Minutes of the Regular Meeting of November 19, 2009


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


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, November 19, 2009, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


The meeting was called to order at 4:37 pm.


Commissioners present: Del Portillo, Gomez, Lee, Munson and Ono


Commissioner excused:  Chin


Commissioner Kane arrived at 4:51 pm.




An anonymous citizen said that when the Controller’s Report was discussed the explanation from the Department of Public Works (DPW) was all due to the anti-social activity of the neighbor next to the West Portal Branch.  He said when the neighbor complained the library provoked her with its arrogance.  He said the Commission did not ask if the $405,000 in liquidated damages was preventable. 


Sue Cauthen, Chair Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), said the LCAC passed a resolution on the Branch Library Improvement Program Audit of the West Portal library.  She said LCAC is asking the Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution urging DPW and the Library to adhere to BLIP contract terms; facilitate completion of BLIP projects on time and on budget; and audit other BLIP projects with a dedicated funding source.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force found that the Commission unlawfully silenced a member of the public.  The Task Force further found that the administration had unlawfully withheld Park Branch renovation documents from a member of the public.  He said there has been no response by the Commission to these actions.






Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there is a memo on the two actions before the Commission today.  He said 12 of the 24 BLIP projects are now completed, 7 are under construction, 3 projects are in bid and award and 2 projects are in design.   He said an assessment has been done of available funds from various projects.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, gave a presentation on the actions before the Commission at today’s meeting.  She said they are recommending that the Commission 1) Transfer funds from available sources to the Program Reserve and 2) Transfer funds to two project budgets to meet identified needs.  She said there are 7 completed and closed out projects that show a positive balance that can now be transferred to the Program Reserve including: Mission Bay,  $80,232; West Portal, $153,519; Sunset, $50,891; Marina, $26,181; Glen Park, $682; Western Addition, $43,683; and Noe Valley, $226,364.  She said Eureka Valley has been completed but not closed out and has a balance of $1,100,000 to be transferred to the Program Reserve.  She said Bernal Heights, $200,000; Parkside, $721,810; Anza, $731,469; and Merced $209,799 have recently awarded construction contracts with positive balances that can also be transferred to the Reserve.  She said additionally the program-wide library costs, $250,000 and the moving and interim services $132,441 accounts also have a balance that can be transferred to the Reserve.  She said the total is $3,927,071 that can be transferred to the Program Reserve.  She said it is important to place all the remaining funds in the Program Reserve because additional funds are needed for the Presidio and Visitacion Valley Branches. 


Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, said the additional funds will be needed for the Presidio Branch for the exterior restoration.  He showed a drawing and photographs of the problems with the exterior and explained the work that will need to be done.


Jill Bourne said the Visitacion Valley Branch will need additional funds because of the costs associated with achieving LEED Silver, replacement of asphalt roof shingles with clay tile, related structural enhancements and an increase to the construction contingency (15%) to cover unforeseen conditions.  She said they are requesting that $1,731,896 be transferred from the Program Reserve to the Presidio Branch and $1,646,281 be transferred from the Program Reserve to the Visitacion Valley Branch for a total of $3,378,177.  She said the Program Reserve currently is $5,160,896 and with the recommended actions will be $5,709,790.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this is a sudden turn of events to find that there is $4 million hanging out there.  He said various communities have been told there is no money for interim services because budgets are very tight.  He asked if the failure of maintenance at the Presidio branch is the cause for a capital project for the exterior.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said there are some rather shocking oversights or at least things ignored.  He said if you take the savings of $3.9 million plus and subtract the expanded scope on the two libraries you have $548,894 remaining.  He said people in Haight Asbury have been told about the inability of the library to provide a measly $60,000 to $120,000 for an alternate site for a year while the Park Branch is closed.  He said he would urge that the Commission put some of this money aside for temporary services at the Park Branch. 


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Lee said we are very fortunate projects are under budget.  He said the money needs to be transferred as recommended by the staff.


Commissioner Munson said there were several years when construction costs were high.  He said they need to maintain an adequate reserve to prepare for any surprises that may arise. 


Commissioner Del Portillo said she agrees with the two previous Commissioners and said she wanted to congratulate staff on doing a very good job and wisely identifying money that can be put into the reserve.  She said you do not know what tomorrow will bring.


Commissioner Ono said she agrees with previous speakers.  She asked about the qualifications of the contractor to do the exterior work at the Presidio Branch.


Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, said that the exterior work is very specialized so the contractor for the Presidio Branch will hire qualified subcontractors with that specialty.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the Commission several years ago approved work on the exterior of the Presidio Branch.


Commissioner Kane said the Library is lucky that we have savings.  He said there are projects coming up that are not fully funded so keeping the reserve as large as possible is very important.  He said we have to do these projects right.  He asked about the budget transfer for the Visitacion Valley branch.


Luis Herrera said the clay tiles and structural changes are a big chunk of the increase.  He said additional costs are to achieve LEED Silver.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said there are hard costs of about $600,000 and soft costs of approximately $100,000 for LEED Silver.


Samuel Chiu, Project Manager, said there is site improvement work needed to obtain LEED Silver including for storm water runoff.


Commissioner Lee asked about the additional soft costs for LEED.


Samuel Chiu said part of the soft costs go to the commissioning for engineering consultants to come in and test the systems. 


Motion:  By Commissioner Munson, seconded by Commissioner Del Portillo to approve the transfer of funds from available sources to the Program Reserve and transfer of funds to two project budgets to meet identified needs as outlined above and in the City Librarian’s memo dated November 16, 2009. 


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




Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, gave the Bond Program Manager’s report for Lena Chen, who was out of the office.  He said there were no informational presentations and there are two special reports, the Peer review responses for Presidio and North Beach branches.  He said as of 5/21/09 the approved budget was $187,166,352. He said the schedule reflects the changes made by the Commission at the October meeting.  He said the schedule is available in the Commissioners packets and also available at the back of the room.  He gave the status of the program and said that 7 property acquisitions are complete.  He said the support services facility is in operation; 12 branches are complete and open; 7 branches are in construction; 3 branches are in bid and award and 2 branches are in design. He showed photographs and gave reports on projects in construction including: Bernal Heights, Potrero; Parkside; Visitacion Valley; Ortega; Anza and Merced.  He said projects in bid and award are Golden Gate Valley; Presidio and Park.  He said projects in design are Bayview and North Beach.  He gave a summary of public outreach for the program including the Eureka Valley Grand Opening and the Golden Gate Valley Closing Party.  He said the Peer Review for the Presidio Branch Library was held on February 5, 2009.  He said the peer review response addresses five issues raised at the Peer Review.  Issues addressed include: concerns about the safety of the radiators; the possibility of a more modern design; the possibility of brightening and lightening the interior; providing good exterior lighting for the access ramp; and concerns about indirect lighting.  He said the Peer Review for the North Beach Branch Library was held on June 4, 2009.  He said the peer review response addresses seven issues raised at the Peer Review.  Issues addressed include: combining the circ/reference/children’s desks; the ease of use by staff of the meshed screens for closing off the ground floor of the library after-hours; concern over the height of the fencing surrounding the tennis courts; the possibility of adding more glass to the adult reading room; adding display areas about literature and the neighborhood; construction using high-quality materials and craftsmanship and concern regarding the orange color for the interior of the library.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he went to the opening of the Eureka Valley branch.  He said he also went to the Golden Gate Valley branch closing party and it was very quiet.  He said the report given said the contract had not been awarded for Golden Gate Valley, so he asked why the branch was closed. 


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said he is a member of the Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC).  He said a presentation was given by the library at LCAC’s meeting the night before and they did not provide any handouts or give the detail that was given at this meeting.  He said there are enormous increases in the budgets for some of the projects.  He said there have been increases to the North Beach and Ortega branches, but there has been nothing added for interim services for the Park branch.


Sue Cauthen said the LCAC was disappointed that the City Librarian did not attend their meeting and that they did not bring any documents.  She said the LCAC is made up of 17 people who are very interested in the BLIP program.  She said the City Librarian has said he will attend their December meeting.  She said the EIR for the North Beach Branch will not be out until April.  She said her understanding from the California Environmental Quality Act says there should be a halt in moving forward until the EIR results are published.


Ellen Egbert, Bernal Heights, said the report said the Golden Gate Valley branch is under budget including the add alternates.  She said they did not do all of the add alternates and she hoped that any of the add alternates are ones that are really needed.  She said she stopped at the Eureka Valley branch yesterday while they were having the tiny tots program and she recommends that everyone go to the branch and see the Shades photographs.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson said the Commission is trying to keep a long term oversight view for a 50 year life for the libraries.  He said the management does a good job of listening to the public.


Commissioner Kane asked about schedule changes, the Bernal mural and staff assignments for branch closures.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that schedule changes are brought to the Commission when there is a delay of more than 2 months.  He said there was no new update on the Bernal mural.  He said staff is reassigned from closed branches.  He said they would come back for a discussion on operational issues as part of next year’s budget discussions.





President Gomez said she would like to adjourn the meeting in honor of Effie Lee Morris who passed away recently.  She said she was the first Children’s Library Services Coordinator in 1963 and she created the Children’s Historical Research Collection.  She said she was an advocate for library services for children, minorities and the visually impaired.  She said she was the first African-American President of the Public Library Association.  She said she began her career as a children’s librarian in 1946. 


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said not only was Effie Lee Morris a national library authority but she was a mentor of his.  He said it was natural for librarians in her era to reach out and be tolerant and it is only with privatization that makes them exclusive and intolerant.  He said they were the only two people who spoke of principle and public benefit.  He said she did not retire she resigned because she wanted to make a point that she had been driven out.  He said she was a real library hero.


Peter Warfield, Library Users Association, said Effie Lee Morris was one of a kind.  He said she was extraordinarily knowledgeable, she was warm and she was willing to share her knowledge in a very kind and generous way.  He said she was truly concerned with Library service for everyone.


Toni Bernardi, Chief of Children and Youth Services, said Effie Lee Morris was an incredible and indomitable woman.  She said it was a shock to get the call about her death.  She said she was a great lady who influenced services for children at the local, national and even international level and she will be missed.  She said there is not a children’s library in this country that has not been touched in some way by Effie Lee Morris.  She said she cannot be replaced.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said Effie Lee Morris leaves a remarkable legacy. 


Motion:  By Commissioner Lee, seconded by Commissioner Munson to adjourn the regular meeting of November 19, 2009 in honor of Effie Lee Morris. 


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


The meeting adjourned at 6:04 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 19, 2009.


Item 1: General Public Comment


Anonymous Citizen: The explanation for the Controller’s audit blamed your neighbor.  At face value, you have provoked a West Portal homeowner to act like a street thug.  How proud are you of that?  Did you just laugh and put five dollars in the public comment fund?


Are you really so arrogant and contemptuous that five dollars in the public comment fund is more important than $405,000 in the liquidated damages that represents the public benefit?  Your arrogance has become a goal unto itself.


The idea that created the library commission was that this lady could be your neighbor, or you, and a bond of humanity would keep our government decent and humane.


The nightmare of dehumanization that our literature foretold was individuals would become placeholders for the corporations and the idea of human sympathy would become an occasion for mockery.  Your capacity for cruelty has become a badge of your success. 


Item 2: Branch Library Improvement Program Budget Transfers


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


It would be nice if the citizens had access to the graphic displays. 


It feels like manipulation to suddenly find $4 million floating around.  Several communities were told that nothing is available for interim services.  If Park branch closes before Bernal Heights opens, there will be eleven branches closed at once.  Having promised the voters only three branches would be closed at once, one wouldn’t want to save money on providing for interim services.


With $16 million ascribed to delay alone and the reserve in the Library Preservation Fund at $12 million, was there really a need for the revenue bonds?


At Presidio, is this another example where a failure of maintenance has turned into a capital project?  Bypassing the bid process is inherently dangerous because the bid process was designed for your protection.


Item 3: Bond Program Manager’s Report


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


I also made slides of the Eureka Valley opening.  It would be nice if the citizens had access to the graphic displays. 


The Golden Gate Valley closing party was very sedate; the operative factor being, that neighborhood does not place a premium on free food.  Why are we closing a branch where the contract has not been awarded yet?  If one asks why the contractor needs to close, the answer is, there is no contractor.  Are we depriving the neighborhood of services for no reason? 


The word we heard from the presenter was “balance.”  Without any details, are we supposed to take his word for it?  No one wants to be thought of as “too” serious, but “whimsical” at the Presidio Branch could be quite dangerous.  We could be shown the “color palate” that accomplishes this.


Item 4: Adjournment


Anonymous Citizen: Effie Lee Morris, who recently passed away, was a mentor of mine.


Ms. Morris felt librarians, protected by a sense of professionalism, could afford to be charitable, inclusive and tolerant.  Only privatization needs to be exclusive and intolerant.


She defended the integrity of public librarianship and I was an acolyte of hers.  She spoke of principle and public benefit while surrounded by arrogance and greed.  We often spent many hours on the phone together and the depth of her insight was astounding.


She made a very strict point of resigning rather than retiring, because she thought it was the only way to dramatize that she felt she was being driven out.


If Ms. Morris, by being my mentor, was just being charitable, it is alright because that is even more of a credit to her; that she had the capacity to make a human connection. 


She was a true library hero.