Minutes of the Regular Meeting of February 4, 2010


(As approved and amended at the March 4, 2010 Commission meeting)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, February 4, 2010, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:36 pm.


Commissioners present: Del Portillo, Gomez, Munson and Ono


Commissioners Kane and Lee arrived at 4:39 pm.




An anonymous citizen said it is the 35th anniversary of his attendance at Library Commission meetings.  He said five years ago he began to say don’t give or accept money from the Friends.  He said the phrase acknowledges the commission’s deliberate abandonment of reason.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the previous speaker deserves congratulations for 35 years of attendance at Library Commission meetings.  He said there has been a sad response from the Commission on the illegalities of the Library and the Commission according to the Sunshine Task Force.


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


Ted Bamberger, Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC) said he wanted to thank Kathy Lawhun for her appearance at the LCAC and discussing the Library’s senior programs.  He said he represents seniors on the LCAC and he appreciates working with the Library on the senior programs.


Sue Cauthen, Chair of the LCAC, said they are very pleased that the Library’s 50+ program is now underway. 






Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the Bernal Heights Library had its opening on Saturday and it was a fantastic event.  He said the Library was pleased to receive two awards at the American Library Association meeting in Boston.  He said the John Cotton Dana Award is the highest achievement for Marketing and there were six libraries that received this award.  He said SFPL’s award was based on the marketing for the Library’s amnesty program.  He thanked the public affairs staff for all the work they did on that program.  He said the second award was sponsored by Reforma which is the National Association to Promote Libraries to the Spanish speaking.  He said every year they recognize the public library that does the best job in the Dia de los Niño’s/Niña’s celebration and we were one of two public libraries nationwide to receive that award.  He said the celebration this year brought almost 1,000 kids and families together to celebrate literacy.  He said the staff of the Office of Children and Youth Services did a great job and should be congratulated.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, said they were beginning a series of reports and updates on the Affinity Centers at the Main Library.  She said Mitchell Yangson, the Filipino American Center Librarian, will be giving an update on the Center.


Mitchell Yangson said the Filipino American Center is located on the third floor of the Main Library and is part of the International Center and designed to highlight the Filipino American experience.  He explained the composition of the collection, the collection size, the users of the collection and collection enhancements.  He said he attended the Manila International Book Fair in 2008 and gave highlights of the trip.  He said the Center has various events, exhibits and other programs and he gave statistics relating to them. He said innovations of the Center include usage of Geographical Information System (GIS) technology, keeping track of “Internally Used” Items, addition of the Filipino language to the Citizenship toolkit webpage and usage of Web 2.0 technologies.  He said Future Trends include establishing more presence on the mobile web for internet-enabled, hand-held devices  


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there is a lot of terrific outreach going on.  He said the outreach for the center is done in collaboration with the public affairs staff.    


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he was at the Bernal Heights opening. He said the opening was poorly planned.  He said they did not take people into the library in the order in which they arrived and stood in line.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the Bernal Branch opening was indeed very busy and crowded affair.  He said the City Librarian introduced members of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee but failed to introduce him.  He said it was not a good idea to have the opening indoors.  He said he is glad the library has gotten some awards, but the emphasis needs to be on books, on reading and on serving the community.  He said he is glad to hear the report on the Filipino Affinity Center.  He said he would have been happier with more specifics about the books and materials in the Center. 


Ellen Egbert, Bernal Heights said the Bernal branch opening was terrific.  She said the program was deliberately planned for indoors because it was January and there was concern about the weather.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Del Portillo congratulated staff for all the hard work it took to put on the Bernal Heights library opening.  She said she was impressed with the lion dancers and the Aztec dancers.  She said she was particularly impressed by the work in the children’s section.  She thanked Mitchell for the presentation on the Filipino American Center. She said she was so happy about the way the affinity centers came about.  She asked about the different languages available at the center.


Commissioner Kane said he hopes the issue around the exterior of the Bernal branch will be resolved as soon as possible and that the library will push that process.  He said there was no notice on the outside of the library about the hours.  He said he was there on Sunday and they were not open so he hopes they will be able to get Sunday hours as well.


Luis Herrera said there is a mediator working on the issue of the Bernal mural.  He said it was decided that the Bernal branch would be closed on Sunday and open on Monday and Potrero would be open on Sunday and closed on Monday.


Commissioner Munson said the Bernal Branch opening was an outstanding event.  He said it was handled well and it was smart to have the refreshments elsewhere.


Commissioner Lee said the Bernal Branch opening was well done.  He said Cortland is a major thoroughfare and could not be closed so the opening could not have been done outdoors.


President Gomez thanked the community members who worked on the opening of the Bernal Branch.  She said the Affinity Centers are kind of the stars of the system and she thanked Mitchell Yangson for his presentation.   




Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there is a memo in the Commissioner’s packets outlining the requested Commission action.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, gave a presentation on the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) Budget Transfer. She said the first request is to transfer funds to the Program Reserve from three sources:  Golden Gate Valley, $2,960,042; G.O. Bond Interest, $1,683,967; and Visitacion Valley Rent, $59,800; making $4,703,809 available to transfer to the Program Reserve. She said the second request is to approve the project budget for the Bayview Branch Library.  She said the approved budget for the branch is $4,985,778.  She said the proposed budget is the pre-bid construction estimate for new construction of $11,830,796 for a difference of $6,845,018.  She said the third request is to transfer BLIP funds to project budgets.  She said the total requested transfers are $6,845,018 for the Bayview Branch; $1,267,043 for the Park Branch and $271,597 for the Potrero Branch for a total of $8,383,658.  She said these actions would result in changes to the Program Reserve.  She said the existing reserve is $5,709,790.  She said the first request would increase the reserve by $4,703,809. She said the transfers to the Bayview, Park and Potrero Branches would decrease the reserve by $8,383,658 leaving a program reserve of $2,029,941.    


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the appropriation of interest proceeds went before the Board of Supervisors and was approved on January 26, 2010.  He said the Bond Program started out at $106 Million and is now $189 Million a 78% increase and some of this money is going to scope increases.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the Library has been crying poor and too poor to provide anything for a rental for Park Branch for interim services.  He said the Library finds money in the millions for construction in the bond program; the Commission should be asking questions about the priority of services.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane said he is concerned about increasing budgets.  He said every dollar we spend in the long run will come out of our services.  He asked about the cost of the Golden Gate Valley Branch. He said this money could be used on repaying the debt or other things so he wanted to be clear on what was being requested.  He had questions regarding the Bayview Branch.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the budget for the Bayview Branch at this time is $11.83 million, but he said if there are any delays or changes to the project there may be other impacts.  He said the good news is we have the savings to transfer to Bayview.  He said the only one with outstanding funding issues right now is the North Beach Branch Library.


Jill Bourne further explained the additional costs for the Park Branch.


Lena Chen, Project Manager, Branch Library Improvement Program, said when the needs assessment for the Park Branch came in there was an assumption that all of the major upgrades to the building had been complete and when the system was looked at more closely additional improvements were needed.


Luis Herrera said there was a timing issue on the closure.  He said the project did, in fact, become more than just an interior renovation. 


Commissioner Kane had further questions regarding the Potrero Branch.


Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, addressed the issue relating to the security card reader system for the Potrero Branch.


President Gomez said it might be helpful in the future to give some comparisons and pricing for certain items. 


Commissioner Lee asked about the HVAC being centrally controlled from the Main Library.


Roberto Lombardi said with the 27 branches it is a matter of monitoring the systems because there are only 6 engineers in the system.  He said we are making buildings more comfortable and saving money, but the equipment does cost more up front.


Commissioner Ono said she agrees with Commissioner Kane and said the numbers are a little overwhelming.  She asked about any other sources for funding.


Luis Herrera said the project that will require additional revenue bonds will be North Beach.  He said most of the projects are in construction and there are contingency funds for those projects so we are confident that there will be enough funding to complete the projects underway now with the reserve that we have.


Commissioner Munson said the Commission wants to avoid surprises.  He said he would like to know a little sooner on some of these items.


Motion:  By Commissioner Munson seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo to approve the BLIP budget transfers as outlined in the City Librarian’s memo of February 1, 2010 and which includes: 1) a transfer of funds from the Golden Gate Valley Branch project budget and Visitacion Valley Rent to the Program Reserve; 2) request that the Controller’s Office release G. O. Bond Interest Proceeds and transfer these to the Program Reserve; 3) approve project budget for Bayview; and 4) transfer funds to the Bayview, Park and Potrero Branch projects. 


Action:  AYES 6-0: (Del Portillo, Gomez, Kane, Lee, Munson and Ono).






Luis Herrera, City Librarian gave a presentation on the FY10-11 budget including the projected budget timeline.  He said they would bring the budget back on February 18th for action by the Commission.   He explained the budget climate and went over the FY10 and FY11 revenue and expenditure comparisons.  He said the proposed budget shows a gap of approximately $6M.  He showed pie charts showing revenues by source and expenses.  He went over the budget priorities and explained the budget strategy.  He said they are proposing reducing staffing by $2.7M, reducing collections spending to FY08 level at $1.6M, reducing non-salary, non-collection spending by $1.1M, applying $6.1M of available fund balance to cover debt payment of $2.5M and the remaining gap of $3.6M and continuing efforts to reduce the gap.  He went over specific budget non-personnel efficiencies.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, showed a graph showing the increase in the permanent service hours over the last three years.  She said maintaining the hours for the next year is the Library’s highest priority.  She said the number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees is driven by number of service locations, services and hours. She said the use of the library has increased by nearly 2 million patrons a year.  She said there have been significant increases to the books and materials budget in the last five years and for the next year they are proposing to go back to FY08 level.


Luis Herrera gave some statistics about per capita spending on books and materials as compared to other cities.  He said San Francisco’s per capita amount is about $13 and it goes down to about $2 per capita for San Antonio or about $1.75 for Los Angeles.  He said that is with the proposal of going back to FY 08.  He said it shows that we will still have a strong collection budget.


Jill Bourne said public technology has been a focus in recent years.  She said the Library has increased the number of public computers every year.  She said web hits have grown for the last few years.


Luis Herrera said the next steps are to monitor baseline revenues and expense assumptions, continue exploration of expense reduction opportunities in the context of priorities, the Commission’s review and consideration of budget proposal and Commission budget approval at the February 18the meeting.


Commissioner Lee left the meeting at 6:17 pm.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it is very disturbing to him that the Commission tolerates canards on this level.  He said the budget should open up questions about what value the library is getting for its money.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the presentation is very troubling for a number of reasons.  He said there is a lack of certain information.  He said the book budget is being cut by approximately 15%.  He said he doesn’t know that other cuts are being taken proportionately.


Sue Cauthen said thank you to the Commission for looking closely at the numbers.  She said the Library Citizens Advisory Committee will be hearing from the Controller on the budget at their February meeting.   She said she hopes the Library will be able to minimize the impacts on library services.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane had questions about the comparison between FY 10 and FY 11 for fringes and benefits.  He also asked about the reduction in the Lease Revenue Bonds debt service.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the debt service was reduced because of the delay in the issuance of the second revenue bonds.


Commissioner Kane said he appreciated the comparisons on the book budget.  He said his priority is to have hours, service and operations. He said he would prefer to go lower on the book budget than on some of the other efficiencies like maintenance, safety and janitorial.  He also asked about the Departments that would be impacted by the decrease in FTEs.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said they have looked at areas Department wide and they are trying to consolidate and bring about more efficiency.


Luis Herrera said they did not look at any programmatic cuts.


Commissioner Del Portillo said she wanted to congratulate the Library on not having any programmatic cuts.  She said we should do everything possible to retain our staff.  She said now more than ever libraries are playing a larger role in the educational picture.


President Gomez said she attended the Mayor’s briefing on the budget to Commission Presidents.  She said the situation is quite dire.  She said the budget presented by the Library is a very thoughtful one.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the budget does include dipping into the reserve for $6M, which is half of the Library’s reserve. 




There was no labor union report.






Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this is an example of an egregious failure to summarize the comments of Peter Warfield on the first page.  The summary should be of the points the speaker is making.  He said under adjournment it did not include his remarks about the retaliation of the library against John Philbrook.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said this is an example of when members of the public speak to correct the minutes and the Commission does nothing to make those corrections for the better.  He said under agenda item number 1 you might substitute three words that says “shows numerous violations” instead of “produces some unfortunate results.”  He said on page 2 his words were distorted to reflect that he had an objection to the number of employees where he did not have an objection. 


Sue Cauthen said she is a member of the Sunshine Task Force and Chairs the Education and Outreach Committee and she wanted to clarify what the Sunshine Ordinance says about public comment.  She said it says that it should be a brief summary of what was said.


Motion:  By Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Ono to approve the minutes of January 7, 2010


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




There was no public comment on this item.


Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo to adjourn the regular meeting of February 4, 2010.   


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


The meeting adjourned at 6:41 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.

Library Commission Meeting of February 4, 2010.



Item 1: General Public Comment


Anonymous Citizen: “Stop the Hate, Stop the Ignorance – Don’t give money to the Friends & Foundation, don’t accept money from the Friends & Foundation” has prefaced my public comments for five years.


This is also the 35th Anniversary of my attendance at Library Commission meetings.  The phrase acknowledges the commission’s deliberate abandonment of reason.  In retrospect, it seems that 30 years was the appropriate point to abandon any hope that civility and decency was just around the corner. 


I am investigating the dark underbelly of abuse, lies and social barriers that support the privileges of the few.  I had no idea how ugly it was, and I was both appalled and mesmerized. I thought people agreed that such ugliness should not exist.


You have the impression that the barriers serve to protect you, but in fact it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It only protects you from the symptoms of your own abuse.




Item 2: City Librarian’s Report


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


The Bernal Branch opening was emblematic.  With no courtyard or street closure, a success event would take planning and leadership.  Jill Bourne must have had a day off.


Guards asked people to line up to keep the sidewalk clear.  I lined up so as not to set an example of being uncooperative or anti-social.


When the dancers were finished, those who had not lined up were let in first and those in line ignored.  Those in line near me were outraged, and one mother told me that she wanted to teach her daughters that it was better to do the right thing, and wondered what the lesson is now.


People knew what the library thought of them before.  If those who are civilized are treated as fools for being cooperative, eventually there is no civilization left.




Item 3: Fiscal Year 2010-11 Budget


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


I am disturbed that the Commission tolerates “canards” on this level.  Last time I used the term efficiency measure.  The correct term is “performance measures.”


A budget like this should open up the question of what values we are getting for our money.  The Bond Transfers highlight that a million and a half dollars is significant.  We are taking more than that out of the book budget.


The most significant, but buried, aspect is that “expense growth of at least $3.4 Million will add to the gap.”  It is a canard to say that the reduced budget is the equivalent of a previous year; the impact is concealed.


The same sort of canard is perpetrated with respect to permanent service hours which are a fantasy, as if there were no closures, and therefore not public service at all.




Item 4: Branch Library Improvement Program Budget Transfers


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


You have not been told, but this was approved by the Board of Supervisors on January 12th, and 26th


This is not free money.  The Bond Program started out as $106 Million and is now $189 Million, a 78% increase.  And some of this money is going to scope increases.


There is a dearth of information about Golden Gate Valley which has been closed to public service without the bid process being completed.  Now my suspicions are borne out because we are now told that there is $3 Million taken out of that project without any details on the impact or even what percentage that represents.


The administration wants to be positive and it is always more fun to spend money, but about $14 Million was transferred out of the Library Preservation Fund and you could consider putting it back.



Item 6: Approval of the Minutes (January 7, 2010)


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


This is an egregious failure to summarize.  The minutes mention Peter Warfield’s reference to Sunshine compliance as “unfortunate” reflects only the first 15 seconds. 


Summarizing is not for cleaning up the comments.  This was a criticism of your silence and that criticism is not reflected in the minutes.  Your failure to respond to requests for documents, or take public comment, or attend Sunshine Task Force meetings as required, as well as being charged with official misconduct was the point. 


Likewise, the anonymous citizen’s statements about your actions constituting categorical irresponsibility and having a vested interest in protecting the Friends & Foundation are not reported.


The adjournment in honor of John Philbrook does not mention the betrayals of the Main Library, the retaliation that he suffered, and rising above that retaliation was the point.