Minutes of the Regular Meeting of December 6, 2007


(As amended and approved at the special meeting of January 3, 2008)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, December 6, 2007, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


President Higueras called the meeting to order at 4:32 pm


Commissioners present:  Bautista, Coulter, and Munson.


Commissioner Gomez and Kane were excused.


Commissioners Chin arrived at 4:37 pm




An anonymous citizen said that people have selective memories and he asked what we remember about the Library building.  He said there had recently been a comparison between the San Francisco and Seattle libraries, which said in part that while Seattle’s central library celebrates web technology as well as books, San Francisco’s poorly designed Library, does neither.  He said the library is really about the use and the people and the contempt for the public and users only goes so far.  He said with the passage of Prop D there is plenty of opportunity to make people forget if you don’t fulfill the promises made to the voters.    


Peter Warfield said the Library might benefit from putting together a vertical file on the library and the building of the main library.  He said there was an interesting meeting at the Citizens General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee (GOBOC), where the Controller’s review of the Library was discussed.  He said he spoke to one of the members after the meeting and was told that the Committee had some very serious concerns about the Library’s Bond program and had not praised the library as had been represented by the library.






Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said these are pretty good minutes and he complimented the secretary for not abandoning pre-election minutes.  He said under the approval of the minutes of October 18 his remarks were not clear when he said that President Higueras’ remarks were not reflected accurately regarding the Glen Park branch.  He said there should have been some specificity to those comments. 


Peter Warfield said in some respects these minutes have good material and in other respects they sound like a bit of double talk.  He said there are a lot of lengthy sentences without accurately describing what he had said at the meeting.


Motion:  By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Coulter to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of November 1, 2007.


Action:  AYES 5-0: (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras, and Munson)




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said that he appreciates that these minutes are from the most recent meeting.  He said since the minutes are better some of the public comments are more brief but some of the comments reflected in the minutes are still not complete.


Peter Warfield said these appear to be very good minutes.  He thanked the Commission and secretary for including remarks by some of the teenagers who had spoken requesting more funding for the teen sections.  He said he would like to have his comments on the bottom of page 2 where he said “the campaign in support of Prop D spent more money than was spent on any other measure pro or con” to add that he had said “as of the required reporting date of October 20, 2007.”


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Kane suggested adding the language suggested by Mr. Warfield.


Motion:  By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Coulter to approve the minutes of the regular meeting on November 15, 2007 as amended to add the words “as of the required reporting date of October 20, 2007” to the end of the remarks by Peter Warfield under public comment.


Action:  AYES 5-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras and Munson).





Luis Herrera, City Librarian, recognized the 2006-2007 Library employee retirees: Joann Collins, Phyllis Chim, Deborah Johnson-Gartrell, James Cook, Gerard Neves, Lillie Gorham, Amelia Martin, David Lofting, Joan Goldman, Anne Hyatt, Elizabeth Cronbach, Eileen Wampole, Cooley Windsor, Joann Sutton, Estela Manila and Lee Sutton.  He said two of the retirees were present; Eileen Wampole and Joan Goldman and he asked them to come forward to be recognized and receive a certificate of appreciation from the Commission. 


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, gave a preview and update of the First Floor Renovation.  She said the borrower services desk opened in July.  She said two Library Mate self-return kiosks have been added, she showed photographs of the sorting equipment, ergonomic carts, the information desk, the self-check kiosks, the A/V Center Desk and shelving, compact staff area, new door into browsing area, internet stations, new browsing shelves, and new information services work area.  She said they are hoping to open on January 16, 2008 and invitations will be going out shortly.


Luis Herrera said that it has been a very complicated process and he wanted to thank staff.  He said when completed, this will really enhance public service at the library. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, and Edgar Lopez, Project Manager, Department of Public Works (DPW) gave an update on the status of the recommendations from the City Controller’s Review. 


Jill Bourne said that for recommendation number 1, the first draft of the MOU between the Library and DPW is scheduled to be completed this month and will be brought forward to the Commission in January. 


Edgar Lopez said control measures and specific procedures are being added in response to recommendation number 2 and this will be included as part of the MOU.  He said changes to the budget will be discussed with the Library before being approved by DPW.  He said in response to recommendation number 3 DPW will be developing a standard cost escalation factor and will solicit feedback from the City’s Capital Planning Committee.  He said they will have one consultant who will be preparing all estimates for future library projects; they will use the same escalation rate for all projects; they will apply the escalation rate to the mid-point of construction; they will use the latest local unit construction (not a national average) and they will apply a sliding scale design contingency based on the phase of design.


Jill Bourne said that recommendation number 4 has already partially been implemented with changes to the Program Schedule submitted to the Commission and it will continue to be revised as needed.  In addition, the departments are working to update the financial reports in order to provide greater clarity and accessibility.  She said that issues addressed in recommendation number 5 will be addressed in the MOU but there has been a financial oversight agreement that has been completed and will be an attachment to the MOU and will be brought before the Commission in January. 


Edgar Lopez said that issues addressed in recommendation number 6 are being addressed by outreach to contractors and at trade levels and it is being approached more systematically throughout the city.


Luis Herrera said that the Bernal Heights project had received 5 bids. He said the low bidder did meet the target and we are past the bid protest period.  He said we can anticipate closing the branch in late January or early February.  He said there are ongoing discussions regarding the mural at the branch and he said that will come back to the Commission for review and discussion.  He said the Potrero branch had received multiple bids, but it received minimal bids for the mechanical and it is going to be considerably over budget.  He said they will be doing some value engineering to look at the design and the bids and they will ask the architect to go back and look at some cost efficiencies.  He said this will be brought back to the Commission in January.  He said this does mean there will be a potential delay of up to four months at Potrero.


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services, gave the highlights on some of the ongoing programs at the branches as well as at the Main Library.  She also talked about ongoing book discussion groups.  She said special upcoming exhibits include “The Making of a Masterpiece Picasso and Guernica” and “The Polar Express.”   


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said the PowerPoint presentations are a part of the documentation of these meetings and should be attached.  He also congratulated the library retirees.  He said the report on the Controller’s Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) report should have had documentation.  He said there was a Citizens General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee (GOBOC) meeting this morning at which the library was discussed.  He said he would have liked to have heard a report on that meeting.


Peter Warfield said with respect to the Controller’s Audit he would like to see the Commissioners look into some of things that were part of the audit and have not been sufficiently reviewed and discussed.  He said there is a new MOU being prepared but the question remains why senior staff did not know about the existence of an MOU until recently and why the MOU had never been followed.  He congratulated the library retirees.


Sue Cauthen, Chair Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), said she was at the GOBOC meeting and said many interesting points were brought up regarding the Controller’s review.  She said there seems to be more focus on both fiscal and communication issues and she thinks the Commission can be on top of those issues.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Coulter said that it was a nice way to honor the library retirees.  He said he is looking forward to seeing how the sorting equipment works.  He said in terms of the remodel, it seems to be within the theme of the original building.  He said he is always amazed with the programs and services and the shear depth of what the library is doing.  He said he particularly likes the book reading clubs and he hopes we can keep up that spirit of love of reading.


Commissioner Bautista said she is amazed at the depth and breadth of the library’s programs.  She said this place is always alive and she thanked Roberto Lombardi for the Polar Express and she said it is important to bring joy to children.  She said she is concerned about the Controller’s review and knows that staff will work hard on the recommendations.  She thanked and congratulated the library retirees.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian responded to questions from President Higueras about what is required in response to the Controller’s review.  She said the library would complete an MOU, which would address and respond to a number of the recommendations in the Review.  She said that will be completed in January and brought back to the Commission at that time.  She said the Controller had made a presentation to the GOBOC this morning and that GOBOC was very interested in having a presentation on the MOU after it has been completed. 


President Higueras said the Commission solicited this review so it is in a sense the Commission’s product.  He said it is important that the Commission continue to follow through and monitor the work product on the recommendations.  He also said how lucky we are to have the staff that we have and acknowledged the retirees and he hoped that we would continue that tradition of fine service.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that we are developing succession planning models and a leadership academy for training of future staff.  He also said we do a lot of outreach to insure that we have a diverse and multi-cultural staff.


Commission Munson said he was very pleased with the Polar Express exhibit.




Donna Bero, Executive Director, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library (Friends), said thank you to Commissioner Bautista who handed her a check for the Friends and Foundation from the San Francisco Manila Sister City Committee for the Excelsior Library.  She wanted to commend Jill Bourne and Edgar Lopez for their work on the MOU and their response to the recommendations in the Controllers Review.  She also wanted to thank everyone involved in the successful passage of Prop D.  She said it received 105,032 votes in favor which is the largest number of votes for any issue on the ballot except for Kamala Harris who ran unopposed.  She said in the last couple of weeks the Friends have received two separate pledges for $1 million each.  She said both are anonymous and both have supported libraries for many years.  She said they have also received a grant from the Stocker Foundation for $30,000 to support the Friends support of Summer Reading.  She said this Foundation rarely gives money in California so this is an extremely large and generous grant from their foundation.  She said the Neighborhood Library Campaign is beginning its fundraising for the Eureka Valley branch.  She said book sales for the holidays have been very good.  She said there are a couple of events coming up, one this evening with Michael Krasny and the program “Works in Progress” will continue on January 17.  She said Laureates will be on April 18 so she hopes everyone will save that date.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it would be a wonderful report if money mattered, but what is important is the institutional memory of how the money is obtained and spent.


Peter Warfield said what happened before is very important.  He said research had not been done to find out why the Library Administration did not know that there was a previous MOU with DPW.  He said Prop D did pass but 36,000 people did vote against it.  He said there was a tremendous amount of money thrown into the Yes on D campaign, so he said that that kind of money certainly contributed to its passage.  He said some of the programs mentioned sounded interesting.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson said he is glad we are going to be looking at the next steps for the MOU.


Commissioner Bautista said the people in the city understood about all the work the Library has been doing and she is pleased that the neighborhoods went out to support Prop D and she was happy the Friends campaign was so successful.


Commissioner Chin said she was certainly glad that Prop D passed to upgrade our facilities and branches.  She said there could be other organizations that could help support the library.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the action item before the Commission is to urge the Board of Supervisors to adopt an Ordinance amending the Administrative Code to amend the Library Fines and Fees Schedule.  He said the last time the Fines and Fees schedule was amended was in 2001 and he said there have been some changes in services and collections since then.  He said for the most part the fees are the same.  He said the changes include: authorizing the Library to collect fees for the scanning services in the History Center; authorizing the Library to collect fees for services associated with special uses of library meeting rooms such as furniture set-up and custodial services;  authorizing the Library to collect fees for the replacement of lost or damaged materials as part of the Link+ program; and amending the existing fees for replacement of lost Library items, including sheet music/scores and lost audio books.  He said the fees for lost “CD Jewel Cases” and Videocassette cases” would be eliminated and replaced with a $1.00 per item fee for lost “media cases.”   


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he was very disappointed in this being presented to the Commission already in a form to send on to the Board of Supervisors without more public input.  For people who love the library and love that it is both open and equal to the public, this policy contains any number of land mines both positive and negative.  He said it should be considered very carefully.  He said he is glad it is acknowledged that the History Center has had this policy for scanning photographs for some time.  He said there is confusion about the policy and the difference between scanning and copying.  He said the Link+ lost item charge is a barrier and very dangerous.


Peter Warfield said we have the Grinch that Stole Christmas in the room.  He said this is a very bad resolution and very bad legislation.  He said the library in general provides “free and equal access.”  He said to charge $115 for a lost item obtained by Link+ and which the library has encouraged patrons to use through a prominent button on the catalog page as opposed to interlibrary loan, is very bad and very contrary to its practice with regard to its own materials.  He said it violates the American Library Association’s policy to provide services to poor people.  He said apparently the $115 has been illegally charged since the implementation of this policy.  He said the library has chosen not to follow the Link+ recommendation of charging $1 a day but charging the regular late fee of $.10 per day.  He said all of the charges are questionable.


Sue Cauthen, Library Citizens Advisory Council (LCAC), said that Link+ is great but she would like to see some kind of notice to the public that indeed if they lose a book they would be liable for a high fine.  She said there should be some outreach on this to make people become more diligent.  She said the fees for the meeting rooms would be a problem for LCAC since they have to have their meetings recorded and they would hope the Commission would take that into consideration as well.


Commission Discussion


President Higueras asked several questions regarding the special meeting room fees and the scanning of documents fee. 


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services, responded and said these fees are only for special needs and setup.  She said the room is free and the setup is free, but if someone wants to serve food or beverages that might need extra custodial or a program needing an audio visual technician then there is a small fee, which is miniscule compared to what other institutions charge.  She said this applies only to open hours.  The Library does not do after hour events.    She said all meetings held in the library must be open to the public as well.  She said these fees have existed since this building opened, so this is simply a correction.  She said we have a meeting room manager who works on her staff.  She said the fees are charged through our finance department and go through the general revenue.  She added that this same policy applied as well to all the branches.


Francesca Gessner, Deputy City Attorney, clarified that there would be no charge for use of the room, a fee would be charged only if custodial or technical assistance is required.  She said that this could apply to both the Main and branch libraries. 


Kathy Lawhun, Chief of Main, said that the fee for scanning items from the History Center is to scan items onto a disc so the fee is for supplies and labor.  She said that commercial fees are slightly higher and that includes organizations like PBS, Disney, and ABC.  She said that the Library also asks such organizations when using History Center materials in publications to indicate the SFPL as the source.


President Higueras asked about the charges for Link+.  He said the $115 fee is a little troubling.  He asked whether this imposition of a substantial fine was clear to the borrowers at the time that they made the request for materials through Link+.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said he wanted to emphasize that this service is free the fee is only if the material is lost.  He said the fines for overdue materials are nominal.  He said that Link+ is a large network that includes delivery operations and specialized materials.


Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said that the cap of the interlibrary fee for replacement is capped at $200.  She said for Link+, it is a consortium of libraries that have agreed upon the one price of $115 for the replacement of lost material.  She said the literature shows the replacement fee, staff informs the patron of the fee and on the book itself it shows the replacement fee.


President Higueras asked if there was a way to make the fee more clear to the patron at the time the request is made online, similar to the prompts that occur online before an order is processed.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, suggested that adding a popup window, when people go to Link+ that would provide them with this information.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that we do need more public outreach on this so that people who do use the service are fully aware of the possible fee.


President Higueras said he would like to see something very succinct that informs the patron of what the fee is because it is not the same fines schedule as set for the library.  He said he would like the Resolution to reflect that.


Commissioner Coulter said that same point should apply to lost sheet music or other items that might be outside of the norm of what is normally charged by the library.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that the library would look at ways to make the noticing of these fees more prominent.


President Higueras said he would like to see this brought back before the Commission before acting on this resolution.


The Commission continued the item to a future meeting.


The Commission recessed at 6:37 pm. and President Higueras left the meeting.


The Commission reconvened at 6:46 pm by Vice-President Coulter who served as acting President for the duration of the meeting.




Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said this will be an opportunity to walk through some of the budget categories that we have established and get feedback from the Commission.


Maureen Singleton, Budget Manager, gave the report on the 2008-2009 budget process and priorities.  She explained the timeline and said submission of a preliminary budget will be before the Commission on January 17, 2008.  She said the Commission’s final budget approval will be scheduled for February 7.  She said the Mayor’s proposed budget will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors on June 2 with budget approval at the full Board in July.  She explained the budget climate for San Francisco and said there is an estimated General Fund Shortfall of $229 million.  She said the State’s estimated budget shortfall is $10 billion for FY08-09 and that minor changes in Federal funding is anticipated.  She explained the Mayor’s Budget Instructions to both General Fund and Non-General Fund Departments. 


Luis Herrera said that there is a hiring freeze for nonessential services and that the library may be affected by that.  He said the budget priorities are customer service which includes bookmobile services, teens, green libraries, partnership for achievement, lifelong access and SF Violence Prevention Plan.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that Collections is another budget priority and that includes international languages, opening day collections, every child read to read initiative, teens and virtual library.


Luis Herrera said another priority is Public Safety and Security and that includes branch security needs and the partnership with the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Task Force (SFHOT).


Jill Bourne said that Public Technology is another priority and that includes new catalog interface, increasing access to public computers, virtual library and online services and website redesign.


Luis Herrera said Resource and Asset Management is also a priority.  He said this includes facilities improvement and the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP), ongoing maintenance at all facilities and sustainable building and maintenance practices.  He said that Staff Development is a priority and that will include enhanced orientation and staff training programs and a leadership academy.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said this is a nice overview with very little specificity.  He said this department has been treated in some ways as a general fund department and in some ways not.  So he asked how the City’s general fund issues will affect the library.  He said this is a wonderful set of budget priorities and very ambitious.  He said that he hopes we can realize them all.


Peter Warfield said that books and hours is what Prop E required and now that Prop D has been passed and there is no longer a priority on books and hours it seems that the new priorities are being implemented immediately.  He said he would like to see books and hours very prominently featured throughout.  He would like to see more specificity to the collections priority.  He said interlibrary loan in certain respects is a vastly superior service to Link+.  He said he would like to know how much money is included for staff development.


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Munson said this is a good start with the concepts and priorities.  He said he is sure the growth in hours and collections will be prominently displayed in the budget.


Commissioner Chin had a question about the Mayor’s estimates for shortfalls.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said the shortfalls are a message to all departments beyond this year.  He said the Library needs to make good on provision of services.  He said with the passage of Prop D the Library does not need to make the 13% cutbacks that other strictly general fund departments have to make.


Commissioner Bautista is happy that Prop D passed and that we can continue with the BLIP and adding to our collections.  She said she is very hopeful and optimistic.


Vice-President Coulter said he too was grateful to the Friends and others for helping to get Prop D passed.


Commissioner Bautista is concerned about our security and would like to make sure we have a budget to cover that.




There was no labor union report.




Commissioner Bautista said she would like to revisit the teen centers, specifically the Chinatown and Mission branches and other branches that are already completed.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said that over the last several years the library has made substantial increases to the teen services and we will continue to have a conversation with the teen advisory council to see areas we can improve.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he is confused about the issue under new business and from his perspective it is important to have discussions about adult services as well.  He said it is a mixed set of priorities and objectives.


Peter Warfield thanked Commissioner Bautista for making her suggestion and would encourage the Commission to follow up on this.  He said there would be a value to look at what is perceived by the teens to be inadequacies in the collection and that should be at the top of the library’s priority list. 




Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.


MOTION: by Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Chin, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, December 6, 2007


ACTION:  AYES: 4-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, and Munson).


The regular meeting of December 6, 2007, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 7:18 p.m.


Sue Blackman

Commission Secretary


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).