Minutes of the Regular Meeting of August 16, 2007

(As amended and approved at the regular meeting on September 6,     2007)

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, August 16, 2007, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

Vice President Coulter called the meeting to order at 4:40 pm

Commissioners present:  Chin, Coulter, Gomez, Kane and Munson.

President Higueras arrived at 4:45 pm

Commissioner Bautista arrived at 4:47 pm


Donna Bero, Friends and Foundation San Francisco Public Library, said it would be nice to open the meeting on a positive note and read a letter to the Editor from that day’s San Francisco Chronicle complimenting the library and the Friends for their fine work and service they perform.  She said she spoke to the author of the letter, James Tunnell, who said that he meant every word of the letter and wanted to pass on his words of congratulations to the Library Commission.

An anonymous citizen said that he wanted to assure the Commission that a letter written under the name of Charles Higueras in the Bay Guardian was not written by the speaker, but the question is whether he would do something like that in order to match the library insult for insult.

Peter Warfield said it was good to have a new branch library opening, however, the Marina branch opened more than three years late and was supposed to be one of the first completed and was not.  He said that that branch also seems to have fewer books than it used to have.  He said the ballot simplification committee listened to his suggestions on some issues but others they did not so in his opinion the description of the ballot measure is highly biased, inaccurate and misleading.  He said on August 6, 2007 a lawsuit was filed on his behalf against the Library with respect to his seeking information unsuccessfully from the Library sometime back.

Mauricio Vela, Save the Bernal Preschool Stop the Eviction campaign, said that Wednesday was the first day at the temporary site and that they have raised some money for a new site.  He said it was discouraging that they had been harassed by the Library staff to move out before the library site was ready.  He also said that the Preschool was dissatisfied with the new facility.

Bill Hale said he would like to improve the patron experience at some of the libraries.  He said parking issues need to be improved for in/out parking for patrons at the branch libraries.  He said there had been no parking studies done for the branch libraries.  He said that parking restrictions especially in green zones need to be enforced.    


An anonymous citizen said at the bottom of page one is a quote from Phillip Burton, which is actually from Kevin Shelley and he said he went on to say that government’s responsibility is not something that should be exploited.

Peter Warfield said on page 2 under approval of the minutes of June 21, that he had made a very strong statement that the current self-service reserve system busts privacy.  It breaks the privacy issue that is the Library’s ethical obligation when books are left on the shelves with the names of the patrons requesting them easily visible to the public.  On page 9 under Public Comment he said the issue was unshelved books on the book carts, not the book carts themselves.

Commissioner Coulter asked the Secretary to check the quotation the anonymous citizen referred to and said that on page 10 under Public Comment it says that the anonymous citizen had said that an item had been “trailed” and it should read “tabled.”

Motion:  By Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Munson to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of July 19, 2007, as amended

to clarify the quotations on page 1 from the anonymous citizen; to change the word “trailed” to “tabled” on page 10 under public comment from the anonymous citizen; and to clarify on page 10 Peter Warfield’s comment under Agenda Item 9 that he was referring to unshelved books on the book carts because of the privacy issue, not the book carts themselves.

Action:  AYES 6-0: (Chin, Coulter, Kane, Gomez, Higueras and Munson)


Mindy Linetzky, Bond Program Administrator, said that there were no informational or special reports.  She gave the regular monthly report and said that the budget report included the most recent budget changes made by the Commission on July 19 and lists every budget change to the bond program that the Commission has made since its inception.   She said every revision requires Commission action. She explained the current Schedule Report and said that it shows the schedule that was approved by the Commission on March 1 and lists every schedule change to the bond program since its inception.  She said fully funded projects will be completed by the year 2010 and the remaining projects will be completed by the year 2011 pending additional funding.  She explained the Active Projects Report including information on new construction and renovations; and the Construction Report.  She said that the report just given was mistakenly last month’s data but the correct information was available on the handouts in the back.  She showed photographs of some of the projects currently in construction and from the Marina Branch Library Grand Re-opening held Saturday August 4.  She also gave the Community Outreach report highlighting the Glen Park opening celebration on Saturday, October 13. 

Public Comment

An anonymous citizen said he was also at the Marina opening and said it would be nice if he could show PowerPoint presentations as well.  He said he is grateful the Glen Park Branch is opening in October just in time for Election Day, but the program is still egregiously behind. 

Peter Warfield said he is interested in who the planning consultants are and what they are being paid.  He said it would be useful for the Commission to ask that the plans for the programs for the new branches come before the Commission so that they can provide direction.  He said he was disappointed that it seems that the shelving in the new branches seems to be all metal and that shelving made of wood or something that looks like wood would be much nicer.  He said he also went to the Marina branch opening and it was very festive, but he said that this opening was more than three years late.

Mauricio Vela, Bernal Preschool said as he mentioned earlier the school was forced out in June, and asked about the current timeline for the branch.

Commission Discussion

President Higueras asked the City Librarian to comment on the Planning consultants.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, stated that staff is very involved with the consultants and the projects do require librarian expertise, but the consultants bring in additional expertise.  He said that not all of our staff members have the expertise needed and that is the reason for hiring the consultants.

Commissioner Chin said that it is unfortunate if the furnishings for the library are not what they could be, but without the Friends raising money where would the furnishings come from?  She also said regarding the Bernal Preschool she was sorry to hear that the Paul Revere School was unsatisfactory to Mr. Vela and the Preschool, but she said that this is a much respected school and that the children will be supported at this location.

Mindy Linetzky, Bond Program Administrator said that they are planning to go out for bid for the Bernal Heights branch in September and construction is scheduled to begin in November.  She said the construction documents have been delayed a couple of months.     


City Librarian Luis Herrera said that the residents of Visitacion Valley have strong ownership on this project.  When the Library did not receive the State funding it had anticipated, there was strong concern from the community members.  Several members of the community urged the Library to consider alternatives to move the project forward.  He said one of the ideas was to explore the adaptive re-use of the building that is currently on the site that was purchased for the Library.  Because of this concern, Navigant Consulting was hired by the Friends of the Library to perform a study on the possible re-use of the existing building.

Darin Buchalter, Managing Director, Navigant Consulting, said that Navigant Consulting is a specialized consulting firm with about $800 million revenue and 2,000 consulting professionals around the world.  He said there is a detailed report available at the back of the room and he will be summarizing that report.  He said the scope was to look at the engineering feasibility of the adaptive re-use option and the likelihood that adaptive re-use versus new construction would result in cost and schedule savings.  He said there were code and system deficiencies in the existing building and that there was a very small portion of the existing building which could be used for adaptive re-use.  He said that new construction would be considerably less expensive than trying to rehabilitate part of the existing building.  He said that Navigant’s opinion would be that it would take an additional 6 – 12 months and additional costs of up to $1.3 million to pursue adaptive re-use.  He said it was their opinion that the Library Commission should proceed with the design and construction of an all-new facility at 201 Leland Avenue per the approved schematic design.   

Public Comment           

An anonymous citizen asked why the Friends and Foundation paid for this study and what the political lack of independence means to a report like this.  He said that this does not look like a $100,000 report.  He also said when Susan Hildreth, the previous City Librarian, presented the last cycle for Prop 14 funding from the State there were five scenarios on the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) depending on how much we received.  In every scenario money was to have flowed to the Visitacion Valley branch.

Catherine Williamson a resident of Visitacion Valley and employed by the Community Development Commission there, said thank you to the Commission for looking at the option of re-using the building there.  She said the residents really want their library and she said she encourages the Library to reexamine the design for the library because of all of the development occurring in the neighborhood and ensuring that the library will best serve the projected population of the neighborhood.

Fran Martin, Visitacion Valley Planning Alliance and Visitacion Valley Greenway Project, said that one of the funding sources will be the fee ordinance which the Visitacion Valley Planning Alliance fought to get from developers which will help to fund the branch library.  She said the community is ecstatic to go beyond this divisive issue of the reuse of the existing building.  She said the community overwhelming supports new construction for the library.  She said the community looks forward to the upcoming design meetings.

Russel Morine, resident of Visitacion Valley said $11.4 million should buy a bigger branch.  The current plans are for 8700 sq. feet and we should be able to build a bigger branch for that amount of money.  He said there has been a rush to the current design.  He said the community really wasn’t behind the current design.  He said we currently have a 10,000 sq. ft. site let’s design a building that will fill that site.  He said the report addressed some of the issues but it did not answer all of them.

Marlene Trent, Visitacion Valley Asian Alliance, thanked the Commission and said they are very excited about having a new library.

Edie Epps, Visitacion Valley resident and business owner, said this was a question we had, but it wasn’t really something that was dividing our community.  She said thank you for answering the question and she said the community does need a larger library than what is shown in the design to serve the needs of our citizens and children of the community.

Betty Parshall, Visitacion Valley resident and member of the Visitacion Valley History Project, and author of the neighborhood Visitacion Valley book, said that all proceeds of that book go to the Visitacion Valley branch library fund.  She said on September 9 there will be a Street Fair on Leland Avenue and they will have their used book table and the proceeds will go to the Visitacion Valley library fund.  She referred to a letter sent to the Commission from the Visitacion Valley History Project stating they were ready to move on and thanked everyone for responding to their questions.  She added that the community will continue to push for the use of the maximum space for the footprint of the site and that the library should be on the cutting edge of green construction. 

Peter Warfield said if only one side was able to hire a consultant, you might find a question of whether that consultant was impartial.  He said the Friends paid for the study and they are a support group for the Library, and the Library has indicated what it wants at this site.  He asked if the Commission gave the Friends the authority to hire this consultant.  He also said there was a mention of a program in the study and he would like to know what that program was.  He also said he questions the qualifications of the consultant.  

Commission Discussion

President Higueras said that because there was an insufficient understanding about the possible re-use of the existing building the Library had an obligation to perform this inquiry.  He said that Navigant Consulting’s credentials are beyond reproach and their skill set is more than sufficient.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said one of the issues was costs and the Library did not want to impact the budget for the Library so the Friends of the Library offered to pay for this feasibility study.  He said staff is looking at the programmatic needs and changes that might need to be needed for the new library.  He said we are also working with the Bureau of Architecture to review and revise the plans and will come back to the community in the fall.  He said he is concerned about whether they can expand the size of the library.  He said it does meet the needs of the projected population which is about 19,000.  He said the amount of funding dictates the 8500 sq. ft. but we will look at possible cost efficiencies and he added that the 8500 sq. ft is at least three times the space that is at the current branch.

President Higueras said that any project concerns itself with three parameters: scope, cost and quality; you can fix two, but you can’t fix all three.  He said at the end of the day there is an obligation to meet budget and meet community expectations.

Commissioner Bautista said that she visited the site that afternoon and said she is glad the recommendation is to demolish the building and build a new one on the site.  She said we need to look forward and make this a green building and make sure there is plenty of room for the children and teens and a community room.

Commissioner Gomez thanked Navigant Consulting for their report and the Friends for being able to fund this and provide some answers to these questions.

Commissioner Chin said most of the community is very interested in a new library and she was pleased that the Friends paid for the study so that money from the Library’s budget for the library would not have to be spent.

Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Gomez to endorse the recommendation to proceed with a new building at the Visitacion Valley site and drop the idea of re-using the old building.

Action:  AYES 7-0: (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Kane, Gomez, Higueras and Munson)

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, added that the action taken by the Commission in March helped to bridge the funding gap so the $11.4 million is in place.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, referred to a memo to the Commissioners dated July 13, 2007, recommending approval of the proposed amendments to Guidelines for Library Use.  She said they were last approved in 2001 and since that time some issues have arisen regarding behavior of our patrons.  She read into the record the nine proposed additions to the Guidelines.  She said that some of these are already referred to in rules related to our library card use and our public computers and some are also illegal.  Including these behaviors in the Guidelines for Library Use will give staff the ability to enforce these rules consistently and maintain the safety of Library facilities and accessibility of Library resources.

Public Comment

An anonymous citizen said that he was concerned that this item was trailed from the last meeting because it is part of the Public Safety Plan that was discussed at the last meeting.  He read a stanza from a poem by the new US Poet Laureate.   He said some of these guidelines are blatant illegalities.

Peter Warfield said there was a little good and a little not so good in these guidelines.  He said that staff should have reached out to other types of groups in the community for input.  He said he was under the impression that many advocacy groups have not been consulted or reached out to in the preparation of these guidelines.  He did some outreach himself and had at least one good report on these guidelines and the Library’s practices.

Andrea Grimes, Librarian at the Main Library and library union chapter officer for Local 127, said she has witnessed and experienced some of the behaviors outlined here.  She said it is heartening to see cooperation with other city Departments and administration being more productive and pro-active.  She said the morale of the staff and the users has taken an upturn and she recommends the approval of these guidelines.

Commission Discussion

President Higueras said this is a behavioral issue and our objective is to ensure that all our libraries are safe and secure for everyone and anyone and that the environment is not a disincentive to come to the Library.  He said the Library has a cutting edge program in working with the Homeless Outreach Team and Police Department and this approach is entirely empathetic.

Commissioner Coulter said he is pleased with the way the Library interacts with the homeless.  He requested more information on the issues relating to use of computers.

Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that the computer issue has been a problem and that these rules have been posted on our web page on our computer use guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions page so we wanted to add them to the guidelines so that there are consistent guidelines for staff to be able to enforce the rules equitably across the system.  She also spoke regarding suspensions and said that any one suspended more than 3 days has the opportunity to appeal.

Commissioner Bautista said that stealing is a criminal offense and we need to be clear on enforcement when people are caught stealing.

Commissioner Munson asked about the guideline relating to offensive nakedness.

Jill Bourne said that that language was suggested by Sergeant Patrick Kwan and said it relates to the language used by the police when issuing a citation.

Motion:  By Commissioner Coulter, seconded by Commissioner Munson to approve the amendments to the Guidelines for Library Use. 

Action:  AYES 7-0: (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Kane, Gomez, Higueras and Munson)


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that last February the Library introduced Link+, a service which is part of a consortium that allows borrowers in San Francisco to access collections from other libraries and that this is a six month report on the program.

Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said the Link+ program was launched on February 26, which is a consortium of 49 California and Nevada libraries that make their collections available to member libraries.  She said the program has been very successful since it started.  She read some of the comments from our patrons thanking the Library for this service.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, asked Brian Bannon to give a brief update on the Marina Branch opening.

Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said the Marina Branch opening was very successful.  He said circulation was up by 30% since we opened the building.  He said they were receiving many positive comments from the patrons of the branch.  Regarding the Glen Park Branch, he said that there would be temporary services for a short time from the closure of the existing branch on August 25 to the opening of the new branch on Saturday, October 13 and said they would be using a local coffee shop for story times so that they will continue as well.  He said that Senator Hillary Clinton visited the African American Cultural Center, and library staff was excited to be part of that visit.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that at the last meeting there was public comment about the sheet music collection and staff would like to report back on that.

Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, gave a brief description of our Library’s Music Collection and said it dates back to 1917 and there are over 20,000 scores and about 10,000 reference scores.  She said it is a very diverse collection for all musical tastes and needs.  The gentleman who made the comment at the last Commission meeting will be meeting with staff in the next week.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, gave an update on legislative issues.  He said the Public Library Fund at the State was at an impasse because of the budget being held up, but it should be the same level as in the previous year.  He said that the legislation on Construction Bond dollars is on a suspense file so it is pretty much dead this year.  He also gave updates on some of the upcoming events and programs.

Public Comment            

An anonymous citizen said he is grateful for the PowerPoint presentation and he said that the slide showing requests by SFPL patrons and SFPL items requested by other libraries was very instructive because it shows that requests outgoing are much bigger than requests incoming.  He said he was at the Marina Branch opening as well and that Gladys Hansen, who was one of the staff that opened the branch in 1954, was in attendance.  He said the concern about the music collection was regarding items the Library did not have in the collection, not what the Library does have.

Peter Warfield said there was an issue many years ago that the cataloging of the Music Collection was not complete so he asked the Commission to ask for an update on the Cataloging system in general.  He said he was very disappointed that statistics related to branches such as seats and volumes are no longer being given.  He said it looked like the number of books had declined at the Marina branch.  He said with respect to Link+ he is very concerned with the $110 charged for materials if you lose them.

Commission Discussion

President Higueras asked if there were any challenges to the Link+ program.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that the concern at the beginning was the impact on the delivery system but that has not materialized as a problem.


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, reported on the International Poetry Festival and said it was a wonderful event with very successful readings and amazing press coverage.  She said the poets involved loved the library system and have been sending their thanks and thoughts about the City.  She thanked the Commission for their support of the Festival.

She said they had the final program of Poets Eleven and the 30 poets, who read in the neighborhoods, were brought back to read a poem.  She said the ballot measure is moving forward successfully and it now has a letter “Prop D”.  She said the Friends have been working with groups around the city to gain endorsements and support.  She said San Francisco Planning and Research organization (SPUR) has overwhelmingly endorsed it along with San Francisco Tomorrow, the Democratic Central Committee, and several others are in progress.  There is support from elected officials, writers from the Bay Area community, other community leaders and there is a great amount of enthusiasm.  She said there is a real love fest going on in the city for our libraries and mentioned major news stories in the last few weeks on the Poetry Festival, the Marian Branch opening, and for libraries in general saying they are the “hot ticket” item with people lining up to get in.

She mentioned some upcoming events including the “Bad Girls Reading” on September 13 at Fort Mason and an author reading on September 19 at the Friends’ Office. 

Public Comment

An anonymous citizen said the very fact that the Friends are referring to Prop D as “us” is a reason to vote no on Prop D.  He said he has looked at the Friends’ financial disclosures and said it made for very interesting reading.

Peter Warfield said that the Poetry Festival was certainly festive and he especially liked the readings that the poets made in their native language.

He said with respect to Prop. D the Coalition of San Francisco neighborhoods took no position and said that at one of the meetings handouts were being given and he was stopped from receiving one.  He said he thought that was very improper.  He said the Ballot Simplification Committee, which is a group by the Elections Department, did make some changes that he had requested.  He said it is very troubling that the Friends and Foundation are trying to prevent individuals from speaking.     

Commission Discussion

President Higueras said he was pleased the Poetry Festival received a lot of acclaim

Commissioner Coulter said he attended the luncheon and it was outstanding to see the Library associated with something like this.

Commissioner Bautista said she enjoyed the poets reciting their poems in their native language.  She said that she spent an afternoon with a few of the poets and took them on the ferry to Sausalito and wanted to show them some good will.

Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that the Friends had produced an anthology that we will make available to the Commission.  


There was no labor union report.


There was no new business.


MOTION: by Commissioner Coulter, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, August 16, 2007. 

Public Comment

There was no public comment on this item.

ACTION:  AYES: 7-0.  (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Gomez, Higueras, Kane and Munson).

The regular meeting of August 16, 2007, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 7:04 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).