Minutes of the regular meeting of Thursday, January 18, 2007

(As approved at the regular meeting of February 15, 2007)

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, January 18, 2007, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

Vice President Coulter called the meeting to order at 4:37 PM and announced that President Higueras was en route from Sacramento.

Commissioners present at roll call: Chin, Coulter, Gomez, and Munson.  Commissioner Kane arrived at 4:43 PM and President Higueras arrived at 5:22 PM.  Commissioner Bautista was excused.


The anonymous citizen commented on corporate culture, the national narrative, and shared resources.

Betty Parshall, Visitacion Valley History Project, greeted the commission and pointed out that the Visitacion Valley community is looking forward to its new branch and is engaging in dialogue regarding possible uses of the old building.

Crezia Tano, Visitacion Valley Business Opportunities and Outreach to Merchants, requested that the library schedule a neighborhood meeting to review issues regarding the Visitacion Valley Branch project.

City Librarian Luis Herrera noted that meetings have occurred with various members of the community, and he agreed that a future meeting at large would be useful.

Peter Warfield spoke in opposition to requests by commissioners at previous meetings that public comments avoid repetition.  He recalled unique instances of his own comments before the Library Commission and stated that his opinions on increased Sunday hours at branches were quoted at length in the Bay Guardian


The anonymous citizen announced that he had filed a complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Taskforce alleging 13 violations of the ordinance with respect to the minutes of the Library Commission.  He expressed pleasure at the detail offered in the minutes of November 16, 2006, and cited two instances where he felt they could be improved.

Peter Warfield agreed that the increased level of detail in the minutes was welcome and offered clarifications to the summaries of his remarks.  He reiterated his previous requests that documents to be considered at commission meetings be made available to the public and commissioners in advance.

MOTION: by Commissioner Gomez, seconded by Commissioner Chin, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of Thursday, November 16, 2006, as circulated.  Approved by the following vote:  5 – 0; Aye: Chin, Coulter, Gomez, Kane, and Munson.


Marilyn Thompson, manager of the Bond Library Improvement Program, provided regular reports on program budget, schedule, and construction; active projects; and community outreach.  She indicated that certain budgets assume an increase in funding due to escalation of projected costs, and that revised documents for Ingleside Branch were sent to the state this week after having been previously rejected due to omission of revisions. 

The anonymous citizen expressed concern that the state initially rejected the construction documents for Ingleside Branch.  He indicated that he perceived a discrepancy between the handouts and the oral report.

Peter Warfield expressed confusion regarding branch abbreviations in the handouts and inquired about budget transfers.

In response to questions from Commissioner Kane, the bond program manager explained that state funding for Ingleside Branch will not be affected by the earlier rejection of construction documents, and that she will report subsequently to the commission regarding Richmond Branch and the overall funding status for the library improvement program.

Commissioner Munson agreed that whenever possible it would be useful for documents to be available for review prior to commission meetings.


Mr. Herrera briefly described events leading to the development of the library’s draft 2007-08 performance measures, and Deputy City Librarian Jill Bourne provided a PowerPoint presentation.

The anonymous citizen summarized the controller’s instructions to departments for preparing their performance measures and recalled that more thorough information was presented earlier by the library to the Board of Supervisors.  He encouraged commissioners to review that underlying data.

Peter Warfield agreed with the anonymous citizen that the document submitted to the Board of Supervisors was more informative than the present document.  He faulted the performance measures for not referencing Proposition E and issues such as materials acquisition, shelving, and monitoring and replacing lost materials.

Commissioner Coulter urged additional outreach efforts be included in the performance measures in order to ascertain the needs of people who do not currently use the Public Library.  He criticized past labor practices and emphasized the need for meaningful performance reviews for employees.  The commissioner voiced support for ensuring adequate planning for maintenance of library buildings.

The city librarian responded that the document remains a work in progress, and that he is committed to improving outreach to non-library users.  He described staff-development training being provided to library supervisors to increase consistency in performance and service to patrons.

President Higueras agreed that the addition of benchmarks—either comparisons with similar library systems or goals recommended by the city librarian—would enhance the performance measures, provide additional context, and inform future planning.  The commission president emphasized the importance of Commissioner Coulter’s remarks regarding proactive maintenance of library buildings, and he anticipated that this commitment would be reflected in future budgeting. 

The president requested that the Staff Development section be constructed to reflect the extent to which staff accesses training, the effectiveness of that training, and that the section articulate staffing goals and measurements—e.g., the number of employees with M.L.S. degrees in comparison to similar library systems; the efficacy of staffing levels and classifications—so that the document can provide guidance in evaluating current practice and future planning.

Commissioner Munson suggested that the performance goals include tracking asset usage and demand—such as the time public computers are in use and library-materials are in circulation—to assist in determining optimal levels and to guide allocation of resources.

Commissioner Chin urged that the performance measures be congruent with the library’s strategic plan, and that the goals indicate areas that are particularly challenging, such as providing a safe environment for patrons in Civic Center, which can only be achieved through cooperation with other city agencies such as the police department and human services.

Commissioner Gomez lauded staff efforts in preparing the performance goals and measures, and Commissioner Kane agreed that comparisons with similar library systems would be helpful in measuring San Francisco Public Library.  He requested that cleanliness of facilities be incorporated into the performance measures, as well as tracking partnerships with other institutions such as schools and community groups.

The city librarian expressed appreciation for the commission’s guidance and interest in the ongoing development of the department’s performance goals and measures.  In response to questions from the chair, Mr. Herrera stated that the goals and performance measures would be submitted to the budget office by February 1, updated biannually, and be incorporated into the budget process.



MOTION: by Commissioner Kane, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adjourn the regular meeting of January 18, 2007, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission.  Approved by the following vote: 6 – 0; Aye: Chin, Coulter, Gomez, Higueras, Kane, and Munson.

The meeting adjourned at 6:01 PM.

Richard Walsh

Acting 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).

The Public Comment Summary Statements included in these minutes are authorized by San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.16.

Rec'd Jan 29 2007 C.W.

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, January 18, 2007
Item 1:
Public Comment
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
There have been advances in the society’s institutional ethos. Our national narrative use to be the pioneer or cowboy taming the Wild West: Davey Crockett, the Lone Ranger, the Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.
Out of favor now, it made a short come back when technology was the new frontier and the visionary was going to lead us through that wilderness.
Part of the national consciousness, few could explain the Nash Equilibrium, part of game theory that basically explains that acting upon self-interest will lead to disaster because everyone will do the same.
People are capable of understanding global warming and the concept that if everyone buys the most powerful SUV, the result will be disaster.
Visionaries and those who call themselves ‘good people’ is a philosophy that is now over.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, January 18, 2007
Item 2:
Approval of the Minutes
November 16, 2006
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
I have filed a compliant with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force detailing thirteen violations with respect to minutes.
My motivation is so that when Karl Rove takes over he can hit the ground running, a necessity to keep up with your past.
These minutes are from a meeting 63 days ago, and they seem like an anachronism. One example is the same length as the citizen summary. This wordiness leads to a level detail that ameliorates the distortions.
There will always be some misunderstandings but the level of detail here helps.
Under public comment, the point was that Mr. Coulter is now a veteran and in the opposite position.
The under approval of the minutes, an individual was portrayed as a supporter of the preschool when she was a critic.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, January 18, 2007
Item 3:
Bond Program Manager’s Report
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the public had nice graphics like those from the presenters?
I regret that I missed the Hard Hat tour at Marina Branch. I am sure a good time was had by all.
It went by very quickly that the State has rejected our construction documents for some projects and more information should be provided.
I am particularly concerned that in Glen Park we have taken over some roof fixtures from the contractor. I wonder if that means that we are assuming a liability that belonged to the contractor.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, January 1 8, 2007
Item 4:
SFPL 2007-08 Performance Measures Draft
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
The inaugural report from the Assistant City Librarian was graciously given.
I regret that there were no explanatory documents.
The Controller’s instruction were to provide measures in the areas of output, efficiency and benchmark. The materials that were provided to the Board of Supervisors included 21 pages of a report and 39 pages of detail.
There is almost nothing in the area of efficiency measures or benchmark measures. To the extent that they are output measures they are heavily weighted toward subjective measures, i.e., how people feel about what they are getting rather than whether they got what they wanted.
Emblematically, the City Librarian mis-spoke when he said at the Supervisors hearing that the Supervisors approve the Library Preservation Fund hours.
I hope you will look at the underlying data.”