SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY COMMISSION

(as approved at the regular meeting of April 5, 2007)

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, March 1, 2007, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

The meeting was called to order at 4:34 PM with Commissioners Chin, Coulter, Higueras, Kane, and Munson present.  Commissioner Gomez arrived at 4:47 and Commissioner Bautista arrived at 5:15.

To accommodate the schedules of commissioners who would be unable to attend the entire meeting, President Higueras changed the order in which items on the agenda would be heard and cautioned that item #7, Extended Library Service Hours, might have to be postponed to a future meeting.

AGENDA ITEM #3: BRANCH LIBRARY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (BLIP) REPORT

City Librarian Luis Herrera and BLIP Manager Marilyn Thompson reviewed for the commission the BLIP report given at its regular meeting of February 15, 2007.  Ms. Thompson provided the commission with updated budget recommendations for five branch projects—Anza, Park, Parkside, Presidio, and Visitacion Valley—and schedule and budget changes for another five projects—Bayview, Golden Gate Valley, Merced, North Beach, and Ortega. 

Mr. Herrera made these recommendations:

Transfer $18,037,600 from five remaining project budgets (Bayview, Golden Gate Valley, Merced, North Beach, and Ortega) to 11 active and upcoming projects (Richmond, Portola, Ingleside, Potrero, Eureka Valley, Bernal Heights, Anza, Park, Parkside, Presidio, and Visitacion Valley);

Begin design on three remaining projects (Bayview, North Beach, Ortega);

Expedite the 11 active and upcoming projects;

Identify funding options to complete the five remaining projects.

The city librarian pointed out funding options to close the BLIP budget shortfall, and described the recent meeting of the city’s Capital Planning Committee.  He reported that the committee recommended renewal of the library’s charter set-aside funding with an option for revenue bonding authority. 

Mr. Herrera welcomed Ben Rosenfield, city administrator’s office, who recounted the Capital Planning Committee’s action to recommend to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Newsom that the Library Preservation fund be renewed with the option for revenue bonding.  Mr. Rosenfield described advantages for the Public Library of utilizing revenue bonds to complete the BLIP projects instead of alternative forms of funding, such as general obligation bonds.  He noted that Recreation & Park Department now uses revenue bonds for the Open Space fund.  Mr. Rosenfield characterized revenue bonds as a flexible tool that could be used to complete the branch library renovations without affecting current service levels in the library system. 

The city librarian welcomed Edgar Lopez, bureau manager for Project Management at Department of Public Works, who described DPW’s analysis of the Branch Library Improvement Program to ensure that adequate resources are being dedicated to complete the program on time and within the revised budget.

Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, announced that the Friends board endorsed the renewal of the Library Preservation fund, including the addition of revenue-bond capacity, and she praised Edgar Lopez’s past work on the Conservatory of Flowers.  She stated that Friends concurred with the financial projections being presented to the Library Commission, and she expressed satisfaction that various city agencies are examining their practices to increase efficiency and control costs for the library’s bond program.

The anonymous citizen thanked President Higueras for having Mr. Rosenfield offer his presentation prior to public comment, and expressed reservations about various BLIP projects and practices.

Ian McLean stated his willingness to accept delay in Ortega Branch’s construction if it means that the project will be correctly and adequately accomplished.

Ruth Wallace, co-chair of Portola Library Committee, informed the commission of community support for Portola Branch’s new construction and requested that the project be fully funded and kept on schedule.

Kate Gunnell, a Portola neighbor, thanked the commission for its efforts to keep the Portola project moving forward and spoke of community anticipation for the enhanced branch, library materials in a multitude of languages, and increased access to computers.

Marlene Tran, educator and spokeswoman for Visitacion Valley Asian Alliance, thanked President Higueras for his Saturday visit to Visitacion Valley and commented on the need for a new, enhanced branch in that neighborhood.

David Binkowski, Visitacion Valley resident and public high school teacher, spoke in favor of a new, free-standing branch library in that neighborhood.  He surmised that the new branch is a matter of social equity, and he applauded the commission for its support of the project.

Anne Seeman, a Visitacion Valley neighbor and advocate, related her optimism for that neighborhood’s new branch.  She recalled successful efforts by community members and Supervisor Maxwell to assist in obtaining the developers fee ordinance, and she equated the timely construction of an improved branch to social justice.

Betty Parshall, Visitacion Valley History Project, spoke in support of a new branch for that neighborhood, and requested analysis whether it would be more feasible and cost effective to rehabilitate the current site.  She emphasized that regardless of which plan was ultimately chosen, she fully supported a new library for Visitacion Valley.  Ms. Parshall provided letters from various residents supporting the Visitacion Valley Branch, and she urged that the project be realized as soon as possible.

Linda Brooks-Burton, manager of Bayview Branch Library, read aloud a letter from Supervisor Maxwell in support of a new stand-alone branch library for Visitacion Valley and an enhanced library for Bayview.

Carol High, a 17-year resident of Portola neighborhood, described their branch’s location near a freeway on-ramp and voiced support for a larger new branch in a safer location.

Fran Martin, Visitacion Valley Planning Alliance, spoke in favor of a new, stand-alone branch for that neighborhood.

Ron Miguel, president of the Planning Association for the Richmond, read aloud a letter from Supervisor Jake McGoldrick in favor of increasing funding for Richmond Branch and fulfilling the entire branch improvement program.  Mr. Miguel expressed his own support for revenue bond capacity for the Public Library and encouraged the commission to approve the staff recommendation.

Crezia Tano, program manager for Visitacion Valley Business Opportunities and Outreach to Merchants, provided a list of businesses which support a new branch library for that neighborhood.

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, expressed skepticism regarding the library’s financial management and cited instances which he felt supported this view.  He cautioned against revenue bonds which in his opinion would divert library operating funds into branch reconstruction.

Ellen Egbert, Bernal Heights neighbor, encouraged commissioners to periodically visit each branch, and she underscored the need for a new facility for Visitacion Valley.  Ms. Egbert noted the reduction in the scope of Bernal Branch’s renovation due to inflation and cautioned the library about raising communities’ expectations beyond what could actually be provided.

Robert Carlson, manager of North Beach Branch Library, offered instances of community support for a new branch for that neighborhood.

Edie Epps, a lifelong resident of Visitacion Valley, stated community support for full funding for a new, stand-alone branch library for that neighborhood.

Sue Cauthen, member of both the Council for Neighborhood Libraries and the Library Citizens Advisory Committee, expressed support for enhanced library service in the southeastern section of the city.  She informed the commission that she favors an outside review of the expenditure of bond funds.

Mauricio Vela, Save the Bernal Preschool/Stop the Eviction campaign, thanked City Librarian Herrera for his communication, and he noted that the campaign supports the library.  He urged the commission to fund the expansion of Bernal Branch regardless of the ultimate decision on the preschool.

Maggie Siegel, librarian at Ortega Branch, read aloud a letter in support of construction of a new branch facility written by the principal of the neighboring middle school.    

In response to a question from President Higueras, Mr. Herrera stated that Supervisor Maxwell favors the expansion plan for Bayview Branch.

Commissioner Kane expressed gratitude to this evening’s speakers and to staff who prepared reports. 

President Higueras pointed out that Friends provides funding for furniture and fixtures since bond money cannot be used for those purposes. 

In response to questions from Commissioner Kane, Mr. Rosenfield provided additional information on the functioning of revenue bonds, and the means and schedule by which the library could issue them against its dedicated revenue stream from the property tax.

Commissioner Kane revisited his recommendation from the previous meeting that the library should obtain an independent financial review of the bond program.  He explained that he believed the library would be shown to have acted responsibly in the expenditure of the funds, and that the review would also be useful in building support for the renewal of Proposition E and obtaining authority from the voters to issue revenue bonds to complete the branch renovations.

Commissioner Munson agreed with Commissioner Kane that the Public Library should obtain an independent analysis of the branch program.

Commissioners Chin and Bautista addressed the issue of rising construction costs, and Ms. Thompson reported that the city is studying methods to make the bidding process less cumbersome for contractors in order to increase competition.

Commissioner Kane proposed that the independent audit review the management of the bond program to date, as well as recommending best practices for going forward.

The city librarian agreed with Commissioner Kane on the wisdom of assessing the bond program, and he recommended entering into discussion with the controller and the Department of Public Works to define the best approach and methodology for the review. 

Mr. Rosenfield pointed out that the controller is charged under the city charter with auditing city functions, and that at times the controller’s office has used outside consultants for that purpose.  He concurred with the city librarian’s recommendation that the city administrator, DPW, and library staff discuss an independent review with the controller and bring recommendations back to the commission.

Commissioner Coulter thanked Ms. Thompson for her reports and recalled the city’s history of not fully funding major library construction projects.  He urged that the independent review examine concrete issues such as the city’s bid and purchasing procedures, and that the scope of the investigation be defined so that the results would be useful.  He sought assurance that no legal difficulties would be encountered in obtaining revenue-bond capacity and the renewal of the Library Preservation fund.  The commission vice president emphasized the importance of building political support for the library set-aside proposal as well as the revenue bonds. 

Commissioner Coulter inquired as to the status of Bernal Branch, and the city librarian responded that the branch renovation would soon be going to bid, and that the downstairs portion of the branch will be significantly expanded. 

Commissioner Coulter cautioned that it appeared the principal argument against revenue bond capacity would be fear that the funding would be a blank check against the department’s operating funds.  Mr. Herrera answered that the priority for the set-aside would be the operations of the library, and that bonds would not be issued if they would adversely affect the established levels of service.  Commissioner Coulter expressed agreement with Commissioner Kane that the funding of the final five projects was totally dependent on the outcome of the renewal of the Library Preservation fund, and that it was important to make that explicit when discussing the issue with the public.

President Higueras questioned the false dichotomy between books, open hours, and branch renovations.  He noted that libraries are materials and services provided at real locations in neighborhoods, and that it is appropriate for the locations to receive the regard and support that the bond program is providing for them.  He maintained that branches which have been renovated in the Branch Library Improvement Program are not extravagant, but have received the appropriate attention that they require to adequately provide services in the community.  The commission president endorsed Commissioner Kane’s proposal to obtain third-party review of the branch library program, and expressed the department’s ongoing commitment to renovate and adequately maintain library facilities in San Francisco.

Commissioner Chin expressed appreciation for this evening’s speakers and encouraged them to seek political support for the library.

Commissioner Munson spoke in favor of improving the city’s antiquated bid and purchasing procedures which he pointed out inflate project costs by discouraging contractors and vendors.

President Higueras recounted his recent visit to Visitacion Valley Branch and offered an overview of arguments pro and con for renovating the existing structure or constructing an entirely new building. 

Commissioner Bautista pointed out the high expectations people have for public buildings.

Commissioner Kane asked that the library make a commitment to renovate Bayview Branch as soon as possible, and the city librarian agreed to recommend that a portion of the money from the $4-milllion budget transfer be earmarked for Bayview.

Commissioner Gomez emphasized the Library Commission’s commitment to the five branches whose renovations are being delayed.

MOTION: by Commissioner Kane, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to approve the budget transfers recommended in the BLIP report that has been presented tonight.  Specifically, we are voting on whether to approve transferring a portion of the five remaining project budgets identified on page 16 of the BLIP report to the 11 active and upcoming projects identified on pages 11 and 12 of the report.  These transfers will allow us to close the gap between the approved and recommended budgets for the 11 active and upcoming projects.  It will also allow us to begin design on three of the remaining projects.  In approving this motion, we reiterate that we are committed to completing all of the projects and identifying funding to replenish the budgets for the five remaining projects.  The City is currently pursuing a number of promising strategies to augment the bond funding, and we fully anticipate that there will be additional resources that will allow us to complete all five of the remaining projects.  Approved by the following vote: 7 – 0; Aye: Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Gomez, Higueras, Kane, and Munson.

Commissioner Kane departed the meeting at 6:23 PM. 

AGENDA ITEM #4: RICHMOND/SENATOR MILTON MARKS BRANCH LIBRARY

Ms. Thompson reported that negotiations for the renovation of Richmond Branch are complete, and she proposed a schedule to the commission, noting that the Richmond project budget totaling $13,711,500 was approved in the previous action.  The bond-program manager reviewed the plans for Richmond Branch, and Mr. Herrera characterized this item as a formality following the commission’s approval of agenda item #3.

The anonymous citizen sought paper copies of the PowerPoint presentation and equated the Richmond Branch renovation to a can of worms.

Ron Miguel praised the speedy schedule being proposed for Richmond Branch renovation.  He explained that savings that may be realized from this schedule could be used for other renovation projects, and he agreed with Ms. Thompson regarding the importance of having the construction site enclosed prior to next year’s rainy season.

Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, reported that the Richmond and Anza campaign had raised more than one-third of its goal of $1-million, and she spoke in support of the increased project budget for Richmond Branch.

President Higueras expressed appreciation to Marilyn Thompson and Joe Cheung of DPW for successfully negotiating the Richmond project with the contractor.

MOTION: by Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Chin, to increase the project budget for Richmond Branch renovation to $13,711,500.  Approved by the following vote: 6 – 0; Aye: Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Gomez, Higueras, and Munson.

AGENDA ITEM #5: FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY REPORT

Ms. Bero expressed gratitude to the Library Commission for their actions at this evening’s meeting.

The anonymous citizen commented on the role of the Friends of the Library.

AGENDA ITEM #1: PUBLIC COMMENT

The anonymous citizen commented on templates, organizational psychology, and the extension of Friends’ fundraising.

Ellen Egbert announced that she is contributing to Bernal Branch through Friends of the Library.

AGENDA ITEM #6: CITY LIBRARIAN’S REPORT

Mr. Herrera and Chief of Branches Brian Bannon recalled the successful reopening of West Portal Branch and estimated that 2,000 individuals attended. 

Chief of Main Kathy Lawhun and Book Arts Manager Asa Peavy described the collection of books that the late Marjorie Stern bequeathed to the library.  Mr. Peavy displayed for the commission an edition of the Kelmscott Press The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer which was included in the Stern legacy, and he stated that Book Arts received approximately 750 volumes, and that Art & Music and the International Collection shared another 750 volumes through the gift.

Ms. Lawhun and Mr. Herrera welcomed Access Services Manager Marti Goddard who offered a presentation on the programs provided by Deaf Services Center, Library for the Blind & Print Disabled, Friends for Life, Library on Wheels, Project Read, and Learning Differences.

Mr. Herrera gave an overview of Link Plus, a partnership the library has with 47 other library systems to share materials, and summarized upcoming exhibitions and programs.

The anonymous citizen lauded Marjorie Stern’s gift to the Public Library, and questioned whether Link Plus differs substantially from interlibrary loan. 

Ellen Egbert identified herself as a Project Read volunteer tutor and praised the Library for the Blind program.

Peter Warfield suggested that information regarding Access Services be featured at branches, urged that items from the Stern gift be made available electronically, and expressed dissatisfaction at Link Plus’s replacement charge for lost materials and the paucity of online-catalog terminals at the entrance to the main library.

Deborah Doyle spoke in support of the programs offered by Access Services, the commission actions taken at this evening’s meeting to enhance branch facilities, and the generous legacy of Marjorie Stern.

Vice President Coulter recalled Marjorie Stern’s love of books and the Public Library, and he suggested that at the conclusion of this evening’s meeting that the commission adjourn in honor of Marjorie Stern and her family’s generous gift.  He also expressed admiration for the work of Access Services Manager Goddard and for Project Read. 

Commissioner Bautista recalled her recent visit to Library for the Blind and Project Read’s graduation services.

In response to a question from President Higueras, the city librarian agreed to report back in 60 days on the library’s experience with Link Plus. 

AGENDA ITEM #2: APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES

The anonymous citizen questioned the absence of citizen summaries in the draft minutes, addressed libraries’ roles in preserving history, and cited an example wherein he felt the minutes did not adequately convey his comment.

Peter Warfield spoke in support of citizen summaries and offered four specific instances where he felt clarifications and improvements could be made in the minutes of February 1, 2007. 

Commissioner Munson identified an error in the minutes in which the Branch Library Improvement Program was misidentified as the Bond Library Improvement Program, and he requested correction.

MOTION: by Commissioner Coulter, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of February 1, 2007, as corrected.  Approved by the following vote: 6 – 0; Aye: Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Gomez, Higueras, and Munson.

AGENDA ITEM #7:  EXTENDED LIBRARY SERVICE HOURS

Continued to the March 15th meeting

 

AGENDA ITEM # 8:  LABOR UNION REPORT

None

AGENDA ITEM #9:  NEW BUSINESS

 

None

AGENDA ITEM #10:  ADJOURNMENT

MOTION: by Commissioner Coulter, seconded by Commissioners Bautista and Munson, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, March 1, 2007, in appreciation of Marjorie Stern and her family for the generous gift of books she loved.  Approved by the following vote: 6 – 0; Aye: Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Gomez, Higueras, and Munson.

The regular meeting of Thursday, March 1, 2007, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 7:38 PM in appreciation of Marjorie Stern and her family for the generous gift of books she loved.

Richard Walsh

Acting Secretary, Library Commission

Please note:  These are draft minutes subject to revision by the Public Library Commission.  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 http://sfpl.org.  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.  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.


 

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, March 1, 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.
This scandal almost writes itself. We understand things in terms of the templates we know. We fit our history into the stories we tell ourselves.
The template here is that things were going along fine under Willie Brown and now Mayor Newsom is asleep at the wheel and the library is egregiously behind and over budget.
We know that this template is not really true, but that is what people are going to understand.
The story should be the organizational impetus. Dick Cheney wishes he had
evidence of Weapons of Mass I)estruction and his organization provides such evidence.
Similarly, Donna Bero wishes there were some reason for extending this fund raising out another ten years. Then the organization comes up with a reason.
My new tag line: ‘The lies cost more than the money.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, March 1, 2007
Item 2:
Approval of the Minutes
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
You have gone back to the standard of not attaching the citizen summaries to these minutes in any way.
Those citizen summaries are a part of history. For example, by accident and human error my copy of a summary was deleted. I can recreate it, but it is part of what libraries are about that a document is preserved by the library as well as preserving the access to it.
If we value the library, that is the same reason we value the minutes.
At this meeting I spoke about the watershed event known as the John Bransten incident. I described this as the script of the time when Commissioner Coulter butted heads with Jim Herlihy.
You have gone back to wide margins, large type and very little history.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, March 1, 2007
Item 3:
Branch I ibrary Improvement Program (BLIP) Report
“Stop the Hate! Stop the ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
I am not usually effusive in my praise of president Higueras, but in this case he recognized that the public needed to hear that report from Mr. Rosenfield before public comment. Perhaps he is developing democratic instincts at long last.
There was an overdue admission in the report that, time is money.
it has been seven years since the citizens voted for this bond measure. The library presents a list of six completed projects. The Presidio retaining wall has workman on site. The System Support Center was a purchase. The Mission Bay project was a condominium.
There are only two projects that originated and were pushed to completion by the staff and one of those was complete as of February 10.
It is the delay that is the primary culprit.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, March 1, 2007
Item 4:
Richmond/Senator Milton Marks Branch Library
“Stop the Hate! Stop the ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
These are new figures. I searched in vain for these figures in writing. It is very important that people have access to the documents that you are looking at and that they have the figures in writing. You have been very good about providing copies of slides on other items, but these particular ones were not available.
Did I hear a starting gun going off?
As was pointed out by Mr. Herrera, there is a can of worms being opened here and it would be very wise to understand what is in it. I guess we will learn those issues soon enough.
With respect to this project, if you have the money you may as well go ahead. But then that is the question, Do you have the money?”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, March 1, 2007
Item 5:
Friends of the Library Report
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
Thank you for the clarification. I was a little bit confused myself. [Chair almost goes to another item and is instructed to take public comment by deputy city attorney.]
This is a wonderful chance to be brief, so I will probably take it.
The implications of the Friends in all of this are profound and 1 think we all understand them. I will be giving you many details later.
Long live the public comment fund. We have not heard a report on that for a while. But as they say, details to follow.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, March 1, 2007
Item 6:
City Librarian’s Report by Luis Herrera
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
I was at the re-opening of the West Portal Branch and a good time was had by all.
Among bibliophiles the Kelmscott Chaucer is almost the holy grail. in the PreRaphaelite collection at the Tate Gallery, Edward Burne-Jones is well represented. These are all legendary figures and it is enthralling that we now have his Kelmscott Chaucer because of Marjorie Stern.
it would be nice if the public had access to the powerpoint facilities. But an actual tour of the handicapped access department is recommended.
I question this Links-Plus proposal. It seems almost indistinguishable from interlibrary loan and interlibrary loan was analyzed very carefully to make sure that the impacts were balanced by the benefits. It is not usually presented as an empty headed positive thing. There are issues to be considered.”