SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY COMMISSION

 

(As approved at the regular meeting of June 3, 2010)

 

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of May 6, 2010

 

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, May 6, 2010, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

 

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

 

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

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 1 PUBLIC COMMENT

 

An anonymous citizen said at the last meeting a Commissioner said certain speakers are 95 to 98% negative. He said people outside of San Francisco think Library Commission meetings must be profound and serious discussions of library issues.  He said the Commission blocks any serious discussion and it cannot blame the citizens for being negative.

 

Ray Hartz said his main focus is access for the public to public comment and the public record.  He said the Sunshine Ordinance says the members of the public have the right to address any public body and it is a constitutional right.

 

Peter Warfield, Executive Director, Library Users Association, said at the last meeting the Vice-Chair of the Commission made comments about the so called negativity of some of the speakers.  He said those comments were inappropriate and members of the public did not have a chance to respond. 

 

Ted Bamberger, member of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC) said the Library is putting on a National Older Adult Month Resource Fair on Saturday, May 8, 2010 from noon until 4 p.m. 

 

Edmund Larry said he visited libraries growing up in Arkansas.  He said the library gives him ways to deal with depression.  He would like to see libraries open 24 hours. 

 

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 2. RESOLUTION HONORING FORMER COMMISSIONERS LONNIE K. CHIN AND MEL LEE

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said Commissioner Lee’s first meeting was January 17, 2008 and Commissioner Chin’s first meeting was in March or April, 1988 a difference of twenty years.  He said Lonnie Chin listened to a citizen, Richard Rothman about a discriminatory policy at the library and ended up changing the policy because of it.  He said she never did it again.  He said Mel Lee was one of the commissioners who asked serious questions and expected direct answers and I am grateful for his service.

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the loss of Lonnie Chin represents the last person on this body with institutional knowledge back for a long time.  He said Lonnie Chin provided additional value and entertainment to Commission meetings.  He said she always participated and always had a fantastic sense of style.  He said it is unfortunate Mel Lee is leaving the Commission.  He said he asked questions that were valuable and important in finding out what was going on particularly with the bond program.

 

Larry Edmund said where he grew up there was only one Asian family.  He said libraries show us who we are across this world. 

 

Commission Discussion

 

Commissioner Kane said they will miss Lonnie’s attention to schools and Mel’s expertise in the construction and development area for the BLIP program.

 

President Gomez said she wanted to thank both Commissioners Chin and Lee for their support and guidance during their time on the Commission.

 

Commissioner Munson said when he first came on the Commission he noticed that Lonnie was always very kind and helpful and he said he learned a lot from her.  He said that he and Mel both have a financial background and with Mel’s experience in construction he is going to be greatly missed.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that staff is very indebted to both Lonnie Chin and Mel Lee.  He said that Lonnie’s legacy is in her support of the bond program and also working closely with the education programs that the library offers.  He thanked Mel for his expertise on the business side and help on the BLIP program and his community involvement.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Kane, seconded by Commissioner Ono to approve the Resolutions to recognize, honor, commend and thank former Commissioners Lonnie K. Chin and Mel Lee for their service to the San Francisco Public Library Commission. 

 

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

 

President Gomez read the full Resolutions into the record.

 

Lonnie Chin said people should donate to the Friends of the Library.  She said she served on the Library Commission for a long time and she learned to be very patient.  She said Mayor Agnos appointed her to the Commission.  She said most people love the library and they do not come to the Commission so what is usually heard is only the negative.  She said she would like the library to host a forum about the future of libraries.

 

Mel Lee thanked the Commissioners and staff for their support while he was on the Commission.  He said serving on the Commission you do not receive monetary remuneration but you do receive experience.  He said a year and a half ago the soft costs for the BLIP program were at 36% he said the bidding process has been streamlined and projects are coming in at budget and sometimes lower than budget.  He said that is something the Commission should be very proud of.  He said he is supporting the renaming of the Chinatown Branch Library to the Him Mark Lai Chinatown Branch Library.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 3. CHINATOWN BRANCH RENAMING

 

Public Comment

 

Judy Yung, former member of the Library Commission, former librarian at the Chinatown Branch and on the Him Mark Lai Celebration of Life Committee,  said as librarian at the Chinatown Branch Him Mark helped her develop a Chinese language collection and a Chinese American Interest Collection.  She said he provided her and many other librarians reference assistance throughout his life.  She said on the first anniversary of his passing they are proposing that his name be added to the Chinatown Branch Library.  She said they believe their request meets the guidelines in the Library Commission’s naming policy.  She said she is presenting materials to the Commission including 1600 signatures on petitions in support of the renaming, letters of support from a broad spectrum of community organizations, Chinese newspaper articles in support and a line-up of 12 speakers representing different constituencies in support of adding the name Him Mark Lai to the Chinatown Branch Library.   

 

An anonymous citizen said it would have been nice to have a presentation from the administration on this issue.  He gave the background on the Library Facilities Naming Policy.

 

Supervisor David Chiu thanked the Commissioners for their service and their remarkable patience.  He thanked the outgoing Commissioners for their tremendous work for the community and he thanked the City Librarian for a well-run library system.  He said he is in support of the naming proposal for Him Mark Lai.  He said the Chinatown Branch is in the heart of District 3 and he holds office hours there to meet with constituents.  He said Him Mark Lai had a tremendous impact on documenting the history and stories of the Asian community.  He said he inspired many of the youth in San Francisco including himself as President of the Board of Supervisors because he helped to educate the Asian community about their history.

 

A local filmmaker said she produced and directed a film to be shown at the library about the experiences of the Chinese detained at Angel Island.   She said she relied heavily on Him Mark Lai has her reference for Chinese history.  She said she is in the process of making a new documentary about Him Mark Lai called the Barefoot Historian.

 

Lonnie Chin said she was speaking on behalf of the Association of Asian Administrators expressing enthusiastic support of adding the name of Him Mark Lai to the Chinatown Branch Library.

 

Linda Chiu, Dean of Chinese American History, said she is representing over 200 participants of the In Search of Roots Chinese Genealogy Program.  She said they are in support of adding the name of Him Mark Lai to the Chinatown Branch Library.

 

Maurice Chuck spoke in support of adding the name of Him Mark Lai to the Chinatown Branch Library.  He said Him Mark Lai was a close friend of his for 60 years and deserves to have the Branch named for him.

 

A gentleman representing the Chinese American Association of Commerce said he fully endorses and supports adding the name Him Mark Lai to the Chinatown Branch Library

 

Larry Edmund said he was proud to speak after Supervisor Chiu and this last speaker.  He said he was in support of the renaming of the Chinatown Branch.  He said he has learned so much about different cultures sine he has been in San Francisco.

 

Philip Choy, representing the Chinese Historical Society of America, spoke in support of renaming the Chinatown Branch for Him Mark Lai.  He said the library was his second home.

 

Lorraine Dong, Professor and Department Chair of the Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU), said she has previously served on the Board of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.  She said SFSU houses the  country’s first and only college of Ethnic Studies together with Phil Choy, Him Mark Lai they taught the nation’s first Chinese American History Course.  She said they have collected over 400 signatures at SFSU in support of the renaming of the Chinatown Branch for Him Mark Lai.

 

Irene Diacollier said she is a middle school teacher who first came to this country at the age of 5.  She said the library was a place of refuge.  She said a library card was a magic carpet that took us anywhere in the world.  She said she learned the value of the history of her people from Phil Choy and Him Mark Lai.  She said the Chinatown Branch Library currently holds the greatest collection of Asian interest books.  She said the Association of Chinese teachers adds their support to the renaming of the Chinatown library for Him Mark Lai.

 

Shauna Chin, a sixth grader attending a public middle school, said her entire family grew up in Chinatown from her Great Grandparents on.   

She said Mr. Him Mark Lai was a friend of her grandparents and he became a community activist fighting for people’s rights.  She said the renaming of the Chinatown branch for Him Mark Lai would be a very honorable way to honor him and encourage children to learn about him and his contributions.

 

Ruthann Lumikun said Him Mark Lai’s accomplishments exemplify the power of the public library.  She said he was an avid user of the San Francisco Public Library and she supports the renaming of the Chinatown Branch Library after him.

 

Commission Discussion

 

President Gomez thanked the community for coming out and sharing their thoughts and memories about Him Mark Lai.

 

Commissioner Kane said it is very rare that the Commission hears a potential renaming of a library so it is very important to hear from the community in the decision making process. 

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, in response to a question from Commissioner Kane said there would be more discussion in the community.  He said this is the beginning of the process.

 

Commissioner Breyer said it is great to see so many people in attendance.  He asked if it would be possible to survey the patrons in the library itself about whether they support the name change.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that is an excellent suggestion.

 

Commissioner Ono thanked everyone for coming to the meeting today.  She said the policy does say that we will have a community meeting and she asked if we could have translators at that meeting and that if we have a survey could that be translated at well.

 

Commissioner Munson said this was very moving and he thanked the community for attending the meeting.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 4.  LANDMARK DESIGNATION PROCESS FOR HISTORIC BUILDINGS

 

President Gomez said this item is a discussion of the City’s landmark designation process for historic buildings pursuant to Article 10 of the Planning Code.  She said it is a discussion for the Commission to better understand the process.  She said it is not a discussion specifically about the North Beach Branch or the EIR.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian introduced staff from the Planning Department Tim Frey and Tara Sullivan who make the presentation.

 

Tim Frey, acting Preservation Coordinator for the Planning Department, gave a presentation on the Article 10 Land Designation Process.  He said currently there are approximately 260 individual landmarks and 11 historic districts within the city of San Francisco.  He outlined the Designation Criteria.  He explained the current process under Proposition J.  He said the Historic Preservation Commission makes a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.  He explained the Permit Review process in the Planning Code and said that the Certificate of Appropriateness can be appealed to the Board of Appeals.  He said the Planning Department uses the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for rehabilitation.  

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said there were several references to an expected EIR but no background was given on that.  He said this is a very impactful issue and it was not available in writing.  He said the library has tended to gloss over the importance of historical preservation.

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he would like to have a copy of the presentation to look at and study.  He said there is a background with landmarking and the library.  He said there may be a loss of qualities that would make the Park Branch landmark worthy after the renovation is complete.

 

Larry Edmund said we get to enjoy the libraries.  He said education is knowledge that you should always share with individuals.

 

Commission Discussion  

 

Commissioner Munson asked about the timeline for the process and all the steps for historic designation.

 

Tim Frey, Planning Department said the timeline is on a case by case basis depending on the amount of resources the Planning Department has available.  He said there are files that outline all the properties and historic districts. He said the Historic Preservation Fund Committee did authorize money to prepare a case report for the Appleton Wolford libraries and the reports have been submitted to the Planning Department and they are currently reviewing those reports.  He said they hope to bring the issue back to the Historic Preservation Commission in early summer.  He said reports are being done by outside consultants due to budget constraints.

 

Commissioner Kane asked about the funding and who selected the consultants.

 

Tim Frey, Planning Department, said the Historic Preservation Fund Committee funded and selected the consultants.

 

Tara Sullivan, Planning Department said it is very common for the Planning Department to use consultants and the Planning Department does its own independent analysis.

 

Tim Frey said that the Historic Preservation Fund Committee has one member of the Historic Preservation Commission on the Committee.

 

President Gomez asked about the Historic Districts in the City.

 

Tim Frey said there are 11 Historic Districts in the City.

 

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that the Library has been working closely with the Historic Preservation Commission on many of the projects.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 5 CITY LIBRARIAN’S REPORT

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Controller’s Office continues to refine our budget submittal.  He said SEIU has agreed to a tentative agreement with the Mayor’s office and if approved it will mean a 4.6% reduction in labor costs. He said if that happens we will go back and revisit the budget.  He said the Library has been working with the Recreation and Parks Department.

 

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said we have been working with the Recreation and Parks Department on a programmatic work order consistent with our mission and it allows us to expand our reach into many of the parks facilities and programs.  She said SFUSD will not be holding summer school this summer so the Recreation and Parks Department will be expanding their programs and the library will now be part of that.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said they will bring the budget back to the Commission as the process continues.  He said the Library launched a new website recently and Vivian Pisano will give an update on the website.

 

Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said the SFPL website has been launched and they continue to make changes and enhancements.  She said there have been changes to among other things the calendar and booking system on the staff side.  She said they are also providing weekly staff trainings.  She said on the public side many broken links have been fixed.  She said they are revamping and updating the BLIP page, translations on the pages and they have made improvements on the site searches among other things.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said this is National Older Adult Month, so he wants to extend an invitation to the Commissioners to attend a Resource Fair on Saturday, May 8, 2010 from noon-4 p.m. in the Latino Hispanic Community Meeting Room, Main Library.  He said this is part of the Wise Up! Program which offers resources for learning and living well at any age.  He said he just wanted to give the Commission a heads up on the US Impact Study of Computer Use of the Internet.  He said we were one of 400 public libraries that participated in a study by the University of Washington’s Information School.  It is called US Impact and it is a research institute that examines the impact of free access to computers and the internet in public libraries.  He said the report customizes it to each jurisdiction that participated in the study.  He said we have received the initial report and will bring this back to the Commission for further discussion.

 

Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services, gave a report on the Highlights on Exhibitions and Programs.  She said there is a Korean Comics exhibit in the Jewett Gallery through June 13, 2010.  She said on the Sixth Floor there is A Dog’s Life (with a special appearance by cats) exhibit through May 31, 2010.  She said also on the Sixth Floor is the Forbidden City: the Golden Age of Chinatown Nightclubs through June 12, 2010.  She said Coloring Outside the Lines: Black Cartoonists as Social Commentators is in the African American Center through June 17, 2010.  She said Elegant Needlework: Embroidery from Shanghai is in the Chinese Center through May 31, 2010.  She said Empire of Thirst: Water in the West Photographs by Robert Dawson is in the Jewett Gallery through August 1, 2010.  She said some upcoming Programs include GreenFinanceSF, Poets Eleven, Cinco de Mayo at the Mission Branch, and One City One Book featuring Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.

 

Commissioner Nguyen left the meeting at 7:07 p.m.

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said he is pleased that the income prospects seem to be better, but the baseline on the General Fund has not been that good.  He said he is gratified about the updates to the website and it seems to be fixed.  He said it would be nice if members of the public were thanked for bringing the problems to the Library’s attention. He said he would like to hear more about the partnership with the Recreation and Park Department.

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he was interested in hearing the highlights on the programs and exhibits.  He said it would be nice to have an operating library in the area of the Park Branch during its closure for a rental cost of $30,000 but the library does not choose to do that. He said there are a lot of questions about why so many things are still being questioned and fixed on the website. 

 

Commission Discussion

 

Commissioner Breyer asked about the feedback on the website.  He also asked about blogs or interactive features.

 

Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology said the feedback comes from a number of sources including from staff, comments from the website, and from patrons. She said several branches have blogs and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Commissioner Ono asked about the furlough situation for staff.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian said after the Unions vote and the Mayor’s budget release in early June we will have a better idea of the furlough situation.

 

Commissioner Kane said this was an excellent report.  He said he has read the One City One Book selection and it is an excellent choice.  He had additional questions regarding the Recreation and Park resolution and asked if there is a cash payment and if this will be an annual payment.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said it is a work order beginning July 1, 2010 so it is a payment from our Department to the Recreation and Park Department.

 

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said it is two parts and one is the work order the other is by partnering with the Recreation and Park Department we will also have the opportunity to use their facilities for programming and summer reading outreach through their facilities.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the cash payment for Park and Recreation is $350,000, which includes gardening and landscaping.

 

Commissioner Kane said he would like this to be part of the budget report in the future.  He asked that the Library of the Future be brought back as a separate item. 

 

Commissioner Kane left the meeting at 7:22 p.m.

 

ITEM NO. 6 LABOR UNION REPORT

 

There was no Labor Union Report at this meeting.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 7.  APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF APRIL 1, 2010

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said the secretary is now acknowledging some of the changes the speakers are requesting.  He said regarding the budget on page 8 he said he did say that it was not too bad before specifically requesting that “as a percent” be included because without it the sense was lost.  He said there were other areas where his statements were not complete.   

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he has little expectations that his recommendations for change will be adopted.  He requested changes on page 2 and page 7.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Ono to approve the minutes of April 1, 2010

 

Action:  AYES 4-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Munson and Ono).

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 8. ADJOURNMENT

 

There was no public comment on this item.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Breyer to adjourn the regular meeting of May 6, 2010.   

 

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

 

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 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 Hate, Stop the Ignorance – Don’t accept money from the Friends & Foundation.

 

Mr. Munson commented that “certain speakers are 95 to 98% negative in some way.”

 

I have participated in state-wide library conferences and been a presenter at ALA conferences.  When the legendary Sandy Berman was honored by the American Library Association he mentioned sharing the honor with citizen-activists including Mr. Warfield and me. 

 

A biennial anthology, “Best of Alternative Library Literature” has selected essays from my newsletter four separate times.  “Alternative” meaning liberal and humanist

 

Outside San Francisco people think Library Commission meetings must be serious intellectual discussions. 

 

If you want to block any serious discussion, you can break the law, make up ridiculous lies, descend into name calling, laugh while we are talking, drag out le mot de Coulter when you have nothing left, finally put five dollars in your precious public comment fund.

 

You can’t blame negativity on the citizens. 

  

Item 2: Resolutions Honoring Former Commissioners Lonnie K. Chinn and Mel Lee

 

Anonymous Citizen: Stop the Hate, Stop the Ignorance – Don’t give or accept money from the Friends & Foundation

 

Mr. Lee’s first meeting was January 17, 2008 and Ms. Chinn’s first meeting was March or April of 1988, a twenty year difference.

 

Let me say something complimentary about Ms. Chinn.  Mr. Richard Rothman, who became a prominent city employee, but was a private citizen at the time, discovered a discriminatory policy in the library.  When he brought it to the Library Commission, Ms. Chinn listened to him, discovered that he was right and ended up changing the policy.  The administration was shaking its heads in disbelief.  Part of the message is that she never did it again. 

 

Mel Lee came in with two other very prestigious appointments, Al Harris and Dr. Del Portillo, who all seem to be gone now.  Mr. Lee was one of the commissioners who asked serious questions and expected direct answers and I am sorry to lose him.

 

Item 3: Chinatown Branch Renaming

 

Anonymous Citizen:  Stop the Hate, Stop the Ignorance – Don't give or accept money from the Friends & Foundation

 

It is disappointing that we did not hear from the administration before taking public comment so that we can understand its perspective, as well as receive some background.

 

Concerning policy rather than the naming per se:  When the Eureka Valley branch was built the McCreary family donated the land and they were told that the library had a policy against naming branches for individuals.  An exception was made for the Anna Waden branch and for each exception after that there were concerns expressed that a policy be put in place to make subsequent exceptions more restrictive. 

 

There is a tendency to be emotional and conciliatory, and just give in to a naming, but over the entire city there are just not enough libraries to name them all for people that a community loves.

  

Item 4: Landmark Designation Process for Historic Buildings

 

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.

 

The president may have wanted to take public comment while I was out of the room, but informed public comment is more important than just me.

 

There was a reference to this not being about the coming environmental impact report, but there has been no background on what that is about.

 

This is an important subject but this presentation was not available in advance or in writing, and having things in writing should be one of your priorities.

 

The library has tended to gloss over historical preservation on the theory that it generates more money to give a blank check to some contractor to start from scratch.  That has not been wise in the past and I hope you will take this seriously.

  

Item 5: City Librarian’s Report

 

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

 

It is too bad commissioners seem to be leaving.  These important items are without sufficient detail.

 

I am pleased that the income prospects seem to be better, but the baseline refers to the General Fund and the news has not been that good.

 

I am gratified by the report about the website.  It was just a few meetings ago that I was misdirected to the old website, creating some confusion.  It seems to be fixed.

 

In many institutions this would be heralded as a success because you had listened to public concerns and addressed them.  Those institutions would also be thanking the public who brought it to your attention.  Too bad we don’t have the same perspective here.

 

I wish we could hear more about the partnership with the Recreation & Park Department and filling in its shortfall.

  

Item 7: Approval of the Minutes (April 1, 2010)

 

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

 

These minutes are a dramatic step forward in one particular aspect.  The secretary is now acknowledging suggested changes to prior minutes rather than abbreviating it to “comments not accurate” as in the past.

 

However, on page 6, the minutes quote “comments were reflected accurately.”  The secretary must have had a dizzy spell.  With respect to the page 3 comments, I had specific changes regarding Supervisor Maxwell initiating her own process and the currency of statistics.

 

With respect to the budget issue on page 8, I did say that it was not too bad before specifically requesting that “as a percent” be included because without it the sense was lost.

 

Under general public comment, the logical connection that was omitted was that denigrating speakers was a reaction to the commission being forced to allow public comment.