Minutes of the regular meeting of Thursday, November 16, 2006

(As approved at the regular meeting of January 18, 2007.)

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, November 16, 2006 in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

The meeting was called to order by Vice President Coulter at 4:08 pm.

Commissioners present: Chin, Coulter, Kane and Munson. Commissioner Higueras was expected.  Commissioners Bautista and Gomez were excused. 



An anonymous citizen recalled an incident at a commission meeting 17 years ago when he claimed Commissioner Coulter taunted him by asking him if he was having fun several times.  He said Commissioner Coulter later used the phrase “get a life.”  In closing he asked the Commission if they were having fun.  

Peter Warfield said last June the BOS Finance Committee allocated $480,000 for more branches to be open on Sundays.  The funding was put on reserve pending a plan for additional branch hours on Sundays. He asked for the status of the plan.

John McAbee, member of the Board of Directors of the Friends, announced that there will be a reception tomorrow evening at the Friends office to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the African America Center in the Main.  Book Bay at Fort Mason will move to a new larger space close to the space it currently occupies.  The annual “Writers Remembered” event will be held in the Koret Auditorium on January 27th.  He thanked commissioners for their hard work.

Donna Bero, Executive Director of Friends of the Library, reported that they have received $500,000 grant from the David B Gold Foundation for five of the branches in the BLIP campaign.  They also recently received a $50,000 gift from Grace and Steven Voorhis, neighbors in the West Portal area.

Ellen Egbert said she was disappointed that some commissioners had not been to the Excelsior Library until the last Commission meeting.  She urged Commissioners to visit all the branches to see them before and after BLIP renovations.

Commissioner Higueras arrived at 4:19 pm.



Public Comment:

An anonymous citizen said the minutes show the presence of a new hand and that they did contain a summary of what people said at the meeting.  He said that the Commission would no doubt have a future meeting without legal notice to discuss the policy of minutes.  He said the minutes misrepresented all the speaker comments under the public comment section.  He said that Demece Garepis, a donor, said that the Bernal preschool was going into Paul Revere School where it belonged. He recalled that Denise Shucks spoke carefully about two incidents involving library security officers.  He said that she witnessed security hasseling a patron trying to leave and that she recounted an experience when Security told a child that he was too young to come to the Library.  He said the minutes should have included that the City Librarian said he would look into both matters.   

Peter Warfield said that he has been spending several months trying to track down simple facts about the Library’s policies and practices regarding the purchase of out of print books and materials and the monitoring of books that are missing or leave the collection. He said the Library’s statements on these issues have been contradictory. He proposed that his public comment in Agenda Item #1 be changed to “…questioned how reliable the Library statements are regarding purchasing of out of print materials.”


Commissioner Higueras asked that Peter Warfield’s comments be amended in these minutes.  Commissioner Coulter suggested that these minutes were one end of brevity and future minutes could be expanded a bit to capture more sense of discussion.


MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, 2nd by Commissioner Coulter for approval of the minutes of November September 21, 2006 as amended.

Action:  5-0 AYE (Chin, Coulter, Higueras, Munson and Kane)


Marilyn Thompson reported that the total project budget for the branch is $4.3 million of which $3million is the construction budget.  The current building is approximately 5,500 sq’ and it will have an 800 sq’ expansion.  There will be a 12% increase in shelf space.

Philip Sowers, DPW senior architect, presented the schematic design plan for the branch.

Project goals include seismic strengthening, ADA accessibility improvements, improved restrooms, enhance aesthetics and functionality, increase space for collections and programs, improved ventilation and energy efficiencies, and incorporate green/sustainable design technologies.

Mr. Sowers reported that there have been three community meetings to discuss schematic design and to determine what the neighborhood wants to see in the renovated branch. He highlighted many of the outstanding existing features of the branch and he presented the proposed design plan and furniture layout.  He reviewed the lighting, roof, window, elevation, and interior improvement plans.

Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, commented on the schematic designs discussed at the branch staff level.  He said that proposed enhanced exhibit space was highly desirable and program space is flexible throughout the branch with the introduction of moveable furniture.  Distinct teen and children’s spaces have been established in the current schematic design.  The service desk and work room work well in the proposed locations and provide sight lines to the patio area.  He felt that this design works well for future public service demands.

Marilyn Thompson introduced peer panelists Bonnie Bridges, Boor Bridges Architecture; Donald Cremers, SMWM; and Gerald Takano, TBA West, Inc. Bonnie Bridges said that she felt the design of the branch was well done and took into consideration the comments of community.  She said the high and low ceiling spaces and their lines of influence have been addressed in the design and that they should be responded to further as the finishes and lighting are developed.  She suggested that there is an outdoor space possibility with the southern patio space but there would need to be some solutions to potential security problems.  She suggested that a door could be added to the staff room to enable staff response to an emergency in the patio and that a community room could be added to the southern portion of the property if funds ever became available.

Donald Cremers said the panelists were all in agreement that the outdoor access from the children’s area was highly desirable.  The existing garden area should be opened up to bring the patio and walkway together.  Flooring elements and patterns could be introduced to emphasize the higher and lower ceiling areas. He commended the design team on the addition of the wood ceiling, pendant light fixtures and the overall design.

Gerald Takano said the peer review team worked under certain assumptions that were important: this was a schematic review only and there was not enough information to review the actual costs of the project; that the programmatic and schematic design had staff and community input; and that a proposed GLBT museum would not have an impact on what the team was reviewing.  He said that this building was designed by Appleton and Wolford and built in 1961 and stated the team felt the current design respected the modernistic style of the building. He encouraged use of movable furniture and said there are great possibilities for future expansion in the patio and rear walkway areas. He advised the Commission to carefully review program and construction costs.  

Marilyn Thompson thanked the panelists for sharing their design expertise to ensure that design excellence continues to be an integral part of the bond program.

Public Comment

Anonymous citizen said the agenda did not include any mention of the program notes from the community meetings that are available in the rear of the auditorium.  The agenda did not list the names or credentials of the peer review panelists.  He said that in a prior schematic design (Scheme A) there was a dramatic increase in adult seating and a more modest increase in adult book space.  Today’s schematic design increases the teen area at the expense of the children’s and adult areas.  The patio area is the key feature of the branch and is ambiguous in its current condition.  He said the current walkway does not look like it is being maintained by DPW.

Jim Buckley expressed concern about how cold it will be when sitting near the north windows and suggested improved lighting on the roof soffit on the Prosper St side of the building since it is very dark at night.  He said he wanted no changes to the path near the courtyard.

Peter Warfield said it would have been useful if he received all of the materials that were available at the meeting in advance.  He would have liked to have seen Mr. Sowers’ program notes to see what program objectives were given to the architect.  He said that the library is making policy changes through design and cited that there was no adult reference desk resulting in a reduction of librarians.  He said that self check out machines, pc’s, and adult media present as you enter the branch are not the correct message that the library should be providing. He liked to know more about how green the building is and why the parking is retained in a city that encourages public transit.  He questioned if the parking lot has been considered for some other use.  He said he heard nothing today about the program requirements for books and seating.

Robin Lewis, Eureka Valley patron, said she was appreciative that she was able to be part of the community meeting process and was thankful that alternatives for lighting were being considered.

In response to a question from Commissioner Coulter on floor finishes, Mr. Cremers stated that the panelists were not in favor of distinct floor patterns to establish specific areas such as teen or children’s sections but rather that that moveable furniture and equipment should be used to establish distinct areas and allow for future flexibility to meet program needs. Commissioners Coulter and Higueras expressed concern for safety and security in the rear patio and walkway.  Brain Bannon responded that the area will be very visible from the new staff room but said that he and branch staff will work with the project architects for security enhancements to the patio and walkway areas. In response to a question from Commissioner Chin, Mr. Herrera said that the City’s Department of the Environment will handle disposition of existing furniture. Patio access from the children’s section will be explored further by the branch staff and project architects. Commissioner Higueras asked for a prominent separation of the public restrooms and the children’s area. Philip Sowers reviewed the methods of seismic strengthening that will be used and noted that the Buffano artwork will remain in its current location.  Commissioner Kane commented that he thought it was a good not to have patio access directly from the children’s section and reported he knew several branch patrons who are thankful that parking is available at the branch.  Brian Bannon explained reasons for placement of public computers, self checkout units, new books and media collections.

Luis Herrera thanked Supervisor Bevan Dufty for his support of this project and noted the presence in the audience of Rachelle McManus from Supervisor Dufty’s office.


Commissioner Coulter departed at 5:45 pm.


Marilyn Thompson, Bond Program Manager, updated the Commission on Budget, Schedule, Active Projects, Construction and Community Outreach (copies attached.)

Ms Thompson noted that only one bid was received for Richmond Branch renovation.  The current budget is $7.1 million and the bid was $9.985 million. By rejecting the bid and releasing the subcontractors, the City has the option to negotiate on the cost without changing the scope of work.  The bid is being evaluated as well as the estimate to understand more fully what differences exist. Even if the negotiation process does not yield a bid that the Library can afford, project management staff will have a better understanding of the pricing and clarity on how to revise the scope of the project if necessary.

Public Comment

Anonymous citizen said that there was no rainy season report and the rainy season looked problematic from the slide shown of Noe Valley Branch.  He said it would be helpful to hear from the staff that BLIP is prepared for the rainy season.  He said he hoped the report on the cost of Richmond Branch renovations sent a chill down everyone’s spine.  He said it should give serious pause that out of fourteen possible contractors only one submitted a bid. He said reduction of the scope of the project would be a betrayal to the citizens.

Peter Warfield said he would like to see presentation material in advance and thanked Marilyn Thomson for the legible program statistics on the furniture layout sheet.  He thanked the Commission President for addressing computer locations, rationale for self check, reference questions and media versus books when discussing Eureka Valley Branch during the peer review process.  He said he would like to hear more about how “green” the buildings are becoming and asked what the Library’s policy and efforts are to make branches “green.”  He asked if it is the program of the Library to cut staff by getting rid of reference desks and adding self checkout machines.

In response to a question by Commissioner Kane, Marilyn Thompson stated that the number of bidders has been declining for all City departments, construction costs have escalated and because there was only one bidder the construction cost estimators feel that the estimate could be fifty percent off. Follow up calls will be made to contractors who picked up bid packages but did not submit bids to try to determine how to get greater participation in the bidding process.  Ms. Thompson described attempts at resolving complaints from an adjacent neighbor regarding construction issues at West Portal Branch.  She said the building envelope could be compromised from a water proofing standpoint since this neighbor has refused to give permission to allow access for applying stucco on a small section of the west exterior wall.


Luis Herrera reported on community outreach to the residents of the Richmond district and the neighborhood library campaign to assure them that the Library is addressing the issues associated with the single bid for Richmond Branch.    



MOTION: by Commissioner Munson, 2nd by Commissioner Chin to adjourn the regular November 2, 2006 Commission meeting.

Action: 4-0 AYE (Chin, Higueras, Kane and Munson)

Meeting adjourned at 6:24 pm.

Richard Walsh, Acting Commission Secretary 11/30/06


Please note: Copies of Commission Minutes and handouts are available in the Office of the Commission Secretary, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102


Explanatory documents: Copies of listed explanatory documents are available as follows: (1) from the Commission Secretary/Custodian of Records, Main Library, 6th Floor, (2) in the rear of the Koret Auditorium immediately before and during the meeting, and (3)to the extent possible, on the Library's website at Additional materials not listed as explanatory documents on this agenda, if any, that are distributed to the 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 §§ 67.9, 67.28(b)& 67.28(d).





Eureka Valley Schematic Design

Budget reports and Branch Library Summary Schedules

BLIP Construction Report

Commission Meeting Presentation Outline


The public comment summary statements included in these minutes are authorized by the San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.16.


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.

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, November 1 6, 2006
Public Comment
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
Mr. Coulter’s first open taunting of me was “Are you having fun?” No one thought that seventeen years later I would be throwing the same taunt back at him.
The taunt changed to ‘Get a life.’ which is both the same and different.
A Leonard Cohen song contains, “They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within.’ If that is what ‘get a life’ means, Mr. Coulter has a point.
A complete reversal would have someone new like Commissioner Munson asking Mr. Coulter if he is having fun. Mr. Coulter has now been coming to these meetings as long as I had then, and if it is a waste of a life, he has wasted his life.
Experience teaches us all something.
‘Are you having fun?”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, November 16, 2006
Item 2:
Approval of the Minutes: October 19, 2006
“Stop the Corporate Rape of the Public Library Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. I)on’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
These minutes show the presence of a new hand. The minutes fluctuate in cycles. I am sure you will have another policy discussion without proper notice.
Each of the four people who spoke under public comment were misrepresented.
Ms. Garepis talked about being a donor and Paul Revere School being the proper site for the preschool. By selecting non-representative examples, you transformed her from an opponent to a supporter of the preschool.
Ms. Shucks spoke carefully of two incidents involving the security guards. One involved hassling someone, and the other was a child who was told incorrectly that she was too young to be in the library. The City Librarian said he took these issues very seriously and would look into them.
This should have been in the minutes.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, November 16, 2006
Item 3:
Eureka Valley Library Peer Review
“Stop the Hate! Stop the ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
There are explanatory documents for this item, but there are no explanatory documents listed on the agenda. There is also nothing about the credentials of the persons on the peer review panel although I mention it every time.
There is a ‘Scheme A’ that was presented to a community meeting. A comparison reveals a dramatic increase in adult seating and an increase in book space and the present scheme is markedly reduced. There is no record of the community’s advocacy for this or what gains were made to offset that sacrifice.
The patio area is ambiguous and there is no indication of how that problem will be solved. It is not clear that the idyllic pathway belongs to the library.”

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, November 16, 2006
hem 4:
Bond Program Manager’s Report
“Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don’t Give Money to the Friends & Foundation. Don’t Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
The concept of ‘natural linoleum’ seems like a strange oxymoron.
We didn't get a rainy season report. We have had issues with projects where contractors were late preparing for the rainy season and there were charges and countercharges back and forth.
This looks problematic with respect to the slide of Noe Valley. It would be nice to be reassured by the staff that we are prepared for the rainy season.
The discussion of Richmond sent a chill down all of our spines. We had fourteen contractors involved in a preliminary stage and ended up with one bidder. It looks like very nearly 50% over budget. Does this reflect the future scope of being overbudget?
The option of ‘reducing the scope of the project’ will be regard as a betrayal to the citizens.”