Minutes of the Regular Meeting of September 3, 2009


(As approved at the November 5, 2009 regularly scheduled meeting).


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, September 3, 2009, at the Richmond/Senator Milton Marks Branch Library.


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


Commissioners present: Chin, Del Portillo, Lee and Ono


Commissioner excused:  Munson


Commissioners Gomez and Kane arrived at 4:50 pm.


Commissioner Chin, as acting President stated that Item No. 3 the Friends of the Library Report will not be given at this meeting.

She said that Deputy City Attorney Francesca Gessner has been reassigned and that the Library Commission is sorry to see her go.  She introduced and welcomed the new Deputy City Attorney Alicia Cabrera.




An anonymous citizen said he is gratified to meet at a branch because it gives others the opportunity to observe the arrogance and contempt that is so much a part of the Library Commission.  He said the Friends and Foundation do not report that they only give to the library 7.8% of expenses and 2.8% of total assets.  


Sue Cauthen, Chair of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC),

distributed a bookmark the LCAC has developed.  She read a motion adopted by the Telegraph Hill Dwellers supporting the preservation of the existing North Beach Library.  She said the Historic Preservation Commission continued an item on the possible landmarking of the Appleton Wolford libraries.


Peter Warfield said the Richmond branch has been renovated.  He said Mrs. Milton Marks recognized him at the opening of the branch.  He said the Historic Preservation Commission has had discussions on possibly landmarking the Park Branch and the Appleton Wolford libraries.  

A citizen of the Richmond District said thank you to the Commission for the smooth transition into the new Richmond Branch.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said he is glad the Commission is meeting at this wonderful branch library.  He said it was opened in 1914 as the first Carnegie library.  He said there was some debate at the time over whether the Library should have taken the money from Andrew Carnegie.  He said the renovation has been a great success.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said the branch was built for $48,910.  He said the Council of Neighborhood Libraries (CNL) produced a brochure on the Richmond Branch.  He said the brochure tells about the history and new features of the library.  He introduced Elaine Cahn who has been a member of the CNL representing the Richmond Branch for a number of years.


Shelley Sorenson, Co-Manager of the Richmond Branch and Manager of the Children’s Floor gave an overview of the Richmond/Senator Milton Marks Branch library.  She showed photographs and gave circulation, programming and children’s services statistics. 


Brian Bannon introduced Terry Carlson the other Co-Manager of the Richmond Branch and Manager of Adult Services.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said thank you to Terry Carlson and Shelley Sorenson and the entire team at the Richmond Branch.  He said in 2006 there was only one contractor who bid on the project and the Commission came through to find the additional funding to complete the branch.  He said the renovation cost $13.7 million and approximately $5.9 million came from a State grant under Proposition 14.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this branch has a long tradition of distinguished librarians.  He said this branch was scheduled to be the first to be remodeled.  He said the neighbors of Richmond complained about the original design and the library opened it up for further discussion.  He said all of that happened because of the democratic process.


Peter Warfield said the neighborhood was extremely unhappy about the initial design of this branch.  He said the planning process was continued on the branch.  He said the first time the Library applied to the State the funding was rejected.  He said books need to remain a high priority for the library.





Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane said thank you to the staff for their hard work and this beautiful building.  He said it is a great opportunity to go out to the branches and see these wonderful branches.  He said he would love to hear more from the patrons of the branches when the Commission visits.


Commissioner Del Portillo asked about programming for older adults and senior citizens.


Terry Carlson said the program room is open to the community and one group is City College.  She said they have had programs for older adults at the branch.  She said they are also looking at computer training for seniors.


Commissioner Chin said congratulations on the good work the branch is doing.




There was no report at this meeting.




Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main gave a report on 50Plus Expanded Services.  She said the library started to expand programs in the branches on topics such a nutrition, brain function, long-term care, home care and social security and creativity.  She said the program includes exhibits and educational services.  She said future plans include expanding Books by Mail program and expanding programming and exhibits system-wide.  She said they are also working on a 50Plus Resource Webpage; Facebook & Twitter postings and developing a new name and branding for the program.


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said Partnership for Achievement, is a partnership with the school district and other private schools in the city.  She said some of the projects were the library card design contest, principals’ meeting, school librarians participation in book evaluation, materials supporting education enrichment and “Going Public” a public school enrollment workshop.  She went over the results of the 2009 summer reading programs.  She said programs coming up are targeted library card registration drive with SFUSD, Mock Caldecott, Notable books workshop, principals’ morning – the sequel, school/summer reading partnership, book evaluation participation, “Going Public” workshops, and program coordination with SFUSD in Juvenile Justice and Log Cabin Facilities.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization founded to build an internet library.  She said SFPL began working with Internet Archive in 2007 to scan unique San Francisco history documents that had limited access.  She said the Library Commission heard a report on April 3, 2008 on what has been digitized to that date.  She said we are entering into a new phase as we establish a scanning center at our 190 9th Street Support Services Facility.  She said there will be up to 16 scanning stations allowing them to scan a much greater number of public domain SFPL materials.  These documents will be available from both the SFPL website and the Internet Archive website.  The project is made possible from Federal Stimulus funds and the new “Job Now Program.”   She said they will bring back reports as the work progresses.


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services, reported on upcoming exhibition and program highlights.  She said Punk Passage will be on view from September 12 – November 22 in the Jewett Gallery and will include related programming.  She said Marking Time will be in the Skylight Gallery on the 6th Floor from September 6 – November 22.  She said this year’s One City One Book “Alive in Necropolis” will include a number of programs and featured author programs.  She showed two Public Service Announcements that will be aired about the program. She said Ban(ne)d books will be held Thursday, October 1, 2009 at noon on the Larkin Street steps.  She said other author programs include Melanie Gideon:  The Slippery Year; David Kessler: The Art of Overeating; and Sheila and Lisa Himmel:  Hungry A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia.  She said the Library will be honoring Hispanic Heritage Month with several upcoming programs.    


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Ingleside Branch opening will be on September 12, 2009 at 1:00 pm and everyone is invited to attend.    He said he wanted to acknowledge two members of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee in attendance at the meeting Enne Braun and Ted Bamberger.  He said they have been very supportive and have provided input into the 50Plus program.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the Library Commission is a policy body.  He said a City Controller’s audit and issues that have come up at the Board of Permit Appeals and the Historic Preservation Commission have not been shared with the Commission.  He said he is concerned about the 50Plus program and how it is defined.


Peter Warfield said the first thing he thinks of for senior services is books and standard library services and strengthening of those services.  He was disappointed to not see a little more focus on various senior themes.


Ted Bamberger, member of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee, said thank you to Kathy Lawhun for presented the 50Plus program to their committee.   He said he is a tutor with Project Read.  He said LCAC’s subcommittee would like to continue working with the Library on a quarterly basis on this issue.


Sue Cauthen, Chair Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC) said LCAC would like to continue working with the library on the 50Plus program.  She thanked Ted Bamberger for doing such a wonderful job on this. 


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane asked about the Principal’s Orientation.


Toni Bernardi Chief of Children and Youth Services, said they did not have one this year but they hope to have one sometime during the school year.


Commissioner Kane said the digital program is very interesting and he hopes the library will be able to do some of the old microfilm documents.


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, said it depends on who has the rights for some of information on microfilm. 


Commissioner Kane asked about a Controller’s Report on an audit.


Luis Herrera responded that the Controller’s Report is part of the BLIP program so they will report back to the Commission on that.


Commissioner Lee said the programs for 50Plus are very impressive.  He asked how the programs are prioritized.


Kathy Lawhun said they get input from the various branches on specific issues they are interested in.


Commissioner Chin said 50Plus offers health services as well.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said this was a budget priority of the Commission to provide more computer access to the public.


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, gave an overview of the program.


Terry Gwiazdowski, North East District Manager gave the pilot program parameters.  She said that the findings for the program were from a public survey, IT Reports, circulation numbers and staff comments.  She said the program was overwhelmingly successful according to the survey. 


Vivian Pisano said the next steps are to expand the program, identify, additional branches, revise procedures base on pilot and continued evaluation.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said there should be a mature evaluation of the library’s services.  He said time has been spent determining the proper balance between computer seats and regular reader seats.  He said now every seat in the library is potentially a computer seat.  He said it is not a mature way to look at library service.


Peter Warfield said he agrees with the previous speakers comments.  He said one of the things it is useful to use library computers for is to watch the programs from SFGTV and the various Commission and Board meetings televised there.  He said there has not been a discussion about the cost of the program.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane said this was great report.  He said a lot of kids go to the library to do their homework and use the internet.  He said he sees this as civil rights for people who do not have the resources for their own computers.  He said one hour is probably not enough time and he wishes we could make them available longer.  He encourages the Library to expand the program into all other neighborhoods.


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said the computers are economical but also robust enough to handle the programs.  She said the computers cost approximately $750.


Commissioner Ono asked if the survey included any of the demographics for the users and if not could that be added to the next survey.


Commissioner Lee asked about the City’s vendor and how purchases are handled. 


Vivian Pisano explained the purchase process.




There was no labor union report.




Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


President Gomez thanked Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney, for her service to the library as she moves on to other duties.


Motion:  By Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Ono to adjourn the regular meeting of September 2, 2009. 


Action:  AYES 6-0: (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Kane, Lee and Ono).


The meeting adjourned at 6:47 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: A meeting in a branch allows a new group of citizens to observe the arrogance and contempt of private money.


The Friends & Foundation reported expenditures for all library purposes of $498,121.  What they don’t tell you is that this represents 7.8% of expenses of $6,364,142, and 2.8% of total assets of $17,306,998.


They claim that more half of the donations goes to charitable purposes.  This contradiction is resolved by the fact that their director and their controller make $320,000 annually, 76% of which is considered a charitable purpose.  Their top seven employees make $889,738.00, which is 75% a charitable purpose.  They purchase outside accounting services, and 79% of that is a charitable contribution. They consider 92% of their office rent to be a charitable purpose.


Yet people will show up and ask for the special privileges associated with giving to the Friends.  The contempt for public money continues apace.


Item 2: Report on Richmond Branch


Anonymous Citizen: Joe Sugg was the branch head for many years and then Timothy Williams, so the Branch has a long tradition of distinguished librarians.


Richmond was scheduled to be the first branch renovated.  When it was learned that the collection size was being reduced and the citizens had been insufficiently consulted about the design, the neighborhood rebelled to the extent that the president of the Commission had to admit that mistakes were made and a public process as initiated to consult the residents.


It is in large part a credit to the Richmond neighborhood, and the process that was demanded here, that subsequent neighborhoods were given a community process and respect was shown for community desires. 


A democratic process was initiated by library activists first calling attention to the problems, citizens became informed and democratic values led to an improved design that many people now appreciate.  It was democracy in action. 


Item 4: City Librarian’s Report


Anonymous Citizen:  This is supposed to be a policy body.  Not only did the Controller issue an audit on library programs, but library issues have been taken up by the Board of Permit Appeals, the Historic Preservation Commission, and the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, and the City Librarian saw fit not to brief you in favor of fuzzy-wuzzy issues.

Concerning the senior programs, how senior is defined is highly flexible.  What percentage of regular service is to those over fifty?  The library always wants to cast a very wide net, then direct very narrow service to that group.  The most important need for those over fifty is regular library service and traditionally librarians were trained to recognize and be sensitive to the needs of many segments of the population.


If we get to the point where service is deterred by stating the gerontology librarian comes on Tuesday, that will be a loss.


Item 5: Laptop Lending Program


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


I hope you are going to pass out those cookies to the audience as well.


Didn’t we just hear a comment read by the Children’s Coordinator about the importance of getting away from computers?


Do you really say yes to everything without considering the implications?  Don’t we spend an enormous amount of time weighing the proper balance between computer seats and regular reader seats?  Now are we saying that every seat is potentially a computer seat?  The library cannot be all things to people with popularity being the only criteria.  We need a mature assessment of the balance of library services.


It is very important that you preserve the respect that people have for libraries that includes respect for intellect and the past.