Minutes of the Regular Meeting of September 4, 2008


(As approved at the Regular Meeting of October 2, 2008)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, September 4, 2008, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:36 pm. 


Commissioners present:  Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson.




An anonymous citizen said for several meetings he has told the Commission about Mr. Garza.  He said the point was it was the justification of a lie.  He said there is the question “am I crazy because you lie to me or do you lie to me because I’m crazy?”  He said the fact is you can drive anyone crazy by removing them from their access to reality.  He said you can do it to society itself.  He read a quotation from Hannah Arendt on the subject.  He said if you say it is o.k. to lie because he is crazy anyway what you are really saying is that the truth doesn’t matter because we are all crazy. He said none of us are free citizens in a world that lives by that standard.


Rigel Christian said he was concerned about the net library e-audio books.  He said this is the only media type that is not accessible in the branches. He said it is not accessible to people with Macs or people running non-window systems.  He said he is one of those people.  He asked that the Library Commission look into this.   He said this system is also not publicized very much.


A person who did not identify himself said that he picked up a brochure from the Library with a beautiful picture of San Francisco with all the branch libraries.  He said he has lived here for 50 years and he had no idea how fantastic this system is.  He wanted to compliment the Library on the brochure and the skill of remodeling the libraries.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he agreed with the first speaker.  He said he wanted to mention an article in this month’s Scientific American that he thought the Commission would find extremely interesting.  He said about five years ago the Library brought out its strategic plan and buried at the end was an objective to install and get funding for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to be used as a replacement for bar codes on books.  He said this was a highly privacy threatened technology that was minimized or made fun of in a number of library circles.  He said the article he is referring to is called “RFID tagged you’re it”.  He read a portion of the article including “the devices pose new security risks to those who carry them, often unwittingly.”  He said there was a long two year battle on this issue and he said through his and others efforts the Supervisors refused to fund this program.




Luis Herrera said the North Beach Branch Library is located on a parcel of land that is owned by the Recreation and Parks Department.  He said the Commission at its March, 2007 meeting expanded the scope for this project from a renovation to a new library building.  He said the Library and Recreation and Parks Department undertook a master planning process to determine the preferred location for the new branch library and improved park and recreation amenities.  He said there were three community meetings held on the master plan.  He said at the August 18 meeting there were three options presented and he explained those options.


Marsha Maytum, one of the lead architects for the project, explained the three goals of the master planning process.  She explained the existing site conditions of the park and library. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said one of the options that had been looked at was to renovate the existing building.  She went over the benefits and challenges of that option.  She said because this was not optional for the library’s needs, they did not create a full master plan for this option. 


Marsha Maytum said there was great feedback from the three community meetings and she summarized that feedback.


Jeff Tumlin a transportation planner said he has been working on transportation analyses for this project.  He said traffic is a significant concern for the neighborhood.  He said the detail of traffic patterns in the neighborhood is extraordinarily complex.  He said they used machine counters to determine the peak hours of traffic in the area.  He said they then went back and hand counted for two hours in that peak period every single traffic movement at seven intersections.  He said for the stretch of Mason Street they are talking about there were 300 vehicles or approximately 3 cars per minute in each direction.  He said there had been concern expressed about the loss of parking and he said of the 11 on street spaces that would be lost with the closure of Mason Street, 5 -7 of those spaces would be replaced.


Marsha Maytum said one of the options looked at was building a new library at the corner of Columbus and Greenwich.  She said it would be one full floor and a partial lower level. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said this was a preferred option at one point and said programmatically this met the Library’s needs.  She explained the benefits and some of the challenges of the plan.


Karen Mauney-Brodek, a Planner for the Recreation and Park Department, explained the challenges of this option to the park facilities and said there is currently no funding to replace the tennis court and playground that would be displaced by the new library in this location.


Jill Bourne said that the current library is located on Recreation and Park property so any change to the footprint will have to be approved by the Recreation and Park Commission. 


Marsha Maytum said another option studied was the triangle site for a new library.  She said it would include a lot more green area in the overall master plan for the park.  She said the main services would be on the first floor of the building with a partial second floor for community services.


Jill Bourne said after working with the architects they have come up with a design that achieves the same programmatic needs and nice separate teen and children’s areas.  She said the second floor would have a community room with afterhour’s access and other functions that are non-staffed.    She outlined some of the benefits and challenges to the Library of the triangle location.  She said this would require the closure of a portion of Mason Street.  


Karen Mauney-Brodek, planner for Recreation and Park, said there are a lot of benefits to the park at this location.

Marsha Maytum said the recommended Master Plan includes the library relocation to 701 Lombard (the triangle); reorganization of and improvements of Park amenities and the closure of Mason Street to expand the park.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Commission action requested is to adopt a resolution endorsing 701 Lombard Street as the preferred site for a new North Beach Branch Library.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it would have been more satisfactory if the details of the resolution were given prior to public comment.  He said it is emblematic that the City Librarian goes back to March 2007 on the background of the project.  He said, of course, the history of the triangle area has a deep history and goes back further than 2007.  He said pressure had been put on the previous City Librarian by the Recreation and Park Department to free up the space where the library is located. 


Lucy Johns said she has lived in North Beach nearly 40 years, has used the library for decades and served two terms on the Friends of the Library Board in the 1980s.  She said you have heard that the recommended option for the library to be located on the triangle would involve the closure of Mason Street.  She said she would recommend that the approval of this option be contingent on the closure of Mason Street.  She said if Mason Street is not closed then there is not nearly enough space for a library.


Julie Christensen, Friends of Joe DiMaggio Park, said she has worked on various aspects of this project for nearly a decade.  She said she has worked on it through two Mayors, two City Librarians, three Recreation and Park Managers, and numerous Commissions and she said she urges the Commission to support the preferred option.  She said there is an excellent library staff now and the plan has been well-vetted and Friends of Joe DiMaggio Park support it.


Audrey Kelley, said she lives on Greenwich Street and said she was a member of the Friends of Joe DiMaggio Park.   She said she has two children ages 5 and 2 and they use the library and the playground almost daily.  She said she is in support of the Resolution endorsing 701 Lombard Street as the preferred site for a new North Beach Branch Library.  She said she is also a librarian although she has never worked for the City library system.  She said from a professional perspective locating the library at this site will maintain an appropriate civic presence on Columbus and highlight the important role literature and literacy play in this neighborhood.


Cindy Wu, Community Planning Manager, Chinatown Community Development Center, a non-profit community development association, said she supports the project at 701 Lombard Street, and said she appreciates the public process.


Tan Chau, said he lives in North Beach and his family uses the North Beach branch library frequently.  He read a letter from the Property Manager of the North Beach Place Public Housing, in support of the 701 Lombard Street site for the new and expanded library.


Orlando Diaz said he would like to see more changes to the park and it would be nice to see the library get bigger.


Orlando Diaz’ mother and member of Friends of Joe DiMaggio Park said Orlando has participated in the betterment of the park.  She said she is in support of the 701 Lombard Street as the preferred site.  She said she circulated a petition of over 100 people in support of the site and the closure of Mason Street.  She said the meetings in the community were nice examples of how the city government could run. 


Joan Wood said she lives one block from 701 Lombard and said she has lived there since 1965.  She said she is opposed to this resolution because she has put in a lot of hours to see that 701 Lombard Street came to the City.  She said the issue of acquiring the lot polarized North Beach.  She said most of the people who fought for the acquisition of 701 Lombard did not get it for a library.  She said they got it for a park.  She said if a park goes in there thousands of people including tourists will use it.  If a library goes there hundreds of people will be pleased by that, but it is hundreds as opposed to thousands.  She said she is opposed to closing Mason Street and there is no reason to close it.


Martha Mahoney said she lives across the street and she thinks it is a great idea to have the library on the triangle.  She said she attended all of the community meetings.  She said she is the moderator of North Beach Mamas, which is a group of over 85 women in that group.  She said everyone is excited about a new library.  She said her interest as a community member is in what is best for the community.


Pat Turra said she is a member of the Friends of Joe DiMaggio playground and said she supports the plan presented today.  She said the plan is extremely well thought out.  She said it is a result of community input and what is best for the library.  She said it offers an enlarged library for all ages and offers the opportunity for greater green space in North Beach.  She asked the Commission to support the plan.


Dorothy Danielson a retired professor of English, said since 1965 she has lived on the 500 block of Lombard Street.  She said she is a past member of the Neighborhood Library Council.  She said the acquisition of that property was for use as a park.  She said she wondered if there aren’t other possibilities.  She urged the Commission to not hastily adopt this Resolution and to consider all possibilities.


Anne Wintroub said she is proud to live in a city where City Departments can work together in a public process and to arrive at the best possible plan for the neighborhood, the community and the city.  She said she urges support of the Resolution.


Brian O’Flynn, former owner of 701 Lombard Street, said he urged the Commission not to be bamboozled by insiders trying to push this ill-conceived plan on you.  He said when 701 Lombard was taken it was to preserve views and for open space.  He said eminent domain is a very, very serious thing, which abridges an individual’s constitutional rights of private property.  He said he was going to build a home there for himself and his mother.  He said they went through a long process to get the entitlements and the property was taken away on the pretense of getting park space to justify the eminent domain.  He said in 2005 there was a traffic study done that showed over two million cars a year travelling on Mason Street.  He said the current traffic study is a joke.  He said the Commission should not rush into this.


David Chan, member of Save North Beach Library and Friends of North Beach Library, said he was here to plead with the Commissioners to not adopt this resolution.  He said the history of the library was very contentious and the original premise was to use the property as a park.  He said building a library was never part of the discussion.  He said there is a bait and switch going on with this property.  He said closing Mason Street is going to be a serious issue.  He asked when the traffic study was done.  He said saving the existing library and improving it would be a much more practical plan as far as funding. 


Sue Cauthen, Chair of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), said she was speaking for herself.  She said she agreed with the statements of the last speaker.  She said by expanding the existing library there will be a bigger library, the Mason Street closure issue would not need to be addressed, and it gives the library all of  the programmatic benefit.  She said if you demolish the existing library it will require an Environmental Impact Report, which will take a long time.  She said cost escalation would be 8% per year.  She said there are people who want to raise money to help the library complete its original plan for the library.  She asked the Commission to wait a couple of months to see how that goes.  She said she would hope the Commission would wait until the LCAC had time to discuss this issue.


Zach Stewart, said North Beach is a famously eccentric neighborhood.  He said while this is a good plan you will get the same reaction either way whether you pass this or don’t pass this the eccentrics will come out in force.  He said one of the questions will be that the building is historic because it is 50 years old.  He said the EIR procedure will be questioned.  He said another issue was that the triangle was purchased for trees.  He said to put another building on it does not make sense.  He said he questions whether the Commission should pass this resolution today.


Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said every neighborhood deserves the best library it can have for its community.  She said under the Commission’s guidance every neighborhood under the Branch Library Improvement Program has received that.  She said the Commission has the opportunity to make a decision to create a world class branch library for a neighborhood that sorely deserves it, not just for its reputation as the literary heart of the city but also because it is such a dense neighborhood and has such a need for growth in its library services.  She said the Commission has an opportunity to create a visionary plan that creates public space.  She said the two Departments have worked very closely to take advantage of this space that expands the library and the recreation area. 


Lucille Cuttler, Vice-Chair of LCAC, said she was speaking for herself.  She said this is gorgeous plan, but she said we have not talked about the money.  She said this is a critical point.  She said it may not be the right time to go forward with this plan.  She said it would be good to hear from an expert on cost benefits of the different options.  She said she hopes the Commission will postpone a vote on this.


An unidentified woman said she wanted to speak in support of the resolution.  She said moving the library to the triangle will create a larger green space for the area.  She said she lives on Union between Mason and Taylor and she said no one she knows ever goes down that section of Mason in a car.  She said North Beach is a pedestrian kind of neighborhood and closing Mason would be safer and healthier.  So she said she urged the Commission to adopt the Resolution.


Peter Warfield said he was a member of the LCAC and the Committee has not taken an official position on this issue.  He said lengthier consideration of this issue would be worthwhile.  He said the history of the triangle, the cost of each of the options, and the book and seating counts for the library have not been addressed. 


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Del Portillo said she would like to congratulate the City Librarian and staff.  She said she has never been in a situation where she has seen so many compliments on the process.  She asked how long it will take before the new library is open.  She said the longer you wait the more it will cost so she would like to see this move forward. 


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that the Resolution before the Commission is to endorse the preferred site.  It is not approving the project.  He said there are requirements in order to begin the environmental review.  He said that will take time.  He said the EIR process will be expedited to a 12-month timeline to complete the process.  He said this action would begin the design process.  He said the completion of the project is expected to be approximately 2011. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the environmental process will go on concurrently with the design process. 


Luis Herrera said one of the considerations is timing and we the library is cognizant that time is money.  He said the whole purpose of entering into the Master Plan was to examine all of the options.  He said it provides a city vision.


Commissioner Kane thanked staff and the community for coming out to the meeting and expressing their views.  He said he attended the last community meeting and he said it was refreshing to see three different agencies working together.  He asked if there were any issues with the eminent domain issue.


Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney, said there were no issues with the previous eminent domain.


Commissioner Kane said his understanding is that under any of the proposals an EIR will be required so the timing would be very similar for all the options.   


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that each process requires an environmental review. 


Commissioner Kane said his understanding was that the budgetary aspects would be neutral.  He said the renovation would require a two story operating building. 


Jill Bourne said either of the new buildings would be approximately the same cost.  She said the renovation could be potentially less but extremely expensive for a renovation.  She said all three options fall within the range of the forecast budget.  She said the renovation would require a higher operating budget.


Commissioner Kane said his understanding that moving to the triangle would allow for a larger park area.


Karen Mauney-Brodek, planner for Recreation and Park, said the triangle location would allow for a bigger more workable space within the larger footprint of the park.  She said the value of the open space is actually freed up with the library moving to the triangle.


Commissioner Kane said his understanding was that the entire Mason Street would not need to be closed.  He said it could be closed with a narrowing of the street.  He said this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something for the community.  He said he supports adopting the Resolution.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said in response to a question from Commissioner Chin that the Resolution also asks the Recreation and Park Commission to support this option.


Commissioner Lee said the North Beach residents should have something to be proud of.  He said he knows the area well.  He said to close Mason Street will create more useable space and a better use of the property.  He said the renovated building would probably cost more than a new building.


Commissioner Munson had questions about the traffic study.


Jeff Tumlin said the traffic study was done on May 22.  He said he has done hand counts at a variety of dates and seasons.  He said to be conservative they actually added 50% to the numbers taken on May 22.

He said traffic will be analyzed again during the environmental process. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the library would prefer if Mason was completely closed for safety reasons but the new library could be built with a partial closure of the street.


John Malamut, City Attorney’s Office, said the issue of the closure of Mason Street would be determined by the Board of Supervisors.


Commissioner Chin said she grew up in the North Beach area and she knows the community very well and she said even as a kid they thought the existing library was small.  A larger building will benefit the community.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, read portions of the “Resolved” portions of the Resolution.


President Gomez thanked the community members for attending the meeting and attending the community meetings.  She said this is the beginning of a process and there will be further community meetings to discuss the design of the library.


Motion:  By Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Harris to approve the Resolution endorsing 701 Lombard Street as the preferred site for a new North Beach Branch Library.


Action:  Ayes 7-0 (Commissioners Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).




Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the first topic to be discussed would be the new catalog interface encore.


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, gave a presentation on encore, an application of the library’s integrated library system.  She said this was launched on August 1.  She said this provides a way to search the collection by exploration.   She said this is more than just a keyword search.  She said the classic catalog is still available and is best when you have a known search.  She said there is a feedback section on the encore page and she went over some of the survey results and comments from patrons.


Luis Herrera said this is part of an enhanced public service that was part of the budget process approved by the Commission.  He said that the Library held an In-Service training for San Francisco Unified School District principals and that Commissioner Chin had participated in the training.    He said there was a great turnout and the feedback was very positive.  He said the Superintendent, Carlos Garcia was very supportive of the program.


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services gave an update on the Library’s upcoming Exhibitions and Programs and said there are three items she will be highlighting: the Robert Sabuto exhibit, One City One Book and complimentary to that an exhibit on Afghanistan. 


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said it is important to host exhibits for children’s books illustrators to highlight the quality of art being produced to children’s picture books.  She said it lets children see that picture book art begins somewhere before it ends up in the book.  She said right now there is an exhibit called Travels in Time and Space by Robert Sabuto.  She said Sabuto is probably best known for his incredibly intricate and complex pop-up books.  She said the exhibit will be up through November 9.


Marcia Schneider said a new exhibit will be opening on October 11 “Afghanistan 1970 -1975 Images from an Era of Peace.”  She said it will be on the sixth floor in the Skylight Gallery and will be on view until January 18, 2009.  She said there will also be an exhibit at the Asian Art Museum “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul.”  She said these programs relate to this year’s One City One Book program which is West of Kabul East of New York by Tamim Ansary.  She said there will be many related programs, including a panel discussion, film series, discussion groups and more.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there has been great funding support for the One City One Book program.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said encore does not mean new it means again and again and again.  He said if the library had the same respect for open process for the basic functions of the library as it did for the North Beach branch process this wouldn’t be brought to the Commission in September when the system started in August.  He said if you want to use the traditional catalog, he said it is the smallest typeface on the website.  He said he hoped the Commission had a chance to see an exhibit at the Buena Vista museum called “How to Organize a Public Library.”  He said he would characterize it as the public’s revenge.  He said it was based on an essay about the more frustrating aspects of librarianship from the other side.


Peter Warfield said he is always glad to hear about exhibits and he said he would like to see the library do more programs on topical issues such as the ones on Afghanistan.  He said he is concerned about encore and it is problematic that we have not heard what is the objective of encore and what sorts of problems existed and how encore addresses those problems.  He asked how does the patron know when to use encore or when to use the traditional catalog.


Melissa Riley said that many members who participated in the In-Service Training for the principals said they were thrilled with the program.  She said she is looking forward to a new relationship with the schools and the library.  


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Chin said she was a participant in the training and that people did tell her how great it was.


President Gomez said she would encourage people to participate in the One City One Book program and to hear Tamim Ansary speak.  She said he is very charming and sharp and a wonderful author.




Donna Bero, Friends of the Library, said the final installment of the Poets Eleven program was occurring this evening.  She said the poetry was fantastic.  She said the poems were compiled and printed so each one who participated is now a published poet.  She said 33 of the poets were chosen and will be reading on September 21 at the Main Library.  She said on September 16 Mayor Newsom will be interviewing Steve Chen of YouTube as part of the City Speaks program here at the Koret.  She said on September 22, Friends’ partner Porchlight will be holding its next storytelling series.  She said the 44th Annual Big Book Sale is coming up.  The member preview is Wednesday, September 24 and the sale will be from September 25 – 28 at the Fort Mason Pavilion.  She said there are approximately 300,000 books available for sale.  She said there are three times as many volunteers this year as well.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the appearance of democracy is very close to democracy.  He said the Friends and Foundation is trying to cover its anti-intellectualism with its literacy friendliness maybe that will have the same function and it will succeed.  He quoted a portion of “Elegy Written in a Country Court-Yard.” 




There was no Labor Union Report.




MOTION: by Commissioner Lee, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, September 4, 2008.


Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item


AYES: 7-0 (Chin, Del Portillo, Gomez, Kane, Harris, Lee and Munson).


The regular meeting of September 4, 2008, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:57 pm.


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).