Minutes of the Regular Meeting of November 5, 2009


(As approved at the regular meeting of January 7, 2010)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, November 5, 2009, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


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


Commissioners present: Chin, Del Portillo, Munson and Ono


Commissioners excused: Gomez, Kane, and Lee




An anonymous citizen said at the last meeting there was a discussion about the Controller’s audit of the West Portal Branch Library.  He said Commissioners Kane and Lee asked many questions about the audit but they did not ask why these issues were not exposed during general oversight of the project.  He said private money is dangerous because it puts value above the public interest.


Sue Cauthen, speaking on behalf of the Coalition of a Better North Beach Library and Playground said there was a report by the Planning Department on the North Beach Library.  She said among the things the report said is that the North Beach Library is an historic resource, which is what triggered the Environmental Impact Report.  She said the Telegraph Hill Dwellers have voted to put a park on the triangle and many other community groups support that as well.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force found against the Library for failure to attend two Compliance and Amendments Committee meetings and was sent to the Ethics Commission for action.  He said this was based on a previous finding against the Library for not providing construction documents on the Park Branch. 


A person who said he was an architectural historian said he is disappointed in the BLIP program.  He said the Bayview Branch sculpture is a major work of sculpture by a recognized artist. He said the Ortega and Merced branches were demolished while the Historic Preservation Commission was carrying out their review of the projects.  He said issues at the Park Branch have not been resolved.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Library Commission voted 7-0 to recommend to the Arts Commission that the Jacque Overhoff’s sculpture at the Bayview Branch Library be de-accessioned.  Many community members attended the Visual Arts Committee on October 21 in support of de-accessioning the sculpture.  The Visual Arts Committee voted unanimously to forward the de-accessioning to the full Arts Commission.  The minutes for that meeting are included in your packets.  The full Arts Commission voted on consent on November 2 to approve the de-accessioning of the sculpture.  He said the Bernal Heights Branch mural was voted on by the Library Commission in August with a 6-1 vote, to urge the Arts Commission to restore the Cortland façade but paint over the other two sides of the building. He said on September 16, the Visual Arts Committee heard the item and after a lengthy hearing tabled the issue.  The Visual Arts Committee heard the item again on October 21 and there was a lot of discussion about who had jurisdiction to make this decision.  He said the Committee approved the motion with a change to read that the Cortland side would be revitalized and not restored.  He said the Committee also reiterated that the mural remains under the jurisdiction of the Library Commission.  He said neither side is pleased with the recommendation.  At the Arts Commission meeting on November 2, the item was continued at the request of Supervisor David Campos with the rationale that there should be more time for more dialogue from the various parties. He said the issue may not be resolved by the time of the opening of the library but it will not delay the opening in January.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this fits the Library’s pattern that if you ignore something and refuse to maintain it you will then need to replace it.  He said the present generation doesn’t seem to have the respect for these works of art and that is a factor in the decision.  He said the Library should make sure this does not happen again and whatever replaces the mural should be cherished and taken care of.


Katie Gough, a resident of Bernal Heights said the problem with the mural is that there was not a meeting about it in the community.  She said she thinks the decision about keeping the mural was done behind closed doors and then the word got out and a petition was signed by over 200 people saying they wanted the building restored to its original WPA condition.  She said the mural does not fit on the building.


Alfred Bay, a Bernal Heights resident and architect, said the wheelchair ramp has been very well integrated.  He said he strongly recommends that the mural not be restored.  He said there are many wonderful murals around Bernal Heights and this is not one of them.


Olivia Koosman said she has been a resident of Bernal Heights for 18 years.  She said she strongly supports removing the mural from the library.  She said it is so important that we have beautiful civic buildings that represent everyone.  She asked that there be more community meetings in the community.


Richard Everett was in a meeting with Supervisor Campos and there was concern that there was not an open process for the decision to retain the mural. He said it appeared the Library Commission had a reluctance to vote on the issue and then they were sent to the Arts Commission.  He said they have put together a coalition opposing the mural and they strongly urge that additional discussion take place.


Ellen Egbert said the Library Commission had anticipated that the Arts Commission would let the Library Commission off the hook on the final decision about the mural and clearly that is not the case.  She said some of the Commission members spoke about the possibility of painting over the mural and possibly commissioning another mural at a different location. She said the Library Commission was told that their vote was required before the issue went before the Arts Commission.  She said it was clear to her that the Library Commission did not intend for their decision to be a binding decision about the mural.  She urged the Commission to rescind their previous decision.


Mike Rostein said he lives in the neighborhood and he loves the library.  He said the murals are pretty mediocre.  He said it is a shame to spend money on the murals when the money should be spent on books.


Joyce McKinney said she lives in the neighborhood and she is a member of the Friends of the Library, she said there has been a lack of community process on this issue.  She said she only found out about the issue of the mural about a month ago.  She said there needs to be a community process.  She said these murals are not of artistic merit.  She said the assertion and tactic of people who wish to conserve this snapshot in time to be equally offensive.


Anna Bolton said she is a native San Franciscan, she read a letter from Cindy Hale who said she has seen many murals from the 70s and 80s.  She said every single mural in San Francisco has history and every single one of them should be saved.  She read another letter from another resident who lives in the area that said the author would be sad and ashamed if the mural was removed.  She said art is interpretation and is a time in history and it is important that we preserve the art on all three sides of the mural.


Mauricio Vela, part of the Save the Bernal Mural Committee, passed out a letter from a co-muralist of the mural.  He said the letter states that the mural celebrates diversity, native heritage and the importance of building an inclusive activist community for social justice.  He said it was true in 1982 and is still true today.  He said he supports all sides being restored and he said that it can be done for $40,000.  He said a lot of people value the history the mural reflects.  He said there needs to be an open and fair process.


Bradley Weimar, an architectural historian, said the decision should be up to the community.  He said it does show a problem with the community process for the Branch Library Improvement Program.  He said the branch libraries like Bayview and other mid-century buildings do not generate the same reaction and they could be renovated.  He said there seems to be a blind spot on the Commission with the mid-century buildings. 


Kathy Angus said she has lived in Bernal Heights for 25 years.  She said she only became aware of the issue with the mural a few months ago.  She said the architecture of the building is outstanding and gorgeous.  She said the mural takes away from the architecture.  She said she totally believes in murals and she would like to see a new mural painted at a different location with a community process.


Roseanne Liggett said she is requesting that the Library Commission revisit their recommendation to preserve the mural on the front of the building.  She said the decision has had an unfortunate consequence.  She said the mural is a substandard piece of art work and detracts from the beauty of the building.  She said there has been a cross section of people who have come forward to have the building restored and the mural removed.  She said the mural can be archived.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he reviewed the minutes of the Visual Arts Committee since he was not able to go to the meeting.  He said it sounds like there are some serious questions about process.  He said the artworks being discussed have suffered from serious neglect from the Library.  He said the Library has not taken good care of its historic and artistic buildings. 


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Ono asked about the next steps and if there is a schedule that needs to be established.


Luis Herrera said Supervisor Campos has not yet scheduled a meeting and he is waiting to discuss with him a process for additional community input.


Commissioner Chin said she is concerned about any outside art at the libraries and the maintenance that it involves. 


Luis Herrera said repainting on the Cortland side would be approximately $18,000.  He said it would be cleaned up and then repainted. He said there is no money for additional or ongoing maintenance.


Commissioner Del Portillo said the fairest thing to do would be to get the building back to its original and have a community process to find out the majority wishes for a mural. 


Commissioner Chin said it is important to have minority representation.  She said in the library itself is where you should have the preponderance of the interest of the people.  A mural should be temporary.  She said it is narrow minded to say that people who prefer a blank wall are racist.  She said she does not think the mural belongs there.  She said she is willing to rethink this.


Luis Herrera said that it would be possible to bring this back to the Commission for possible action. 


Commissioner Munson said a number of the letters received suggested a different location for a new mural.  He said that should be an option to be considered as well. 




Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the next Generation of Public Library Leaders is a leadership program that 36 staff members participated in.  He said the participants were from different divisions and various staff levels.


Terry Carlson, Adult Services Manager at the Richmond Branch; Brian Castagne, Computer Learning Lab and Family Literacy Coordinator for Project Read; and Terry Gwiazdowski, North East District Manager; gave a presentation on the Next Generation of Public Library Leaders Program.  The program provided tools, strategies and support to take ownership of one’s job and lead from any position. It offered unprecedented access to, and meaningful dialogue with, senior management.  It consisted of four full-day leadership sessions and three half-day based workshops.  The participants collaborated on 12 cross-divisional/cross classification team projects that built skills, developed new working relationships and benefitted the Library as a whole.  There were several Program Outcomes including creating a blueprint for future leadership training.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the California Library Association meeting was held in Pasadena last weekend.  SFPL staff and the Friends of the Library had at least five different programs and were well represented.  He said the opening of the Eureka Valley Branch Library was held last month and that represents the half way mark of the BLIP program.  He said twelve of the 24 branches have now been completed.   He said thank you to the leadership of the Commission, staff, the entire BLIP team and the community with their engagement.  He said seven neighborhood branches are currently in construction and two others in the design stage so great progress is being made.  He said the Park Library, on October 29, 2009, celebrated its 100 years of service in that building.  He said there was a great turnout.    He said he wanted to give the status on some legislation that was introduced by Supervisor Daly.   He said the Legislative Digest is in the Commissioner’s packets and in the back.  He said the legislation had proposed to prohibit City employees and officers from raising funds for City departments. He said the legislation went to the Board of Supervisors from the Rules Committee without recommendation and with a 6-5 vote the Board of Supervisors defeated the legislation.     


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he appreciated the presentation on the Next Generation of Public Library Leaders.  He said this is a great improvement over years past and an enormous step forward.  He said the Park Branch was the first centennial and he looks forward to others.  He said he was at the Eureka Valley opening and yes it is the half way point but it is also only a few months from when the original schedule showed the entire program complete.


Bradley Weidmeyer said he was a little concerned about the training program.  He said he was exposed to some rather questionable behavior at the centennial with the branch manager when discussing issues regarding the renovation.  He said he was shocked at the behavior that the library is pursuing to “take down their opponents.”


Sue Cauthen said she agreed with some of the previous speakers comments and she said there was not massive communication in this ticklish issue over the Bernal Mural.  She said other branches have had differences of opinion.  She said it is really important to engage the community and to not speak harshly to people you don’t agree with.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said some of the topics that were part of the Public Library Leaders like How to Win at Meetings and the Trump Stare down were of concern to him.  He wanted to know where the issues related to patron services and library users were.  He said the BLIP program was supposed to be completed in about a year so hearing that the Library is half way to completion shows that it is way behind. He said he has a concern about the number of branches that are closed at the same time.


Commission Discussion 


Commissioner Chin said the leadership program is outstanding and it is important to plan for the future.  She said she likes the way different job classifications are integrated.


Commissioner Munson said he agreed with Commissioner Chin.


Commissioner Del Portillo said it is important to expose all staff to different types of training.  It is a way of allowing staff to see the possibility of upward mobility.  She congratulated the Library on instituting this kind of training.


Commissioner Ono said the Gen PL program sounds like a great idea.  She asked if there were plans for future programs.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said the next group will include middle managers and after that there will be another session similar to the first group.  He said this is a multi year commitment.  He said there will be an evaluation of the first group




There was no report at this meeting.




Laura Bernabei, representing the Ingleside Branch on the Council of Neighborhood Libraries (CNL), said CNL started as an advocacy group to address library issues.  She said it is chaired by the Chief of Branches, Brian Bannon.  She said CNL has helped with the opening parties for the new branches and this year there has been four of them.  She said close to 1,000 attended the Ingleside Branch opening.  She said before each branch opening, CNL helps sponsor a pizza party held at the branch that is a way to thank staff for all their hard work getting the library ready to open.  She said so many people and divisions are involved in opening a new branch that it is fun to get them all together. She said CNL has also worked with the branch librarian to develop brochures for each of the new branches.  She said CNL members have also developed a lessons learned checklist to identify problems at the new branches to avoid future problems in other branches.  She said they check for lighting, sight lines, comfort of furniture, signage, etc.  She said CNL meets the last Thursday of every month in the Library.  She said the Commission Secretary, Sue Blackman represents the Commission at all the meetings, but of course Commissioners are always welcome to attend.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the CNL does tremendous work in providing input on library services and projects.  He said the idea is to have a representative from each neighborhood branch.  He said the brochures require a tremendous amount of work and they provide the information for the public when the new branch is opened.  He wanted to thank them for their hard work.


Public Comment


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he would like to see the materials passed out by CNL made available to the public.


Sue Cauthen said she is a founding and charter member on CNL, but she had to resign when she became a member of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee.    She said she hoped the brochures and lessons learned documents would be made available to the public.


Ellen Egbert said she is a member of CNL, and that at every library opening you will find a beautiful book with calligraphy listing the names of every single person who made a contribution to that branch.  She said Laura is the one who prepares that book and she is appreciated for many things in addition to her wonderful cookies..  She said all of the members are also active in their Neighborhood Library Campaigns.




There was no labor union report.




Sue Blackman, Library Commission Secretary, said there are two corrections to the draft schedule.  She said there should be only one meeting in December on December 2, 2010, and the year at the bottom should be corrected from 2009 to 2010.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the schedule reflects 21 meetings for next year which is up 1 meeting from this year but down from 22 the year before.   He said it is important to have as many meetings as possible.  He said he would like to see the meetings moved to 5:00 pm so it would be just a little easier for working people to make it to the meetings.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the schedule is important He said the 4:30 pm start time is an extreme hardship for people with jobs and students including the Library staff.  He said it would be helpful if the meetings started at 5:30 pm. or later.  


Motion:  By Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Ono, to approve the 2010 Library Commission meeting schedule with the changes as described by the Commission Secretary. 


Action:  AYES 4-0: (Chin, Del Portillo, Munson and Ono)





Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said there is no legal requirement for a speaker to state their name when speaking at the Commission meeting.  He said there are some improvements in the minutes and plenty of errors. He said his comments about the Friends on page 1 did not reflect accurately the point he was making about the Friends.  He said on page 2 his comments about the democratic process were misrepresented.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the previous speaker made some good points. He said the purpose of the written word is to provide an accurate version of what occurred.  He said on page 6 his public comment related to people being able to see programs televised on SFGTV.  He said under Commission discussion Vivian Pisano’s comments should reflect that the computers cost approximately $750 each.


Motion:  By Commissioner Chin seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo, to approve the minutes of September 3, 2009


Action:  AYES 4-0: (Chin, Del Portillo, Munson and Ono).




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said his comments under public comment on page 1 did not reflect everything he said.  He said at the bottom of page 8 his comments were not reflected accurately and there were other examples of inconsistencies as well.  


Sue Cauthen said that she had asked that a Library Citizens Advisory Committee Resolution be included in the minutes and she wanted to thank the secretary for including them.  She also asked that the Resolution she referred to earlier in today’s meeting be included in the minutes for this meeting.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he hoped that the Commission would get a better microphone for the public.  He said there were some significant omissions in this set of minutes.  He said under public comment he had said that the Sunshine Task Force voted 8-0 to find against the Library for withholding documents on the Park Branch and that was not reflected in the minutes.  He said on page 5 his comments were not accurately reflected regarding the Park Branch.


Motion:  By Commissioner Chin seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo, to approve the minutes of October 1, 2009


Action:  AYES 4-0: (Chin, Del Portillo, Munson and Ono).




Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


Motion:  By Commissioner Del Portllio, seconded by Commissioner Ono to adjourn the regular meeting of November 5, 2009. 


Action:  AYES 4-0: (Chin, Del Portillo, Munson and Ono).


The meeting adjourned at 7:00 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.

Library Commission Meeting of November 5, 2009.


Item 1: General Public Comment


Anonymous Citizen: Commissioners Kane and Lee were at the last meeting to pretend that they believed in responsibility and honesty – it was a dirty job but someone had to do it.  No one asked why the issues were only exposed by a Controller’s audit and not by regular management oversight.


After twenty minutes you went back to the regular business of “On schedule, on budget, on program” which is not a mantra, it is a shield.  Presenting a happy story is good for fund-raising and all that you care about.  But it sends a message that you are impervious to truth.


This is contrary to the virtues of an open society.  Associations that are built on the premise that anyone who is connected with it is always right are called “gangs.”

That is why private money is dangerous, because the truth does not matter and the sociopaths are in charge.


Item 2: Arts Commission Action on the Bayview Branch Library Sculpture and the Bernal Heights Branch Library Mural


Anonymous Citizen: It would be advantageous to follow Robert’s Rules of Order and first consider the minutes that contain the previous discussion of this issue.


This fits the Library’s pattern.  It is a self-fulfilling prophesy to ignore and refuse to maintain something, and then use that neglect as a justification.  The old Main had “maintain and cherish” on its facade, but the library never does that.  It allows things to fall into ruin and then use that as an excuse to get ever increasing funds to start from scratch.


Art communicates to future generations, but the present generation does not have the respect for these works they deserve.  If we let these works go, we should not let this happen again.  We shouldn’t let things dilapidate to generate money, and then only measure the money.  It is the traditions of this institution and the public benefit that are supposed to be important.


Item 3: City Librarian’s Report


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


I appreciate the attempt to foster leadership in the staff which is a departure from previous generations when I saw City Librarians scream at staff members to keep them out of commission meetings, and claim that recognizing the Librarians’ Guild would be a settlement on the West Bank.  Fostering discussion with the rank and file is an enormous step forward.


The centennial at Park Branch was the first because Park is the oldest branch.  Former Commission vice-president Karen Crommie went unrecognized because apparently you don’t have the institutional memory that goes back twelve years.


You were told the Opening of the Eureka Valley Branch was the halfway point of the BLIP program.  What you were not told is that following the original promises, we would be just a couple of months away from its completion.


Item 7: Approval of the 2010 Library Commission Meeting Schedule


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


I don’t know why you give this item short shrift.  This schedule represents 21 meetings per year, up from 20 meetings last year, but down from 22 meetings the year before. For most of the history of the library commission there were 11 meetings per year, but that was with a full committee structure and numerous committee meetings each month. 


This is pretty sparse.  If you consider all of the issues that are brought before you and all the issues that ought to be before you, this should be a very active commission.  The fact that you have meetings with a bare quorum is pulling the commission in opposite directions.  I think there should be 24 meetings a year. 


And the meetings should be at 5:00 o’clock so it is just a little easier for working people and staff to attend.


Item 8: Approval of the Minutes (September 3, 2009)


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


The chair does not ask for my name.  If he was concerned for the record, he would make sure that it reflected the legal requirement that each request for someone’s name be accompanied by notice that giving it is voluntary.


The anonymous citizen’s general public comment reflects that the Friends give only 7.8% of their expenditures and 2.8% of their assets to the library, but the point was that it represents itself as a charitable organization by claiming that their director’s salary, their controller’s salary and their office rent is a charitable purpose. 


Similarly, the Richmond branch benefitted from a democratic process, but the point was that the library administration resisted that open process, but now takes credit for the benefit that resulted, when it was the Richmond neighborhood citizens who insisted on democracy.


Item 9: Approval of the Minutes (October 1, 2009)


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


General public comment of the anonymous citizen states that the controller’s report is still not on the agenda, when the point was that the August 27 report was being delayed, that it represented numerous issues including $405,000 in liquidated damages and it was being buried by the administration until it could be considered moot.  The central point of delay was omitted.


A scrambled syntax has skewed the meaning in a number of instances.  On page 6, last paragraph, the idea of the law requiring minutes include summaries is to allow citizens to speak with their own voice.  On the same page, first paragraph, it is having a return home on each page that is important.


On page 4, at the bottom, a report was not part of the background; “backup” means something else.