Minutes of the Regular Meeting of June 7, 2007

(As amended and approved at the regular meeting on July 19, 2007)

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, June 7, 2007, at the Mission Bay Branch Library.

Vice President Coulter called the meeting to order at 4:04 pm

Commissioners present:  Bautista, Coulter, Gomez, and Kane.

Commissioner Chin arrived at 4:20 pm and President Higueras arrived at 4:31 pm.

Commissioner Munson was excused


An anonymous citizen said that someone named Charles A. Higueras published a letter in the Bay Guardian saying that everyone had a right to dispute resolution although if this was Library Commission President Higueras he knows this is one thing that does not take place at the Library Commission.  He also said it should be illegal for the Friends and Foundation to donate money because it skews the search for the truth.

Ellen Egbert from Bernal Heights said she was glad to see the Commission holding a meeting at one of the branch libraries in the “after” stage.  She said if you take the Muni T Third line it will take you down to the Bayview branch as well.  She said the preschool had moved out at the Bernal Heights site and if Commissioners stop by they can see the whole site in it’s “before” stage.

Russel Morine, Visitacion Valley, said that you can also take the T third to the Visitacion Valley branch library.  He also corrected the name in the minutes of May 3 of Betty Parshal instead of Betty Marshall.

Vice President Coulter said he appreciated the nice comments about the Mission Bay Branch and that the Friends of the Library did a lot to contribute to the branch.


An anonymous citizen said his comments were misrepresented under Public Comment in the May 3 minutes.  He also said with respect to Peter Warfield’s comments his comments were about the sensitive nature of calling something a renewal.

Motion:  By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Gomez to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of May 3, 2007, as amended to correct the name of Betty Parshal from Betty Marshall and to include her comments :  “Russel Morine, resident and small business owner in Visitacion Valley, spoke supporting consideration of the re-use of the supermarket building which was purchased by the city with the intention of demolition and construction of a new Visitacion Valley branch library on the site”.

Action:  AYES 4-0: (Bautista, Coulter, Kane, and Gomez)



An anonymous citizen said he was glad these minutes were on the agenda at the following Commission meeting.  He said his comments were misrepresented under Public Comment relating to privatization and the preservation fund and the context under which that was created.

Motion:  By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Gomez to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of May 17, 2007.

Action:  AYES 4-0: (Bautista, Coulter, Gomez and Kane)

Commissioner Chin entered the meeting.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that the staff work group on expanded operating hours met to develop staffing plans and schedules for the 7 branch libraries, which include Ingleside, Portola, Ocean View, Visitacion Valley, Merced, Mission Bay and Bayview.  She said that a request to release funds to the Clerk of the Board and the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee was submitted and that notification had been received that this issue will be discussed as part of the regular budget hearings for the Department in June.  Once the funds are released the Library will begin hiring immediately and develop a communication plan to notify staff and the public.

Jill Bourne explained the City Survey which had been done by the City Controller’s office.  She said the Executive Summary and the portion on San Francisco’s public library system were in the Commissioners packets and available at the back of the room.  She said that the City as a whole rated City Services at C+ and that the library received a B- which is the highest rating of any city department.  She explained the data and said that the collection and the staff represent the library’s greatest strength.  She explained that the standards in the survey for usage was measured by visits to the library while the library’s performance measures uses online usage as well so the library will be working with the Controller’s Office to better understand the library usage.  She also said the library will be working to increase the number of frequent users and outreach efforts.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, explained the status of the budget and said that the budget the Library Commission had approved had been forwarded to the Mayor’s office and there were no significant changes.  The hearing dates before the Budget and Finance Committee has been set for June 18 and 25.  The budget for extended hours will also be part of that discussion.  He said that the Mayor’s office had approved a couple of significant increases in the collection and book budget of about 22% and it also includes approval of expanded hours.  The only change was that the amount from the General Fund to the Bond Library Improvement Program (BLIP) was reduced by half from $4 million to $2 million.  The reason for that was to maintain a healthy reserve.  He said the budget climate remains healthy for the library.

Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, reported on the Urban Library Council (ULC) Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.  He said the conference was focused on different demographic changes and immigration in terms of technology.  He said that people who have grown up with technology were referred to as digital natives and those who did not grow up around technology as nonnative.  He said that there was a presentation from a demographer who spoke about immigrants in the the major cities in the United States and that San Francisco was one of only three cities who were leaders in the number of immigrations in the early 1900s and still are today, the other two being New York and Chicago.  There was discussion on how various cities adapt to that.  He said another key note address was on changing the face of education and library services in the digital age.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian noted that Library Commission President Charles Higueras is on the board of the ULC and that it is a national organization that looks at trends and innovative ways to respond to changes to library services.

Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, said that the new selection for One City One Book was Cane River by Lalita Tademy.  She said there will be several hundred copies of the book in the library’s collection and said it was a book first published in 2001 and is an intergenerational saga that highlights four women dating back to slavery in the south.  She said that the author is a Bay area author and she is extremely personable and very happy to be working with the library.  She said the publisher is the same as the one for the book last year and is very supportive of the program.  She said that Commissioner Gomez was on the selection committee.  The programs and activities will primarily be in September and she will report back to the Commission at that time. 

Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, reported on the Summer Reading Program.  She said there will be a juvenile program and a teen program.  She said that this program has varied programs and activities for youngsters birth through 18 years.  She explained the Get a Clue @ Your Library for children up to 13; Kid Power: 10-16 year old volunteers; and the Teen Summer Read program.  She said promotion of the program includes: articles, posters, flyers, SFPL Kids website and collaborating with other community partners.  There will be evaluation and measurement of the programs, which she will report back to the Commission on in the fall. 

Luis Herrera highlighted some of the upcoming exhibitions and programs at the main and branch libraries including adult, teen and children programs and events.

Public Comment            

An anonymous citizen said he is gratified that the issue of Sunday hours is finally going to be addressed, but it has been a full year since the money has been available.  He said he was very interested in the survey results especially that usage had gone up but actual visits to the library had gone down.  He said he was concerned that the amount approved by the Commission had been reduced and he said he was concerned about how the issue of the Library Preservation Fund will affect the budget.

Commission Discussion

Commissioner Coulter said he likes the report on the upcoming exhibitions and programs because he is impressed with all of the things we are doing now that we were not doing 10 years ago.  He asked if the library knows the impact on the number of users of the library who are drawn in by these events and program.

Luis Herrera said that the library does track those numbers.  He said it is a significant reason people visit the library especially the main library, but he would look into getting a better grasp on that perhaps through surveys or focus groups.  He also said staff is encouraged at these programs and events to promote other library services.

Jill Bourne said that as part of the budget the library will be looking at expanding programming in the branch libraries.

Commissioner Bautista said she would like to see more of the library’s programs in all the different languages spoken in San Francisco especially the younger children.

City Librarian Luis Herrera said that the library will continue to expand its services to different languages and cultures.

Commissioner Kane said the report was very informative and wanted to confirm the extra hours at Bayview.  He also said that the Summer Reading Program was a very good program.

Jill Bourne responded that there would be three additional hours on Thursday at the Bayview branch.

President Higueras asked about the Summer Reading Program and what was being done to reach out and entice new participants.  He also asked if there was any tracking of first time participants in the program.

Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said that flyers go out to every student through the schools and that she sees the greatest opportunity for outreach will be in working with the schools directly.  She said that first time participants are not being tracked and that is something that they will try to implement.

Luis Herrera said that there will be a presentation at the July Library Commission meeting on the partnership for achievement with the San Francisco Unified School District. It is part of the Mayor’s overall partnership for achievement and the library will have a very specific role.

Commissioner Chin recommended working with summer schools and emphasizing the library’s role in reading for pleasure.

Vice-President Coulter left the meeting at 5:05 pm.



Donna Bero, Executive Director, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library said it was nice to be present at the beautiful Mission Bay branch library.  She gave the Library high marks on the city survey results and said that on a curve this would be an A+.  She was happy to hear about the Summer Reading Program and the One City One Book program.  She said the Friends’ Board will be finalizing its library support grant package for the upcoming fiscal year.  They have already approved an amount of $750,000, but this will be the final package of specific programs.  She said there is an expanded amount for the Summer Reading Program and there is funding for One City One Book.

She said the Poets Eleven program will have it final branch reading on June 26 at 7:00 at the North Beach branch.  She said there will be a grand finale at the Main Library in August.  She said the International Poetry Festival will be taking place in July from the 26-28 and explained the various events.    She said there has been great success in raising sponsorships and partnerships in promoting the event and they already have more money than was planned.  She listed the names of the sponsors for the events.  She said the Recreation and Park Commission had agreed to cosponsor by waiving their fees for the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre and the Palace of Fine Arts Foundation have waived their fees as well.  She said there will be a history day at the Bernal Heights Library on June 23 at 2:00 pm and passed out flyers about the event.  She said there will also be a history day in Portola on Saturday June 30 at 1:00 pm at the Martin Luther King Middle School.  Finally as part of the Neighborhood Library Campaign a number of restaurants in the Marina District will be donating a portion of their proceeds on Tuesdays in June to the Marina branch library renovation. 

Public Comment

An anonymous citizen said that the idea of grading on a curve for the city survey causes grade inflation and is not the way to go.

Commission Discussion

President Higueras said the International Poetry Festival looks like an exceptional event.

Commissioner Bautista said she was happy to see poets participating from around the world and she thanked the Friends for all their hard work and support.



Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that in October, 2005 the Library Technology and Privacy Committee issued a summary report of its investigation into Radio Frequency Identification Technology or RFID.  The report which was presented to the Library Commission at that time made several recommendations one of which was to perform an inventory of practices for gathering data as it relates to privacy and confidentiality.

Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said following the recommendation for a privacy audit, the audit was budgeted for this fiscal year and proceeded to enlist the assistance of a library technology consultant, Karen Coyle.  They put together a staff task force to conduct the audit itself.  The audit took place in February and March this year. She said she wanted to acknowledge the work of the task force.  She said that San Francisco is one of the few public libraries which have gone through this process.

Karen Coyle said that this was a fun project mainly because the staff was so involved.  It was completed in less time than was planned and completed under budget.  She said that libraries and privacy is really about confidentiality of records of patron activity.  She briefly explained the context of the law and policy, the process, a few highlights of the findings and recommendations.  She said the American Library Association has policies that help advise libraries on issues such as privacy.   She said the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) has an excellent policy.    She said today’s technology creates records where they did not exist before and asks the question what is personally identifiable data.  She said the audit went through every form used by the library and that there were 36 separate forms and 80 pages.  The findings were that library vendor systems adhere to library standards, regional and national services are outside of the library’s control, more personal services means more data is collected, ad hoc programs tend to be less standardized and that new technologies present a challenge.  She said the recommendations of the audit include making the privacy policy more visible to users, developing general policies for ad hoc data collection, more attention to data that identifies under-age or special populations, checking records retention rules, defining “lapsed library card holders”, continuing education of staff, finding new methods of communication and designating a staff person as a “privacy officer.” 

Vivian Pisano said that the next steps are to develop a training program and to implement the recommendations from the audit.

Public Comment

An anonymous citizen said that he also went to the Technology and Privacy Committee meetings and said that it is a little problematic to have a public report about privacy issues.  He said everything that is not absolutely confidential is public information under the Sunshine laws.  He said the library gave the database of users to the Friends and Foundation in the early 90’s for a fundraising letter and when challenged the library said this was within the scope of the administration.  He said that people expect confidentiality.  This also comes back to RFID and whether people will feel comfortable with that.

Sue Cauthen said it was an interesting study and wondered how this would conflict with the sunshine laws.

Commission Discussion

Deputy City Attorney Francesca Gessner responded to a question from President Higueras saying that she did not believe there was a city attorney opinion relating to this issue and that state law would trump city law.

Commissioner Bautista said training could be included with the sunshine training and it is crucial that librarians be on top of this issue.

Commissioner Kane inquired further about the privacy officer and wondered if the city attorney would be involved with that.

City Librarian Luis Herrera explained that the privacy officer would not be a new position and that the designated person would work with the City Attorney’s office.

Privacy Audit Report; Privacy Audit Presentation - Karen Coyle


Therese Cason, Mission Bay Branch Librarian, told the Commission a little bit about the branch history and said it was the first new branch in San Francisco in 40 years.  It is the second project completed under BLIP.  She said it was built with a partnership with the Redevelopment Agency.  She said there have been 83,000 patron visits since opening in July 2006.  She said library patrons include seniors, low income residents, UCSF students, downtown residents, WiFi users, preschool children, young families and commuters.  She said that adult programming includes book talks, film screening, lectures, poetry and computer classes.  She said future plans include increasing the variety of adult programs to draw in new users, expanding computer learning opportunities, outreach to other neighborhoods like Treasure Island and South Beach and she said they will continue to promote their active children’s programming.

Commissioner Bautista left the meeting at 6:05 pm

Public Comment

An anonymous citizen was curious how game days affect this particular branch since it is so close to the ballpark.  He said this library has a very extensive book collection and people enjoy using them so in that sense it is a very successful branch.

Commission Discussion

President Higueras said he wanted to underscore the success of this branch.  He said this neighborhood would not be as viable or as livable without this library.  He said that it is the “home run” of the neighborhood.

Commissioner Kane thanked staff for having a meeting in the community and said he hopes we will do this again at another branch and he would like to see more members of the community in attendance.  He asked about how the branch serves the Treasure Island community and if there is anything to help facilitate their use of the Mission Bay branch.

Commissioner Bautista returned to the meeting at 6:07 pm.

Commissioner Gomez left the meeting at 6:07 pm.

Luis Herrera said the Mission Bay branch can best provide outreach to Treasure Island so it was the logical choice to serve the area.

Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said that the people of Treasure Island often use a grocery store close to the Mission Bay branch so it is often convenient for them in that way.

City Librarian Luis Herrera said that there is also bookmobile service to Treasure Island and he complimented Therese Cason on her report.

Mission Bay Branch Presentation



There was no labor union report.



Commissioner Bautista said that she had a conversation with someone from the Western Addition area and said that there was a concern that the bookmobile only visited the area twice a week.

City Librarian Luis Herrera responded that the Western Addition reading center has been opened at the African American Cultural and Arts complex in addition to the bookmobile service.  The reading center is open 20 hours a week.  He also said the Presidio branch has the Japanese collection.  He said the information is posted on the SFPL website, but he said staff would look into it.

An anonymous citizen said the trick is to embrace public comment and he said the issue raised about the Western Addition is an important one.


There was no public comment on this item.

MOTION: by Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Chin, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, June 7, 2007. 

ACTION:  AYES: 4-0.  (Bautista, Chin, Higueras, and Kane).

The regular meeting of June 7, 2007, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:12 PM.

Sue Blackman

Commission Secretary

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).