Minutes of the Regular Meeting of June 3, 2010


(Approved as amended at the regular meeting of July 15, 2010)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, June 3, 2010, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


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


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


Commissioner excused:  Ono




An anonymous citizen asked what it means to say some citizens are 95% to 98% percent negative.  He said if the Commission was not so resistant to democracy it would not find public comment so negative.  He said the Commission does not want to hear about the scandals so they block public comment.


Ray Hartz said 95 – 98% negative comment is actually very beneficial comment.  He said the Constitution of the United States gives the people the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances and freedom of speech.  He said that 95% - 98% negative comment has clearly been marked as protected speech.


Peter Warfield, Executive Director, Library Users Association, said if folks have comments you think are negative or positive it is appropriate to bring up the substance of the comments.  He said he was shocked at the way that holds are set out for the public to collect.  He said it breaks privacy almost completely for the public, because the slip with the names of the patrons is completely visible as well as the material that is being checked out.  He said reserved materials should be behind a desk where patrons can ask for them.


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said the Friends’ Board of Directors has unanimously approved the Friends’ budget for the next fiscal year.  She said it coincides with the Library’s budget so they can be supportive of the agenda of the Library.  She said they never try to set or influence the agenda of the Library.  She said within the budget, the Board approved $3.34 million for the Branch Library Improvement Program as well as $750,000 which it each year routinely allocates for programs and exhibits.  She said there will also be in kind contributions to the Library through volunteers and advocacy.  She said they will be presenting a more thorough presentation of their finances later in the year.       




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, announced that there will be a celebration of the Life of Effie Lee Morris, who was the first children’s coordinator here at the San Francisco Public Library.  He said it will be held Monday, June 14th in the Koret Auditorium.  He said the Legislative Digest for the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) is available in the Commissioner’s packets and at the back of the room.  He said it is a proposed Charter Amendment introduced by Supervisor Alioto-Pier in May.  He said it proposes to extend the PEEF from its expiration of June 30, 2016 for an additional year.  He said along with extending it a year it also makes some changes and may have potential implications for the Library Preservation Fund.  He said staff will continue to have dialogue with the Supervisor’s office and will be following this very closely.  He said the second item is regarding the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) website. 


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said they have redone the BLIP website and she thanked the staff who participated and she explained the changes to the web page.


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, gave an overview of the Summer Reading program.  She said the overall theme this year is Water.  She said for the children the theme is Water Your Imagination.  She said there are three different components; the reading program, weekly programming and Kid Power.  She said Kid Power is for students 10-16 and a volunteer program that is their first work experience.  She said for the Teens the theme is Go With the Flow.  She said they have prizes and a party on August 4, 2010.  She said the Friends pay for three high school interns to help with the program.


Cathy Delneo said she is normally at the Park Branch and is currently working at the Sunset Branch.  She said the theme for the Adult Reading program this year is Dive Into a Good Book!  She said only five branches participated last year, but all of the branches, including the bookmobile and Main are participating this year.  Adults can submit book reviews and there will be a competition between the libraries on the Ocean side and the Bay sides of the city.  She said whoever wins will get bragging rights.  She said there will be monthly programming including films, author visits and local history presentations.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said we were very fortunate to participate in a study called the U. S. Impact Study funded by the Gates Foundation and the Institute for Museum and Library Services conducted by the University of Washington.  He said this is the first time that data was compiled from patrons on insights on how the public is using computers, wireless and other information technology.  He said we were part of the Web Survey portion of the Study.


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said the survey took place the first two weeks of June in 2009.  She said there were 1,746 responses and 77% of the respondents used computers in the library to access online resources.  She explained the availability of access to the internet among SFPL users.  She explained the types of help users received from SFPL Librarians.  She said 41% of users help other patrons

She explained the importance of public library internet access.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that the survey asked how people use Library internet connections including E-Government, Youth Education, Adult Education, Health & Wellness, Employment, E-Commerce; and Social Networking.


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, gave more details on the study.  She said there is a high rate of satisfaction.  She said the patrons also had suggestions for improvement including more computers, longer session times, more computer classes; etc.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the issue regarding the Library Preservation Fund is a complex issue that he would like to know more about.  He said it should be brought to the Commission as a separate action item so that its implications can be explored.  He said the only provision for feedback on the BLIP website was an email link to tell us what you think.  He said you should allow people to mail in their responses.  He said he was very interested in the report on computers in libraries. He said only three percent don’t regularly access computers outside of the library.


Sue Cauthen, Chair of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), said the LCAC can take a little bit of credit for the BLIP website update since they passed a resolution asking that it be done.  She said she has not found a cost per square foot of each library and would be interested in seeing that added to the site.


Ray Hartz said anything that enhances the access and availability of early education by the library is to be soundly applauded.  He said he is interested in the teenage internship program.  He said the digital divide is increasing and access to public computers to children who do not have that access is important.  He said the use of computers in the library to contact other government agencies and find other information is also important.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he is glad there is a summer reading program.  He said he did not see on the list the bookmobiles that are serving the closed branches so he is not sure if those bookmobiles are providing the summer reading program.  He said he urged the Commissioners to ask more questions about the proposed Charter Amendment using the Library Preservation Funds.  He said he has a lot of questions about the survey relating to computers for the Gates Foundation.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane asked about the process for putting a Charter Amendment on the ballot.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said legislation would have to go to the full Board of Supervisors to place an amendment on the ballot.


Commissioner Kane said the computer survey was an interesting one and it looks like there are not enough computers and not enough time on each for the public.  He said he hopes that every open branch will have a laptop lending program.


Commissioner Breyer said only 3% of people said internet access was of little or no importance to them as users.  He said whatever can be done to get more computers in the library would be something users would appreciate.  He also had questions regarding the marketing of the summer reading program.


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said the library is a part of an overall push to insure that books are available to the children in the community.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said on Tuesday the Mayor presented his recommended 2010/2011 budget.  He said libraries across the country are closing libraries and reducing hours.  He said we should be gratified about the level of support we have here in San Francisco.  He said it will be a challenging year.   He said among the priorities set by the Commission was to maintain our service hours and we have managed to do that.  He said we are committed to finishing the Branch Library Improvement Program.


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, said since the Commission approved the budget they have been working with the Controller’s Office and the Mayor’s office on the budget.  He presented some of the highlights on the changes that have occurred since February.  He said the projected revenues have increased by $1.7 million.  He said there has been a change to require the library to pay for retiree health benefits.  He said there is an offset for that on the revenue side.  He said the net impact on the library for next year will be $550,000.  He said the following year it will be more like $1.1 million.  He said there has been an increase in work orders.  He showed charts showing FY 11 Revenues by Source and Expenses.  He explained the expense changes compared to FY 09/10.  He said actual salary costs have gone down but fringe benefit costs have gone up.  He said all of the labor unions in the City have agreed to a furlough program.  He said having people on furlough also exacerbates our staffing issues.  He said the work order costs are expected to be lower in FY 11.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the work order amount for program support for Recreation and Park is $249,000 and that is to expand the ability of both departments to reach the communities that both the Library and Recreation and Park serve. 


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, said at the end of FY 11 the projected Library Preservation Fund (LPF) balance will be approximately $10,456,433.  He said the budget is expected to be approved by the full Board of Supervisors in July.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this is one of the most comprehensive reports we have had in a long time.  He said this budget is a magic trick.  He said the previous item was the smoke and this is the misdirection.  He said when people are asked what is important they say they want books, culture and access to their past.  He said if we are going to look at priorities we should look at restoring some of the $1.6 million in cuts to the collections.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the book budget cut is approximately 15%.  He said there are 9.5 million items circulated by the library.  He said some people may come in and spend 15 minutes on the computer and then go to the books.  He said the City Librarian continually refers to maintaining hours at the libraries.  He said the library is not maintaining hours when six branches have only bookmobile service ranging from 5 – 8 hours per week.  He said that is not full service for a full budget.


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said there has been a lot of work and consideration put into the making of this budget.  She said the Friends believe the library is doing very prudent work in allocating its resources in the way that it does.  She said she commends the City Librarian and staff for the way they have partnered with other departments.


 Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane said it is important to him to separate out the retirees’ health and benefits from the library employees’ health and benefits.


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, said they would be able to separate retirees’ benefits.  He said he would be happy to break down the health and pension costs in future reports.


Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, responded to questions regarding the Civic Center Improvement District.  He said the funding for the library will be approximately $20,000 to $30,000 per year.


Commissioner Kane said he is concerned about other departments trying to raid the Library Preservation Fund.  He said he would like to see an opinion from the City Attorney’s office regarding the partnership with the Recreation and Park Department.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the increase in the budget for landscaping is equivalent to one full time gardener and there has not been an increase in a number of years.


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, said that FY 12 will probably see the same trends as we are seeing this year.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, responded to a question from President Gomez and said the Library has one full time social worker and four Health and Safety Associates who are paid $10 per hour and about $10,000 goes towards the Homeless Outreach Team. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that there is no reduction to the budget for the program for social services.


Commissioner Breyer had questions about the retiree health plan and the Library picking up the payments for that.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Library was the only non general fund department that was not paying for retiree health.   


John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer, said the Library’s baseline is 2.17% and the second component is the property tax set aside.




There was no Labor Union Report at this meeting.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the minutes are briefer than before.  He said if you go to this level of brevity there will be a number of things omitted.  He said on the top of page 3 the minutes should read that Lonnie Chin said she was not a patient person and that people who are not giving money should shut up.  He said this is a lesson that history should be able to learn.


Peter Warfield said his remarks under agenda item number 6 were not reflected accurately.  He said he would like to see a discussion of public comment added to the agenda so they could have an appropriate discussion about the issue.  He said the statements by Lonnie Chin and Mel Lee on page 3 were not accurately reflected. 


Ray Hartz said he attends a number of public meetings to determine public comment availability, access and things like that.  He said the Library Commission does a much better job on your minutes than many other agencies.  He said the minutes have a number of benefits.  He said it is important to accurately characterize the statements that people make.


Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Kane to approve the minutes of May 6, 2010


Action:  AYES 5-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Kane, Munson and Nguyen).




Ray Hartz said some people think that they have the right to interrupt or disrupt a person speaking under public comment.  He said he is constitutionally protected to say whatever and in whatever form he wants to say it.  He said when you attempt to minimize or dismiss or stop someone from speaking, if their intent was to get to you, you just gave them a reward.


Motion:  By Commissioner Kane, seconded by Commissioner Munson to adjourn the regular meeting of June 3, 2010.   


Action:  AYES 5-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Kane, Munson, and Nguyen).


The meeting adjourned at 6:48 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  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.


What does it mean to say that some citizens are 95% to 98% negative?


Is it negative to resist the hostility to democracy, and testify to what you do to limit participation to those donating money.


If you weren't resistant to democracy, you wouldn't find public comment so negative. 


Sacrifices are made to assure that libraries are publicly funded, librarians are professionals, and all opinions are respected.


I don't think that in a democracy the rich donors should have the power to say that I and other people don't belong here.


After all the scandals and planning disasters in our history I can't believe that you are still against public participation.


You don’t want to hear about the scandals so you block public participation, but you consider it a virtue to be positive.  I am not too sympathetic.



Item 2: City Librarian’s Report


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


The only mention of the change in the handling of the Library Preservation Fund reserve was minor. It is a dramatic change with far reaching implications and it should be brought to the commission as a separate action item so that its implications can be explored.


The only provision for feedback on the BLIP website was an e-mail link.  This has the effect of dumbing down the response you will receive.


The report on the use of computers in libraries reflects on the intense debate on the role of libraries in our society.  The report shows that only three percent of users don’t have regular use of computers somewhere else.  Also, only seven percent of users need librarians for questions that could not be answered by the teenager sitting next to them.



Item 3: Update on Fiscal Year 2010/2011 Budget


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


I often complain about holes in the report and this is one of the most comprehensive budget reports we have had in a long time.


Should I be philosophical, detailed or political?  Political.  This is a magic trick.  The previous item was the smoke and now we get the misdirection.


The previous item showed that computers in libraries are rated as significant for others. Forty-nine percent don’t use them and thirty-seven percent rate them of little importance personally. 


What people consistently rate as important for themselves is access to the past and books.


Being $1.5 million better off than four months ago, the primary reduction is for books and library materials, with a $14 million reserve.  This is not the citizen’s priority.


We should send a message that the library deserves to be in such good budget shape.



Item 7: Approval of the Minutes (May 6, 2010)


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


No letterhead lists the members of the commission, and no mention of what happened to Dr. Del Portillo.


At this level of brevity, a number of things are omitted. 


The anonymous citizen stated the reason that commission meetings are considered serious is because you have citizen-activists with national reputations.  The testimony was the harassment they have endured as you block serious discussion.


Peter Warfield described what was inappropriate having to do with the scope of the agenda item.


Commissioner Chin at the top of page 3 stated that she was not a patient person and that people who are not giving money should shut up.  That is a lesson that history should learn.


Under the branch naming item, Commissioner Chin is given 13 lines, Supervisor Chui is given 11 lines, and the anonymous citizen is given 3 lines, while his opinion is omitted.