SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY COMMISSION

Minutes of the regular meeting of Thursday, December 7, 2006

(Amended and approved at the regular meeting of January 4, 2007)

The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, December 7, 2006, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

The meeting was called to order by President Higueras at 4:11 PM.

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

AGENDA ITEM #1: RECOGNITION OF FY 2005/2006 LIBRARY STAFF RETIREES

City Librarian Luis Herrera announced initiation of an annual program to honor library staff who retire.  He welcomed Johanna Zea, librarian retiring with 23 years of service, and Ruth Maginnis, librarian retiring with 41 years.  Ms. Zea and Ms. Maginnis were presented with certificates by President Higueras, and Mr. Herrera commended three additional retirees who were not present at the meeting:  Ninfa Espino, Wayne Donica, and Pearline Holmes.

The anonymous citizen expressed appreciation for the retirees’ service to the library, particularly Ms. Maginnis whom he noted was commended earlier by the county’s board of supervisors. 

Peter Warfield stated that staff and materials were the most important aspects of Public Library service.  In response to his request, the city librarian read the text of the certificates aloud.

AGENDA ITEM #2: PUBLIC COMMENT

The anonymous citizen recounted the development of his opposition to Friends of the Library.  He described virtues in a democracy such as education and the right to dissent, and explained that these were of greater importance than fundraising.

Peter Warfield inquired about $480,000 he stated was held in reserve by the board of supervisors for providing additional open hours at branch facilities on Sundays.  He expressed concern regarding the length of time that had passed without a plan being put forward to claim and expend the funding.

AGENDA ITEM #3:  APPROVAL OF MINUTES

The anonymous citizen pointed out that the minutes of the commission meeting of Thursday, November 2, 2006, represented an improvement over past minutes but remained imperfect.  He disapproved of the physical placement of written comments he had submitted and requested that a note be added to inform readers where his comments were located.  He offered several instances in which he felt the minutes could be improved.

Peter Warfield offered clarifications to the comments attributed to him in the minutes of the meeting of October 5, 2006, regarding the city librarian’s revised memo on out-of-print materials.  He stated his opinion that written citizen statements should be included within the section of the minutes that they dealt with instead of being included at the end.

President Higueras commented that he found the minutes appropriately precise and that individuals seeking greater depth could listen to audiotapes or view DVDs of the meetings.

MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioners Gomez and Munson, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of Thursday, November 2, 2006, as circulated.  Approved by the following vote: 5 – 0; Aye: Chin, Gomez, Higueras, Kane, and Munson.

AGENDA ITEM #4: CITY LIBRARIAN’S REPORT

Mr. Herrera introduced Deputy City Librarian Jill Bourne who joined San Francisco Public Library staff three and a half weeks ago.

Chief of Main Kathy Lawhun offered an overview of the library’s Information Services unit which provides public training in the use of library materials and computers, answers telephones for the entire library system, staffs the information desk, and provides interlibrary loan services. 

Ms. Lawhun introduced Charlotte Sanders, librarian from Information Services, who gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Public Library’s activities to bridge the digital divide.  Ms. Sanders emphasized the importance of providing electronic access to the public in general, and particularly to elders, newcomers, and economically-disadvantaged people.  She summarized content of the basic and advanced classes that Information Services offers free of charge to the public, and provided statistics on class attendance.

Mr. Herrera informed commissioners of two significant services being offered during branch renovations, first describing the opening of the Western Addition Reading Center that the library is operating in cooperation with the African American Historical Society.  The second service Mr. Herrera described was the International Language Center located in the lower level of Presidio branch which currently offers adult and children’s materials in Japanese and will add Russian language materials when Richmond branch closes for renovation.

Mr. Herrera welcomed Chief of Technical Services Pat Fahrenthold who provided a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Acquisition of New Materials” and described the activities of the library’s acquisitions unit.  Ms. Fahrenthold updated the commissioners on various vendors from which the library purchases materials, and the processes involved in ordering and receiving.

Mr. Herrera offered an overview of library safety and described a recent ABC-7 news segment that focused principally on internet sex sites accessed from libraries in the Bay Area.  The city librarian commented that San Francisco Public Library offers unfiltered internet access to library patrons through a policy mandated both by the commission and the board of supervisors.  Mr. Herrera emphasized that filtering software regularly blocks access to useful and constitutionally-protected information, and that what San Francisco library staff monitors is not content but inappropriate behavior in the library.  Mr. Herrera recalled the conversation he had earlier with the TV correspondent regarding the issue.

The city librarian described a press release entitled “San Francisco Public Library Implements Public Safety Initiative” which detailed a cooperative agreement between the library, health department, and police; new training procedures for library security personnel, including training at the San Francisco Police Academy; redesign of the deployment of security officers at the main and branches; and the hiring of two parttime outreach workers, on contract through the Department of Public Health, to help those library patrons in need of referrals to city services.  Mr. Herrera underscored his commitment for the library to provide a safe environment for the public and staff.

Mr. Herrera described upcoming exhibitions and programs at the library, and lauded Director of Operations & Maintenance Roberto Lombardi’s leadership in creating Polar Express, a large, functioning, interactive electric train on display outside the Fisher Children’s Center.

President Higueras temporarily left the room at 5:00 PM, and Commissioner Chin chaired the meeting until he returned at 5:17 PM.

The anonymous citizen questioned whether libraries should be charged with meeting society’s technology needs and expressed concern that this shifted focus away from their primary functions.  He lamented that individuals seeking to file lawsuits in federal district court were now required to file electronically, and that paper copies of the PowerPoint presentations that had been presented were not immediately available.

Sue Cauthen, a member of both the library’s citizens advisory committee and the sunshine task force, agreed that immediate availability of paper copies of the PowerPoint presentations would be useful.  She requested that copies of the press release that had been described also be made available.

Jack Coll, retired librarian, informed the commission of a major donation of historical photographs relating to San Francisco transit that the library had received, and he directed attention to an article describing the gift in the December 2006 issue of At the Library.

Peter Warfield objected to the scope of the city librarian’s report and urged that important issues such as book acquisitions be designated as individual agenda items.  He characterized the recent ABC-7 report as an unfair slam against the library, and requested a copy of the press release that Mr. Herrera had referred to.  Mr. Warfield stated that he saw danger in the library becoming a last resort for computer training because it was a service targeted for poor people instead of being for everyone, like other library services.

Mr. Herrera expressed regret that the press release had inadvertently not been included in the commissioners’ packets or made available at the back of the auditorium and offered assurance that copies would arrive shortly.  In response to a question from Commissioner Kane, the city librarian indicated that paper copies of the PowerPoint presentations would be made available to individuals who requested them.  Commissioner Kane expressed appreciation for Ms. Sanders’ presentation and voiced vigorous support for the library offering free computer instruction to the public.

AGENDA ITEM #5: FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY REPORT

Friends of the Library Executive Director Donna Bero expressed support for Ms. Bourne’s appointment as deputy city librarian.  Ms. Bero spoke in favor of the Public Library offering computer courses, a service she saw as reaching out to new populations and accommodating diverse learning styles by stretching the traditional boundaries of library service.  She announced the opening of the Friends’ expanded bookstore at Fort Mason.  Ms. Bero described a forum that Friends conducted in July consisting of city department heads, elected officials, academics, planners, and citizens to discuss the library’s role and relevance in San Francisco.  She distributed a synopsis of the forum’s findings, and stated that Friends’ intention in 2007 is to expand the project into an ongoing dialogue with the community. 

Ms. Bero distributed a newsletter describing the Friends’ Neighborhood Library Campaign and introduced Claire Kells who is organizing the community campaign for Bernal Heights.  Ms. Bero offered dates of upcoming activities sponsored by the Friends.

The anonymous citizen expressed alarm that Friends is conducting tours of branch-library renovation sites.

Peter Warfield also expressed alarm that Friends is conducting site tours, and he requested that tours be offered to the public without mediation by the Friends.

AGENDA ITEM #6: LIBRARY COMMISSION MEETING SCHEDULE

Acting Secretary Richard Walsh proposed a draft meeting schedule for calendar year 2007 to the commission.

The anonymous citizen requested that Library Commission meetings be moved to a later time to encourage public participation.

Peter Warfield agreed that people who work or go to school would be accommodated by a later meeting time.

Commissioner Kane suggested that meetings begin at 4:30.  In response to questions, Mr. Herrera stated that a start time one-half hour later would not have significant impact on staff costs for the meetings, but he requested that members of the commission commit to beginning the meetings punctually.

Commissioner Chin requested that less time be expended on approval of meeting minutes.

MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to alter the starting time of regular commission meetings to 4:30 PM and to accept the meeting dates as set forward in the “Draft 2007 Meeting Schedule.”  Approved by the following vote: 5 – 0; Aye: Chin, Gomez, Higueras, Kane, and Munson. 

AGENDA ITEM #7:  AMENDMENT TO BYLAWS

Mr. Walsh described the proposed change to the bylaws patterned after the attendance policy approved by the commission in November. 

The anonymous citizen noted that the commission bylaws require at least 10 days’ written notice prior to being amended, and that the text of the amendment had not been circulated consistent with that requirement.  He objected to the previous month’s action to change the commission’s attendance policy which no longer conformed to the bylaws.

Peter Warfield commented that the proposed bylaw change regarding attendance at meetings by commissioners was less stringent than the mayor’s intent, and he stated that he believed the agenda’s description of the item was inadequate.

On advice from Deputy City Attorney Catherine Barnes, President Higueras postponed amendment of the bylaws to a future meeting.

AGENDA ITEM #8: PUBLIC EMPLOYEE APPOINTMENT – SECRETARY, LIBRARY COMMISSION

The anonymous citizen questioned the process for appointing the commission secretary and recalled the tenure of the previous secretary.  He emphasized the importance of the secretary being independent and reporting directly to the Library Commission.

Peter Warfield commented that he found the agenda item inadequate and unclear, and that he did not understand what the commission proposed to do during the closed session.

MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Kane, to enter into closed session pursuant to California Government Code Section 54957(b)(1) and San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.10(b) – Personnel Matter – Public Employee appointment – Secretary, Library Commission.  Approved by the following vote: 5 – 0; Aye: Chin, Gomez, Higueras, Kane, and Munson. 

President Higueras estimated that the closed session would last approximately one-half hour.  Pursuant to California Government Code Section 54957(b)(1) and San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.10(b) – Personnel Matter – Public Employee appointment – Secretary, Library Commission, the Library Commission entered into closed session at 5:58 PM.

Commissioner Kane departed the meeting at 6:30 PM.

At 7:02 PM the Library Commission returned to open session.

MOTION: by Commissioner Gomez, seconded by Commissioner Chin, to disclose any or all discussions held in closed session (San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.12(a)).  Approved by the following vote: 4 – 0; Aye: Chin, Gomez, Higueras, and Munson.

Commissioner Munson reported that during closed session the commission had reviewed applications and selected six individuals to be interviewed in early 2007 by two commissioners and the city librarian.  The commissioner noted that the position remains open for additional applications.

AGENDA ITEM #9: LABOR UNION REPORT

No report

AGENDA ITEM #10: NEW BUSINESS

None

AGENDA ITEM #11:  ADJOURNMENT

MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Munson, to adjourn the regular December 7, 2006, meeting of the San Francisco Public Library Commission.  Approved by the following vote:  4 – 0; Aye: Chin, Gomez, Higueras, and Munson.

The meeting adjourned at 7:04 PM.

Richard Walsh

Acting Secretary

December 13, 2006

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 http://sfpl.org.  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.

ATTACHMENTS

Public Computer Classes (13 pages)

Acquisition of New Materials (11 pages)

San Francisco Public Library Implements Public Safety Initiative (3 pages)

Approved 2007 Meeting Schedule (1 page)

The Public Comment Summary Statements included in these minutes are authorized by San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.16.

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, December 7, 2006
"Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don't Give Money to the Friends &
Foundation. Don't Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
It is a very nice, feel-good item, and I am pleased to contribute in the same vein.
I am not the first person who will note that far from honoring them, they are
honoring you.
The Board of Suspensors honored Ms. McGinnis back in the Spring - a wonderful
occasion.
It reminds me of a line from Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard about, 'More
to innocence our safety owe, than power or genius 'ere conspired to bless.' It is actually
these people with their dedication and sincerity that our system depends on. I wonder if
they would do it they understood the hierarchy of cynicism that actually runs this place.
They are the ones who are the foundation of our institution. They certainly have my
gratitude and respect."

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, December 7,2006
Item 2:
Public Comment
"Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don't Give Money to the Friends &
Foundation. Don't Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
I was asked how I justified my criticism when I am sitting in the chair that the
Friends & Foundation paid for.
It was asked in the context of a child asking. We have universal public education
because a sense of democracy, our obligation to society and a moral sense must be taught.
The virtues of an open society, the right to dissent democracy, and the First
Amendment have been built up over many years The irony is that often success comes
from the least respect for these issues.
Sitting on the floor would be more than symbolic to my sixty-year old back
Criticism is of the essence and giving it up is too high a price to pay for a chair and
it is too cheap a chair as the price for democracy."

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, December 7,2006
Item 3:
Approval of the Minutes - November 2,2006
"Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don't Give Money to the Friends &
Foundation. Don't Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
These minutes lack the innuendo and misrepresentation, that we have seen
in previous minutes, but they use examples rather than the point which can be a
misrepresentation itself.
Citizen summaries are attached to the back of the minutes. I asked your secretary
how he defined the word 'include' that would justify such 'attachment' and did not get a
response.
The anonymous citizen did talk about Machiavelli's 'The Prince' and a library
representing equality and social trust. The point was the increasing corporatization and
the deference to the accumulation of wealth that bas overtaken our society.
Mr. Warfield talked about the cramped conditions and meant the term 'cozy'
ironically.
Mr. Coulter did not ask for more accurate minutes, but rather the tendency to
address other issues from those who did want accurate minutes."

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, December 7,2006
Item 4:
City Librarian's Report
"Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don't Give Money to the Friends &
Foundation. Don't Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
We could have a nice graphic presentation from the public like the staff's.
We are told we have a special responsibility to provide access to technology. I don't
know if the library is the primary agency for doing that. It seems to have evolved into that
with very mixed results.
I don't think it is accidental that we had a report about technology at the same time
as a report about public safety issues. When any institution's primary functions get
fragmented, something else comes in to fill the gap.
Studies show that social disintegration comes from very subtle triggers.
As an example of technological barriers, Federal District Court has mandatory e-filing.
Is that barrier resolved by the Library providing one hour of Internet access per
day?
Copies of the slides would have been helpful."

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, December 7,2006
Item 5:
Friends of the Library Report
"Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don't Give Money to the Friends &
Foundation. Don't Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
Indeed, what else is there to say?
I am a little bit alarmed that the Friends & Foundation are conducting hard hat
tours. But I'll leave it alone.
We have not heard a report recently on what must be a very robust public comment
fund. I am sure that we are going to be building some sort of tower somewhere and I look
forward to having some pride of ownership."

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, December 7,2006
Item 6:
Library Commission 2001 Meeting Schedule
"Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don't Give Money to the Friends &
Foundation. Don't Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
What do I say every time this comes up?
When I first came to library commission meetings there was a commission meeting
and six committees. So that a faithful attendee came to seven meetings a month.
Now we have dropped it to two meetings a month.
I beg to suggest that in the middle of 2007 when according to my calculations there
will be 14 branches closed at once, the attention that the Bond Program deserves and the
progressing problems there may demand two meetings, but it is certainly up to you.
It would not hurt to move the meeting time later to 5:00 o'clock so that more
working people can come."

Public Commend of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, December 7,2006
Item 7:
Amendment to Bylaws
"Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don't Give Money to the Friends &
Foundation. Don't Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
Nothing that happens here that is straight forward. If anything was straight
forward, I would probably stop coming. It wouldn't be the Library Commission anymore.
The Bylaws state that they may 'be amended by majority vote provided that such
proposed amendment be distributed in writing at least ten days prior to such meeting.
I received a notice but not the change itself. How do we know it conforms unless we
see the actual amendment?
The whole point of the ten days is to give people a chance to consider it. Approving
the policy last time without giving the ten days, you have bypassed the spirit of your
Bylaws.
Now you thumb your nose at the Bylaws again.
The City Attorney can claim the Mayor is on hoard, but the Mayor did not say
that."

Public Comment of An Anonymous Citizen
San Francisco Public Library Commission Meeting, December 7,2006
Item 8:
Public Employee Appointment
"Stop the Hate! Stop the Ignorance! Don't Give Money to the Friends &
Foundation. Don't Accept Money from the Friends & Foundation.
No one has been delegated to find nominees or start the process.
Some transparency of process is needed here. I don't know that we aren't going to
come out of this closed session with a new Secretary.
Michael Housh acted with a keen ruthlessness that was mesmerizing to watch. The
only way to replace Michael Housh is if Karl Rove needs a job.
Mr. Housh had connections in City Hall that went back decades and knew its
machinations. A tremendous number of people owed him a favor and he could blackmail
the others. He covered this political acuity with a superficial veneer of well-meaning
incompetence.
This is of great concern because the secretary needs to be independent from the
library administration. He reports to you so that he can act for you."