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Innovation SummaryMid-Continent Public Library implemented a system to conduct board meetings and share documents using a paperless eGovernance solution. This system provides better transparency, efficiency, and access, and allows the Library to hold live public meetings via the Internet.
MCPL faced a challenge in producing and disseminating board documents in a manner that was timely and efficient but also transparent and accessible to the public. These documents include agendas, budgets, policies, committee news, approvals, and more. On average MCPL was using 46,800 sheets of paper, or about 6 trees, each year to print board documents. In addition, the Library was spending about $700 in yearly postage and a significant amount of staff time to create elaborate hard copies of board agendas and other documents. All of these resources and time were spent in service of a process that was difficult to make transparent, cumbersome to share with the public, and nearly impossible to search.
With goals of transparency, sustainability, and savings, the Library implemented BoardDocs from Emerald Data Solutions. The service offers governing bodies a way to process and make available almost any type of governance document. Documents are stored in a searchable library, are available across meetings, and can be updated quickly. Necessary documents can be available to only those with appropriate credentials, and all other documents become immediately available to the public. All public meetings can be followed through a BoardDocs online application linked from the MCPL website that follows the agenda and shows vote results. To facilitate the move to digital materials, MCPL loaned Apple iPads to each board member. Members can now access all necessary documents anytime they can find a WiFi connection, and they can locate previous documents they might want to reference during board meetings.
The switch to digital documents for board meetings has saved taxpayer money, reduced the Library’s environmental impact, reclaimed staff time, improved board effectiveness, and greatly increased transparency. In less than 7 months, MCPL has already left an extra 3 trees standing and saved more than $1,000 in printing costs. Board members have noted feeling more prepared for meetings, more connected to the Library, and more aware of relevant technology. The public not only has better access to general board meetings, but has an unprecedented amount of information regarding committee meetings and archived documents. In all, the move to digital document board meetings has made the Library an organization with better government.