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Board Packet for a 21st Century Board of Trustees

Pierce County Library System, WA
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Innovation Summary

Pierce County Library System’s Board of Trustees adopted inexpensive electronic tools to conduct its monthly meetings. A simple, cost effective digital board packet, iPads for Board members and a SmartBoard in the Board Room support 21st Century skills and operations, and PCLS’s efforts to be good stewards of tax monies.

Problem Statement

PCLS continually assesses its processes and practices to ensure they are meeting the public’s needs and values, are an efficient and optimal use of resources, and in the best use of public funding resources. In 2012, the Board of Trustees expressed interest in exploring how technology can streamline and improve their work, and save the Library time and money. They challenged staff to develop a method to efficiently produce and distribute materials for monthly Board meetings. The method had to be easily accessible to a wide audience and meet the needs of key customers; in this instance: Board, public, staff, and State Auditor. The method needed to support the Washington State Open Public Meetings Act and public records and external audit requirements. The solution needed to make it quick and easy to build, prepare, post, deliver, and archive the informational packets, provide easy and reliable remote access for Board members, and ensure that Trustees would be successful in their work. Primary target audience: Five-member Board of Trustees with varying levels of digital experience, skill and interest.


Board of Trustees prepare for and conduct their meetings primarily digitally. Board materials are in electronic form and posted online. They can be downloaded to the device of choice for viewing. Trustees use iPads to read their board packets, and make notes and manage their board packets. During the meeting, a SmartBoard allows distributed documents to be displayed, and provides easy projection for staff presentations during the meeting without connecting to laptops and projectors. Executive Office and the IT Department staff evaluated the existing paper production and distribution process; explored those of other agencies and boards; identified both fee and free solutions; created a a “worst case scenario board packet” to test the online board packet; and then, recommended the online board packet process. The Trustees began using the digital process in November 2012. They each received an iPad loaded with Notability and iBook apps for note-taking and viewing, and Pages for word processing and document creation. Training was developed to support the transition, including a digital sandbox for those wanting to jump in and dig around; individual computer coaching sessions for skill building and problem solving; an administrative liaison to support just-in-time learning; and basic written instructions and tips for use of equipment, apps, downloading and viewing documents, security settings, etc.


• Reduced costs: o $430/year (materials, postage, binding minutes) • Reduced staff time: o 98 hours/year (preparing, compiling, copying, mailing packet) • Improved accessibility: o All memos, documents, and materials are available online; previously only agenda and selected documents o Packet available to Board two days earlier o Available 24/7 from any location o Accessible using a variety of equipment and software, including mobile devices o Documents displayed in real-time on SmartBoard during Board meeting o State Auditor views documents electronically (preferred method) o Electronically archived • Supports Library and Board’s commitment to continual improvement for efficiency and saving money • Data: Google analytics shows that unique views of the packet has increase from an average of 105/month to an average of 194/month. • Customer evaluation: A recent survey of Trustees showed that most are now very comfortable with using the iPad and the download process, while comfort with using apps is rated average. Top ratings on achieving goals went to accessibility, stewardship. One Trustee stated that in addition to saving staff time and providing better access to materials, the change “helps her understand better the changing nature of our customers’ needs and preferences and the impact of technology and delivery methods in keeping the library system “relevant”.” Lessons Learned : Some documents, especially financial charts, are easier to read and work with when printed on paper. A hybrid approach of both paper and digital will help those less familiar with the technology during the transition.