Minutes of the Regular Meeting of March 4, 2010


(As approved at the regular meeting of April 15, 2010)


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


The meeting was called to order at 4:51 pm.


Commissioners present: Gomez, Kane, Munson and Ono


Commissioners Del Portillo arrived at 4:54 pm.




An anonymous citizen said at the last meeting Commissioner Kane’s reliance on the fact that the Library’s material’s budget was doing better than other cities was a gross canard.  He said without respect for the truth, you have no respect for your own opinion.  He said the library administration is trying to manipulate the Commissioners’ opinions so they said, ignore that guy who might tell you the truth and you buy it.


Sue Cauthen, Chair of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), said the LCAC passed a resolution at their February meeting commending Kathy Lawhun and the 50-Plus Task Force for developing a viable and growing program of library services for seniors.  She said she chairs the Education and Outreach Committee of the Sunshine Task Force and they do presentations on the Sunshine Ordinance so they are always available if any of the Commissioners are interested.


Portia Osborne said she was born and raised in San Francisco and she has spent a lot of time in the library.  She said the library has been very healing, she said when she has experienced illness, and reading is what kept her sane.  She said she loves the new website.  She said she loves the interaction with the librarians and the services provided.  She thanked the Commission for what they are doing.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association (LUA), said the Commission can answer and ask questions of the speakers.  He said of 88 libraries studied, San Francisco had the third highest per capita expenditures.  He said this is one of the best funded libraries.  He said the Park Branch closed on Saturday and the LUA had an informational flyer event and gave information about the unfortunate fact about the renovation and the poor design of the branch.  He said it is unfortunate that the library is not providing full time interim library services but rather a 7 ½ hour a week bookmobile.  He said there was no solicitation publicly for input on the Library’s new website.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the Potrero Branch will be opening on Saturday at 1:00. He said the Commission approved the Library’s proposed budget for FY 10-11.  He said that budget was submitted to the Mayor’s Office.  He said they have been monitoring the Mayor’s proposal for restructuring the workforce for a 37.5 hour part time basis.  He said the process for that will begin tomorrow.  He said there will be information sessions for the library staff and he will keep the Commission apprised of the situation.  He said the issue raised about potential charges from the Recreation and Park Department for libraries located on park land was on Recreation and Park’s contingency list but it is no longer on that list.  He said the Library has various area focus teams and the SFPL Bookmobile area focus team would like to make a presentation to the Commission today.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said Jon Worona is the former Bookmobile Manager and currently the District Manager for the Southwest District, who led this effort with a large team of stakeholders in the library and he will give an overview of the work they did and their recommendations.


Jon Worona said he started at the library as the Branch Library Improvement Program Bookmobile Manager and recently he was appointed as chair of the SFPL Bookmobile Area Focus Team.  He said Brian Bannon is the sponsor and Lorena Arroyo represents the Library on Wheels, Marti Goddard represents Access Services, Jim Jeske the acting Branch Bookmobile Manager and Katrin Reimuller is the librarian for the Children’s bookmobile.  He gave a presentation on the challenges of the bookmobile program.  He said there are no system-wide mobile outreach policies.  He said their recommendations include  Phase 1: the Reorganization for Positive Public Impact and Phase II: Strategic Planning and Programming Enhancements.


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said there were several goals in designing the new SFPL website.  She presented the new site and showed various aspects of the site.  She said there are separate teen and kid’s pages.  There is also a grown-ups page for programs, book selections, etc. for kids.       


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he did a search for the Library’s website today and printed out some pages that were from the old website.  He said the most recent minutes, the last press release and the last exhibits were from 2008.  He said it is possible he was on the old website.  He said the new website is graphically oriented rather than research oriented.  He said what was said about the bookmobile showed a certain amount of improvements.  He said a bookmobile is suitable for outreach or advertising but it is not a substitute for a real library.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the bookmobile is not library service as we understand it.  He said he recently visited a bookmobile and it is tiny.  He said there was no professional librarian.  He asked for a book on photography or art and there were no books on either subject.  He said there is no bathroom and no place to sit.  He said there was no printer for a receipt.  He said the new website does not have an emphasis on book searching. 


Sue Cauthen said she could not read what was on the screen.  She said the Library Citizens Advisory Committee had suggested that the Library Commission have a link from the home page.  She said there should be a link to support services.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane asked if there is an MOU or any written agreement on the legal arrangements for the libraries on Park and Recreation property.  He said he would like a report back on that.  He said he was concerned about how the 37.5 hour work week for city employees would impact library services or hours of operation.  He asked if that is implemented how it will affect the Library’s budget.  He said he thinks it would be good to have every bookmobile have internet service.  He said it should be the policy to get all the records up to date on the website.


Commissioner Del Portillo said the reduction in hours for city employees would actually be a reduction in pay.  She asked how many employees would be affected by this and how the bumping process will work.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said all library staff will be receiving the layoff notices and most will be rehired at 37.5 hours


Commissioner Ono asked about the impact on benefits for employees.


Donna Marion, Human Resources Director, said this would not impact health benefits but it will impact credits for vacation and sick leave because those are based on hours worked.  She said retirement will be affected as well.


Luis Herrera said there is a website and phone number for employees to provide information.  He said the process with the letters going out will begin tomorrow, March 5.


Commissioner Ono said the bookmobile she visited was not accessible.


Jon Worona said three of the five vehicles have a wheelchair left.  He said the website does identify that and an accessible bookmobile can be requested.  He said the new bookmobile will be accessible.  He said the new bookmobile will come into service in 9 – 12 months. 


President Gomez thanked the team for working on centralizing bookmobile management.




Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, said she was happy to introduce a presentation about another one of the Library’s Affinity Centers, the Chinese Center located on the Third Floor.  She said Doris Tseng will be making the presentation.


Doris Tseng said the Chinese Center is part of the International Center.  She said in 1996 the community affinity group raised $500,000 to build this beautiful center.  She said there are 1400 reference books and there are very special books in the collection.  She said the Center is well-used by the general public, college students, school teachers and researchers.  She said they have many programs and exhibits.  She said there is a Chinese Book Club and computer classes.  She said there will be upcoming Programs on the Shanghai 2010 World Expo and the Shanghai Cultural Festival. She showed a brief video by Richard Le on the Center.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said one of the things he would have liked to hear more about is the Shanghai Sister City Program.  He said the presenter said “It is good to encourage people to turn off their computers,” and he agreed with that statement.  He said he was impressed with how rich, detailed and historic the Center is.


Peter Warfield said it is always good to hear what is going on in the Library with respect to collections.  He said it was wonderful to hear that it is good to turn off the computer and read.  He said he wishes that was more of a priority in the library.  He said the Center was the room the Mayor used to announce the appointment of the current City Librarian.  He said books have history and not just content. 


Commission Discussion


President Gomez said the presentation was lovely and the room is a real resource.  She thanked staff for the presentation.




Cathy Bremer, Union Representative, said the unions are meeting regarding the 37.5 hour work week and their lawyers say this is illegal.  She said the unions are objecting to this because it is a change in status.  She said they are hoping for the best.  She said they are proud the Library Administration has met with them and assured them they will do this as fairly as possible and that people will be brought back by seniority.  She said the change from a full time 40 hour week to a full time 37.5 hour week would have been much more acceptable and instead employees are receiving pink slips to be hired back as part time employees.  She said the Mayor would like an entire city made up by part time employees and that will affect our benefits.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this opens a number of very profound doors and how it relates to his comments at the beginning of the meeting which is you continue to ignore something and all of a sudden you are confronted with reality and a backlash.  He said the outsourcing of our entire society in order to concentrate the benefits into fewer and fewer hands.  He said there is backlash coming from several different levels.  He said finally you disenfranchise the entire society.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he is very saddened to hear the Labor Report today.  He said the benefits were part of the deal made with civil servants to attract them and keep them on as civil servants.  He said when the bill comes due and civil servants are treated poorly that is very troubling.  He said it is important to have workers well- paid and happy and he is sorry to hear there are these difficulties.


Commission Discussion  


Commissioner Munson said this is a dramatic change when the status of employees changes from full time to part time.  He said he hopes the Commission can support the Administration and show the appreciation we have for these employees.  He said there are things a permanent employee has that part time employees do not have. He said this is something that needs a little more thought.


Commissioner Del Portillo said her concern is the break in service for the employees and asked if the employees go back on probation, does it affect retirement benefits, etc.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said he appreciates the Commissioners comments.  He said the administration very much appreciates the employees.  He said there is still some hope that dialogue will continue with the unions.  He said to the extent possible they will expedite the process.  He said there will be no break in service.


President Gomez said she knows the Commission can count on the administration to continue the dialogue with union and employees.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said these minutes are somewhat of an improvement.  He said it appears the Commission Secretary has summarized the entire statement and not just the first 30 seconds, however they are very brief.  He said on the first page his statement did not include all of his comments.  Under the City Librarian’s report again his statement did not include all of his comments.  He said in the past the times when commissioners left the meeting were noted in the minutes.  He said on page 6 his remarks did not include all of his comments.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the minutes could use some improving.  He said under public comment his comments were misrepresented, what he was saying is there has been a very sad silence from the Library Commission on the Library and Library Commission’s unlawful action as determined by the Sunshine Task Force.  He said he agreed with the previous speaker’s comments.  He said on page 2 his remarks were not accurately represented.  He said on page 4 he was referring to construction in the bond program but not money for interim services.  


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson suggested on page 2 under public comment the second sentence of the anonymous citizen should be clarified to read “They did not take people into the library in the order in which they arrived and stood in line.”  He said on page 4 under Peter Warfield’s comments it should be amended to read “The Library finds money in the millions for construction in the bond program.”  He said on page 6 where it states Commissioner Lee left the meeting; the time he left the meeting should be added.


Motion:  By Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Munson to approve the minutes of February 4, 2010 as amended above. 


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 6:32 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 March 4, 2010. 


Item 1: General Public Comment


Anonymous Citizen: Stop the Corporate Rape of the Public Library – Don’t give or accept money from the Friends & Foundation.


Larry Kane’s reliance on the fact that our material’s budget was doing better that other cities was a gross canard. 


Your president stated that she doesn’t care about service to San Franciscans, but it is the truth she doesn’t care about.


Democracy exists to let Mr. Kane hear the testimony of citizens who have other observations.


Without respect for the truth, you have no respect for your own opinion.  Larry Kane is expected to sell whatever lie they give him to sell to prove that “good people” only have one opinion.


The library administration is trying to manipulate the commissioners’ opinions, so they say, ignore that guy who might tell you the truth and you buy it


Any planning disaster usually involves people selling the lies they are given to sell – that is true of this library.



 Item 2: City Librarian’s Report


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


Wouldn’t it be nice if the citizens had access to the graphics?


I checked the website today in order to check some Commission minutes and there were no minutes after 2008.  Also, the last press release was November 2008, and the last exhibit was October 2008. 


The fly in the ointment is that it is possible that both sites are up, and Google just took me to the wrong site, but as every professional librarian can tell you, what you can find is of the essence.


I also think the website is graphically oriented, rather than research oriented.


It is important to emphasize that bookmobiles are good as outreach or advertising but they are not a substitute for anything we do in a real library.




Item 3: Chinese Affinity Center


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


One thing that we didn’t hear enough about was how the Shanghai Sister City Program is doing.  We had a longtime commissioner who was instrumental in fostering the program and it would be good to know how it is being kept up on both sides.


The quotation from the presenter that, “It is good to encourage people to turn off their computers” is a statement with wide application.


One of the things that is brought home by looking at the books and the cultural materials themselves is that it wasn’t all invented yesterday.  We are also impressed by how rich, detailed and historic all of this is.  That is a lesson that should not be forgotten.



Item 4: Labor Union Report


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


This opens a number of very profound doors re my comments at the beginning.  You continuously ignore something and suddenly you are confronted with reality and a backlash. 


The outsourcing of our entire society in order to concentrate the benefits into fewer and few hands operates on a number of levels.  Respect for public employees is only one of them. 


There is a backlash coming on several levels.  You can’t profit at people’s expense again and again, and finally you have disenfranchised everyone.  What the society has done is make us all into outsiders, finally even our own public servants.  The city must face a reckoning.  We turn over the controls of our democracy, and then don’t like the result because the aristocrats have ripped us off.


The salutary aspect is that it affects us all eventually.



Item 5: Approval of the Minutes (February 4, 2010)


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


These minutes show that Commissioners Kane and Lee arrived exactly three minutes after the start of the meeting.  That must mean something.


Often the minutes summarized only the first thirty seconds.  While even shorter, the secretary seems to have summarized the entire statement.  The offset is the even more extreme brevity.


Under general public comment, after “the commission’s deliberate abandonment of reason,” I went on to cite the barriers of lies that support the privileges of the few.


Under the City Librarian’s Report, after mentioning ignoring those who stood in line, my point was that this rewarded anti-social behavior and eventually there is no civility left.


Previously, the departures of commissioners noted the time. 


The canards on page 6 were that increased expenses were ignored, and “permanent service hours” do not represent service to the public at all.