Minutes of the Regular Meeting of January 7, 2010


(As approved at the regular meeting of February 4, 2010)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, January 7, 2010, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:42 pm.


Commissioners present: Gomez, Lee, Munson and Ono


Commissioner excused: Del Portillo


Commissioners Kane arrived at 4:46 pm.




An anonymous citizen said usually on the January agenda there is an item for the election of Commission officers.  He said in the past the December meeting had the nomination of officers and the election took place in January.  He said this year the President has been found guilty of a willful violation of the Sunshine Ordinance.  He said to return Jewelle Gomez to the Presidency would be to ratify her actions.


Peter Warfield, Executive Director, Library Users Association, said a review of library activities related to the Sunshine Law for 2009 produces some unfortunate results.


President Gomez made the statement that item 4 the Branch Library Improvement Program Budget Transfers will be heard following the City Librarian’s Report.


Ellen Egbert, Bernal Heights said the Bernal Heights Branch library will be opening on January 30 and she said she hopes all the Commissioners will attend.  She said when you go you will see how beautiful the interior of the building is.      




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the librarians from the Juvenile Justice Center and Log Cabin Ranch will be giving a report on the program.


Rachel Bernstein, Librarian Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) and Dale Jenne, Librarian Log Cabin Ranch (LCR) gave a report and said the JJC has 5000 titles and that it is a warm and inviting space.  They said they are assisted by a Page, Cindy Lu. They said that Rachel frequently visits the living units and they explained the programs and goals at the JJC.    They said the LCR has approximately 800 titles.  They said they encourage reading for pleasure and/or education.  They said there are unique issues that are being addressed by a draft Memorandum of Understanding being developed with the Juvenile Probation Department.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said how lucky the Library is to have these two Librarians working on these programs.


Rachel Bernstein said the Study Hall at the JJC is to help the youth work with volunteer mentors and work online to look for jobs, or get a GED or other interests they may have.  


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it is gratifying to speak on a subject that can be universally praised.  He said in the 80s there was only a visiting librarian at the JJC and he is glad to see that has changed.  He said this is a very valuable asset.


Peter Warfield said he wondered how many patrons or library card users are using these facilities.  He said he was concerned about the number of employees and the breakdown of their hours.  He said these programs should have the ability to have access to the general library collection.


Commission Discussion 


Commissioner Kane asked for a little more background on the program.


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services said when she started in 1992 there were no services at either location.  She said around 1993 the Library started to send a librarian occasionally to the JJC.  She said they eventually hired a librarian to go down to Log Cabin every couple of weeks.  She said there is now a full time librarian at Log Cabin Ranch.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there are about 2.5 FTEs serving the programs.  He said the programs are an important piece of the Library’s effort to serve the community. 


Dale Jenna, Librarian LCR said she is trying to echo some of the programs at the teen centers in some of the branches.


Commissioner Kane asked about the Memorandum of Understanding and what sort of issues are being covered.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the MOU covers things like hard cover books and how much time the youths can spend in the library.  She said if there are disagreements between the two departments the MOU also resolves how the differences will be settled.


Dale Jenne, Librarian LCR, responded to a question from Commissioner Munson and said there are currently 12 youth at Log Cabin Ranch and that number will be tripling by March.  She said there has been as many as 80.


Rachel Bernstein said at JJC there are about 20 young women and 100 – 120 young men.


Commissioner Ono asked about security.


Rachel Bernstein said wherever there is a youth in the facility there is security.


Commissioner Lee said he did not know this program existed and it is very interesting.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there is a budget for this program.


President Gomez asked about the titles in the collection.


Rachel Bernstein said the collection is ordered specially through the Library.





Luis Herrera, City Librarian said this is the beginning of several meetings discussing the budget. 


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, gave a presentation on the 2009-10 Budget Adjustments and the FY 10-11 Budget Priorities.  He explained the Budget Climate for San Francisco and said the Library’s revenue for FY 10-11 is estimated to be $7.1M (9%) less than original FY 09-10 budget.  He said the Mid-year adjustments will include reductions in constrained labor cost, reduced books & materials, non-labor and other to be determined equaling $2.1 million. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, gave more detail on the Mid-year Adjustments for Books and Materials including adult periodicals, databases, branch adult, main adult print and standing orders, children & teens, end of year cancellations and reduced processing costs - vendors.


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, said the budget timeline is similar to what they have been in the past. He said the Budget submission is due to the Controller’s Office on February 22, 2010. 


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the FY10-11 Budget Priorities are: Services, Programs and Outreach; Library Collections; Targeted Technologies; Facilities and Asset Management; Public Safety; and Security and Workforce Development.   He said the next steps are to receive input from the Library Commission on priorities, monitor baseline revenues, fill critical public service positions, budget review at February 4th Commission meeting, and budget approval at the February 19th Commission meeting.       


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said since most of the shortfall comes from the property tax revenue side that means the library is suffering more than other departments.  He said there is a silver lining with respect to budget constraints and that is that you have to get serious about priorities. 


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he is very troubled by the lack of certain figures including totals and percentages.  He said programs need to be looked at when the basic bread and butter items are being starved.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Lee said they don’t need to have every item itemized.  He asked about the $2.1 million shortfall. 


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, said the $2.1 million was based on the Controller’s Office estimate done at the end of the first quarter.


Commissioner Lee said BLIP soft costs could help reduce the $2.1 million.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the BLIP program still has obligations it needs to meet.  He said we still need to address the $2.1 million shortfall.


Commissioner Kane clarified that there would be no layoffs.


Luis Herrera said there are no layoffs, but there are a significant number of open positions, so it does have an impact.


Commissioner Kane said it would be helpful to look at the numbers line by line with comparisons of real numbers and comparisons with previous years.  He said he would like to know how much is paid by the library for pensions and health care for former employees.


Luis Herrera said there are some general fund obligations and that could impact the Library’s budget.  He said the Library’s budget is made up of both property tax revenue and the general fund.


Commissioner Kane said his priorities are core functions like having the library open and available for the public to use.  He said he thinks computer access to the public is critical.  He said he would like to see cuts from other than core services.


Luis Herrera responded to a question from Commissioner Ono and said there had been approximately 7% increase in the property tax for the last five or six years and on the general fund side it has been 9%.  He said last spring they began to see a decline.


President Gomez said the priorities grow from conversations by the Commission throughout the year. 




Luis Herrera, City Librarian said they have produced an annual report that actually covers 2 years.  He said in order to be green we hope that most people will view it on line, but there are a very limited amount of copies available.  He said this was done in conjunction with the Friends of the Library and we should be very proud of it.


Anne Wintroub, Friends of the Library, said the Friends are proud of this joint collaboration with the Library.  She said the theme for the report is being open and she read a small part of the report.  She said the Taproot Foundation lent their expertise to the production of this report.  She said the report serves as a model for colleagues across the country to help them express the ways public and private partnerships can achieve such tremendous results for the community.


Luis Herrera said last November a delegation from Viet Nam including the Deputy Prime Minister visited San Francisco to promote business and culture.  As part of the visit, the Library received over 500 Vietnamese language/titled materials.  He said Vice-Chair Lee Munson helped us in coordinating the logistics and he also attended a reception at the Main Library where we officially received the books from the delegation.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches said the Physical Access Committee, which is an advisory Body to the Mayor’s Office of Disability invited us to give a presentation on the BLIP program and specifically highlighting areas of accessibility.  He said they were also asked to give a presentation to the entire Mayor’s Office of Disability on December 18.  He said during the course of discussion with them they found out that the North Beach Branch Library programming is currently not in compliance with Federal and State law and not in compliance with the City of San Francisco mandate relating to persons with disabilities.  He said the library has been advised that it must discontinue public programming at the North Beach Branch and we are looking at relocating the programming.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Bay Area Library Information System or (BALIS) has a grant program which the library has applied for.  He said the Library has received two grants.  He said we received $11,550 for the Library Accessibility Toolkit and $3,000 for Online Training Tutorials.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the Annual Report says the Library provides free and open access.  He said if you are an ordinary citizen you can get a cheap Xerox copy.  He said the Annual Report used to be rolled out as a big deal and the Commissioners signed off on it.  He said this is the nightmare he has been predicting all these years.


Sue Cauthen, Chair of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee, said it is good that the Library and the Friends could get together to save some money on preparing this.  She said the print is a little small  and the pages are not numbered.  She said there is a back story on the disabled access at the North Beach Branch.  She said Brian Bannon gave a really good presentation, but she said there would be access to the programming area if the fence in the back was removed.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the Annual Report is more of a sales pitch than it is a report.  He said he is very sorry to see that the Library has joined with the Friends on this report.  He said the report is filled with nice words which in some cases hide or misrepresent what is going on.  He said he did not see any input from the Library Commission on this report. 


Commission Discussion


President Gomez said she enjoyed working on the report as part of the committee that prepared it.  She said according with the wishes of the City the Annual Report is available on line.


Commissioner Kane clarified that the Friends will still be making their annual report separate from this one.




Cathy Bremer, representing SEIU 1021, said it is going to be a tough budget year and she hopes that with the really good relationship labor has with the City Librarian and the administration that they can come to an agreement when it comes to efficiencies.  She said staff is doing so much more and there are legitimate restraints on the ability to continue to provide more services.  She said they are looking forward to having a good productive couple of years during this tough time.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it is the first time we have had a labor union report in a while.  He said the issues addressed while fascinating were couched in very oblique and well concealed terms.  He said what people mean by priorities is different for everyone speaking the term.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said we have not had a report in some time and he agrees with the previous speaker that a great deal was implied but not actually said. He said the best search engine is a librarian. He said there are issues about the way in which positions are being staffed and not staffed.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the minutes do include his citizen summaries but they don’t show up where it would be meaningful.  He said on page one his comments were not accurately reflected.  He said on page two Katie Gough’s comments did not include a colorful story she told about the Bernal mural.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the phrase on page one the anonymous citizen referred to does not make much sense as reflected in the minutes.  He said on page four under public comment under agenda item no. 2 his comment would be accurate if there were a few words added at the very end.  He said it would be more accurate to read “the Library has not taken good care of the historic and artistic heritage of its buildings.”  He said on page 9 his comments on item no. 9 could be improved.


Commission Discussion


Motion:  By Commissioner Munson seconded by Commissioner Ono to approve the minutes of November 5, 2009


Action:  AYES 5-0: (Gomez, Kane, Lee, Munson and Ono).




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the three comments on the first page represent comments from people who often speak here and they are very egregious distortions of what those people meant to convey.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said according to Roberts Rules of Order the Minutes should be taken first on the agenda.  He said we go through the motion of trying to assist you in making corrections or in making the minutes more accurate in what has happened.  He said once again it is a charade.  He said we will speak for three minutes and the Commission will pass the minutes without change almost as always.



Motion:  By Commissioner Lee, seconded by Commissioner Munson to approve the minutes of November 19, 2009


Action:  AYES 5-0: (Gomez, Kane, Lee, Munson and Ono).




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said San Francisco Librarian John Philbrook recently passed away.  He said John Philbrook was a library hero and a hero of humanity.  He said he was the librarian who drew attention to the Main Library’s betrayal of its promise.  


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said that John Philbrook was a long time librarian here and elsewhere.  He said his memory includes one of the darkest moments of the library’s history.  He read from an article in the San Francisco Weekly about John Philbrook. He asked that the Library Commission adjourn in his honor.


Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Lee to adjourn the regular meeting of January 7, 2010 in honor of John Philbrook, a much respected children’s librarian who died during December, 2009.   


Action:  AYES 5-0: (Gomez, Kane, Lee, Munson and Ono).


The meeting adjourned at 6:47 pm.


Sue Blackman

Commission Secretary


Explanatory documents:  Copies of listed explanatory documents are available as follows:  (1) from the commission secretary/custodian of records, 6th floor, Main Library; (2) in the rear of Koret Auditorium immediately prior to, and during, the meeting; and (3), to the extent possible, on the Public Library’s website  Additional materials not listed as explanatory documents on this agenda, if any, that are distributed to library commissioners prior to or during the meeting in connection with any agenda item will be available to the public for inspection and copying in accordance with Government Code Section 54954.1 and Sunshine Ordinance Sections 67.9, 67.28(b), and 67.28(d).

These summary statements are provided by the speaker:  Their contents are neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the San Francisco Public Library Commission.

Item 1: General Public Comment


Anonymous Citizen: Every January you hold election of officers. This year your president has been found guilty of a willful violation of the Sunshine Ordinance, and referred to the Ethics Commission for determination of official misconduct.


To reelect President Gomez would ratify her actions and send a message that Jewell Gomez’ actions expresses the will and intention of the Commission.  However, to vote otherwise would be a vote of no confidence. Like all gangs, your highest value is to stick together.


You have a vested interest in protecting the Friends & Foundation, or at least concealing what fools you were to give it money. This conflicts with your duty to the public, and the idea that you owe a duty to truth.


You cannot ratify your president, but you have to show solidarity to your gang.  Your answer is to invoke categorical irresponsibility and have no election at all.



Item 2: San Francisco Public Library at Juvenile Justice Center and Log Cabin Ranch


Anonymous Citizen: Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation.


It is a pleasure to speak on something that is the object of universal praise, and I certainly have nothing but positive things to say.  I was a close friend of the librarian who did it in the 1980's, when it was very much an “out-patient” operation, so it is good that has changed.


Do the users have access to the larger collection?  Access to the larger collection is an important aspect of library service.  I also wonder what the “waiting list” might refer to, since openness is an important aspect of library service.


What impresses me most is the seriousness of the endeavor.  What we call teen centers are often patronizing and condescending.  There is none of that here.  This has a focus on education, skills and the values of reading, so kudos all around.



Item 3: Fiscal Year 2009-10 Mid-Year Adjustments and 2010-11 Budget Priorities

Anonymous Citizen: Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation.


Regarding Library Preservation Fund planning, this cold day in hell was thought to be impossible.  The speaker claims the budget shortfall is due to the property tax side, which suggests we are suffering more than general fund departments.


The silver lining with respect to budget constraints is the necessity to get serious about priorities.  You and the Supervisors had serious questions several years ago regarding effectiveness measures, and we never heard about it again.


If we really are facing budget constraints, effective use of our money is the priority.  What sense does it make to defer expenses, if the deferral does not save us anything?


With $12-14 million in the reserve, we could refuse to care, but we have no assurances about the future.  In January 2008, the first baby boomer filed for Social Security.



Item 4: City Librarian’s Report


Anonymous Citizen: Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation.


What a nightmare.  Does the library commission consider this its Annual Report?  It claims to provide access but an ordinary member of the public can only see it in a bad photocopy and needs the disability toolkit to read it.


Formerly, the annual report was a serious aspect of the commissioners’ yearly function, and it was signed by each commissioner.


Now the annual report is a joint venture with the Friends & Foundation, put together by one of their little committees, and arrives here as a fait accompli.  It does not even come before you, much less us.  This is the fruition of the complete nightmare of privatization.  Even the essential function of the annual report is a mere advertising tool.


It was suggested that your conversation here constitutes the priorities of the library.  I hope not.



Item 5: Labor Union Report


Anonymous Citizen:  Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation. 


I am sure you don’t ever want to forget public comment. 


This is the first Labor Union report in a while, and the issues addressed were fascinating but they were couched in oblique and well concealed terms. 


What people mean by priorities is a bit different to anyone speaking the term.  Almost everything that comes before you, whether it be efficiencies, openness, or universal access contains some sort of ambiguity.


I wish that the comments from the Labor Union representative had been a little more descriptive about what she is talking about because those are real challenges.



Item 6: Approval of the Minutes (November 5, 2009)


Anonymous Citizen:  Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation. 


These minutes represent an attempt to put a nice face on what is increasing problematic.  Thank you for your attendance, since these meetings are so negative I can barely stand to come myself.


The minutes contain my citizen summaries but not in the place where they would be meaningful, and the body of the minutes blatantly obscure what is said.


On page one, the danger of private money is that the value placed above public interest is truth does not matter and sociopaths are in charge.


The architectural historian was not disappointed in the BLIP program.  What he said was that he was shocked and appalled at the neglect of the library’s historical resources. 


On page 2, Katie Gough told a colorful story, about repairing the graffiti-impacted mural herself that has been completely lost.



Item 7: Approval of the Minutes (November 19, 2009)


Anonymous Citizen:  Stop the hate, stop the ignorance – don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation. 


The comments on page one, from people who often speak, are egregious distortions of what was intended.


The anonymous citizen’s comment about the provoked neighbor was actually about the much larger point that you had placed your arrogance above accountability and that your capacity for cruelty had become a badge of your success.


Sue Cauthen praised Commissioner Kane for mentioning accountability to the public and emphasized the importance of keeping faith with the public.


Peter Warfield’s thesis was not just the lack of response, but that your silence was an endorsement of the wrongdoing. If you want to fix these, you would say that the irresponsibility of the library commission is shown by its refusal to make any response.


But your priority is to make these minutes beneficial to yourselves rather than reflect the actual meeting.



Item 8: Adjournment


Anonymous Citizen:  San Francisco Librarian John Philbrook recently passed away on December 13, and at the supervisors’ meeting Supervisor Dufty mentioned that he was beloved and his professional accomplishments.  In fact, Mr. Philbrook was not just a library hero, but a hero of humanity who we are rarely privileged to have walk among us.


It was John Philbrook who drew attention to this Main Library’s betrayal of its promise which was being concealed and drafted a public letter to address the problems.


Shortly after he was confronted with anonymous charges of sexual harassment.  The library later learned he was gay, and he was soon fired from the San Francisco Public Library on child molestation charges.