SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY COMMISSION

 

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of July 15, 2010

 

(Approved as amended at the August 19, 2010 regular Commission Meeting)

 

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, July 15, 2010, at the Chinatown Branch Library

 

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

 

Commissioners present: Breyer, Gomez, Hayon, Munson and Ono

 

Commissioner Kane entered the meeting at 4:36 pm.

 

Commissioner excused: Nguyen

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 1 PUBLIC COMMENT

 

An anonymous citizen said the Presidio Branch, now being remodeled, has been remodeled many times over the years.  He said during one of the remodels the Library Commission took a tour of the branch and the public was not invited.  He said he sued and the Library Commission and the Secretary was told that he had to consult with the City Attorney’s office whenever the anonymous citizen questioned the Commission about any Brown Act issues.

 

Peter Warfield said there are six branch libraries currently closed for renovation.  He said the only interim service they have is a bookmobile that comes twice a week.  He said it was disappointing that at a discussion with the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee the City Librarian said he was not really interested in providing better interim services 

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 2 CHINATOWN BRANCH LIBRARY RENAMING

 

President Gomez said that because of the number of people attending the meeting who wanted to speak that public comment on this item would be limited to two minutes. 

 

Victor Lim, Supervisor Chiu’s office, said that he would be translating the meeting in Chinese for those who need it.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, introduced Lorna Chee, the acting Branch Manager for the Chinatown Branch, and Janet Cheung, the acting Children’s Manager for the Chinatown Branch.  He said the Chinatown Branch Library was built in 1921 with Carnegie funds and was known as the North Beach Branch Library and in 1951 was changed to the Chinatown Branch Library.  He said in 1996 there was a major renovation to the branch, which is now one of the busiest of the branches, circulating almost a million items this year.  He said they have a tremendous number of programs.  He said 54% of the service area for the branch is of Asian descent and 43% speak Chinese at home.  He said at a previous meeting a petition was brought to the Commission asking that the branch be renamed in honor of Him Mark Lai.  He said the Policy is available at the back and said there are five stipulations in the Policy for the naming of a branch.  He said copies of the survey are available in the back of the room.  He presented the results of the survey.

 

Sue Lee, Executive Director of the Chinese Historical Society of America said Him Mark Lai was a member of her Board of Directors for many years.  She said she is in support of renaming the Chinatown Branch in his honor.

 

An anonymous citizen said the library is for all the people and it should not be named after individuals.

 

A person from the audience said he came to America when he was 10 years old and he started to use the Library at the age of 13.  He spoke in support of the renaming for Him Mark Lai.

 

Mabel Teng, Executive Director of the Chinese Cultural Center and former San Francisco Supervisor, said she has been inspired by Him Mark Lai and she supports the renaming in his honor.

 

Mr. Wong, retired professor in Asian American studies at UC Berkeley, said he is in favor of changing the name of the Chinatown Branch in honor of Him Mark Lai.  He said Him Mark Lai was the first person to give Chinese people their history and identity.

 

Molly Lim said her family is very enthused about having the Chinatown Branch named after Him Mark Lai. She said Him Mark Lai was born and raised in Chinatown.

 

Edward Fong said he was born and raised in Chinatown and he has used the Chinatown Branch since he was six years old.  He said he supports naming the Branch for Him Mark Lai.

 

Ellen Yung said she uses the Chinatown branch frequently and is in support of naming the Branch for Him Mark Lai. 

 

Mr. Eng spoke in Chinese and it was summarized by Ellen Yung in English.  She said Mr. Eng represents the Chinese American Chamber of Commerce and the Association for Unification of China.  She said he is in support of renaming of the Chinatown Branch for Him Mark Lai and it would be an affirmation of the harmonious state between the two cultures.

 

A woman from the audience spoke in Chinese with a translation by Victor Lim.  She said she has been in the United States for approximately 10 years and the Chinatown Branch library is part of her family’s lives.  She said she supports naming the Branch for a Chinese American.

 

Ms. McClain said she had a bad experience growing up and going to the Main Library.  She said the Chinatown Branch was so unique and accepting.  She said she met Him Mark Lai about 20 years ago and supports renaming the branch in his honor.

 

A person from the audience spoke in Chinese with a translation by Ellen Yung.  He said he is a writer and said he is in favor of naming the Chinatown Branch for Him Mark Lai.    He said by changing the name you will exemplify America’s acceptance of the different ethnic groups in the United States.

 

Rev. Norman Fong said his mother grew up in Chinatown and so did he.  He said Him Mark Lai was his teacher for his first Chinese American History course.  He said he is the Chair of the Chinatown Coalition for Better Housing.  He said the residents in Chinatown are all in support of changing the name to honor Him Mark Lai.

 

A person from the audience spoke in Chinese with a translation by Victor Lim.  She said she is a student.  She said she supports naming the Chinatown Branch after Him Mark Lai.

 

Lonnie Chin, former Library Commissioner, said that Him Mark Lai loved books.  She introduced two third graders from Spring Valley Science School.  She said the students have only been in the United States for a year and a half.  The children spoke about the benefits that Him Mark Lai brought to them because he documented Chinese American history and asked that his name be added to the Chinatown Branch Library.

 

A person from the audience spoke in Chinese with a translation by Victor Lim.  He said he was a patron of the library and said he was a librarian in China.  He said Him Mark Lai was a renowned scholar.  He said he supports adding Him Mark Lai’s name to the Chinatown Branch.

 

Nancy Lim Yee said she grew up in Chinatown.  She said it is appropriate and fitting that the Chinatown Branch be named after Him Mark Lai.

 

Albert Yung said his brother-in-law was Him Mark Lai.  He said Him Mark Lai would give him books for Christmas and always supported libraries.   He said it would be a fitting honor to name the Chinatown Branch after Him Mark Lai.

 

Miranda Lee said she was impressed by the policy for renaming branches.  She said Him Mark Lai is deserving of having the Chinatown Branch named after him.

 

Grant Din, Director of Special Projects Angel Island Immigration Station, said he was in support of naming the Chinatown Branch after Him Mark Lai.

 

Germaine Wong, Co-Chair Chinese for Affirmative Action Board, said she chairs the committee that proposed the name change for Him Mark Lai.  She said there is a great deal of support in the community for the renaming.

 

Victor Lim, representing Supervisor David Chiu, thanked everyone for attending the meeting and for their comments.  He said Him Mark Lai inspired many of us.  He said he volunteered at the Chinatown Branch during high school and he supports naming the Chinatown Branch Library for Him Mark Lai.

 

Commission Discussion

 

President Gomez thanked Him Mark Lai’s wife for sharing her husband with this community and everyone for their comments and remembrances.  She also thanked Victor Lim for translating.

 

Commissioner Kane said this is a fantastic turnout and he thanked the staff for the extra work that it takes to have meetings at the branches.  He said he would like to see the survey responses broken down by zip codes.

 

Commissioner Ono said she was very impressed by the number of people who spoke.  She said she would also like a breakdown of the survey’s comments by zip codes.

 

Commissioner Hayon said she cannot think of a better way to start her term on the Library Commission.  She said it is important to remember people who have actually made contributions to our community.

 

Commissioner Breyer asked about the survey and how it was distributed.

 

President Gomez said there will be another Commission meeting in the fall to take action on this item.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 3 BRANCH LIBRARY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM SCHEDULE CHANGES

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there is a memo outlining the Schedule Changes for the Merced, Park, Parkside and Presidio Branches.

 

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, gave a brief summary of the reason for the delay on the projects.

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said that this is relatively good news and that it has only been recently that out of control delays have been brought down to  manageable delays.  He said these delays come on top of previously approved delays.

 

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said there have been changes upon changes upon changes.  He said he thinks it would be appropriate to have a list of changes for each project.  He said he was confused about the delays to the Park Branch.

 

Commission Discussion

 

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said there is a three month delay for the Park Branch.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Kane, seconded by Commissioner Munson to approve the schedule changes to the Merced Branch by four months; the Park Branch by three months; the Parkside Branch by two months and the Presidio Branch by three months. 

 

Action:  AYES 5-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Hayon, Munson, and Ono).

 

Commissioner Kane left the meeting at 6:15 pm.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 4. BOND PROGRAM MANAGER’S REPORT

 

Lena Chen, Bond Program Manager, said the current budget report and the Quarterly Report are available at the back table.  She said the August schedule updates will include the actions taken by the Commission at today’s meeting.  She said they will report back in the fall for the opening schedule for the 8 projects in construction.   She said that 7 property acquisitions are complete including Bayview.  She said the support services facility is in operation; 14 branches are complete and open; and 8 branches are in construction.  She showed photographs and gave reports on projects in construction including: Parkside; Visitacion Valley; Ortega; Anza; Merced; Golden Gate Valley; Presidio and Park.  She said they received 9 bids on the Bayview Branch and 6 have been pre-qualified to participate in the second part of the selection process.  She said they are anticipating award for pre-construction services in September.  She said they will be reporting back to the Commission on the schedule and budget changes for Bayview.  She said the North Beach Branch is in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and design stage.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there is still a concern about the North Beach Branch EIR.  He said it has been pushed back and the draft EIR should be available late August.  He said they will have a representative from the Planning Department come back to the Commission at the August meeting to give more detail.  

 

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) voted 4-3 to recommend landmark status for both the Marina and North Beach branch libraries at their June 16 meeting.  She said the item had to return to the HPC on July 7 to approve the findings.  She said the community turned out in opposition to the landmarking.  She said the vote at that meeting was 3-3 so because they did not have the 4 votes needed to support the landmarking it was continued to their September 1 meeting.

 

Lena Chen, Bond Program Manager, gave a summary of public outreach for the program.   She said that there was a branch table at the North Beach festival on June 19, 2010 and the BLIP team attended other board and commission meetings.

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said the Schedule Report for the current month now designates one year ago, making it look like there is more to come than there is.  He said we are actually in the midst of our greatest level of branch closures.  He said the current open hours for the libraries are 1,040 which is below the legal standard of 1,211. He said no branch is more controversial than the North Beach Branch.

 

Peter Warfield said the picture of the Presidio Branch left out a construction company trailer in front of the Branch.  He said he has looked into providing temporary trailers and it would be approximately $9,000 a year to provide a trailer in front of closed branches for interim services. 

 

Commission Discussion

 

Commissioner Ono asked about timing of the EIR and the HPC decision for the North Beach Branch.

 

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the EIR and HPC are two separate processes and the EIR process is much longer.

 

Commissioner Breyer had questions about the construction schedule for the Park Branch.  He said he had concerns about the budget impacts on the Bayview Branch.

 

Lena Chen, Bond Program Manager, explained the construction schedule for the Park Branch and the bidding process for the Bayview Branch.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 5. CITY LIBRARIAN’S REPORT

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there have been two budget hearings before the Budget and Finance Committee.  He said at the first hearing it provided a good opportunity to tell the Supervisors about the BLIP program, maintaining hours and temporary services.

 

John Doidge, Chief Financial Officer said one of the areas that is usually looked at is attrition savings and we agreed to up our attrition savings.  He said altogether $425,000 was saved in our budget from what was in the Mayor’s proposed budget.  He explained additional changes to the budget.  He said the Committee removed an additional $130,000 so in total $534,000 was removed from the Library’s budget.  He said in summary our expenses have gone done by $425,000 and our revenue has gone down by $534,000.  He said this is in the context of an $80 million budget.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian said we are confident that we will be able to maintain service levels and have a solid materials budget.  He said the Chinatown Branch needs some work to the façade for restoration.

 

Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, said the library hired Page and Turnbull to do a full report of recommendations on historical preservation for the repairs needed for the Chinatown Branch.  He said they will report back to the Commission with their recommendations.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the Library has received several awards recently.  He said the Library received a Certificate of Honor for the 2010 Green and Blue Award presented by the Department of the Environment; the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award presented by the American Library Association, the Top Innovator 2010 award presented by the Urban Libraries Council and the Best in Show Award presented by the American Library Association’s Library Administration and Management Association.  He said there had been a proposal to tap into the Library Preservation Fund for the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF).  He said that proposal has been dropped.

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said Governor Schwarzenegger has announced that former City Librarian Dr. Kevin Starr will be inducted into the California Hall of Fame.  He said with respect to the PEEF his understanding is that it has been postponed for a year.  He said the library is half a million worse off than we were last month, but he said at that point we were $1.6 million better off than in February.  He said not a penny went to books and materials.  He said it sends a message about the priority for service to its citizens.

 

Peter Warfield said the Supervisors during the budget hearings made it clear that they wanted to attempt to bargain with the Library on dropping the $400,000 that the Controller had recommended.  He said the City Librarian’s response was lukewarm at best.  He said the Library is not maintaining hours or services levels. 

 

Commission Discussion

 

Commissioner Breyer suggested the possibility of renting bookmobiles.

 

Luis Herrera, City Librarian said we have not looked at renting a bookmobile but we are in the process of purchasing another one.  He said the Commission took a position some time ago that we would not expend money on temporary services other than bookmobiles because it was drawing from dollars from the entire BLIP program.

 

President Gomez said we have had this discussion in the past and every branch that has been served by the bookmobile during closures has been happy with the service.

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 6. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF JUNE 3, 2010

 

Public Comment

 

An anonymous citizen said according to Roberts’ Rules of Order public bodies take approval of minutes first as part of Old Business so that we can understand what has gone before.  He said the minutes are not as bad as they have been in the past.  He gave some examples of what is positive about the minutes.  He said there were some things that were not included in the minutes.

           

Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the minutes have some good points.  He said on page 6 approval of the minutes his comments were not clarified and he said there needs to be some specificity.

 

Commission Discussion

 

Commissioner Munson asked that the word “comments” be added to the first sentence under public comment on page 1 to read “An anonymous citizen asked what it means to say some citizens comments are 95% to 98% negative.”

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Ono to approve the minutes of June 3, 2010 adding the word “comments“ as suggested by Commissioner Munson above. 

 

Action:  AYES 5-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Hayon, Munson, and Ono).

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 7. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF JUNE 17, 2010

 

An anonymous citizen said his comments on page 1 referring to the Friends’ financial report needs to be clarified.  He said the Friends’ report was due on November 15, 2009 to the Attorney General he said conflicting that with the report given to the Commission on March 5, 2009 obliterates the point.  He said the filing to the Attorney General shows the seven highest paid employees of the Foundation make in one year what the Library receives from the Friends in a two year period.

 

Peter Warfield said on page 3 under Agenda item No. 2 Bond Program Manager’s Report he said it would be clearer if the specific document name was added to the end of his comments on page 3.  He said his comments on page 4 relating to the pressure to close the projects should be clarified.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Ono, seconded by Commissioner Breyer to approve the minutes of June 17, 2010

 

Action:  AYES 5-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Hayon, Munson, and Ono).

 

AGENDA ITEM NO. 8. ADJOURNMENT

 

Public Comment

 

There was no public comment on this item.

 

Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Ono to adjourn the regular meeting of July 15, 2010. 

 

Action:  AYES 5-0: (Breyer, Gomez, Hayon, Munson, and Ono).

 

The meeting adjourned at 7:27 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 No. 1 General Public Comment.

 

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

 

During remodeling the Presidio Branch, the president of the Library Commission decided that the commissioners would take a tour without the public.  Told the law required public attendance, he said, “I don’t care what the law says.”

 

After I sued, the Judge agreed and your Secretary was told another violation would be contempt of court.

 

Your president responded, “I don’t care what the judge said.”

 

I was shocked.  I thought complete contempt for reason, authority and the rule of law was uncharacteristic.  This was August 18, 1977.  I thought that defending democracy in a democracy was reasonable.

 

The history of this library has been one planning disaster after another. 

 

You think that because you have contempt for humanity, reason and justice, that you can have contempt for reality.  Reality has its own rules and humanity has a right to the truth.

 

Item 2: Chinatown Branch Library Renaming

 

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

 

I am not in favor of this proposed naming, but not particularly against it either.

 

Let me acknowledge the purple gorilla in the room.  We have all done our due diligence, and it is no secret that the primary role that Mr. Lai plays in our history is that he was labeled a communist agitator by the FBI back in the witch-hunt days of the 1950's. 

 

The FBI should not be in charge of who is respectable.  It has become a badge of honor in certain circles to have been the object of such harassment.  I am certainly no stranger to the idea that being maligned can be a badge of honor.

But, this is an argument against naming a branch for any individual.  There are Chinese FBI agents.  There are even Chinese Republicans.  And the Library is for everyone.

  

Item 3: Branch Library Improvement Program Schedule Changes

 

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

 

Are we returning to a full three minutes for public comment?  Thank you.

 

We should explain for the new commissioner that this is relative good news and that it is only recently that out-of-control delay has been brought down to a manageable scale.

 

At the Park Branch, the delay since the last set of revisions comes on top of the delays associated with design revisions and the 100th Anniversary of the branch, not including the original, original schedule. 

 

Looking at the Bond Program Manager’s Report from last time, every project had some minor delay.  I want to place this in context for the commission that these are the most current delays that come on top of previous delays. 

 

Yet this is relative good news, and it is good that the Library Commission is approving items like this.

  

Item 4: Bond Program Manager’s Report

 

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

 

The citizens should have access to the graphics.

 

The red line in the Schedule Report for the current month now designates one year ago, making it look like there is more to come than there is.  We are actually in the midst of our greatest level of branch closures.

 

The city is changing the way it collects developer fees, pushing them back as a quasi-simulative effect. 

 

The administration is doing a fairly good job in the sense that the open hours of 1,040 are better than when fewer branches were closed.  The legal standard is still 1,211 and we are a long way from meeting that goal, or realizing any savings. 

 

No branch is more controversial than the North Beach Branch.  Recent articles in the Chronicle have quoted a Friends’ spokesperson regarding citizen support for the project.

 

Item 5: City Librarian’s Report

 

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

 

Governor Schwarzenegger has announced that former City Librarian Dr. Kevin Starr will be inducted into the California Hall of Fame.  His fellow inductees include, Barbra Streisand, Merle Haggard, and A.P. Giannini.

 

Regarding Michela Alioto-Pier’s tax proposal, she continued it for a year, so that in her words, it would come up in November 2011. You may believe it is politically dead, but that is not what she said.

 

Regarding the budget, we are half a million worse off than we were last month, but at that point we were $1.6 million better off than we thought in February.  Not a penny went to books and materials.  This sends a message about the priority for service to the citizens.

 

The implication before the Supervisors was that we could have had some of that half million back for public service and we dropped the ball.

  

Item 6: Approval of the Minutes (June 3, 2010)

 

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

 

The reason why under Roberts’ Rules of Order public bodies take approval of minutes first as part of old business is so that we can understand what has gone before.

 

I am on the horns of a dilemma because I don’t want to discourage the recent improvement in the minutes, but I still have issues.

 

On page 6, I mentioned some wording omitted from Lonnie Chin’s remarks in the previous minutes.  These minutes reflect my suggestion.  Even if the wording is not in the first minutes, it is on the historical record as part of my comments.  That is the way it should work. 

 

There is nothing about my comments regarding harassment of the public.

 

On page one, my comments about public funding being designed to promote democracy and rich people should not decide who is positive, have also been omitted.

  

Item 7: Approval of the Minutes (June 17, 2010)

 

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

 

Again, some significant issues, but the minutes are not as bad as in the past.

 

On page 1, the report due November 15, 2009, was the report to the Attorney General and conflating that with the report to the Commission obliterates the point.

 

The Attorney General report shows that the seven highest-paid staff of the Friends make each year what the library receives in a two-year period.  That is what made everything else meaningful.

 

On page 3, what will be closely watched is the North Beach Branch and not the Chronicle.

 

Regarding the minutes, I stated that the fact that the commissioners are reading while the public is talking may seem like an insult but it is a very pale insult compared to what we are use to – if that is all you have, it is not much.