Minutes of the Regular Meeting of May 7, 2009


(As approved at the Regular Meeting of June 4, 2009)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, May 7, 2009, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:33 pm. 


Commissioners present: Gomez, Harris, Lee and Munson.


Commissioners excused:  Chin and Kane


Commissioner Del Portillo arrived at 4:40 pm.




An anonymous citizen said the Friends and Foundation file a yearly report with the State Attorney General under penalty of perjury.  He said the report the Commission received from the Friends two months ago differs substantially from the report filed with the Attorney General.  He said the Library must report everything the Friends spend on behalf of the Library on the Library’s website.


Joan Wood said she lives near the North Beach Library and has been trying to get the Library to spruce it up.  She said she understands the Commission is committed to a new library for North Beach and in the meantime the old library is being allowed to decay.  She would like the Commission to do something about this and she is specifically concerned about the removal of a chain link fence. 


Peter Warfield said he would like to see correspondence sent to the Commission listed on the agenda.  He said the amount of shelving for the Park Branch renovation has changed several times as the design has changed.  He said there has been no explanation for the changes and the amount of shelving is now less than first reported.


Sue Cauthen said she is Chair of a coalition of North Beach neighbors, who are concerned about the proposed North Beach Library.  She said the original plan was to build on a lot next to the library.  She said her group has come up with three different plans for a renovation and expansion of the existing library.  She said it can be done for half the proposed cost.  She said they believe their plan is cheaper, greener and faster. 




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Library submitted the budget based on the Library Commission’s approval in February.  He said staff has been working with the budget analyst and looking at cost cutting and staff efficiencies.  He said they have also been looking at some citywide partnerships on literacy and workforce development.  He said the library does not anticipate service level reductions.  He said they are going to be making some recommendations on cost reductions in the non personnel areas.  He said they will come back with more information on budget discussions. 


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, said they now have 4,100 titles of eBooks, audio books, music and video downloads.  She said the Digital Bookmobile will be at the Main Library Friday, May 8 and Saturday May 9.  She said it is an 18-wheel tractor trailer that will have instructional videos and interactive computer stations. She said the Public Training Lab is on the fifth floor of the library and has been set up to allow extra hours for job seekers to use the computers.  She said it is staffed by volunteers from library staff.  She said we have helped people locate job opportunities. She said the circulation figures for April hit a new high of 24.1% increase at the Main and 14.7% increase system wide.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian said the Fine Amnesty period started on May 3 and will continue through May 16.  She said they will report back at the conclusion of the amnesty period.


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services, said the Amnesty program includes a place on the library’s website where people can submit excuses about why their library book is overdue.   She said there are celebrity videos promoting the amnesty.  She said thanks to President Gomez’s suggestion Captain Sully Sullenberger has also done a video promoting the amnesty.  She said bookmarks and posters have also been produced.  She thanked the staff who worked so hard on producing the videos and developing the promotional materials.  She showed several of the videos and said now is the time to return those overdue books.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there are two documents in the Commissioners packets related to the San Francisco City Survey.  He said this was the 12th year the Controller’s office has conducted the survey and they surveyed over 2700 residents.  He said Library ratings improved in all categories and the frequency of visits is up.  He said the Library went up to a solid B from a B- and that is the highest rating of all the City agencies.   


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian said on page 6-6 there was a section added to reflect technology usage in the library.  She said this is an area that hasn’t been examined in the past.  She said this section was provided by the Library and they hope it will be included in the City survey in the future.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the term “they” was used for the Digital Bookmobile and no one explained who “they” were.  He said keeping the computer lab open was a condition of receiving it so he is glad it will be open.  He said they should all be gratified when the public increases the library’s services.  He asked why the survey shows an increase in the branches when there are so many closed and at the same time usage at the Main Library is flat.


Peter Warfield said he is glad the library’s ratings are slightly up in the Controller’s report.  He said he and others who have worked on improving the library can take some measure of satisfaction that their efforts have helped as well.  He said he would be interested in seeing the comments from the citizens in all aspects of the library.  He asked who approved the fee amnesty videos.  He said the Digital Bookmobile sounds like a great sales pitch for portable devices.


An anonymous speaker said there are a lot of reasons why people would not know about the amnesty program. 


Commission Discussion


President Gomez said thank you to the staff that produced the videos for the amnesty program.  She said they are fun and she watches them and chuckles.


Commissioner Del Portillo said thank you to staff for the amnesty program and she will be interested to see how many books and materials are recovered.




Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said she wanted to commend Luis Herrera and the Library staff for getting such a high grade on the survey and she said they should get an A for effort.  She said the San Francisco International Poetry Festival will be held July 23 through July 26.  She said there will be 26 poets representing 21 countries.  She said there will be a street party kickoff and numerous events.  She said Friends, Litquake and the Library have formed a partnership called San Francisco Reads.  She said it is an attempt to highlight and leverage a number of the literary programs that go on in the fall in San Francisco.  She said she will be attending National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. next week to argue for funding of libraries.  She said they are looking forward to the Richmond Branch opening on May 16.  She said the Friends book operations business has increased by more than 6% over the course of this year.  She said for the first time they will be clearing more than a million dollars in book sales this year. 


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said there is a discrepancy in the Friends’ financial disclosure.  He said he recently recited “Elegy Written in a County Churchyard.”  He said it is about the importance of the virtues of the common man and if a donor had recited the poem the Commission would have fallen all over that person, but because he was not a donor it wasn’t as well received.


An anonymous speaker said she didn’t know when the 100th anniversary for the Park Branch would be.  She said she will no longer be checking out books from the library because she has been treated so poorly. 




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said Mayor Newsom has been very proactive in seeking Federal Stimulus Funding and he asked that all departments have a discussion on the program and opportunities for various departments.  He said the City’s website is  He said the Library has identified categories for consideration including BLIP Capital Projects related to LEED, Technology Projects and Potential State funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  He said the next steps are: City/County coordination; National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issuance of rules and procedures and exploring other potential projects and funding opportunities.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the whole idea behind a stimulus package that attempts to restart the economy is to put people back to work.  He said the idea that we are thinking about this in terms of Technology companies is not the original impetus behind this.  He said the library has not even honored the terms of the computer lab it has.


An anonymous speaker said kids and teenagers love technology and it gets them away from guns and gangs.


Peter Warfield said the library has a slogan “free and equal access” and he is concerned that the library’s technology projects are pushing to the margin people who do not have the devices upon which one might download some of the materials.  He said he thinks the library should keep in mind equal access on technology and other issues.  He said the Park Branch is one of the least expensive renovations and the library should consider other improvements to the branch.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson said it is nice that stimulus money might be available and we should apply for it in terms of goals that fit our library’s goals.  He said he is happy to see we have prioritized what we are interested in.


President Gomez said she has been working with the National Endowment for the Arts and their applications have already gone out.  She said we can only hope that the other applications are as easy.


Commissioner Del Portillo said the money is being distributed fast and the applications are very short.  She said she finds that what makes a difference is the extent to which the elected officials take care of your city.  She said Speaker Pelosi is particularly effective in this area.  She said the Mayor is certainly pushing for the city to receive funds as well.




There was no Labor Union Report at this meeting.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the same two Commissioners were late at the meeting of April 2 and the following meeting.  He said those two Commissioners are not present at all at this meeting.  He said his comments about the dangers of privatization are so generic they could be used every time.  He said specific points he made were not included in other parts of the minutes.


Peter Warfield said the minutes have slipped into generalities.  He said his comments on pages 3 and 4 were not reported accurately.


An anonymous speaker said the Commission approves the minutes no matter what.


Commission Discussion


President Gomez thanked the Commission Secretary for preparing the Minutes in the abbreviated manner which the Commission has requested.


MOTION:  by Commissioner Harris, seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo to approve the minutes of April 2, 2009.


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




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said there was a memoriam for Judith Krug at the end of the meeting, which was accurately reported.  He said his comments on page 2 about a delay in the schedule for one of the branches were about the Park Branch not the Ingleside Branch as reported.  He said on the first page his comments were not reported accurately.


Peter Warfield said the minutes could be improved.  He said his comments on page 1 were not complete.  He said on page 3 he did appreciate the clarification by the Deputy City Librarian regarding the Park Branch delay. 


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Lee said he has full confidence in the Secretary.


Commissioner Munson said that he would request the comments of the anonymous citizen on page 2 be checked and changed if his comments were about the Park Branch and not the Ingleside Branch as reported. 


MOTION:  by Commissioner Lee, seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo to approve the minutes of April 16, 2009 with the possible correction on page 2 to the comments by the anonymous citizen to change Ingleside Branch to the Park Branch.


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




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, requested that the Commission adjourn in honor and memory of William Wong who passed away on April 29, 2009.  He said William served as a project manager with the Branch Library Improvement Program with DPW from approximately December, 2007 through March of this year when he returned to the Department of Building Inspection.  He said William joined the City’s Department of Public Works in 1989 as a Building Inspector and he also served as a Senior Building Inspector a Chief Building Inspector and Deputy Director for the Department of Building Inspection.   He said William’s contributions to the BLIP program were significant.  He helped us tremendously in streamlining the schedule and the budget format per the Commission’s direction.  He also helped to insure that the projects were on time and under budget.   He said William truly was a valuable member of the BLIP team during the transition between Bond Program Managers. He said he will be sorely missed.


MOTION: by Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Munson to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, May 7, 2009 in honor of William Wong.



Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he had not heard about Mr. Wong’s passing and he wanted to add his condolences.


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


The regular meeting of May 7, 2009, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:06 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).