Minutes of the Regular Meeting of January 17, 2008


(As approved at the regular meeting of February 7, 2008)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, January 17, 2008, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


Sue Blackman, Commission Secretary, called the meeting to order at 4:32 pm.  She announced that President Charles Higueras, Vice-President Steve Coulter and Commissioner Helen Marte Bautista had resigned from the Commission.  She introduced the three new Commissioners: Carlota Del Portillo, Al Harris and Mel Lee and gave a little bit of background on each. 


Commissioners present:  Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane and Munson.


Commissioner Lee entered the meeting at 4:47 pm.




Sue Blackman, Commission Secretary said that since the President and Vice-President of the Commission had resigned the Commissioners would need to elect one of their peers to preside over the meeting.


Motion:  By Commissioner Kane, seconded by Commissioner Chin to nominate Commissioner Gomez to preside over the meeting.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said welcome to the new Commissioners and said that he always addresses this Commission as an anonymous citizen.  He said this is a good sign that the Commission has separated the election of permanent officers from the presiding officer election.  He said he is very encouraged.  He said in the past some of the presiding officers had been selected by the Mayor so it is good that the Commission will be making its own choice.


Commission Discussion



Action:  AYES 6-0: (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane and Munson)




Miro Kielbus, said he is on the American Sign Language History Board and is also involved in many community activities.  He said sometimes there are things on public television channels that you can borrow from the library.  He said it is great because he can come here borrow the dvd or cd and watch it at home.  He said they always have the captioning included.  He said that is nice because it allows full access.  He said the problem is some of the current educational cds that the library has do not have the captioning any longer.  He said he can only think of two reasons for this, one is that the library has purchased these cds on the grey market or two the library doesn’t have the equipment to caption everything themselves.  He said we need to know how to get these cds and dvds captioned in order to open full communication access for deaf people.  He requested that the library look into this issue. 


An anonymous citizen said when he first came into the library it was obvious that the library was being degraded and that the only solution was that there be a new building.  He said at that time senior staff members of the institution asked him to open up the process and told him about the Brown Act.  He said at the same time librarians befriended and encouraged him to focus attention on the community values of the institution.  He said he was being asked to both support the truth and the democratic principles.  He said his pressure has resulted in specific improvements to the library.  He said he found out that some participants are welcome to the process and others are not.


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said she just returned from the American Library Association’s (ALA) midwinter conference and she wanted to share some terrific news.  She said every year the ALA can grant honorary membership to a person they deem of importance within the profession.  She said that Miss Effie Lee Morris, the first Coordinator of Children’s Services at the SFPL was awarded honorary membership and she said she knows everyone will want to congratulate her. 


Deborah Doyle, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library (Friends), said the Friends would like to thank the outgoing Commissioners and said all three of them served with honor and commitment.  She said the Friends are also happy to welcome the new Commissioners and thank them for their commitment.


Marian Chatfield Taylor, Friends, said she would like to welcome the new Commissioners.  She reminded everyone of the Western Addition Branch Library Grand Re-Opening on Saturday, February 2 at 1:00 pm.  She said the Friends will be distributing in celebration of Chinese New Year door hangers on behalf of the Neighborhood Library Council (NLC) which in Chinese roughly translate to say “Keep on Learning!”  She also thanked the past Commissioners and wished them well in the future.


Commissioner Lee entered the meeting.


Peter Warfield welcomed the new Commissioners.  He said it would be an extremely valuable educational tool for the Commissioners to get a bibliography of materials written about the Library.  He said that the new Commissioners are lucky to have some tremendously valuable resources in members of the public who have concerned themselves with the library for many years.  He said he hopes the Commission will take a receptive look at what these people have to say.




Commissioner Kane made a motion to nominate Commissioner Gomez as President.


Commissioner Munson said because we have three new Commissioners it might be wise to wait until the next meeting to vote for the officers.


Commissioner Lee said he agrees and since it is his first meeting he thought it would be more appropriate to postpone this item. 


Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney, said the Commission may just make nominations at this meeting and then vote on them at the next meeting.


Commissioner Del Portillo said that she would love to know more of the background of the Commissioners and she would like to have nominations and the election at the next meeting. 


Commissioner Kane withdrew his nomination.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said that it used to be part of the bylaws that nominations would be at one meeting and the election at the next meeting.  He said if you want to look at the qualifications for President, you want someone who has the reputation of being independent and even handed and someone who can bring some goals and direction to the institution.


Peter Warfield said he seconded the previous speaker’s comments and he wanted to thank the Commissioner for making the suggestion of holding off the election.  He said he hopes this cooperative and sensible approach continues into the future.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson said his remarks had no relevance to any individual Commission member.


Commissioner Del Portillo said she would like a little more background and to find out who might be interested in serving.


Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney, said the Commission can make a motion to table this item to the next meeting or they can make a nomination now and then take action on it at the next meeting.


Commissioner Del Portillo said she was hoping to receive bios on the Commissioners.


Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo to table this item to the next meeting.


Action: Ayes 7-0 (Commissioners Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).




Marilyn Thompson, Bond Program Manager, said that there were no informational or special reports.  She gave the regular monthly reports which include the budget, schedule, active projects, construction and community outreach.  She said the Budget Report includes the Baseline Budget, which is the budget the Commission approved in October, 2001 and the budget approved on November 15, 2007.  She said the schedule report is a summary level report that is broken down by project in alphabetical order.  She said the last time a schedule change was approved was March, 2007.  She said each project has the original schedule, the last approved schedule and the forecast.    She gave the Active Projects Report including information on new construction and renovations; and the Construction Report.  She showed photographs of Portola, Richmond, Noe Valley, and Western Addition which are currently in construction.  She gave the Community Outreach report and said there would be a community meeting at the Ortega Branch on January 26, the Western Addition Opening Celebration on February 2, the Ingleside Groundbreaking on February 15 and the Noe Valley Opening Celebration on March 8. 


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the Capital Planning Committee was on the slide but not mention in the report.  He said they did approve the expenditure of the General Obligation Bonds and he said he was surprised that that was not reported to the Commission as part of the report.  He said it was an interesting report and the Commission might want to review it. He said the new Commissioners should be aware of the Controller’s Audit completed in September, 2007.


Peter Warfield said he agreed that the new Commissioners should familiarize themselves with the Controller’s Audit Report.  He said the schedules should show the original schedule and the forecasted schedule.  He said it would be helpful if information was provided project by project.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane thanked Marilyn Thompson for her report and said he is looking forward to the opening of the Western Addition branch.  He said he recommended that the new Commissioners review the Controller’s Audit and said that the Commission had requested that the Audit been done.  He said he would like to see an update on the Audit brought back to the Commission.  He said the library got into a little bit of trouble with the delays of some of the branches.  He asked for information on the forecasted schedule and whether there is further delay noted on the schedule.  He had questions regarding the Potrero and Bernal Heights Branches.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that the library is working closely with the Bernal Heights community and delays to Potrero will be brought back to the Commission as soon as possible.


Commissioner Lee said it is important to watch the schedule very closely and he thanked Commissioner Kane for explaining some of the schedule formatting.


Commissioner Chin said it looks like North Beach is going to be the last project to be completed and she had several questions regarding that branch.


Marilyn Thompson, Bond Program Manager, said that the North Beach branch will be 8500 sq. ft. and will be significantly larger than the existing branch.  She said there will be Recreation and Park funding contribution and staff time involved in the Master Plan and that there would be a full community process. 


Commissioner Del Portillo said she assumes there is a difference between the original budget and forecasted budget.


Marilyn Thompson said that the new plans are for a brand new branch.  She said the funds will come from the revenue bonds which were approved by the voters in November.


Commissioner Lee had questions regarding the Peer Review.


Marilyn Thompson, said the Peer Review process is described in the Design Excellence Program Guidelines.  She said it is a review of the projects at the end of Schematic Design.  She said the peer reviewers are pro bono architects, librarians, urban planners, historic preservationists, etc. that are brought in to advise you and give critiques of the projects.


Commissioner Del Portillo asked whether doing the work through DPW saves money as opposed to bidding out the projects.


Marilyn Thompson said that the architects on staff with the city seem to have a higher regard for the buildings and the long term durability of the buildings.


Presiding Officer Gomez said that the last Peer Review discussion was a building done by a DPW employee and she thought it was an excellent design.         





Luis Herrera, City Librarian, congratulated and welcomed the new Commissioners.  He announced that we have completed the Main Library first floor renovation and held a celebration the day before.  He commended Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main and her staff for all their hard work.  He said there was a great article in the Chronicle yesterday about the opening.    He gave an update on the Fuhrman Fund and explained that the Fuhrman Trust was established in 1940 at the request of Alfred Fuhrman who passed away.  He said the money is approximately $330,000 for the library for books and services related to economics and politics.  This last year the library was able to purchase 1640 books and several new databases.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, introduced Alvaro Sanabria, the Program Manager for the International Center.  She said he is a Spanish speaker and in that capacity chooses books, not only for the Main Library but the branches.  She said he attends the Guadalajara Book Fair and the International Book Fair in Spain every year to obtain books for the collection.  She said he is instrumental in developing our Spanish language web site. 


Alvaro Sanabria introduced and recognized Mikhail Pashkov, in charge of the Russian collection and Mitchell Yangson, in charge of the Filipino American Center.  He said the International Center (IC) was established in1996.  He said it provides information access for patrons who prefer to communicate in languages other than English or who are learning English.  He said the IC oversees the Chinese and the Filipino Affinity Centers.  He said services are available in Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese and Toishan), Filipino, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and limited French, German and Portuguese.  He explained the collection in the IC and the various services offered.  He showed the IC home page on the web and said there are Spanish and Chinese pages.  He said they are developing a Russian page and looking at other languages as well.  He said IC staff does outreach to promote, coordinate and co-sponsor programs and activities with other organizations.  He said there are internet classes in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Russian and Spanish.  He said they hold library orientations and book clubs in Spanish and Russian.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the IC is one of the strengths of SFPL and something we should be very proud of.  He said there was a study done on America’s Most Literate Cities; rating various factors and SFPL has ranked number one in California and ranked seventh nationally.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said from January 16 -21 the Library is the site of a low tech art exhibit entitled Future Sea Level.  She said this is a partnership with the Department of the Environment in collaboration with the Sierra Club and the Aquarium of the Bay Foundation.


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services said there are two wonderful new exhibitions one is  “A Life Surrounding a Cabin Dorothea Lange at Steep Ravine” a photography exhibit and Timeless San Francisco and Timeless Cities.  She showed images from the exhibits.  She also gave highlights on some of the programs sponsored by the Library.


Public Comment


Eileen Boken, a resident of Sunset/Parkside, said she saw people putting tape around some of the branch libraries and it looked like vandalism.  She reported this and found out that this was an art project and was approved by management at the library and not by the Commission.  She said she did not think this was appropriate and would like it taken down. 


An anonymous citizen said something that should have been part of this report was the honorary lifetime ALA membership that was give to Effie Lee Morris Jones.  He said this is a great accomplishment for a former librarian.  He said there have been 4 lawsuits over the Fuhrman Fund in the past and the Library Commission is the trustee for the fund.  He said it is not supposed to be used to fill in gaps in the budget but used for additional material on politics and economics.   


Peter Warfield said this was a very interesting report.  He said thank you for the report on the International Center.  He said in the past you could not look up movies in the catalog in the foreign section by name of director, they were all listed as “foreign films” so he wondered if that had changed.  He said the Dorothea Lange exhibit appears to be some of her works that are lesser known so in his opinion that makes it more interesting.  He said the renovation of the first floor was originally $2.5 million and in the Chronicle article it said it was a $6 million renovation.


Deborah Doyle, Friends of the Library, said she is a Board Member of the California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners (CALTAC).  She said this is an organization that is a resource for trustees and commissioners throughout California and it provides training on duties and responsibilities.


Commission Discussion



Commissioner Kane said he appreciated the report on the International Center.  He also asked about the art exhibit which was commented on. 


Jill Bourne said the “Future Sea Level” art exhibit was in cooperation with the Department of the Environment, the Sierra Club and the Aquarium by the Bay.  She said there is a Memorandum of Understanding explaining responsibilities for this exhibit. She said the exhibit will be taken down on January 21.


Presiding Officer Gomez said she saw a woman with her child outside the library explaining the exhibit and she thought it was a good visual to explain global warming.




Maureen Singleton, Budget Manager, gave the background on the FY 08-09 Budget including the budget climate for San Francisco and the Mayor’s budget instructions. 


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the budget priorities are public services and outreach, library collections, public technology, staff development and support, public safety and security, resource and asset management and facilities improvement. 


Maureen Singleton explained the FY 08-09 budget revenue and expenditures and she explained the differences between the FY 07-08 and FY 08-09 budgets.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian and Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian explained some of the priority items listed under Program Services and Outreach including expansion of branch library hours, expansion of Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) bookmobile hours and service areas, enhancement of interactive learning space for the early literacy program, support for the Successful Teens Program, enhancement of the reproduction budget, Green Libraries Initiative, Link+ courier services, and My Library Card Initiative.  They explained some of the priority items listed under Library Collections including an increase to the library books and materials budget and cataloging special and focused collection materials.  Under Public Technology some of priorities are audiovisual equipment refreshment; replacement of the Koret auditorium video/graphics projector system; digital repository; a software package called Encore, a search and access tool; Keystone Library Automation System for the library for the blind and print disabled; technology refreshment and enhancement program and the Main Library public Wi-Fi upgrade.  Under Staff Development and Support one of the priorities is upgrading a Principal Administrative Analyst position.  Under Public Safety and Security some of the priorities are a branch paging system, branch phone system enhancement, 3 M security gates and maintenance and camera replacement at the Main.  Under Resource and Asset Management priorities include replacement of bathroom flooring at the Chinatown Branch Library, interior painting and carpet replacement programs, various improvements to the Main Library and reupholstering of chairs in the Affinity Centers.  Finally under the Facilities Improvement Program there is a $2 million advance to the Visitacion Valley branch for development impact fees.


Luis Herrera said the total amount of changes to the budget from last Fiscal Year is $6,357,581.  He said it is a relatively conservative budget.


Maureen Singleton said that the Library is projecting total revenues of $98,163,930.  She said the proposed FY08-09 budget is $81,206,192 leaving a remaining reserve of $4,457,738.  She said the next steps are to solidify revenue numbers with the Controller’s Office, determine other work order changes, update labor cost figures, budget data entry, the submission of technology and capital plans, Commission approval of final budget proposal, submission of the budget to Controller’s Office, the Mayor’s Analysis of the Library’s proposed budget, and the Mayor’s proposed budget to the Board of Supervisors in June.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this is information overload.  He said you may be asking why there is an increase in revenues of around $3.5 million but there are budget change proposals slightly less that $6.5 million.  He said the answer is the reserve.  He said it leaves the library with an embarrassment of riches.  He asked what is a healthy reserve and what should that reserve be used for.


Cathy Bremer, Officer of the Library Chapter of SEIU 1021, said it is really great that we have money and Prop D was the best thing that ever happened to the library.  She said the Union is very happy about that.  She welcomed the new Commissioners.  She said the Union was very happy with the cataloging of special and focused collection materials and hoped that this would be done internally and not contracted out.


Peter Warfield said the cataloging at the library has been a problem since the very beginning when the cataloging became automated.  He said there have been materials not included in the catalog.  He said cataloging is very important.  He said he is concerned with the future of the library’s budget with respect to its ability to repay the bond indebtedness.  He said there is no guarantee that the funding will stay at the level it is currently.   He said you need to consider what the long range outlook is.  He said he is also concerned about Link+ and he would like the Commission to consider a subsidy for the extremely high fees for lost items.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson said it is important to look at the risk of fluctuations in future funding because that is one of the reasons we have a substantial reserve.  He said there is a major advantage to the library to proceed with BLIP now because building materials are still going up rapidly.  He said we should be able to negotiate some pretty good deals with contractors here because of the issue with the economy.  He said we should perhaps earmark $12 million against the $16 million reserve to make sure we cover funding for the time period identified.


Commissioner Kane thanked everyone who worked hard on the passage of Prop D.  He said as he has said in the past his goal is to have every library open 7 days and he is very glad to see that we will be able to have 4 new days added and especially Sunday hours at the Bayview Branch.  He asked about maintenance of branch libraries.


Luis Herrera said that we will be maintaining the branches and we are working on an asset management plan so that we can insure that we have a timetable for some of these replacement and maintenance issues.


Commissioner Del Portillo said she would also like to see the Glen Park Branch open seven days a week.  She said Harper’s Magazine has an interesting article called the Next Bubble about the future of the economy.  She said she would like to see specific fundraising aimed at having libraries open 7 days a week.


Luis Herrera said the library has been very deliberate in looking at having the branches open 7 days a week.  He said the first priority is to get the branches which are open 5 days a week to 6 days and eventually to get them all to 7 days.


Maureen Singleton responded to Commissioners questions regarding the reserve and said the reserve monies are set aside and no one can touch them except the Library and they cannot be used for other sources.  She said to her knowledge we are not required to have a certain amount of reserve, but that she would look into it.




There was no labor union report.




Commissioner Chin suggested that the Commission recognize its outgoing Commissioners at an upcoming meeting.


Commissioner Del Portillo asked for bios of the existing Commissioners.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said that the PowerPoints shown to the

Commissioners are very helpful and he said it would be nice if the public were able to use PowerPoints as part of their presentations.  He said it would be helpful for the Commissioners to look at the Commission Policies.  He said we have a long history of distinguished Library Commissioners.


Peter Warfield said he would support the suggestions made for new business and would suggest the Commission keep an eye on them and make sure they come up back at future meetings.




Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


MOTION: by Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Lee, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, January 17, 2008.


ACTION:  AYES: 7-0 (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).


The regular meeting of January 17, 2008, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 7:08 pm.


Sue Blackman

Commission Secretary


Please note:   Copies of commission minutes and handouts are available in the office of the secretary of the San Francisco Public Library Commission, 6th floor, Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102-4733.


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).