Minutes of the Regular Meeting of March 5, 2009


(As approved at the Regular Meeting of April 2, 2009)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, March 5, 2009, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:37 pm. 


Commissioners present: Chin, Gomez, Harris, and Munson.


Commissioner excused:  Del Portillo


Commissioner Lee arrived at 4:46 pm.


Commissioner Kane arrived at 4:59 pm.




Melissa Ryan said that the Labor Union Report was left off the agenda inadvertently but that there is no report this week.


An anonymous citizen said there were lessons to be learned from the Great Depression.  He said the historical lessons from the Great Depression will begin to apply again. He said the great lesson is that the fabric of society breaks down when the number of victims outnumbers the so called beneficiaries.  He said no one is rich enough to buy the public sector.


Barry Taranto said he would like an apology from the branch librarian at the Noe Valley Branch Library.  He said he has been mistreated at that library and the library is not a pleasant place to be.  He said he hopes the Commission will re-elect Jewelle Gomez as President.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the Commission has gone downhill since Steve Coulter left the Commission.  He said it might be good to give Larry Kane a chance as President since he is the most attentive to what the anonymous citizen has to say.


Peter Warfield said he thought there would be nominations prior to public comment.


MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Harris, to maintain the slate of Jewelle Gomez as President and Lee Munson as Vice-President of the Library Commission.


AYES: 5-0 (Chin, Gomez, Harris, Lee, and Munson)


President Gomez said she is honored to serve the Library, its staff and its patrons.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the new Portola Branch Library opened this past Saturday and they had a great turnout.  He said this is the 9th branch completed in the Branch Library Improvement Program.  He said the daily circulation for opening day was over 3,000 books and material checked out, which is comparable to a Main Library daily check out.  He thanked President Gomez and Commissioner Harris for attending. 


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services showed some photos of the Portola Branch opening.


Luis Herrera congratulated the Library team that worked so hard to make this happen.  He said he also wanted to thank the Friends of the Library and the Neighborhood Library Campaign for all their hard work in making this a successful opening and beautiful library.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said this was the second part of the Trends in Library Use presentation.  She gave an update on the current economic climate and an 8 month snapshot on economic impacts on the Jobs and Careers Center, the Small Business Center, the Government Information Center and recreational use.  She identified service enhancements including expanded hours in branch libraries, holds and self-service returns at the Main, the self-service option, and new library card designs.


Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, said there have been security camera enhancements at the Main Library.  He said the new key card software system allows them to interface with all of the branches in the system.  He said new lighting has been installed, trees are being trimmed and the exterior is being steam cleaned at the Main.  He said there have been improvements to the lower level restrooms at the Main.  He said all security staff recently completed a SFPD Police Crisis Intervention Training Course.  He said additional training will be provided this year by the SFPD Academy.  He said weekly training is also provided by Sgt. Pat Kwan. 


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main introduced Leah Esguerra a social worker who is now located at the Main Library as part of our partnership with the Department of Public Health.  She said she meets with the Main Managers every week and attends floor meetings.  She works with Sgt. Kwan to develop protocols that will help with security.  She makes regular rounds and overtures to patrons and offers referrals if they ask for them. She said she will be measuring successes by keeping a spreadsheet on all incidences or contacts.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the library has already noticed a difference and that this is a long term commitment.  He said this is a model that other library systems can emulate.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the directions to the opening of the Portola branch library were very confusing.  He said according to his records the branch was 26 months behind schedule.  He said the Library Trends report was very interesting.


Peter Warfield said the Trends report was interesting and he wished they had the report in advance.  He said there were oddities in the report he would like to have seen explained.  He said the self service checkout does not provide personal service.  He said the Link + is not as useful as the Interlibrary Loan Program.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Lee asked about shower facilities and other offsite facilities for patrons.


Kathy Lawhun said they make referrals to patrons to services and facilities for their use.


President Gomez said self check out is a voluntary service and patrons can go to the circulation desk for personal service.


Commissioner Lee asked about monitoring the restrooms.


Roberto Lombardi said staff tries to service and monitor the restrooms as often as possible.  He said at the Main there are regular security and custodial rounds of all the restrooms.




Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, thanked the Commission for all of their great work.  She gave a budget presentation on the audited numbers from the last fiscal year 07/08.  She said the total revenue was $4,069,999, which is money raised in the course of the year.  She said the total expenses were $7,201,597.  She said the Friends’ unrestricted net assets have been available to use as a timing device for expenditures for capital costs or other types of needs.  She said each year the Friends have increased significantly the revenue brought in.  She said it looks like this year will be the largest amount ever.  She explained the breakdown for revenue and expenses.  She said the Friends are not the fundraising arm of the library, that they are a private community foundation.  She said they support the library but also the community and efforts to make San Francisco’s literary community as strong and vibrant as possible.  She said the direct library capital support for 07/08 was $1,361,609 and the direct library program support was $1,351,155.  She said there are numerous programs the Friends support at the Library.  She said they also fund many other programs and activities in tandem with the library and others in the community. 


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said if the Friends have access to computers to show graphics other private citizens should have access as well.  He said the numbers presented by the Friends have no relationship to the report the Friends file with the State Attorney General.


Peter Warfield said from the figures presented, the Friends are giving about 38% of what they have expended to the Library.  He said the recommendation is that 50-60% be given.  He said he is curious about what is reported on the Library’s website.  He said the amount shown on the website is approximately $498,000.  He said the Friends are showing approximately $2.7 million.


John Paul Karakas, II, said he worked for 12 years as a child welfare worker.  He said he wanted to thank the library and friends for the fine programs presented and the work they do with families and the community.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane said that most nonprofits would be out of business with the ratio of revenue and expenses presented by the Friends.  He said he would like more information on the reserves.


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said the Friends have a planned sustainability program.  She said in order to meet obligations to the BLIP program they would need to borrow from themselves, front load the expense piece and significantly increase revenue projections.  She said the anticipation is that by the time they have completed the Neighborhood Library Campaign and have reduced their capital expenditures their fundraising will be at a sustainable level.  She said they expect to bring in about $4.5 million this fiscal year and expenditures are about $5.2 million.  She said she would be happy to get the breakdown of the amount given strictly for capital improvements.


Commissioner Kane asked if there was something in writing defining the relationship with the Friends and the Library.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there is a Framework between the Friends and the Library.  He said there is a process that the Library goes through with the Friends for Library program support.


Donna Bero said the Friends give 82% of their funds to charitable organizations including the Library, for advocacy, book donations, and outreach. 


Commissioner Chin said she would like to reiterate the Commission’s gratitude to the Friends for the work they do.


Donna Bero said the Neighborhood Library Campaign works differently in each community.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there is a proposed resolution before the Commission urging the Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution authorizing the Library Commission to establish a two-week fee amnesty program in 2009 for overdue library materials.  He said this is the first step in the approval process for the amnesty period.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian said in 2001 the two-week Library fee amnesty program proved very successful with approximately 5,400 overdue materials returned to the Library with a total value of approximately $100,000.  She said many library users were able to restore their library privileges through the amnesty program.  She said increasing access to library resources is essential and an amnesty period helps remove economic barriers to access for our communities.


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services said the outreach for this program is preliminary based on approvals by the Commission and the Board of Supervisors.  She said there has already been a little bit of a heads up about this issue by the Chronicle.  She said promotion plans include publishing an article in the Library’s newsletter At the Library.  She said they are planning on developing an image to promote the amnesty program.  She said this would be a gift to the community but also a gift back to the library on the retrieved materials.


Commissioner Chin left the meeting.     


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he was glad the resolution was changed from the first one that went out that allowed for annual amnesty programs.  He said some libraries have no fee, no fines policies.


Peter Warfield said he is glad to hear about an amnesty program, which helps to avoid economic barriers.  He suggested that the amnesty be made permanent.  He said this library does not need fines for generating income.  He said Link+ is a huge economic barrier and that should be considered for amnesty as well.


Barry Taranto asked if you return your materials and you have money on the books whether you can get that waived or negotiate a lower amount.  He said he does think fines are appropriate, however, the fine for late DVDs at $1 a day is too high.


Commission Discussion


The Commission discussed the amount of the revenue that would be lost to the Library if the fees are waived.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, said the fees do not go to the Library but directly to the City.  She said the amount that goes to the City per year is approximately $450,000.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian said the amnesty would only include late materials that have late fines during the amnesty period.  She said it does not pertain to previously accrued late fines.  


MOTION: by Commissioner Lee, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adopt a Resolution endorsing the establishment of a fee amnesty program for overdue Library materials and to urge the Board of Supervisors to adopt a Resolution authorizing the City Librarian to take all steps necessary to establish a fee amnesty program for overdue Library materials for the two-week period of April 12 – 25, 2009.


AYES: 5-0 (Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson)




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said under item number one public comment the point was that staff reacted with a categorical denial to Mr. Hillyer’s complaints instead of looking at other possibilities.  He said the comments from a number of speakers on page two were distorted.  He said the point of his comments was that the public is not always wrong.


Peter Warfield said on page 5 under public comment on the Presidio Branch Library Peer Review his remarks about self-service checkouts are misrepresented.  He said Cathy Bremer in her remarks on page 5 said that she specifically agreed with him about not combining the circulation and reference desks and that was not included in the minutes.  He said other parts of the minutes are also not clear.

MOTION: by Commissioner Harris, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to approve the minutes of February 5, 2009 with a correction to a typo on page 2 under Barry Taranto’s remarks to read “He said he would like to see copies of his complaints” not “is complaints”  


AYES: 5-0 (Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson)




MOTION: by Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Lee to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, March 5, 2009.


Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


AYES: 5-0 (Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).


The regular meeting of March 5, 2009, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:40 pm.


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).