Minutes of the Regular Meeting of May 1, 2008


(As approved at the regular meeting of June 5, 2008)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, May 1, 2008, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


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


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


Commissioner Chin arrived at 4:39 pm


Commissioner Kane arrived at 4:40 pm




An anonymous citizen said when Robert Hass was the United States Poet Laureate in 1995-96 he created a program called the River of Words.  He said this program was to get school age children to write about environmental issues.  He quoted the winning poem and went on to say that the student had gone on to win other awards but that the monetary awards were not given that year.  He said that student is now a freshman at Columbia University.


Peter Warfield said generally there are public libraries throughout the country where anyone can go for free.  He said these public libraries share commonalities that make them useful to people who use them.  He said he hopes our library continues to play that role.


Ellen Egbert, Bernal Heights, said at the last meeting the Commission was told that the Bernal Branch library was starting its renovation process.  She said the community is gearing up for the fundraising effort.  She said there will be a fundraiser on Sunday May 3 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.  She said Bernal Dads Racing will be raising money for the Bernal Heights Library at the Altamont motorsports Park, May 10 -11.  She said this event is the 24 Hours of LeMons weekend long race for cars purchased, fixed up and track prepped for a total of $500 or less. She said pledges for the event are encouraged.  







Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it was a pretty fair summary of his comments on the first page of the minutes for the first of the three minutes he spoke, but it did not include the rest of his statement.  He said on page 2 under approval of the minutes his comment had been reduced to an illogical premise and had been reduced to gibberish.  


Peter Warfield said there are some points of excellent clarity and some points that need improvement.  He said one of the issues has been the Link+ lost book fee.  He said he thinks the library has accomplished a kind of confusion in what is going on with these fees by putting together Interlibrary Loan and Link+.  He said these should be separated especially with his comments which relate to the $115 Link+ lost book charge.  He said it is not always clear in these minutes.  He made some suggested changes to the minutes to clarify that point.


Commission Discussion


Sue Blackman, Commission Secretary said that the Minutes agenda item numbering should be corrected to read Agenda Item No. 1 Public Comment and Agenda Item No. 2 Approval of the Minutes of March 6, 2008.


Commissioner Munson said at the top of page 2 the comments by the anonymous citizen should be changed to read “the point that he was making was in our society public officials need to hear the other side of the story.”


Motion:  By Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Chin to approve the minutes of April 3, 2008 with the corrections to the number of the agenda items and the correction to the comments by the anonymous citizen on page 2 to add the words “was in our society”.


Action:  Ayes 7-0 (Commissioners Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there is a proposed Resolution before the Commission urging the Board of Supervisors to adopt an ordinance amending the Administrative Code to amend Library Fines and Fees.  He said there are three documents including the Legislative Digest, the draft Ordinance and the Resolution.  He said the Legislative Digest summarizes the changes very well.  He said the changes basically fall into four categories:  1) amending the existing fees for replacement of lost Library Items; 2) authorizing the Library to collect fees for the scanning of photographs in the San Francisco History Center collection; authorizing the Library to collect fees for services associated with special uses of library meeting rooms; and authorizing the Library to collect fees for the replacement of lost or damaged materials owned by other libraries and borrowed via interlibrary loan.


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections & Adult Services, explained the current fee schedules for overdue fines by material, overdue fines by patron, replacement and processing fees, and replacement of lost materials.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, explained the proposed changes to the fines and fees for replacement of sheet music/scores and sheet music/uncataloged to a flat $30 fee.  She said the method of purchasing some of these items has changed.


Marcia Schneider said that cds were added to the replacement fee for audio books but that the $5 fee would remain the same.  She said the Library currently charges for a lost media case and it is proposed to make that $1 charge consistent for all media cases.  She said under Service Fees they are proposing deleting the recovery of delinquent accounts charge of $10.  She said they are also proposing adding “and Link+” along with Inter-Library Loan as a free service.


Kathy Lawhun said that under document delivery and special services reproduction of photographs they are proposing to clarify that fee is “(for commercial purposes)”  She said they are also proposing a fee of $15 per existing scan, $20 per new scan and $1 per CD for scanning of photographs from the San Francisco History Center.  She said we are one of the few libraries in the United States that provides an in-house reproduction and scanning service for photographs.  Los Angeles Public and New York Public have the most comparable service and their costs were examined to come up with these fees.


Marcia Schneider said the use of meeting rooms throughout the library system is free.  She said at the Main Library the library is able to offer some special services that are not available at the branches.  She explained the proposed fees for special meeting room uses such as special room set ups, food service and specialized audio visual support.  She said these fees are a fraction of the fees charged by other city facilities.  She said they were also proposing adding the following language “The Library shall, not later than January 1st of each year, reexamine its costs and fee revenue and submit any proposed adjustments to the Controller, who is hereby authorized to adjust the fee to the nearest whole dollar to ensure that they continue to reflect the costs of services provided.”


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, explained the proposed language for fees for lost or damaged materials owned by other libraries.  She said the two Interlibrary Loan Programs were discussed in detail at the March 6 Library Commission meeting and she reviewed the proposed fees for lost and damaged materials owned by other libraries. She said negotiation is an accepted practice.  She said the fees that are collected for lost or damaged material will be forwarded to the owning library.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said there are a number of land mines in this.  He said he has been told it is impossible to show PowerPoint presentations at Commission meetings because of security reasons, but he said under Meeting Room Fees it says “web site patch, PowerPoint presentations $30 an hour”  He said that is awfully cheap for something that is impossible.  He said the Sunshine Ordinance has a policy which is that citizens making public comment should have equal access to the facilities that are afforded the administration.  He said scanning and printing out is only $.10, but the San Francisco History Center is charging $15 per scan.  He said he doesn’t understand why there is such a difference in cost between scanning and photocopying.  


Peter Warfield said he was disappointed that the removal of the $10 recovery of delinquent accounts under Service Fees was not credited to the person who noted it.  He said when he pointed it out to the City Librarian, Mr. Herrera said “good catch, we shouldn’t have to put that fee in.”  He said the Legislative Digest has a major omission and therefore is highly misleading with regard to what this legislation does.  He said it omits entirely, the section regarding future changes.  He said what the Library is seeking is a free hand to make a deal with the Controller once a year to change the fees in whatever way the Controller wants without any public process.  He said Interlibrary Loan and Link+ have been blurred in the presentation.  He said they are not the same thing.    


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane said he would like to understand the background and purposes of the fees.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there is no connection to these fees and the budget process.  He said the library is currently charging these fees and this action is to bring the Administrative Code current with existing charges.  He said that this would be considered housekeeping - not revenue raising - and he said our fees are very low.


Commissioner Kane said we are already charging the fees for the San Francisco History Center for scanning.  So he asked why the Commission is acting on these fees now if they are already in place.


Luis Herrera explained that those fees are not included in the existing Fines and Fees Schedule in the Administrative Code.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main said in response to questions from Commissioner Kane that we have over 450,000 documents and 37,000 have been scanned.  She said if they exist as a scanned document there is a smaller fee.  She said the library is trying to cover costs for supplies.


Commissioner Kane said $15 per .jpg file is a lot of money.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said the Library does make a lot of this material available electronically for free through the image database.  He said what we are talking about for the scanning is high resolution images that require large space.  He said it would be for a professional quality image resolution.


Luis Herrera said it would be possible to remove that item from this particular fee schedule and we could come back and revisit it.


Marcia Schneider said the photographs which have been scanned are all available on our website and can be downloaded for free from the website, but you are not getting the high quality of resolution.


Commissioner Kane said there is a huge fee difference between fees for copies and scans.


Roberto Lombardi, Operations and Maintenance Director, explained that you can download copies of scanned photographs from the Library’s website and save as a .jpg. He said the charge for print files is for a higher resolution photograph.


Luis Herrera said if it is easier to come back to the Commission with further information about scanning they would be happy to do that.


Marcia Schneider responded to Commissioner Lee’s question about meeting room fees and what types of things would require those fees.  She explained the increase in request for rooms in the library.


Commissioner Kane asked about the section being added to reexamine costs and revenue and that the Controller will be authorized to adjust the fee if necessary on an annual basis.


Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney, said that under current law, the Library must obtain Board of Supervisors approval for any fee change.  This ordinance would allow the Controller to adjust the fees each year at the Library’s request.


Commissioner Kane said he would like the ordinance amended to say that the increase in fees would go to the Controller subject to Library Commission approval.


Deputy City Attorney Francesca Gessner said that, to clarify a point made earlier, there is a legal requirement that fees have to accurately reflect the cost of providing services.


Commissioner Kane asked for clarification that there is no change to the current policy for Link+.     


Luis Herrera said there is no change to the policy it is just being incorporated into the ordinance.


Commissioner Munson asked if the patron is notified about the Link+ $115 fee for lost or damaged materials.


Luis Herrera said the Library will always negotiate with the patron if they can’t afford the $115.


Vivian Pisano said there is a wrapper around books that are lent out through Link+ that shows the $115 fee.


President Gomez said that there has been a full discussion about the Link+ program and the $115 fee.


Luis Herrera said they will look at more promotional materials to explain the other options for the $115 fee.  He said the long term approach is a possible change in fee structure to reflect the lending library’s rates.


Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney, said the Resolution before the Commission states “Link+ authorizes the borrowing library to negotiate with the lending library to allow a patron to either pay the actual replacement cost of the book or to replace the book himself in lieu of paying the $115.”


MOTION: by Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Chin to approve a resolution urging the Board of Supervisors to adopt an ordinance amending the Administrative Code to amend the Library Fines and Fees Schedule as presented with a modification to require Library Commission approval for any proposed fee adjustments to be submitted to the Controller.


AYES: 7-0 (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).




Luis Herrera, City Librarian invited the Commission members to attend the Library’s staff recognition awards event on Friday, May 2 from 9:00 – 11:00 am in the atrium of the Main Library.  He said there were over 300 nominees.  He said the Friends of the Library sponsors the event.  He said on April 16 a contingent of people from San Francisco attended California Legislative Day in Sacramento.  He said we have one of the largest contingencies present.  He said it is important because it is an opportunity to highlight issues facing California public and school libraries.  He said included in the Commissioners packets are Library Facts on issues which were shared with the legislators in Sacramento.  He said the budget issues have caused a loss of funding for libraries.  He said there is a new marketing campaign through the Bay Area Library Information System (BALIS) which comprises 165 libraries in the bay area.  He said it is the “free2” campaign to promote libraries.  He said the website is which is the hub of the entire campaign.  He said there is a contest for people to be able to participate.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said when the act was adopted that created the California Library Services Board the programs for equal access were primary to that creation.  He said it was created to give local jurisdictions an impetus to join one of the local library consortiums.  He said SFPL is a member of BALIS.  He said it is a concern that the funding for the State Library is slowly being whittled away.  He said we are promoting Free2 but Free2 is not really promoting us.  He said this is a great concern.  He said the Commission should be asking what is going on with BALIS.


Peter Warfield said it is not clear to him what the cost is to SFPL for participation in the Free2 campaign and where that money is coming from.  He asked what the goals of the Free2 campaign are.  He asked about the measures of success.  He said the issue of consortiums is an important one and he said Link+ is taking away from the Interlibrary Loan system and he asked what BALIS is doing in relation to Interlibrary Loan.  He said there has been no discussion or approval by the Library Commission for Link+.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Chin said she is concerned about the Library Construction Bond and funding at the State level.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the prospect for that bond being on the ballot would be at least two or three years out, so it probably would not help with the Branch Library Improvement Program.




Ellen Egbert said that Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, had to leave the meeting and had asked her to give the Friends’ report.  She said the Ingleside Library Campaign will be holding an Ice Cream Social on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15 from 2 – 4 pm.  She said the Potrero Branch Library Closing Party will be held Saturday, May 17 from 1 – 3 pm.  She said the Friends will be holding a series of events called a “Primer for City Parents,” to be held at various branch libraries.  She said there would also be a Mother’s Day event “In Mother Words” to be held Wednesday, May 7th at 6:30 pm at the Friends’ office. 


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he will not attend any of the Friends events.  He said he will attend the staff recognition awards event since according to the Sunshine Ordinance it will be a passive meeting.

Peter Warfield said he is interested in receiving the invitations to the events that were mentioned in the Friends’ report and would hope the Library would make this information available to the public in a timelier manner.




Pat Fahrenthold, Chief of Technical Services, gave an overview of the Preservation Unit of the Technical Services Division of SFPL.  She said the mission statement is to maintain and preserve the Library collection in optimal condition for users and staff.  She gave the background of the unit and described the Preservation unit staff.  She showed photos of the book repair work area, book repair equipment, the types of work performed and explained system wide activities.


Commissioner Kane left the meeting at 6:16 pm.


Public Comment


The anonymous citizen said this is emblematic of the real history that the Commissioners need to hear.  He said it is a complete fantasy that the Preservation Department was created as a separate unit with a FEMA grant after the Loma Prieta earthquake.  He said the FEMA grant at that time was used on a computer purchase, which at the time he complained about bitterly.  He said a number of staff members got punitive reassignments because they tried to expose the scandal.  It is a great benefit that we now have a Preservation Unit but we should not forget about the real history about this.


Peter Warfield said he would like to get some augmentation about the remarks just made and certainly the Commission could benefit as well.

He said the time of the earthquake and what happened after is very significant to what has happened at this library.  He said there are serious questions about maintaining collections.  He said this unit is about maintaining the physical health and condition of books and not to what he considers is a severe lack of collection maintenance activity with a regard to monitoring losses to the collection.  He said the timing of sending periodicals to the bindery is very important for access.




Melissa Riley said she thinks it is very useful for the Commissioners to use the library and helpful for the Commission to understand the use of the library.  She thanked the Library and the Friends for making it possible for some staff members to attend the Laureates Dinner. 


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it very important that the Library Commissioners have the experience and find out what patrons really are

told when they visit the library. 


Peter Warfield said he seconds the comments of the union representative and the previous speaker in recommending that the Commissioners take advantage of the resources of the library and to have exchanges with various librarians.  He said there has almost never been a time when he has approached a librarian for information or assistance that he has not learned something.




President Gomez asked for a motion to adjourn in honor of the artist Ann Chamberlain, who was a San Francisco artist and teacher whose work in public spaces explored history, identity and community.  She said Ms. Chamberlain was known along with designer Katsy Swan for the creation of the healing garden at the UCSF/Mount Zion Cancer Center.  She said Ms. Chamberlain is most known for the vast three-story mural she and artist Ann Hamilton created for the new San Francisco Main Library. They literally papered the wall with 50,000 cards from the old library’s obsolete card catalog, each annotated by hand with a quote from the book, a related source or a personal comment, in a dozen different languages, by about 200 people.


MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, May 1, 2008 in honor of Ann Chamberlain.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he endorses the motion and he was disappointed he did not know her.


Peter Warfield said he supports the motion but the remarks about the creation of the art work in the library are somewhat inaccurate because his understanding is that the cards used for the art work were cards not used by the public from an internal card catalog.  He said it would be interesting to find out more about the work.


AYES: 6-0 (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Lee and Munson).


The regular meeting of May 1, 2008, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:35 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).