2020.

The HVAC systems at ELPL will also be upgraded, including with new boilers, air handling systems, and dehumidifiers. The HVAC equipment has reached the end of its projected life of 20 to 25 years, and the need for replacements is seen as all the more pressing following significant amounts of moisture appearing in parts of the library.

Shelley also told the Board that she would be meeting with officials from the City about mold remediation and asbestos abatement. A contractor to complete the work will be found after that. According to Shelley, since some of the HVAC equipment was less costly than anticipated, there is money in the general fund to cover remediation and abatement.

The final inspection of the building is set for Nov. 17, barring supply chain delays.

Contract negotiations continue with ELPL workers.

As ELi reported last month, non-supervisory workers at ELPL unionized in 2020, after the pandemic highlighted what some saw as workplace issues. After unionizing, the unit began contract negotiations.

The workers rejected a proposed contract from the City because it did not included limiting termination to “just cause,” a grievance process for contingent workers, or an annual percentage raise of 2% that matched that the raise promised to ELPL Director Kristin Shelley.

The Board of Trustees entered into a closed discussion at its meeting on Sept. 1 to discuss the ongoing contract negotiations before bargaining resumed after Labor Day.

Following ELi’s reporting on ELPL contract bargaining, readers wrote in to ask about the pros and cons of ELPL joining the Capital Area District Library (CADL).

Other operations continue at ELPL.

At the Board meeting, Shelley recounted the positive reception to ELPL’s Library on the Go program, in which an ELPL van visited various parks and the Deerpath Apartments.

ELPL is also working to formalize an agreement that outlines the role of the Friends of the East Lansing Public Library and how it will work with ELPL.

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