Annual Planning Meeting

Minutes — April 10, 2015


The one hundred forty-ninth meeting of the Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) Board of Trustees was called to order at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, April 10, 2015 by Board Chair Jill Billman-Royer at the OPLIN office in Columbus, Ohio.

Present were Board members: Don Barlow, Marty Beets, Jill Billman-Royer, Susan Brown, Ben Chinni, Karen Davis, Joe Greenward, Cindy Lombardo, Michael Penrod, and Becky Schultz.

Also present were: Stephen Hedges, Laura Solomon, and Karl Jendretzky (OPLIN); Beverly Cain and Jamie Pardee (State Library); and Michelle Francis (Ohio Library Council).


Susan Brown motioned to approve the agenda as presented; Don Barlow seconded. There was no discussion, so the Chair called for a vote on the motion; all aye.


The Chair called for public participation.

Beverly Cain reported on the most recent ILEAD (Innovative Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover) immersion program, with three teams of librarians working on technology-related projects, which Beverly described. This is the second ILEAD session that the State Library has supported.

Beverly also announced the upcoming State Library Board retreat in Akron, with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) support of the "Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) in Ohio Planning Project" being a major agenda item. Beverly noted that federal funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which includes LSTA funding, is currently in jeopardy in Congress, though it still seems to have support in the Senate. Currently, $2.1 million of LSTA funds impact OPLIN, through the Libraries Connect Ohio requests for LSTA funds to purchase information databases and the LSTA funds for the Digitization Hubs. Beverly has prepared talking points regarding the importance of LSTA funds to Ohio; Stephen Hedges will email this document to the Board members.

After receiving congratulations on her new baby, Michelle Francis reminded the Board of upcoming Ohio Library Council (OLC) Chapter Conferences around the state, then provided an extensive report on the status of the Ohio biennial budget legislation. She reported that the House Finance Committee heard testimony on OLC's behalf from Tom Adkins of Garnet A Wilson Public Library of Pike County, who highlighted the need for an increase in the Public Library Fund (PLF) and described public library activities supporting workforce development. Three Representatives are now sponsoring an amendment to raise the PLF to 1.75% of the General Revenue Fund. The House substitute budget, including any accepted amendments, should be released in a few days. Michelle also shared information about the upcoming OLC Legislative Day.

Beverly Cain asked Michelle if she had heard anything recently about the status of Ohio Means Jobs, since many public libraries provide a link from their websites to the Ohio Means Jobs website. Michelle had no new information, but noted that legislators seem to be most interested in hearing about specific outcomes of public library support for workforce development.

4. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES of February 13 meeting

Karen Davis motioned to approve the minutes of the February 13 meeting as presented; Michael Penrod seconded. There was no discussion, so the Chair called for a vote on the motion; all aye.


Jamie Pardee presented information about the current fiscal year budget as of March 31. Expenditures in all Administration accounts are on target for this time during the fiscal year. One large expenditure in the Support Services accounts is for part of the purchase cost of the system to combat denial of service attacks on the network; three invoices were submitted for different portions of the service, and the remaining balance of that encumbrance was paid after March 31. Jamie noted that the Office of Information Technology (OIT) now bills OPLIN for services quarterly, rather than monthly. Jamie also presented the actual and projected cash balance reports.

Jamie also informed the Board that the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has completed lease negotiations and come to an agreement with the landlord for a small increase in rent for the OPLIN office during the next biennium.

Michael Penrod noted that the actual and projected cash balances get smaller every year. Stephen Hedges explained that OPLIN received some additional E-rate funds one year resulting from an appeal to the Federal Communications Commission, and that has provided some fiscal leeway; otherwise, the continuing drain on the cash balances would be a concern.

Cindy Lombardo motioned to accept the Financial Reports; Don Barlow seconded. There was no discussion, so the Chair called for a vote on the motion; all aye.


Stephen Hedges proposed that the planning meeting begin with a review of the status of current OPLIN services.

6.1. Email

Stephen Hedges provided a brief description of the events which brought about the collapse of the OPLIN email service for library staff on Friday March 6, since detailed accounts of these events had already been published on the OPLIN website and distributed on the listservs, Facebook and Twitter. Essentially, the system suffered an unrecoverable breakdown, leaving only the possibility of starting a new OPLIN email service from scratch or notifying libraries that they would need to making arrangements for their own new email services, and Stephen judged that the most expeditious solution was to avoid the bureaucratic delays of establishing a new state-provided service and instead provide advice to libraries about quick replacement email services. As it happens, OPLIN staff are still waiting for state-provided email through OIT, and have been using personal email accounts for OPLIN business while waiting.

Jill Billman-Royer noted the difficulties faced in communicating with the libraries when the OPLIN email system was down, and Stephen shared feedback from one library that pointed out that they were also unable to communicate with OPLIN by telephone, since the office was closed over the weekend. Stephen cautioned that OPLIN should be wary of offering critical services, such as email, without any after-hours support. Don Barlow remarked that is had also been unwise to have a single point of failure for so many library email accounts.

Stephen reported that after he had decided not to pursue establishing a new email service, staff activities shifted to communications and remediation of the effects of the email demise. On Monday March 9, a forwarding server was set up and librarians who provided OPLIN with their old email address and a new address started receiving emails at their new address that had been sent to their old address. As of the Board meeting, about 1,400 librarians were using this forwarding service. OPLIN will probably use oplin.ohio.gov as the new email domain for staff email, so this forwarding server can operate without any conflict with the oplin.org email domain. On March 12, the Board Executive Committee agreed that this forwarding service could be provided indefinitely, so libraries would not immediately need to replace stationery and business cards with old email addresses printed on them.

Karl Jendretzky described the software he built to find and identify emails from the old system files and assign them to old email accounts. Once this software was built, it ran for three days to comb through all the files, after which librarians were able to login to a temporary server and download their old, unsorted emails that had been stored on the email server prior to March 6. This had been a major concern for many librarians, including OPLIN staff.

Cindy Lombardo asked about the response from libraries, and Stephen reported that a large majority of librarians had been very supportive, particularly those responsible for information technology in their libraries. Michael Penrod speculated that there may be more feedback at the Stakeholders Meeting this year. Jill Billman-Royer noted that all of the Board had received an email from one library trustee, to whom she had responded, and Stephen and Karl shared what they had already done to directly assist that library with setting up a new email service. Jill explained that trustees may not always know everything about a situation at their library, and she applauded this trustee for seeking information directly from OPLIN.

Michael Penrod asked other Board members if they had been contacted by anyone else about OPLIN email; several Board members reported receiving a telephone call from one librarian, and Michael reported receiving a call from a second librarian, but that seems to have been the extent of librarian communications with OPLIN Board members.

Marty Beets asked if libraries were using the free Outlook email service provided by Microsoft to educational entities, and Stephen answered that it was his impression that many of them had pursued that option. Regardless of the email replacement service libraries chose, Stephen noted that almost all of them would now have 24/7/365 support for their email. Jill thought it was important that libraries understand that the email forwarding service would not have after-hours support, and while it would be maintained indefinitely, it would not be maintained permanently. At some point in the future, the OPLIN Board will need to decide on an end date for the service and publish that information to the libraries.

The Board expressed their appreciation to the OPLIN staff for the work they did to ameliorate the effects of the email system collapse.

Michael Penrod asked how to respond if libraries asked how the SEO library consortium was able to offer their members email service so quickly. Stephen answered that SEO was using member fees to purchase outsourced email service, and thus were not obligated to follow procedures required of agencies spending state funds.

6.2. Server inventory

Stephen Hedges provided the Board with an inventory of OPLIN servers compiled by Karl Jendretzky. Many are too old to support modern operating systems, and a few are just being used for replacement parts. Replacing servers is difficult at the moment, because OIT prefers agencies to pay to use OIT servers rather than buying new equipment. Access to the current servers at the State of Ohio Computer Center, where OPLIN computers running services for the libraries are located, is increasingly restricted.

Stephen and Karl Jendretzky now reviewed the OPLIN services currently running on each server. They discussed the servers running Dynamic Website Kits and the possibility of hosting the kits through a company specializing in Drupal hosting, a hosting service not available through OIT.

Susan Brown noted that most of the meeting discussion so far highlighted the fact that many OPLIN services were dependent on Karl to keep them running and asked if there was a plan in the event that Karl was not available; Karl replied that OPLIN staff had diverse skills that allowed OPLIN to offer diverse services. Jill Billman-Royer remarked that this was a bigger problem than old equipment, and Cindy Lombardo noted that OPLIN did not have enough staff for succession planning. Michael Penrod expressed frustration with state policies that thwarted the ability of the OPLIN Board to acquire needed equipment and staff.

Stephen returned discussion to possibly moving the website kit hosting to a company specializing in hosting Drupal sites, to solve the current problems of aging servers and lack of after-hours support. Laura Solomon noted that there is one company that is clearly the best, but she has not yet received any pricing from them. Don Barlow asked about expected costs, and Stephen replied that it was possible the current annual maintenance fees charged to libraries would cover the cost of outsourced hosting. Jill Billman-Royer noted, however, that there would be no cost-recovery for the time Laura and Karl would still spend on the website kits, and OPLIN must recover all costs associated with the website kits service.

In response to a question about after-hours support, Stephen described the status of support for OPLIN services. All services are supported by the OPLIN Support Center from 8:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday. OPLIN pays OIT to provide after-hours support for the Internet connections, but no other OPLIN services are supported after hours.

Jill Billman-Royer expressed caution about describing OPLIN services as "unsupported." Marty Beets suggested that a better approach might be to publish Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for the OPLIN services that would specify response times.

Marty was concerned about the age of the OPLIN servers and asked for more details about outsourcing Drupal hosting. Stephen promised to bring more information to the June Board meeting about outsourcing some OPLIN services, and drafts of SLAs for other services.

The Board recessed at 10:56 a.m. and Michelle Francis left the meeting. The Board resumed meeting at 11:03 a.m.

6.3. Website kits

Laura Solomon provided an update on the progress of the website kit upgrades being done by Braindunk LLC, which ran into a few problems but seems likely to still finish on schedule. There are currently 72 libraries actively using website kits and four more are in development. Cindy Lombardo asked which library using a website kit is the largest; Laura replied that there are several county systems, with Clark County perhaps being the largest.

6.4. SMS notifications

Stephen Hedges shared a chart showing the steady growth rate of the SMS notification system since May 2012, as well as a case study about the OPLIN SMS service which was published by Trumpia, the company that actually handles sending the messages to cellphones.

6.5. Databases — outcomes of Content Advisory Committee meeting

Stephen Hedges reviewed the minutes of the Content Advisory Committee meeting on February 26. Much of the discussion at that meeting was about marketing the databases, and in particular they felt it was important that libraries present the databases as if they were provided by the local library, rather than by a statewide organization unfamiliar to the patron. Don Barlow speculated that this could possibly make OPLIN less visible to legislators, but generally the Board agreed that the databases were more likely to be used if they were presented on the local library's website.

The Committee also recommended that a network of people available to assist libraries in their area with use of the databases, similar to INFOhio's iCoaches, might be a good way to increase usage. Beverly Cain noted that the development of the iCoaches program was supported by federal LSTA funds.

In regard to additional resources the Committee would recommend purchasing if the opportunity arises, they suggested Lynda.com, auto repair guides, and language instruction resources.

The Committee also reviewed some proposed changes to the Ohio Web Library search page, and Stephen showed the Board some screenshots of the proposed new page incorporating some suggestions from the Committee and some suggestions from attendees at the OLC Northeast Chapter Conference. He also showed screenshots of the database pages on the websites of some libraries where Content Advisory Committee members work.

OPLIN staff will continue to work on preparing a new Ohio Web Library search page that will probably replace the current page sometime in June. Stephen invited Board members to send him comments and suggestions at any time.

6.6. Network connections

Stephen Hedges reported that once the current round of upgrades is complete, OPLIN will have only 13 circuits at less than 20 Mbps speed, 113 at 20 Mbps, six between 20 and 100 Mbps, 116 at 100 Mbps, two at 500 Mbps, five at 1 Gbps, and one at 2 Gbps. With this many large circuits in place, future semi-annual upgrade cycles should only involve a few libraries. The consolidated Internet access used by the libraries hovers around 4 Gbps at peak times.

Stephen noted that working with OIT has become more complex whenever OARnet is also involved in provisioning a circuit, and response to service requests can be very slow. He reported that OPLIN staff may choose a willing library from the next upgrade cycle and try connecting that library directly to the Internet through the telecommunications vendor, bypassing the state network. Total cost for a 20 Mbps circuit acquired this way would be about the same as a state network circuit, once OIT management fees are added to the state circuit cost.

Karl Jendretzky explained some arrangements that telecommunications vendors would have to make to allow OPLIN to monitor such a circuit. Karl also noted that OIT Security has recently been blocking websites they do not want state agencies accessing, but this also blocks access from public libraries, a problem that would not occur if the library was outside the state network.

Stephen and Karl also reported that they have heard indirectly that OARnet may want to place additional switching equipment in libraries. There was discussion of the increasing complexity of working with OIT and OARnet. At this point, not enough trustworthy information is available to make any policy decisions.

Cindy Lombardo asked how OPLIN staff project future bandwidth needs. Stephen replied that the annual Cisco Visual Networking Index has been a pretty accurate indicator of future library bandwidth needs. Karl noted, however, that bandwidth usage has not increased since late last fall, and he suspects it has been capped by OIT at 4 Gbps.

6.7. Network testing

Stephen Hedges reported that this service is still offered to libraries, and Karl Jendretzky said he probably works with two or three libraries each month on identifying internal network problems. In most cases, Karl is able to diagnose the network without any need to travel to the library.

6.8. OpenDNS (filtering)

Stephen Hedges reported that this service is working well, and there have been no significant increases in license costs.

6.9. Intrusion protection

Stephen Hedges reported that the final invoices for this new service have been paid and it appears to be working very well. There have been rumors that the vendor of the solution may change in the near future, but that should not affect operations.

6.10. Communications with librarians

Stephen Hedges related the importance of social media in communicating with librarians after the OPLIN email service failed. Jill Billman-Royer noted that libraries are getting very good at using social media. Stephen then noted that much of OPLIN's communication strategy is still dependent on old techniques, such as the annual Stakeholders Meeting and the quarterly online newsletter. Stephen feels that smaller and more frequent communication, using both email and social media, would be more effective.

Don Barlow suggested that an emailed e-newsletter would be more effective than an online newsletter in pdf format, and several other Board members agreed. There was also discussion of the difficulties for an organization like OPLIN in using Facebook effectively. Discussion returned to effective ways to distribute e-newsletters and what should be included in the content. Jill Billman-Royer suggested that a summary of Board meeting activities would be appropriate content; other Board members offered additional content suggestions. Board members also suggested that information could be sent to OLC for inclusion in their e-newsletters. Michael Penrod also cautioned that communications should inform libraries of OPLIN challenges, too, not just OPLIN successes.

Stephen asked if we should continue to do Stakeholders Meetings, and the Board felt it was particularly important to do a Stakeholders Meeting this year.

The Board recessed for lunch at 12:12 p.m. and resumed discussions at 1:00 p.m.


Stephen Hedges noted that the Strategic Plan will need some significant revisions this year, so he proposed talking about general issues today and bringing a detailed revision to the June meeting for further discussion. He suggested re-thinking the ways OPLIN fulfills the mandate of the Ohio Revised Code. He also suggested that the Marketing goal in the current plan should be folded into each of the other goals, rather than standing as a separate goal.

Susan Brown asked about the frequent references to "OPLIN participants," and Stephen explained that this wording comes from the Ohio Revised Code. Board members felt that it was important to specifically name public libraries as the recipients of OPLIN services, even if this added more words to the plan.

Michael Penrod asked about OPLIN's support of digitization activities in public libraries, and Stephen agreed that this should be added to the plan. Michael suggested that this could be done simply by changing references to "databases" to "electronic information."

Cindy Lombardo suggested that "Technology Leadership" was actually "Technology Support." She also suggested that actual leadership in the broad field of library technology is probably beyond the capabilities of OPLIN, and several Board members agreed.

(Agenda Item 8 was "LUNCH")


9.1. Approve support for DPLA planning grant

Stephen Hedges briefly reminded the Board of previous discussion about supporting the "DPLA in Ohio" planning grant that would develop the application for Ohio to join the Digital Public Library of America. Stephen reported that Columbus Metropolitan Library has now written an LSTA grant proposal that will request $39,916 in federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the State Library Board at their April 17 meeting in Akron; these funds would cover most of the cost of the planning process.

Stephen shared some images of the DPLA website and explained that Ohio would join DPLA as a single service hub, requiring extensive collaboration between all interested parties in Ohio, including the four public library Digitization Hubs. The DPLA application program interface (API) would facilitate building various online collections of digitized materials. The organizations leading the effort to join DPLA have decided to apply for an LSTA grant, with Columbus Metropolitan Library acting as fiscal agent, to hire consultants to coordinate a planning process for creating the Ohio application for DPLA membership.

When the Board discussed this planning process at the February meeting, there was reluctance to taking responsibility for additional costs beyond what would be covered by LSTA funds, since those costs had not been defined. Stephen now presented a grant budget which would require $5,443 in local funds to cover additional costs associated with the final phase of the planning process, which would be development of the final application to DPLA. Stephen now asked the Board to approve providing $5,443 to cover the additional costs of the planning process.

Cindy Lombardo motioned to provide $5,443 in support of the DPLA in Ohio planning process; Susan Brown seconded.

There was no further discussion of the motion, so the Chair called for a vote.

Recorded vote: Don Barlow, aye; Marty Beets, aye; Susan Brown, aye; Ben Chinni, aye; Karen Davis, aye; Joe Greenward, aye; Cindy Lombardo, aye; Michael Penrod, aye; Becky Schultz, aye; and Jill Billman-Royer, aye.

9.2. Joint IT conference with OLC IT Division

Stephen Hedges reminded the Board of their previous discussion of a "TechFeis" social/sharing event for library Information Technology staff, and the Board's feeling that it would be better to combine such an event with some other IT workshop. Stephen reported that the Information Technology Division of OLC is planning to offer a one-day IT conference this fall for the first time in several years. Laura Solomon and Stephen met with most of the members of the IT Division and with OLC staff on March 12 to discuss the possibility of adding a social/sharing event the evening before the more formal IT conference.

The result of the discussion was a tentative plan for an event at the Holiday Inn Worthington that would start on the evening of Thursday, November 5, with an "icebreaker" social event, followed by a day of presentations in a more formal conference setting on November 6. Stephen shared a possible basic agenda for the icebreaker. The two days would be jointly sponsored by OPLIN and OLC, with OPLIN paying for room and equipment rental, which Lori Hensley from OLC estimates would cost about $750. Attendees would need to register through the OLC website; there would be no charge for the social event, but probably a $75 charge for OLC members for the formal event. People could register for one or both events.

Board members asked Laura Solomon if she thought this plan would meet her original goals for a social/sharing event, and she said it would.

Susan Brown motioned to accept the proposal for jointly sponsoring an IT event with OLC and to commit up to $750 toward allowable costs for such an event; Don Barlow seconded. There was no further discussion, so the Chair called for a vote on the motion; all aye.


There was no new business to come before the Board.

11. OPLIN DIRECTOR'S REPORT (with database usage)

Stephen Hedges reported on State Library budget testimony on February 19, which was held at the Ohio History Connection instead of the Statehouse. Beverly Cain did an excellent job, both in her testimony and in her responses to the committee's numerous questions, which generally had less to do with the State Library and more to do with libraries in general, especially public libraries. Only one question dealt directly with OPLIN: Shouldn't at least some OPLIN funding come from the GRF, since the libraries are providing so much e-government access?

In regard to other office activities, Stephen highlighted the INFOhio Board Retreat, where he, Beverly Cain, and Gwen Evens (OhioLINK) presented information on Libraries Connect Ohio.

Stephen also reported on database usage. He has worked with EBSCO to determine the cause of the large increase in searches in January, and they think it probably came from a special link they provided to a library promoting Consumer Reports. He also noted that the documents totals in the report now include views of abstracts, a change that resulted from discussion with INFOhio and OhioLINK staff in the process of preparing the LCO request for LSTA funds.

Karen Davis asked if OPLIN should provide libraries with special links to particular databases for promotion, since that seems to have been so effective. Jill Billman-Royer also suggested that such "ads" for databases could be published via social media. Stephen thanked the Board for the suggestions.



12.1. Report from Nominations Committee

Chair Jill Billman-Royer requested a report from the ad-hoc Nominations Committee. Don Barlow briefly reviewed the nominations received, then explained the reasons the committee had decided to recommend Chris May, Deputy Director of Mansfield-Richland County Public Library, and Travis McAfee, Systems Administrator for the Way Public Library, to fill Board vacancies. Board members familiar with these individuals agreed that they would be good additions to the OPLIN Board.

The Chair called for a vote on the committee's recommendation; all aye.

Stephen Hedges will now take the recommendation to the State Library Board and ask that these two individuals be appointed to the OPLIN Board.

The Chair thanked the committee for their work.

12.2. Director's evaluation process

At the request of the Chair, Stephen Hedges provided an overview of the evaluation process used in the past and offered to make changes to the process if the Board so desires. The Chair asked Vice-Chair Becky Schultz to collect and collate the evaluations prior to the next meeting of the Board.

12.3. Executive Session to discuss discipline of a public employee

Michael Penrod motioned to enter Executive Session to discuss discipline of a public employee; Ben Chinni seconded.

Recorded vote: Don Barlow, aye; Marty Beets, aye; Susan Brown, aye; Ben Chinni, aye; Karen Davis, aye; Joe Greenward, aye; Cindy Lombardo, aye; Michael Penrod, aye; Becky Schultz, aye; and Jill Billman-Royer, aye.

The Board entered Executive Session at 1:43 p.m.

The Board returned from Executive Session at 1:56 p.m.


Stephen Hedges proposed that the Board complete the annual Ethics training by watching training videos provided by the Ohio Ethics Commission. The Board can either watch a series of short videos together at the end of meetings, or individually watch a longer video and notify Stephen when they have received the certificate of completion. The Board collectively decided to watch the longer video individually.


On motion of Don Barlow and second of Michael Penrod the Board adjourned at 2:00 p.m.