Minutes of the Regular Meeting of February 21, 2008


(As approved at the regular meeting of March 20, 2008)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, February 21, 2008, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


President Gomez called the meeting to order at 4:37 pm.


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


President Gomez announced that agenda item number 4, the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between Library and Department of Public Works Regarding Branch Library Improvement Program will be trailed to a future meeting. 




An anonymous citizen said continuing item number 4 was a wise position.  He said when our City Librarian was selected at least three candidates were to be selected by the Library Commission and sent to the Mayor for selection.  He said the Commission at that time did not follow that process.


Peter Warfield said he is a member of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC) he said he was at yesterday’s monthly meeting.  He said there were presentations by Library and DPW staff.  He said the draft MOU was discussed at that meeting.  He said the MOU will be responding to one of the issues that came out under the City Controller’s Review.  He asked whether this item was going before the Library Commission as an action item and was told it is coming up for discussion.  He was also told that there would be no action taken by the Commission on the item.  He said he thinks the Commission needs to take action on the item.


Sue Cauthen, Chair of the LCAC, said they did hear about the MOU at their meeting.  She said most of the members agree that it really does lay the groundwork for the kinds of change that will bring projects on time and within budget.  She said they asked that they receive a status report in six months.  She said she is pleased there is a good MOU that lays the foundation for completing the Branch Library Improvement Program correctly.  


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said the groundbreaking at Ingleside was wonderful.  She said the Eureka Valley branch will be closing on March 1 and they will also be honoring outgoing Commissioner Steve Coulter at that event.  She said the reopening of the Noe Valley branch will be on Saturday, March 8.  She said the Friends have partnered with the San Francisco Botanical Garden for a new series at the Fort Mason bookstore called Green Ink and she said there will be a series of conversations and writings about Green issues.  She said it will start in April and will be the second Wednesday every month.




Marilyn Thompson, Bond Program Manager, said that the planning for the Anza Branch began in 2005 when 300 people completed a survey about the branch.  She said two community meetings had been held.  The first was in April, 2006 and the second was on February 9 this year.  She said the total project budget is $6.3 million, which includes site acquisition, site work, construction, architects, engineers all of the specialized consultants, testing, surveys, reports, moving costs, permit fees as well as contingencies, basically everything except furniture and computer equipment.  She said the project is in the schematic design phase, with construction expected to commence in early 2009 and project completion is expected late 2010.


Roggerio Bittencourt, Bureau of Architecture, the architect for the project, gave the presentation on the project.  He said the project goals are to improve service to the community, reduce seismic risk associated with a major earthquake, meet area expansion to avoid reduction of library space, provide efficient use of library space for collections and programs, incorporate the latest information technology, improve staff areas and modernization to meet State and Federal ADA guidelines.  He told about the history of the building and said it was built in 1932.  He showed the  existing site plan and photographs of the existing building.  He explained the proposed site plan.  


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said there is an internal design team of staff members, who review every step of design.  He gave the library’s response to the design.  He said with these types of historic renovations there are opportunities and challenges.  He said one opportunity is to have an ADA building, however, he said the increase in square footage is mostly used up by the stairwell and elevator in the back.  He said that while it is an additional 1000 sq. ft. building it is not necessarily programmable area, it is 1000 sq. ft. that will provide a fully accessible building.  He said there will be a new teen area and the staff areas will be upgraded.  He said the site lines in the children’s area will be maximized and all of the children’s materials will be on one floor.  He said there will also be a program room. 


Marilyn Thompson, Bond Program Manager, introduced the Peer Panel members.  She said Deborah Barrow is the Director of Libraries at the Sunnyvale Public Library and has 20 years experience managing public libraries and library projects.  She said Bruce Prescott, AIA, is an architect and urban designer whose 20 year career has been marked by a passion for refining projects so that a design concept is fully realized in constructed form.  She said he was the principal in charge of the new Mission Bay Branch Library.


Peer Reviewer Comments


Bruce Prescott said the access to the site is the most important thing to get right.  He said he agrees that the architect has found the right solution.  He said the placement of the elevator and stairs in the back portion of the building is well considered.  He asked whether the small addition to the staff section is truly required.  He said the connection between the back of house area and circulation desk is currently blocked.  He said the new entrance to the building should be enhanced in some way because he said a large number of people will be using that entrance.  He said that the landscape design should be integrated into the design.  He said there is an opportunity with the existing backyard.  He said an important consideration is the lighting and the recreation of the 1932 fixtures and a lot of thought should be given to getting as much light as possible.  He said the heating of the building needs to be addressed into the design as soon as possible. 


Deborah Barrow said congratulations to San Francisco for the passing of the bond measure.  She said it is a tremendous opportunity to upgrade and renovate branches.  She also commended staff for asking a library professional to take part in the design review process.  She said when looking at the design she looked at the user experience as well as the staff experience.  She said she agreed with the comments Bruce Prescott had made about the building.  She said line of site seems to be good from the service desk.  She said the new ADA accessible entrance should be exciting for the public to enter and draw them into the building.  She said the way the stacks are laid out and the teen section location may present some challenges for people who have arrived for the first time and are not certain where to go.  She said the teen area is very well placed.  She said new and remodeled libraries draw in new users so the experience may be different from what it is later.  She said there should be some consideration to the balance of the number of materials and the number of seating for the public.  She said the staff area is another area to consider what it will be like for the staff working there. She said there is an opportunity for landscaping outside on the lower level.          


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he is not immune to the fact that sometimes the administration does make advancements and improvements and he said in this case there were brief bios provided on the peer reviewers.  He said the key challenge to this branch is the slope that it is on.  He said none of the graphics show how challenging that is.  


Ron Miguel, President, Richmond Planning Association, said he appreciates the comments of the peer reviewers and said they touched on a number of points that have been made by users of the branch.  He said the public is interested in the historicity of the building and the function of the building for both the public and the staff.  He said the additional 1000 sq. ft. is pretty much taken up by ADA.  He said the number of seats is being reduced by around 20 and he is concerned about that.  He said the design of the second access is not extremely inviting.  He said the historic entrance off the street is very long and very steep.     


Peter Warfield said thank you to the peer reviewers.  He said he was very disappointed that the materials presented were not available in advance or to the public at the meeting.  He said that it is crucial that the information be provided well in advance.  He said he is shocked that the adult seating has been cut by more than one half from 49 to 24.  He said the children’s seating has been cut from 28 to 24.  He said there is a little more linear shelving.  He said he is not clear where the reference desks are.  He said the charging area looks like it is obscured by books and bookcases.  He said the staff room downstairs has no windows and that is a concern.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane asked about the reduction in seating.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said there has been a lot of discussion about this issue by the design team and the challenge is to make this branch ADA accessible and maintain the collection at its current size and that this is a trade off.  There will be less seating or less shelving so that is a decision that needs to be made.


Commissioner Kane expressed his concern about the reduction in seating especially since the branch will probably have higher attendance after it reopens.  He said he would like to see more research on this.  He said he hoped the ADA entrance will be inviting for everyone.  He said he was concerned about the children’s area and the shelving in the area.


Brian Bannon said there will be a librarian in the children’s area and there will be good site lines through the area.


Commissioner Munson had questions about the structural work in the building and how it will be seismically retrofitted. He asked about other plans for the building.  He said he is concerned about the reduction of seating.


Brian Bannon said this was the best option within the budget for the project.


Commissioner Chin said if the new entrance is preferable could something be done with the original entrance to add additional space to the library.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that one of the hallmarks of the BLIP is that we do maintain the integrity of historic buildings.  He said to maintain the budget we do need to look at the seating areas vs. shelving for books.


Commissioner Lee asked about the $6.3 million budget.  He also expressed concern about how the seismic upgrades will be done and asked about the heating.


Marilyn Thompson said furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) will be paid for by the Friends of the Library.


Philip Sowers, Bureau of Architecture, said the testing for this project has not yet been complete but they anticipate that the seismic reinforcement will be done within the existing walls.


President Gomez said she would like to see appropriate lighting and as much natural lighting as possible.




Marilyn Thompson, Bond Program Manager, said the Ortega Branch Library was originally budgeted as a renovation in early 2000.  The Library realized that a new larger building closer to Ortega Street was needed.  The Library had hoped that State funding would come through for this project but unfortunately that did not happen.  In March, 2007, the Library Commission voted to change the budget schedule and scope of several projects.  The Commission agreed to postpone five projects including the Ortega Branch in order to fund other active projects.  At the same time the forecasted budget for Ortega was increased in order to build the new larger building.  She said the Ortega branch is on Recreation and Park Department property.  She said the project calls for demolishing most of the existing library building except for a portion that is attached to an existing Recreation and Park building.  She said the project budget was increased from $3.4 million to a forecasted $7.9 - $8.4 million. She said this includes site acquisition, site work, construction, architects, engineers all of the specialized consultants, testing, surveys, reports, moving costs, permit fees as well as contingencies, basically everything except furniture and computer equipment.  The project is in the schematic design phase with construction scheduled to begin in late 2008 and project completion in 2010.  She said a community needs assessment was conducted that included interviews with community stakeholders.  She said three community meetings have been held in September, 2003; October, 2003; and January, 2008.   


Youcef Bouhamam, Architect, Bureau of Architecture, said the project  goals are to improve service to the community, provide greater visibility and presence in the neighborhood, incorporate the latest information technology, provide better work areas for staff, complete ADA accessibility, provide a seismically safe building, maximize energy efficiency, provide a green roof over a large portion of the building and to obtain LEED Silver certification.  He explained the existing site analysis; the design concept; the Living/Green Roof; and axonometric, aerial, exterior and internal views.  


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, gave the staff’s comments to the design.  He explained the staff process in looking at the design of the building and said one of the key stakeholders in the process is Recreation and Park Department because they own the property and the Library is working closely with them on the design of the building.  He said the building has a lot of glass and it allows for much better site lines in the building.  He said the teen area has a distinct space.  He said the story times have 100-200 children participants, so a community meeting space is important.  He said there will be an expandable wall in the building to help meet this need.  He said the staff work area is significant.  He said acoustics are an important element because the branch is so busy and so well used.  He said there will be a laptop lab and that there will be additional technology for this branch.  He said they are looking at flexible opportunities for security and growth of the building.


Commissioners Del Portillo and Kane left the meeting at 6:08 pm.


Peer Reviewer Comments


Deborah Barrow said this is a very exciting opportunity.  She said it accommodates an area for teens and said the location of the room is perfect.  She said the green building is great.  She said the existing library is very difficult to find and the new site will address this issue in a different way.  She said it would be great to have some separation from the library and the school.  She said creative attractive signage would be helpful for this site.  She said capitalizing on the view to the ocean would be great.  She said landscaping will help soften the building.  She said angled shelving might be fun especially with the windows.  She said the children’s area has a nice approach.  She said she has witnessed a story time at the building and it is very busy, so you should prepare for the strollers.  She said security is an issue with the building.  She said art work is very important and high impact art would help to soften the building.


Bruce Prescott said angling the shelving would be worth looking into because of the view from the windows.  He said given the constraint of the retaining wall, moving the building up as far as possible would be important.  He said looking at the approach from 39th Street would help with some of the entrance ambiguity that exists.  He said the signage should face Ortega Street.  He said one of the strong elements of the design is the north facing large glass wall.  He said the visual divide could be more distinct in separating the areas.  He said the fencing along the south side creates a zone that is in between.  He said he would eliminate a portion of the fencing.  He said he liked having the living roof visible.  He said the entry area into the program room could be worked out a little better.   He said the mechanical systems should be verified before going further with the design. 


Marilyn Thompson thanked the peer review members for their comments.


Commissioner Lee left the meeting at 6:24 pm.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said in the past there have been as many as three architects on the peer panel and it would be helpful to have more than one.  He said the materials provided don’t really give a sense of what is happening with this branch.  He said it is clear that this does not work for several reasons.  He said there are many security challenges and not having more access and visibility to Ortega Street is also a problem.  He said this is a new building that is 2/3 larger than the previous building and that the increase in shelving space is less than 1%.


Twila Parker brought a 4-year old child with her to the podium and asked the Commission to imagine 200 children at a story time.  She said there is not enough space for programming.  She said the branch as planned is just too small.  She said it would be better to have a lower and upper level.  She said in the afternoon there are hundreds of teenagers in the area and in the library.


Peter Warfield said it is unfortunate that the material presented today is not available to the public.  He said the axonometric view that was distributed in the back of the room is different from the one presented.  He said there is a considerable increase in floor space and there is less than 1% increase in shelving.  He said the public seating has been increased by approximately 18%, but the adults are losing 1/3 of their seats and that is troubling. He wonders why more of the wall space is not being used for shelving.  He is concerned about the location of the reference desk right next to the circulation desk.


Melissa Riley, a Librarian at the West Portal branch, speaking for herself, said she has worked in every branch.  She said this branch is the busiest branch after school.  She said she would like to see if there is a way that there could be more table space and work space for the teenagers after school.  She said being able to see the view of the ocean from the branch will be marvelous.  She said it would be great for patrons to be able to see the green roof.  She liked the idea of angling the shelves and she would like to see the reference desk separated from the circulation desk.


Katy Tang, Supervisor Chu’s office, said the Supervisor is very excited to have a community room.  She said that the loading trucks will not block the entrance or interfere with people entering the building.  She said the  views from the street are also important.  She said the area is shared by a lot of students and other patrons and they wanted to make sure that there is a space for kids to actually be around.


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said her staff has been involved in looking at the plans for the branch.  She said a bigger branch is fantastic and she said she is extremely pleased with the layout of this branch.  She said the placement of the program room is exciting.  She said it could also be used for after hours study space.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson said he has trouble visualizing the area and said there is an overall consideration of how Park and Recreation is using the entire site.  He said he has concerns over security and visibility.  He also asked about the possibility of having the building two stories.  He asked about access to the green roof.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said there have been a lot of conversations about this and one of the challenges is that this is park land and a lot of functions are in this area.  He said moving the building closer to the street will help to maximize site lines from the street to the building.  He said there is a considerable construction cost increase when there are two floors and additional costs for staffing.  He also said they would look into access to the green roof.


Commissioner Chin said this has a lot of open space around it.  She said it would be nice if they could use the entire footprint.  She said she likes the idea of moving the building closer to the street.  She asked about the LEED Silver designation.


Youcef Bouhamam, the architect explained that LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and there are different levels of standards for LEED certification.  He also said the green roof will be native plants.


Commissioner Harris said he liked that they are moving the building closer to the street and that it will be seismically safe.


President Gomez said the lack in increase in books may be partly because of the number of windows.


Deborah Barrow, Peer Reviewer, said that many libraries are balancing the collection size because there is electronic access.  She said libraries are considered to be a “place to be” and seating areas are very important.


Commissioner Munson said he would like to insure that there is room for the expansion of materials and flexibility is important.         






Marilyn Thompson, Bond Program Manager, said that there were no informational or special reports for this meeting.  In order to make the report more understandable, which was recommended by the Controller’s Audit, she has expanded the active project reports to include a project by project assessment of activities, schedules and budgets including where applicable construction and outreach activities.  She explained the current approved budget and said a copy was available at the back of the room. She said every change to the baseline budget is included and the last budget was approved on November 15, 2007.  She said the schedule report is a summary level report that is broken down by project in alphabetical order and it is also available at the back of the room.  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 forecasted schedule.  She gave the Active Projects Report including information on new construction and renovations; and the Construction Report.  She showed photographs of West Portal, Western Addition, Noe Valley, Richmond, Portola, the groundbreaking at Ingleside, the Bernal Heights closing party.  She said Eureka Valley will be closing on March 1 and the Noe Valley Opening Celebration will be March 8.  She said other active projects are Potrero, Parkside, Visitacion Valley, Anza, Ortega, Merced, Bayview, North Beach, Park, and Golden Gate Valley.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said there is continuing improvement in the Bond Manager’s Report in some areas and some fallback in other areas.  He said the information distributed to the public with six slides is very difficult to read.  He said the Schedule Reports are much improved.  He said there are 18 active projects and all but two of them have a difference between the approved schedule and the forecasted schedule.  He said this should be of some concern to the Commission.


Melissa Riley asked about the selection of the LEED certification for the projects.  She said sometimes you end up with a more ecological or green building if you don’t have a LEED certification depending on the site and the building.


Peter Warfield said he said that he agreed that there are some improvements in the Bond Manager’s Report but that there are also some mysteries.  He said the handouts are very difficult to read.  He said it would be helpful to have those larger.  He asked about the new red line on the schedule report.  He said a number of the branches have been determined to be LEED silver certified.  He said he does not recall the Commission discussing this process and he thought it would be appropriate for the Commission to discuss the LEED certification and the budget impacts as well.



Commission Discussion


Marilyn Thompson explained that the red line on the schedule report was added when the Summary Schedule was revised last October and she explained at that time that the red line shows approximately today’s date.




Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, February 21, 2008


ACTION:  AYES: 4-0 (Chin, Gomez, Harris, and Munson).


The regular meeting of February 21, 2008, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 7:32 p.m.


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).