Library Commission Minutes - January 2, 2001
The San Francisco Public Library Commission held its regular meeting on Tuesday, January 2, 2001in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.
The meeting was called to order at 4: 05PM by President Higueras
The following members were noted present: President Higueras, and Commissioners Chin, Streets, and Swig.
The Secretary noted Vice President Carol Steiman was excused attendance and that Commissioners Bautista and Coulter's arrival was expected.
President Higueras announced that Item #1 Election of Commission Officers would be delayed pending the arrival of additional Commissioners and that the previous meetings Minutes would be taken up at a later meeting of the Commission. The Commission Secretary apologized for the unavailability of the past meetings' Minutes.
Commissioner Bautista joined the meeting at 4:12PM.
AGENDA ITEM #2 CITY LIBRARIAN'S REPORT
The Acting City Librarian announced the opening of the Tool Lending Center on January 4, 2001 noting it was to be operated in partnership between the Library and the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG). Ms. Hildreth next reported on a number of branch library improvements including tree removal and landscaping work at the Eureka Valley, construction work on the new Ingleside Branch, the installation of air cooling equipment at Chinatown, and reported on several changes in plans for branch library electrical upgrades in light of the approval of the branch Library construction and improvement bond. The Acting City Librarians noted that electrical improvements would go forward at the Anza, Golden Gate Valley, Bernal Heights, and at the West Portal Branch Library. Ms. Hildreth in addition reported on Board of Supervisor's action to approve acceptance of the $159,000 Fortunio Bequest and act on the new Fine & Fee schedule.
Public comment on Agenda Item #1 CITY LIBRARIAN'S REPORT:
Mr. Ed Regan suggested that the proposal to replace branch libraries located in rented facilities be reconsidered given that the new Ocean View Branch while an improvement was too small. Mr. Peter Warfield inquired based on a reading of the meeting's agenda if funding for the Tool Lending Center was to be eliminated?
Commission comment on Agenda Item #1 CITY LIBRARIAN'S REPORT
In answer to questions posed by President Higueras, the Acting City Librarian discussed staff's efforts to carefully consider any work to be done in branches that were to be renovated in light of the pending branch renovation and construction bond program. Responding to questions by Commissioner Bautista, the Acting City Librarian proposed that a report on the Tool Lending Center be brought to the Commission in February.
President Higueras announced that discussion of Agenda Item #3 the City Librarian Search Committee Report would be delayed until Commissioner Coulter's arrival.
Agenda Item #4 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION MOU
The Acting City Librarian discussed the final revision of the proposed Friends and Foundation MOU made to address concerned raised by the Board of Supervisors Finance Committee. Ms. Hildreth reported that in response to requests by Supervisor Yee the annual minimum contribution level made to the Library by its Friends and Foundation was raised from$200,000 to $300,000. She further noted that the legally allowed use of the patron list for solicitation of support for the Library would be changed in the future to requesting that patrons be asked if they wished to receive information about the Friends and Foundation. Ms. Hildreth additionally pointed out that in the proposed final draft MOU the current $5,000 limit on gifts that could be accepted by the Library without Board of Supervisors approval had been reinstated instead of the proposed $25,000 cap. Ms. Hildreth discussed that the Friends and Foundation use of its Main Library 6th Floor office space would terminate after three years and would not be renewable. The Acting City Librarian noted that while the length of the MOU was five years, the fact that it was backdated two years meant than in reality the term of the new MOU would only run three years. The Acting City Librarian noted that the former event management agreement had ended and references to it had been removed from the final version of the MOU. In addition, Ms. Hildreth reported on several meetings with representatives of the Library's labor union. She noted that the union representatives remained opposed to any use of patron information to solicit support for the Library and objected to the Friends and Foundation funded outreach coordinators staffing the Stegner Environmental Center and the Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center.
Public comment on Agenda item #4 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION MOU
An anonymous member of the public noted that the MOU had been considered by the Board of Supervisors in August and suggested throwing the moneychangers from the Temple. This individual also found that the changes in the MOU failed to restore confidence in the Library as a public institution, and recommended the elimination of the private non-profit intermediary, proposing instead that donations be made directly to the Library.
Commission comment on Agenda item #4 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION MOU
Vice President Steiman found the final version of the proposed MOU much improved. She observed that the existing grievance system might ultimately be the only way to find agreement on the remaining outstanding issues with the Library's labor unions. Both Commissioners Chin and Streets noted additional efforts that had been made to resolve the outstanding issues with the Library unions and expressed a desire to move this item forward.
MOTION: By Vice President Steiman, seconded by Commissioner Chin that the MOU be approved and submitted to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for its approval.
ACTION: AYE 5-0 (Bautista, Chin, Higueras, Steiman, and Streets)
Library Finance Director George Nichols provided the Commissioners with an extensive overview of the proposed Library budget for FY 2001-2002. The sum total of the proposed budget from all revenue sources was reported to be $51.15 million. Mr. Nichols noted that this represented a 5.5% increase over the previous budget and discussed in some detail each of the revenue sources for the proposed budget. Mr. Nichols explained a significant increase in projected Prop. E (Library Preservation Fund) revenues in both year's and next years budget allowing for full funding of all proposed expenditures with a lower than anticipated expenditure of reserves. He noted that there had been both budget savings and additional costs, including the addition of $100,000 for the book budget, identified since the draft budget had been presented to the Commissioners in November and described in detail each of the changes. Mr. Nichols specifically pointed out deletion from the Library's baseline proposal of the Tool Lending Center budget as requested by the Commission. The Library Finance Director next addressed various high points such as increased security and lease purchase of a branch library telephone system addressed in the materials provided in the agenda packet. Mr. Nichols then described in detail each of the various changes and increases in staffing and equipment proposed for the branches and each library department in the draft budget.
Agenda item #5 Public comment on the Library Budget
An anonymous member of the public observed that there had been frequent presentations concerning the budget but this individual found the variety of terms and descriptions used in the various reports lacking in clarity. The anonymous member of the public noted that policy issues were buried in the documents specifically decrying what was perceived as a relatively small book budget and potential costs of various technological systems. Mr. Ed Regan suggested that funds mad available by the Fuhrman Bequest be used to purchase additional books on politics, economics, and the study of government for the Main and branch libraries. Mr. Peter Warfield expressed frustration that information on the proposed changes in the draft budget had not been made available earlier and suggested a need for more study. Mr. Warfield additionally found the proposed book budget inadequate, opposed any outsourcing of overdue notices, and questioned the costs of proposed automation improvements. Ms. Andrea Grimes, Local 790 noted that the library labor unions had concerns with the budget relating to the book budget as well as about some positions funded, and urged that action to approve the budget be postponed to allow further discussion.
Agenda item #5 Commission comment on the Library Budget
In response to questions and concerns by Commissioner Streets that a future decline in revenues could force cutbacks in library staffing, Mr. Nichols explained how the Library Administration had carefully studied economic forecasts and thoughtfully considered anticipated revenues for the next several years before proposing the addition of any new permanent positions. The Library Finance Director specifically noted the prudent view of anticipated revenue estimates that underlay all of the budget assumptions allowing for greater flexibility in response to potentially changing economic conditions. He further discussed the significant level of reserves maintained in the Library Preservation Fund as a safeguard against unanticipated future revenue declines. Commissioner Streets requested that Mr. Nichols report to the Commission on a recommended level of reserve fund that the Library should maintain. In response to questions by Vice President Steiman regarding the purchase of additional vehicles for the Library, Mr. Nichols outlined in some detail the needs that recommended the addition of the proposed vehicles. Vice President Steiman expressed satisfaction with the removal of the Tool Lending Center budget from the Library's baseline budget noting her philosophical opposition to funding the tool center at the expense of regular library activities. She further expressed approval of the new positions noting that there had been a need for additional staffing at 1st stop and also on the 3rd floor of the Main Library. Responding to a query by Commissioner Bautista, Mr. Nichols explained how the Project Manager positions for the Branch Library bond program could be funded by proceeds from the bond sales. Mr. Nichols informed Commissioners Steiman and Streets that the book budget comprised approximately 10% of the overall library budget and that while this was below the percent of budget of some other Bay Area Libraries it represented a reasonable balance of meeting the library's overall needs. The Acting City Librarian provided Commissioner Bautista with a background explanation for the addition of the curator and exhibit preparators positions as a means of addressing some of the services imbalances among the various specialized centers. Ms. Hildreth noted that both the Stegner and Hormel Centers possessed significant endowments to continue to fund their support staffing through the Friends and Foundation. In response to questions by Commissioners Chin and Higueras, Ms. Hildreth discussed how the proposed additional positions for Library security could address security concerns in some of the larger more active branches. President Higueras called attention to the importance of linking proposals in the annual budget to the Library's Strategic Plan. In addition, he highlighted the importance of taking a multi-year view of ongoing building maintenance needs and in addressing the costs involved in keeping library technologies up to date.
MOTION: By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Streets that the FY 2001-02 Library Budget be approved and submitted to the Mayor.
ACTION: AYE 5-0 (Bautista, Chin, Higueras, Steiman, and Streets)
AGENDA ITEM #6 POE RECOMMENDATIONS REPORT
The Acting City Librarian provided the Commissioners with a detailed presentation concerning the recommendations for Main Library improvements in response to problems identified in the Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of the Main Library which Library staff found would produce the most benefit for the public and library staff. Ms. Hildreth identified theses as development and implementation of a master signage plan for the Main Library, significant improvement of Borrowers' Services other public services, and the rest rooms on the first floor, relocation of Tech Services, and some improvements to the 2nd floor. Ms. Hildreth noted that while the POE called for a number of improvements and changes on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors that staff had identified these as a lesser priority and had strongly recommended concentrating the first improvements to be done on the first and second floor. The Acting City Librarian detailed the $4 million available in the Library Improvement Fund to pay for various projects. The Acting City Library informed the Commission that she proposed to submit a supplemental appropriations request for their approval at their February meeting for additional building fix up projects not spelled out in the POE recommendations report.
Commissioner Coulter joined the meeting at 5:40PM
Ms. Hildreth then gave an extensive overview of the various building modifications proposed in the POE recommendation report. The Acting City Librarian in particular pointed out the strong provisions for both staff and Library Commission oversight of each of the recommended projects. Ms. Hildreth then discussed how these changes could facilitate improved public services, provide greater access to popular collections, and to retain and enhance the 2nd floor services provided by the Library for the Blind and Project Read, and the Children's Historical (Effie Lee Morris) Collection. The Acting City Librarian then discussed various options to bridge the second floor and provide direct elevator access for patrons entering from Larkin and Fulton Streets. Ms. Hildreth next discussed proposed timelines and likely costs involved in carrying out the various projects. She then focused on issues involved in identifying appropriate space for relocating Tech Services. Ms. Hildreth also discussed potential use of space in Brooks Hall to in part to address this need.
The Acting City Librarian then discussed improvements to Borrower's Services, and the POE recommendations for opening compact shelf spaces in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Floors for patron use. Ms. Hildreth then detailed the ongoing efforts to address the signage problems identified in the POE and how public access to the elevators to the upper floors might be accomplished. She then discussed how the atrium at the center of the building both provided a benefit to and in some ways a navigational problem for patrons. Ms. Hildreth then discussed building capacity issues and the proposed Library Support Services Center and how various changes which had occurred since the POE was issued had impacted consideration of these recommendations. The Acting City Librarian further detailed how use of Brooks Hall could address off site storage needs for archival materials in an easily accessible way, and potentially meet other needs. Ms. Hildreth noted those recommendations to increase the availability of computer access and study space on the upper floors would be considered, but was less pressing than other matters. The Acting City Librarian next discussed recommendations for providing access to government documents and historical materials. The issues involved in the relocation of the sorting room and book drops to simplify sorting and processing of returned materials were then outlined. Ms. Hildreth then discussed the facilities maintenance planning and building repairs issues raised in the POE and the various ways which staff proposed to address them.
Ms. Hildreth then discussed what was proposed to do to address problems with the automatic window shade system, the public rest rooms, and to provide motor assists for some entry doors. The Acting City Librarian emphasized that the modifications to the 1st and 2nd floors were the library staff's top priorities that should be addressed before going on to the other recommendations.
Public comment on Agenda Item #6 POE Recommendations
An anonymous member of the public commented that the Library had not adopted a Strategic Plan and observed that it had served merely as a distraction during the Prop. E (Library Preservation Fund) hearings. This person further noted that a supplemental appropriation was being proposed to fund POE related work just after the Commission had approved the budget and thus true costs of the projects were being concealed. The anonymous member of the public found this to be a piecemeal process that could result in greater costs. Mr. Ed Regan suggested that Main Library elevators be manually operated for safety in case of emergency, that an encyclopedia and dictionary center be created, and that all circulating books be located on one floor. Mr. Peter Warfield found the report discouraging, found little evidence of creating more space for books, and feared reductions of book collections to meet space limitations. Mr. Warfield additionally expressed concern that the recommendations were not be straight forward about changes being proposed.
Commission comment on Agenda Item #6 POE Recommendations
In response to questions regarding the "ownership" of Brooks Hall by Commissioner Bautista, Ms. Hildreth provided an overview of the various issues and concerns involved in making sure that the Library had a feasible plan and chose the best alternative to make use of Brooks Hall. Ms. Hildreth proposed to bring a plan for Brooks Hall to the Commission in the near future. In response to questions by President Higueras, the Acting City Librarian discussed the careful process staff had undertaken in identifying the priority projects in this proposal and how firm realistic cost figures would be confirmed by the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Architecture for each of these particular projects. In response to a question by Commissioner Streets, Ms. Hildreth explained that the building fix it proposals which would be brought to the Commission for its consideration at it next meeting were not among those discussed in these recommendations and could be funded from the current operating budget without recourse to the Library improvement Fund.
President Higueras called for a brief recess at 6:44PM
The Commission returned to session at 6:54Pm
President Higueras then returned to those agenda items previously passed over.
AGENDA ITEM #1 NOMINATION OF COMMISSION OFFICERS
Commissioner Steiman nominated President Higueras for the Office of Commission President for 2001. Commissioner Higueras nominated Commissioner Steiman for Vice President of the Library Commission for 2001.
Public comment on AGENDA ITEM #1 NOMINATION OF COMMISSION OFFICERS
An anonymous member of the public commended the Commissioners for their willingness to serve, but noted that given some Commissioners' attendance that the earlier start time for commission meetings be reconsidered. Mr. Ed Regan observed that President Higueras and Vice President Steiman would do a great job as President and Vice President of the Commission.
Agenda Item #3 CITY LIBRARIAN SEARCH COMMITTEE REPORT
Vice President Steiman and Commissioner Coulter reported on the activities of the City Librarian Search Committee and discussed its ongoing efforts to identify a professional executive search firm. Commissioner Coulter noted that a committee meeting would be held on Friday January 5, 2001 to receive a report from its subcommittee concerning the search firm interviews and that that information would then be reported to the full Commission.
Public comment on Agenda Item #3 CITY LIBRARIAN SEARCH COMMITTEE REPORT
An anonymous member of the public suggested that there was nothing to report, as the Committee had not met since its last meeting was reported. The anonymous member of the public urged that the Commission not hire a search firm, but instead undertake the City Librarian Search process itself. Mr. Ed Regan urged that any new City Librarian expand public service hours and strengthen the book collections. Mr. Regan also strongly recommended that the Commission select Ms. Susan Hildreth to be City Librarian.
Agenda Item #7 INTERNET USE POLICY
Acting City Librarian Susan Hildreth informed the Commissioners regarding a recent change in federal law known as the Children's Internet Protection Act which would require libraries which received federal funding to install internet filters on public access computers or face cutoff of future federal funding. The Acting City Librarian noted that current Library Commission policy expressly rejected use of such filters and suggested that the Commission may wish to reaffirm its policy. She further noted that the American Library Association (ALA) as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) proposed to take legal action to prevent the law from going into effect. Ms. Hildreth noted that maintaining the current policy could result in loss of some $180,000 in federal funding in future years as outlined in a memo provided to the Commissioners (copy attached). Ms. Hildreth proposed to inform the Commission of discussions on this issue that will occur at the ALA's Mid-Winter meeting. Ms Hildreth recommended that the Commission re-affirm its policy and in turn as a loss of some federal funding could occur request that the Board of Supervisors express their support for the Library's open access policy.
Public Comment on Agenda Item #7 INTERNET USE POLICY
An anonymous member of the public noted that the Library's acceptance of computers from a Bill Gates Foundation grant bound the Library to unmediated access to these computers and thus could lead to various computers being mandated to various kinds of uses beyond the control of the Commission. This individual noted that this issue was one that was facing all libraries and that it reinforced the concern that the Commission must be very careful when accepting gifts. Mr. Peter Warfield agreed with the previous speaker's observation concerning the risk inherent with accepting conditional gifts and also agreed with the City Librarian's recommendation that the Commission affirm its open access policy. Mr. Warfield suggested that the guidelines for use of computers be revised because its penalties were too harsh and the guidelines lacked procedural safeguards for patrons.
Commission Comment on Agenda Item #7 Internet Use Policy
In response to an inquiry by Commissioner Bautista, the Acting City Librarian explained the background of the issues involved in the new federal law, noting that the law required complete filtering of all computers not just those dedicated to children's use. Ms. Hildreth further discussed likely revenue losses that could result and noted that they were manageable within the proposed operating budget. Commissioner Bautista proposed that this item be tabled until more information became available concerning the implications of the new law. Vice President Steiman stated that she supported the existing unrestricted access policy even if some risk of financial loss occurred. President Higueras and Commissioner Streets suggested that given the amount of time available prior to implementation of this legislation that the Acting City Librarian gather additional materials and report to the Commission further on what course of action might be taken.
Agenda Item #8 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION REPORT
Mr. Chuck Forester, Executive Director of the Friends and Foundation expressed it thanks for the Commission's approval of its Memorandum of Understanding. He then presented the Commissioners with an update on recent its recent activities noting a $50,000 gift to the Ingleside Branch for basic furniture, fixtures, and equipment to help get the relocation project underway. Mr. Forester reported on plans to meet with branch library staff to prepare for a Capital Campaign to provided additional resources for the Branch libraries being built and renovated through Prop A (Branch Library Renovation and Construction Bond 2000). Mr. Forester then provided the Commissioners with an update on the construction of the new Book Bay at the Grove Street entrance of the Main Library.
Public comment on Agenda Item #8 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION REPORT
An anonymous member of the public observed that the Friends and Foundation would not giving up space in the Main Library until the end of the MOU, suggested that there could be a new MOU extending their say, and that they were retaining the bookstore space until 2009.
Commission comment on Agenda Item #8 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION REPORT
Commissioner Bautista commented that the Friends and Foundation were doing a good job in doing outreach, reporting a fundraising effort being done at a bookstore at the San Francisco Airport.
Agenda Item #9 LIBRARY LABOR UNION REPORT
Ms. Cathy Bremer, Chief Steward of the Librarian's Guild, SEIU Local 790 reported that the Library's labor unions had not been given advance information concerning the Library Budget and had no part in crafting the Library's Budget. Ms. Bremer suggested that the budget presented to the Commission each year primarily addressed changes rather than considering the underlying assumptions of the entire budget and recommended that at least every five years all of those assumptions and all of the library's programs be reconsidered. Additionally, Ms. Bremer specifically criticized what she referred to as contracting out of the sending out of library notices, reporting that a formal grievance would be filed should the Library go forward with this proposal. Ms. Bremer further suggested that because she had experienced problems with a contract for printers that this contract could also create problems. She proposed hiring library staff to undertake materials recovery activities instead. Ms. Bremer complained that her branch did not receive information on Commission activities until the day of a meeting and requested that Branch Library Commission Agenda packets be sent out earlier.
Public comment on Agenda Item #9 LIBRARY LABOR UNION REPORT
Mr. Ed Regan expressed happiness at hearing a report by the Library's labor union and recommended that each branch library have a collection of labor related materials including copies of corporate bylaws, organization charts of major companies, and copies of union contracts. Peter Warfield agreed that receiving advance information on Commission Agenda items would be useful, as these issues were frequently very complex. Mr. Warfield also agreed that outsourcing contracts could create a problem with the quality of service provided to patrons and create risks for breech of patron confidentiality.
Agenda Item #10 NEW BUSINESS
Commissioner Streets requested that the Commission receive quarterly reports tracking the relationship between budget allocations and ongoing expenditures. Commissioner Chin requested reports linking Prop. A (Branch Library Renovation and Construction Bond 2000) activities to regular updates on the library's strategic planning especially how it relates to linking with education, informing parents, and the future of library services. Commissioner Bautista requested the Commission information on the Library website be given greater visibility. Commissioner Steiman requested that the Strategic Plan be brought to the Commission at the earliest possible date.
Public comment on Agenda Item #10 NEW BUSINESS
An anonymous member of the public expressed approval of both Commissioner Chin and Streets comments, and noted that the new District Supervisors will show great interest in the library's plans as they effect each district's branch libraries and their share of the Library budget. The anonymous member of the public expressed willingness to provide copies of documents obtained from the Library to the Library unions. Mr. Peter Warfield applauded the proposals for an increase in quarterly reports, and questioned the lack of highlighting of Commissioner's request for future agenda items.
Agenda item #11 PUBLIC COMMENT
Ms. Effie Lee Morris, former Library Chief of Children's Services expressed both general and specific concerns with some of the information presented but most specifically regarding her concerns with the preservation and enhancement of the Library's collection of historic children's materials. In addition, Ms. Morris expressed a wish that the Library carefully consider its overall policies rather than attempt to address critical issues in a piecemeal fashion, noting the great importance of careful strategic planning to meet rapidly changing needs. Mr. Ed Regan proposed that the Library extend public service hours from 6AM until Midnight, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Ms. Elizabeth Ludwig, a patron, expressed disappointment to see many video and books unshelved during visits to the Main Library both when it first opened and more recently, noted that she had previously spoken to the Library Commission concerning the need for shelf space for more books . Mr. Peter Warfield thanked Commissioner Steiman for referring the Library union representatives to him for copies of library materials, queried if payment or a job might be involved, and suggested that information on Commission discussions should regularly be available a least a week in advance of a Commission meeting. An anonymous member of the public noted that this individual had missed the beginning of the meeting and inquired concerning the lack of approval of previous meeting minutes. The anonymous member of the public noted that there would be no effort to provide additional space for books in the Main Library. The anonymous member of the public related an anecdote concerning an experience with untruthfulness because of perceived high status this individual experienced in high school.
Agenda Item #12 - ADJOURNMENT
MOTION: by President Higueras, seconded by Commissioner Coulter that the meeting be adjourned In memory of the late Rick Pacurar, a civic and Community leader and Domestic Partner of the Commission Secretary who died in December and the late Adelia Lines, longtime Library staff member and respected Bay Area Library Community leader.
Public comment on Agenda Item #12 ADJOURNMENT
An anonymous member of the public suggested that the meeting be also adjourned in memory of the late Adelia Lines, a former San Francisco Public Library department head and branch manager, and respected Library Community Leader. Ms. Effie Lee Morris also strongly urged adjourning the meeting in memory of Ms. Lines as well.
ACTION: AYE 6-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras, Swig, and Streets)
The meeting was adjourned at 8:11PM
Michael Housh, Commission Secretary 3/8/01
The number of members of the public who spoke anonymously at this meeting 1. Updated: July 03, 2002