SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY COMMISSION

 

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of April 1, 2010

 

(As approved at the May 6, 2010 Library Commission meeting)

 

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, April 1, 2010, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

 

The meeting was called to order at 4:41 pm.

 

Commissioners present: Breyer, Gomez, Kane, Munson, Nguyen and Ono

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 1 PUBLIC COMMENT

 

An anonymous citizen said this is an opportunity to update the new Commissioners.  He said the Library hates that they must take public comment at these meetings.  He said a Deputy City Attorney told the Commission that there was no law that required respect for what was said.  He said it got so bad that he began insulting the Commission back.    He said the Commission has zero tolerance for democracy.

 

Sue Cauthen, Chair of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), said welcome to the new Commissioners.  She said the LCAC is an advisory board to the Board of Supervisors (BofS) and they look at library plans, programs and operations and make recommendations to the BofS for better library service for all.  She said they have a really good relationship with the administration of the library.  She said they passed a resolution at their last meeting requesting that the library’s new website should include current information about each project in the Branch. Library Improvement Program (BLIP) and update it monthly.

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association (LUA), said he is also the longest serving member of the LCAC.  He said welcome to the new Commissioners.  He said there is a sad and long history of this library that would be very useful for the new Commissioners to understand.  He said the Commission does not have a long institutional memory in relation to some of the speakers that appear before the Commission.  He said one of the Commissioners reappointed was found in willful misconduct by the Sunshine Task Force and the case has been sent to the Ethics Commission for further action.    

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 2. ELECTION OF COMMISSION OFFICERS FOR 2010

 

Commissioner Munson nominated Jewelle Gomez as President of the Library Commission for the next year and Commissioner Ono seconded that nomination.

 

Commissioner Kane nominated Lee Munson as Vice-President of the Library Commission for the next year and Commissioner Ono seconded that nomination.

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said there are two new Commissioners who have replaced three Commissioners and there has not been mention of who the new Commissioners are replacing.  He said the current president of the Library Commission, Jewelle Gomez, has been found guilty of willful violation of the Sunshine Ordinance by the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.  He said if the Commission returns this person to the presidency of the Library Commission it means that the Commission has confirmed that violation.  He said taking such an action would be a deliberate act of irresponsibility.

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the Library Commission Secretary attended a Sunshine Ordinance Task Force meeting and reported that the President of the Library Commission stood by her action.  He said this issue has never been discussed by this Commission.  He said the nominee for President has a great deal of conflict.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Ono to approve the nomination of Jewelle Gomez as President of the Commission for a one year term. 

 

Action:  AYES 6-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Kane, Munson, Nguyen and Ono).

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Kane, seconded by Commissioner Ono to approve the nomination of Lee Munson as Vice-President of the Commission for a one year term. 

 

Action:  AYES 6-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Kane, Munson, Nguyen and Ono).

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 3. CITY LIBRARIAN’S REPORT

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said welcome to the new Commissioners.  He said the FY 2010-11 budget negotiations continue with the Mayor and the Labor Unions.  He said the budget approved by the Commission would require some tweaking if the furlough days are adopted.  He said the Library would still maintain its service levels.  He said the next item is on the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) which is part of the Federal Economic Stimulus Program.  The City submitted a grant and the Library had a piece of that submission.

Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said there are three different programs as part of the BTOP.  She said the three programs are: increasing the public computer center capacity; sustainable broadband adoption; and comprehensive community’s infrastructure.  She said the Library’s portion of the grant submittal is within the public computer center capacity.  She said several City agencies are participating in this grant program.   She said the public computer center capacity program would create 138 public computing centers throughout the city.  She said the Library’s strategy is to expand the computer program through the library system. 

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there is a Statement of Consensus on the Bernal Heights Library Mural Mediation.  He said there has been controversy on what to do with the mural.  Supervisor Campos has brought in a mediator, Beth Roy, who brought together a group of residents to discuss and come up with a solution.  He said the Statement of Consensus has been signed by 15 individuals who took part in the mediation process.  He said there will be an ongoing community process to implement the principles of agreement.  He said this issue will come back to both the Art Commission and the Library Commission.  He said he is very pleased and optimistic that this will be resolved.

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said the Library has a policy that if someone offers it money the Library takes it.  He said that policy has been problematic in the past and there is now a grants policy.  He said it was designed to address the fact that if grants are accepted without any concern for continuing funding, it will strain the operating budget.  He said the computer center was a grant from the Microsoft Corporation and has been violated many times.  He said the Commission is impervious to its responsibility.

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said there is a key question on the murals and that is what will happen to the original murals.  He said the BTOP program remains a mystery, he asked where the 18 training centers would be.  He asked about the media labs and who will have access to these programs. 

 

Commission Discussion

 

Commissioner Kane asked about the Bernal mural and what will be the cost to the Library to do what is recommended.

 

Luis Herrera said this is just a framework for what is proposed.  He said the Library has made it clear that there is no money from the bond program available for proposed art work.  He said there will be more community discussions about this.

 

The Commission had a discussion about the community process and the proposals in the Statement of Consensus for the Bernal Heights Library Mural.

 

Commissioner Kane asked about the proposed 12 furlough days as opposed to the 37.5 hour work week for staff and how that will affect the budget.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said it is too preliminary at this point to look at the budget based on these changes.

 

John Doidge, CFO, said the budget submitted included specific positions.  He said the analysis of the 37.5 hour work week and the possible 12 furlough days has not been complete because there are many questions that still need to be answered.

 

Commissioner Ono asked what the Library Commission’s role will be with the Bernal mural.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Library Commission and the Art Commission will be asked to endorse the new proposal after further community input.

 

Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said that they should know within the next month about the BTOP grant.

 

Commissioner Breyer asked if the Commission could get updates as the process goes on for the BTOP program.  He said it sounds like a terrific program.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 4.  LIBRARY FAMILY PASS PROGRAM

 

Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said the Library has been working with the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF) on the Family Pass Program.  She said the program will launch the week of April 11, which is National Library Week.  She said the name of the program is Check Out San Francisco Family Pass.  She said after checking out a pass at any San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco families receive one-time free entrance to participating San Francisco attractions.  She explained the basic process and the program goals.  She said there are 18 participating attractions.  She said this will be a pilot program from April 11, 2010 through December 31, 2010.  She said SFPL’s role in the program is to develop and maintain the database system for pass check out; managing pass distribution and program promotional materials at each library location; interfacing with families at check out; and helping with outreach and publicity.  She said this program will replace the very successful Family Appreciation Day, where the attractions generously opened their doors to San Francisco families.  

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said while this seems on the surface to be a very noncontroversial thing, it is in fact publicity run amok.  He said everyone gets to advertise and no one asks what the benefits of this program are to the Library. 

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the Library is going to be functioning as a rationing mechanism for tickets for the attractions which are feeling overwhelmed with the demand.  He asked if this is the role of the library.  He said he thought books were the main function of the library.  He said this will be a burden on librarians.

 

Commission Discussion  

 

Commissioner Munson said once the passes are in the hands of the public they can use them or not as they choose.  He said he does not see this as a big work load and it gets people into the library.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said he thinks there is a direct connection between cultural literacy and bringing families to the library and it is about community building in the best sense.

 

Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said they have worked with circulation services staff and they were involved in implementing the program.  She said this is about community building.

 

Commissioner Breyer asked whether there might be suggested reading lists associated with the attraction.

 

Toni Bernardi said they will certainly be looking at tying the program to reading lists.

 

Commissioner Nguyen asked about the definition of family for the program.

 

Toni Bernardi said that since DCYF is initially promoting this, their definition of family includes children under the age of 18.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 5 LABOR UNION REPORT

 

Cathy Bremer, Chief Steward of the Library Chapter of SEIU Local 1021, said welcome to the new Commissioners.  She said there is a framework for an agreement that includes a 5% salary give back, which is less than the 37.5 hour workweek.  She said it keeps staff with full time status.  She said they are looking forward to the negotiations concluding.  She said the money will come out of salaries and there will be no days where staff will not get paid.  She said it is 12 furlough days per year and it is a two year contract.  She said she hopes the Commission will be revisiting the budget.  She said losing a position is far more punitive than temporarily lowering the materials budget.  She said if we give up positions we will never get them back.  She said the book budget is more flexible.     

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said the Labor Union report gives the Commission some perspective on what is going on.  He said one does not want to contradict the importance of the librarians’ contribution. He said the balance to keep in mind is people expect books, research services and access to what Mr. Herrera calls cultural literacy.  

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he is glad the representative from the Labor Union is feeling better about the apparent outcome of the labor negotiations.  He said not laying off any staff members is to be desired. 

 

Commission Discussion

 

Commissioner Kane said he had pushed to have the book budget pushed back to preserve jobs and he hopes the library will continue to look at those numbers.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said we did rollback the book budget to the 2008 level and any more rollbacks may start to compromise the books and materials budget.  He said 78% of the budget is personnel costs so he said they are looking at efficiencies and vacant positions.

 

Commissioner Breyer asked about the morale of the staff and said that one of the extraordinary things about the library is the people who work here.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there is a certain amount of anxiety with staff but it does seem to be better now as labor negotiations continue.

 

President Gomez said the Library is very fortunate to have a very good Union representation that has an honest appreciation for both what the union members need and for what is best for the library.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 6.  APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 18, 2010

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said this is another example of the Commission’s nonresponsive action on flaws in the minutes.  He said on page 7 what was meant by his comments was that the Commission completely denies the truth and refuses to recognize the experience of the citizens.  He said his comments on Mr. Herrera’s 5th anniversary were not noted.  He said on page 3 his comments were reflected accurately and on page 8 the words “materials expenditures” should be “materials as a percent of expenditures.”

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the discussion on page 8 under public comment is a problematic sentence that distorts what was said.  He said corrections should be made to those remarks.

 

Commission Discussion

 

Commissioner Munson said he would like to make a change to the Minutes on page 7 under the anonymous citizen’s comments to read “the way this Commission operates to completely deny the truth or recognize the experience of its citizens.”  He said on page 8 the last sentence under Peter Warfield’s remarks words should be added to read “. . .but while the Park Branch is closed for renovation, library services will be provided by a bookmobile 7.5 hours per week.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Kane to approve the minutes of February 18, 2010 as amended above. 

 

Action:  AYES 6-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Kane, Munson, Nguyen and Ono).

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 6. ADJOURNMENT

 

There was no public comment on this item.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Kane, seconded by Commissioner Munson to adjourn the regular meeting of April 1, 2010.   

 

Action:  AYES 6-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Kane, Munson, Nguyen and Ono).

 

The meeting adjourned at 6:17 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 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).

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.

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.

 

The new commissioners will notice that there is provision for public attendance, public comment, specific agenda items, and copies of documents are available.

 

The library hates it, you have no idea how they hate it.

 

When the Library Commission was first forced to take public comment, a deputy city attorney stated that no law required respect for what was said.

 

That was fateful advice, because after that every time you were forced accept laws that promoted openness, fairness, equal treatment and public participation, you attempted to balance the accounts by heaping denigration and ridicule on those who believed in such things, usually me.

 

It got so bad that I finally started insulting you back.

 

I am sending the message that you have zero tolerance for democracy.

 

Of course, you send the same message.

 _______________________

 

Item 2: Election of Commission Officers for 2010

 

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

 

The current president of the Library Commission, Jewelle Gomez, has been found guilty of willful violation of the Sunshine Ordinance by the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.  That finding of willful violation has been referred to the Ethics Commission for a determination of whether that violation shall be found to constitute official misconduct.  That determination is presently pending before the Ethics Commission.

 

There is a legal concept called ratification.  It means that if an agent of yours does something that is inappropriate and you confirm that person in the position it means that you have taken responsibility for the violation. 

 

If you return this person to the presidency of the Library Commission it means that you have confirmed that violation.  Taking such an action would be a deliberate act of irresponsibility.

 _______________________

 

Item 3:  City Librarian's Report

 

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

 

The new commissioners have already learned the lesson that you must remain impervious to public comment, stick together, show you are not listening and not ask questions that might be interpreted as encouraging public participation.  This is a barrier to your own access to the truth.

 

This is illustrated by the technology program just discussed.  If someone offers the library money, you accept it.  This has been so problematic in the past that a grants policy was adopted.  It was designed to address the fact that if grants are accepted without any concern for continuing funding it will strain the operating budget.

 

The computer center was a grant from the Microsoft Corporation that has been violated many times.  While no one cares about keeping faith with Microsoft, the lesson is there.

 

But you are impervious to responsibility.

 _______________________

 

Item 4: Library Family Pass Program

 

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

 

You should always request information in writing.

 

While seeming non-controversial, it is actually publicity run amok; the publicity tail wagging the public interest dog.  No one asks if it is worth it.

 

At the last meeting, the Librarian’s Guild said that the staff was stretched to the limit.  We are adding this task with the only benefit being advertising for these commercial attractions.

 

Now the librarians have to manage the anticipation as well as the disappointment, when the librarians should be concentrating on those who come for library service.  In a perfect world we would be adding staff to accomplish this. 

 

This reflects the management philosophy, “The librarians aren’t doing anything anyway.”

 

If it were just a free pass for San Franciscans, I wouldn’t object.  This is another burden serving commercial interests that we should not accept.

 ______________________

 

Item 5: Labor Union Report

 

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

 

It would be nice if the citizens had access to the graphics.

 

This report gives those commissioners who are listening a chance to gain some perspective.  Being called “rude or mean” by the Librarian’s Guild may be a political detriment or a political advantage for the Mayor.  As an astute politician, the mayor knows that people pay taxes and expect something for their money.

 

It may be a euphemism to say, put people first, but that has many meanings.  The New York Times described New York attempting to run prisons without prisoners because of the political power of the prison guards. 

 

One does not want to contradict the important contribution of the librarians.  The balance to keep in mind is people expect books, research services and access to what Mr. Herrera calls cultural literacy.

 ______________________

 

Item 6: Approval of the Minutes (February 18, 2010)

 

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

 

The Commission is as nonresponsive on this as on everything else.  People will ask that mistakes be corrected and it will fall on impervious ears, although sometimes Commissioner Munson will break ranks.

 

On page 7, “completely deny and recognize” obliterates the meaning.  What was meant was that you completely deny the truth and refuse to recognize the experience of the citizens.  Also, the “wall of lies” is what money buys was the point.

 

Mr. Herrera’s 5th Anniversary was not mentioned by anyone else, so that might be noted.

 

On page 3, Supervisor Maxwell would have her own process, not monitor this one, and the unemployment figures were ten years old, not, “not correct.”

 

On page 8, “materials expenditures” must be “materials as a percent of expenditures” or it is wrong and misleading.