Library Commission Minutes - January 18, 2001
The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a special meeting on Thursday, January 18, 2001 in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.
President Higueras called the meeting to order at 4:10 PM
The following members were noted present: Bautista, Coulter, Higueras, Steiman, Streets, and Swig.
The Secretary reported that Commissioner Chin would join the meeting in progress.
President Higueras announced that Agenda item #3 Approval of the Minutes of the December 5, 2000 Regular Commission Meeting would be taken up at the next meeting.
AGENDA ITEM #1 ELECTION OF COMMISSION OFFICERS
The Commission Secretary reported that there were two nominees President Higueras for the Office of President and Vice President Steiman for the Office of Vice President for 2001. No further nominations were offered for either office.
Public comment on Agenda Item #1ELECTION OF COMMISSION OFFICERS
An anonymous member of the public offered congratulations and best wishes to the new commission officers.
Commission comment on Agenda Item #1 ELECTION OF COMMISSION OFFICERS
MOTION: By Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Coulter that Commissioner Higueras be elected President and Commissioner Steiman be elected Vice President of the Library Commission for 2001.
ACTION: Aye 6-0 (Bautista, Coulter, Higueras, Steiman, Streets, and Swig)
AGENDA ITEM #2 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 16, 2000 SPECIAL COMMISSION MEETING
Public comment on AGENDA ITEM #2 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 16, 2000 SPECIAL COMMISSION MEETING
An anonymous member of the public noted that the Commission's bylaws, past practice, and Roberts Rules of Order discouraged approval of meeting minutes at special meetings. It was additionally noted that this individual had not received a copy of the meeting agenda and draft minutes for review. The anonymous member of the public noted several grammatical errors in the draft text and pointed out the Sunshine Ordinance mandated that draft minutes be made available within 10 days of a meeting. The anonymous member of the public commented favorably on a reported comment concerning the City Librarian Search Process. Mr. Peter Warfield pointed out that this was a special meeting not a regular meeting of the Commission, that Roberts Rules of Order recommended that minutes be approved only at regular meetings, and suggested that old business should be taken up first. Mr. Warfield stated that on page three of the Minutes in a report on the Library technology Plan he had expressed concern with the absence of specific cost figures. He called attention to a page five comment noting that it was his intention that everyone have an opportunity to review complex documents such as the budget well before the meeting at which they would be considered.
Commission Comment on AGENDA ITEM #2 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 16, 2000 SPECIAL COMMISSION MEETING
Commissioners' Swig and Streets expressed concern that they had not had sufficient opportunity to review the Minutes. The Commission Secretary apologized for the delay in distributing copies of the Minutes, and explained that the backlog of unapproved meeting minutes created circumstances requiring review and approval of them a soon as possible. In response to questions by President Higueras, Deputy City Attorney Adine Varah confirmed that any meeting other than the Commission's scheduled regular monthly meetings would be classified as a special meeting. In addition, she noted that the Commission was not precluded from acting to approve meeting minutes at a special meeting although standard practice would be to approve minutes at the next regular meeting. President Higueras then tabled consideration of these minutes until the next meeting to allow appropriate time to review them.
Agenda Item #4 SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION
Library Finance Director George Nichols gave a detailed presentation on the various aspects of the proposed $1.549 million Supplemental Appropriation Request to fund Main Library renovation and repair projects. Mr. Nichols noted that many of the proposals identified in the explanatory documents had been called for in the Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) Report on the Main Library. Mr. Nichols reported that the projects would be funded through higher than anticipated revenues available to the Library in the current fiscal year. He also noted that these projects were distinct from those POE related proposals described by the Acting City Librarian in her report to the Commission at its January 2ndmeeting. Mr. Nichols then discussed in some detail the funding sources for the proposed projects and aspects of the various proposals. Mr. Nichols noted that a first group of proposed projects would be developed as a single bid and managed by the Department of Public Works, while library staff would manage a second group.
Public comment on Agenda Item #4 SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION
An anonymous member of the public noted and questioned why these proposals were not discussed at the January 2 Commission meeting; suggesting that there seemed to be an effort to conceal the full costs and extent of proposed work. The anonymous member of the public then observed that the question was what are priorities and who, with public input, should make those decisions. Mr. Ed Regan recommended that fire doors be able to be manually operated and that building elevators also be manually operated. Mr. Peter Warfield agreed with the previous public comments and questioned both the priorities given to various projects as well as how they related to POE recommendations. Mr. Warfield requested linking of projects with specific POE recommendations, finding the proposed approach piecemeal and the individual projects insufficiently detailed. A second anonymous member of the public questioned the use of Prop. E (Library Preservation Fund) monies as well as Library Improvement Fund monies for these projected. This individual further decried the loss of the Grove Street entrance benches and public use storage lockers. Ms. Ruth McGinnis expressed concern that the loss of the Grove Street benches could create difficulties for the elderly or disabled patrons waiting for rides at the Grove Street entrance.
Commission comment on Agenda Item #4 SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION
There was extensive discussion among the Commissioners concerning various aspects of the proposed projects with Commissioners Coulter and Steiman focusing on the importance of keeping on-going maintenance needs in mind, responding to the damage caused by illegal skateboarding activities, and vandalism to library table surfaces. Library Chief of Operations and Maintenance Rich Walsh and Phil Sowers of the Department of Public Works provided detailed information in response to Commissioners' questions concerning the needs for installing radio repeater technology to address worker safety concerns, regarding anti-skateboarding installations, and which other items were building close out punch list items. There was a discussion of the various concerns and options for the Grove Street bench area. The Acting City Librarian explained in detail how the signage consultant could provide immediate improvements and guide long-term changes, as they were needed. Next there was a detailed discussion of various repair options for damaged table surfaces. In response to questions by Commissioner Chin, the Acting City Librarian explained the importance of installing the radio repeater system as a critical health and safety measure. Ms. Hildreth explained to Commissioner Swig the background issues involved in repairing the seismic joint. Mr. Sowers detailed the seismic joint repair work involved in response to questions. In answer to questions by Commissioner Streets, Mr. Nichols and the Acting City Librarian provided a detailed overview of both cost estimates and controls and the proposed timeline to carry out and complete the proposed projects. Commissioner Streets requested that budget narrative reports be provided to clarify the funding sources and expenditures as these projects went forward. President Higueras emphasized that no Prop. A Branch Bond funds would or could be spent on any of these Main Library projects. In response to a question by Commissioner Coulter, the Acting City Librarian noted that Prop. E finds were available to any use benefiting the Library. After further discussion it was the sense of the Commission to table consideration of this item to the next meeting.
President Higueras called for a brief recess at 5:38PM
The Commission returned to session at 5:55PM
AGENDA ITEM #5 CITY LIBRARIAN SEARCH COMMITTEE REPORT
Vice President Steiman discussed the recommendations made at the January 5th meeting of the Ad Hoc City Librarian Search Committee. She then introduced Library Human Resources Director Donna Marion who discussed the Committee's work and introduced Mr. William Hawkins, whose firm the Committee had recommended be hired to conduct the search process. Mr. Hawkins spoke extensively concerning his firm's professional qualifications, experience, and about various aspects of the search process. In particular he outlined a proposed step by step process, the search timeline, and various ways library staff and public input could be included in the search process.
Agenda item #5 Public comment on the City Librarian Search Committee Report
Ms. Sue Cauthen recommended that the Council of Neighborhood Libraries be consulted in the search process and recommended that neighborhood newspapers be used to advertise search outreach meetings. An anonymous member of the public commented that the work of the search committee appeared to have been done in a private closed process. The anonymous member of the public additionally suggested that Mayor Brown opposed open process and that a further closed process, with illegal seriatim meetings, would result from the proposed search process. This individual recommended that the Commission resume the search process itself. Mr. Ed Regan suggested that any proposed City Librarian candidates support extending public service hours,have a commitment to improving the book collections, and to recruiting library employees from graduates of City College. Peter Warfield expressed concern that the input of all parties into the search process be made public, that all search process documents be public, and that the final search criteria and recommendations be made public. Ms. Ruth McGinnis expressed concern that the proposed search timeline might not allow enough time to gather sufficient public input and requested information concerning other public officials Mr. Hawkins' firm had recruited. The second anonymous member of the public expressed a desire that the candidates to be next City Librarian give books priority.
Item #5 Commission comment on the City Librarian Search Committee Report
Vice President Steiman emphasized that only appropriately private personnel information would be kept confidential but that otherwise the search activities and information gathered would be discussed openly. Commissioner Coulter then discussed in extensive detail how the mixed Committee/staff subcommittee had undertaken to interview search firms and make its recommendations. The members of this Committee were identified as Librarians Dede Puma and Bill Lynch, Kathleen Lucey of the Library's Finance Office, Human Resources Director Donna Marion, Commission Secretary Michael Housh, and Commissioner Coulter. Mr. Hawkins then responded to questions by Commissioners regarding extending the search process timelines, how proper notification can be done to increase public and staff participation, and about input into the process. Mr. Hawkins explained further concerning his experiences in searching for other city librarians. He also discussed other public officials and other San Francisco city managers recruitment assignments his firm has and was currently conducting. Commission Swig emphasized that seeking the Mayor's input on what kind of candidate he would want would be essential. There followed questions by Commissioners Chin and Bautista concerning details of the Hawkins firm's approach to conducting the search and concerning the full Commission's input. In response to a query by Vice President Steiman there was a discussion among the Commissioners regarding their input into creating both a job description for City Librarian and details of how the Commission would be involved in the search process as well as the Commission's ultimate selection of the finalist candidates for nomination to the Mayor. In response to questions by Commissioner Streets, Ms. Marion discussed housing and salary issues impacting the search process. Deputy City Attorney Adine Varah clarified that there was no legal requirement that the City Librarian be a San Francisco resident.
Commissioner Coulter left the meeting at 6:57PM.
AGENDA ITEM #6 BRANCH LIBRARY REORGANIZATION PLAN
Library Chief of Branches Donna Corbeil gave the Commissioners a detailed report on a reorganization of the management of branch library system to both improve efficiency and provide greater support for frontline staff in branch libraries. Ms. Corbeil described the recommendations made by library consultant Beverly Simmons hired by the Library to study the impact of changing public services needs and the expansion of technology in branch libraries. The increasing complexity of the work of branch staff was reported to have lead to a greater need for management support, improved communication, and increased flexibility in use of Librarian IIIs to oversee the larger branch libraries and better manage branch operations. Ms. Corbeil then described in great detail the new geographical divisions and assignment of duties between the Chief of Branches Office and the branch managers. The Chief of Branches noted that a number of positions had been reallocated to direct public service positions in branches and the proposed new budget called for additional librarian and support staffing for the branch libraries. Ms. Corbeil explained how the reorganization plan emphasized maximizing public service and improving administrative support for both the larger and smaller branches. The Acting City Librarian informed the Commissioners concerning the extensive staff review and discussion process, including consultation with Library labor unions, that was undertaken to develop the new management structure. Ms. Hildreth in particular noted that the new system would both respond to needs identified by the new District Supervisors and the management demands resulting from the branch library improvement and construction bond program.
Public Comment on Agenda Item #6 Branch Library Management Reorganization
An anonymous member of the public observed that while not a management expert that this individual found the reorganization plan seemed to transfer staff from the branches to the Main Library, spreading and thinning supervision in the branches. The anonymous member of the public asked if there was documentation to justify the plan and questioned whether it was going to result in less service rather than more. Mr. Ed Regan recommended retaining cluster managers, set up a system to train new employees at the Main or in branches as group. The second anonymous member of the public raised three points, first that such a major reorganization should wait until after selection of a City Librarian to allow that person to make their own management choices, secondly that the plan shifts authority from the branches, and thirdly public service in the branches will be reduced by the loss of some librarians in the branches. Ms. Ruth McGinnis, speaking as a representative of the Librarians Guild and a former branch library cluster manager, expressed belief that the plan will result in a loss of staffing in branches. She felt the plan to be driven by the change to District Supervisors. Ms. McGinnis found that there were significant staffing shortages in the branch libraries and that this plan would do little to improve the situation. She suggested that the reorganization would result in the loss of staff familiar with the needs of branches and that the plan was not the result of staff input. Mr. Peter Warfield while noting that he was not an expert in reorganization felt that the plan would result in the reduction of staff available to serve the public in the branches. He suggested that there would be an increase in the number of libraries to be supervised, recalled no mention of the Librarian IIIs providing direct service, and found no justification which led to the creation of this plan.
Commission Comment on Agenda Item #6 Branch Library Management Reorganization
Vice President Steiman gave her fellow Commissioners some background on the situation that led to the need for modification of the branch library management system. The Acting City Librarian commented that the Librarian IIIs would continue to work on weekend rotation providing direct public service on weekends, and evenings in addition to weekdays. In response to questions by President Higueras, Ms. Corbeil discussed how the various conflicting demands created by the present management system resulted in poorer performance in the face of ever increasing complexities. She reported a need for greatly improved communication and operating as an effective team. Ms. Hildreth emphasized that the Librarian IIIs will be expected to be even more active in the field instead of in their office at the Main. This system will create an effective management team to better manage the greater resources the Library has put into the branch system. Commissioner Bautista lauded the improved management emphasis on the larger branches as critically needed, and expressed a hope that the new system would allow greater opportunity for staff development and training. In response to questions by Commissioners Streets and Chin, Ms. Corbeil and Ms. Hildreth explained how the new staffing provided in the proposed budget would greatly improve the ability to fully staff the branch libraries, eliminate problems in filling in for absences, and under the new system further empower field staff to better manage branch activities. Ms. Corbeil explained to Commissioner Bautista that the need for electrical upgrades limited the ability of some branches to modernize all of their computers, but that efforts were underway to address that problem.
Commissioner Steiman left the meeting at 7:43PM
Agenda Item #7 LIBRARY LABOR UNION REPORT
Ms. Ruth McGinnis reported that while there was no formal union report that she wished to convey to the Commissioners that the Union has had an excellent working relationship with Ms. Hildreth. She further reported that staff was fully aware of the demands and complexities facing the Library because of all of the new technologies and other changes.
Agenda Item #8 NEW BUSINESS
Commissioner Chin announced that she would have to leave the meeting shortly. Commissioner Bautista requested information on upcoming meetings.
Public comment on Agenda Item #8 NEW BUSINESS
The second anonymous member of the public recalled that Commissioner Bautista had requested that a schedule of future meetings be discussed. The first anonymous member of the public discussed the complexities of having regular meetings and regular special meetings and suggested that the Commission return to a committee system to reduce the Commission's workload. Mr. Peter Warfield expressed his appreciation to Commissioner Bautista for requesting that the public be informed of the dates for proposed future Commission meetings.
Agenda Item #10 - ADJOURNMENT
MOTION: by Commissioner Bautista seconded by Commissioner Chin that the meeting be adjourned.
Public comment on Agenda Item #12 ADJOURNMENT
ACTION: AYE 4-0 (Bautista, Higueras, Swig, and Streets)
The meeting was adjourned at 7:49PM
Michael Housh, Commission Secretary 3/4/01
The number of members of the public who spoke anonymously at this meeting 2.