Library Commission Minutes - March 15, 2001
Minutes of the special meeting of Thursday, March 15, 2001 (As approved May 1, 2001)
The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a special meeting called by the Commission President on Thursday, March 15, 2001 in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.
The meeting was called to order at 4:07PM by President Higueras
The following members were noted present: President Higueras, and Commissioners Bautista, Steiman, and Swig.
The Secretary noted Commissioners Chin and Coulter were excused attendance and that Commissioner Street's arrival was expected.
Agenda Item #1 PUBLIC EMPLOYEE APPOINTMENT/HIRING: City Librarian
President Higueras provided a brief summary of recent events and an explanation of why the Library Commission was going to enter into closed session to consider the nomination of candidate(s) for City Librarian at this time. President Higueras reported on a recent meeting between President Higueras, Vice President Steiman, and Mayor Brown to discuss concerns which had come to light during the City Librarian search process. President Higueras stated that based on several factors such as the many items of important and pressing business pending before the Library, the importance of the Library having a permanent City Librarian as soon as possible with a full and functioning administrative team to address the bond program, and Ms. Hildreth's strong performance as Acting City Librarian and as an effective and skillful manager in whom the Commission had great confidence, the Mayor suggested that the Commission consider nominating a candidate(s) for his consideration to be appointed as City Librarian at this time.
Public comment on Agenda Item #1 PUBLIC EMPLOYEE APPOINTMENT/ HIRING: City Librarian
An anonymous member of the public expressed foreboding, and stated that this individual believed that the reasons for doing a national search were still valid. The anonymous member of the public further suggested that the institution deserved someone selected through such a process, noted that the search process allowed for evaluation of the person as well as for the person to know what they were getting into, called ending the search process a mistake, and observed that a lawsuit could be filed in this matter as the City Charter required that three candidates be submitted to the Mayor. Mr. Ed Regan expressed happiness that the Commission was considering Ms. Hildreth for appointment as City Librarian. Ms. Marti Goddard, Access Services Manager read two brief statements insupport of Ms. Hildreth, one from Mr. Randall Weaver, Project Read Manager and her own statement in support of Ms. Hildreth. Mr. Peter Warfield expressed appreciation for the explanation offered at the beginning of the meeting, but found it unfortunate that the search plan was being abandoned. Mr. Warfield found that doing a search was an appropriate process, which would assure the public of the appropriateness of the process. Mr. Warfield found the reasons mentioned for moving forward with nominating a candidate unpersuasive, noting that the bond program is a 10 year project that the Acting City Librarian was capable of handling. Mr. Warfield found that abandoning the search would raise questions among the staff and public and would taint whoever was selected and deny them legitimacy. Mr. Warfield urged that the Commission continue with its original or even a more extensive search plan. An anonymous member of the Library's staff noted that Ms. Hildreth had taken up the job of City Librarian under difficult circumstances and that she had exhibited leadership of the highest level. The anonymous member of the Library's staff stated that Ms. Hildreth had the complete backing of the Library's staff and urged that the Commission recommend the Mayor appoint her City Librarian.
The Commission went into closed session at 4:19PM
The Commission returned to open session at 5:27PM
MOTION: By Commissioner Steiman, 2nd by Commissioner Bautista pursuant to San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.12(b) (4): to report that the Commission had taken action during the closed session.
ACTION: Aye 4-0 (Bautista, Higueras, Steiman, and Swig)
President Higueras reported that by unanimous vote (Bautista, Higueras, Steiman, and Swig) the Commissioners had nominated Susan Hildreth to the Mayor for appointment as City Librarian.
Public comment: Mr. Ed Regan expressed approval of Ms. Hildreth's nomination.
MOTION: By Commissioner Bautista, 2nd by Commissioner Swig pursuant to San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.12.(a) to disclose the major points of the Commissioner's reasons discussed in the closed session for making this nomination to the Mayor.
ACTION: Aye 4-0 (Bautista, Higueras, Steiman, and Swig)
COMMISSION COMMENT on the Closed Session discussion
Commissioner Bautista reported that the main reason for her vote to nominate Ms. Hildreth was her leadership of the campaign for the recently approved branch library bond, noting that the great success of the bond proposal not only demonstrated Ms. Hildreth's ability, but also constituted public vote of confidence in her leadership of the Library. Commissioner Bautista observed as the newest Commissioner that as she learned more about the Library she had developed a very favorable impression of Ms. Hildreth's skills. Vice President Steiman stated that it had always been her advice to the Mayor that he appoint Ms. Hildreth as City Librarian. Vice President Steiman observed that Ms. Hildreth had exceeded every expectation and suggested that even if a national search process had produced a candidate as well qualified as Ms. Hildreth, any new person would take at least a year to familiarize themselves with the Library at a time when critically important decisions would need to be made. In addition, Vice President Steiman noted that she would not want to take the risk of losing Ms. Hildreth during a lengthy search process. Vice President Steiman also noted that Ms. Hildreth had won the confidence of the Library's staff, who after many years of great change deserved a period of stability. Commissioner Swig commented that Ms. Hildreth was well qualified and that she had been impressed as a new Commissioner with the manner in which Ms. Hildreth took up the challenge following Ms. Minudri's illness. Commissioner Swig noted that Ms. Hildreth had been effectively doing the work of two positions in a very difficult environment. Commissioner Swig suggested that there was risk of losing Ms. Hildreth during a national search process which would not find a candidate better qualified and who would have no time to learn the job. She also noted that there was a strong possibility that someone new could accept the position and then find out the high cost of living and the many challenges facing them and not work out. President Higueras observed that he had always been a strong supporter of having a good process, and that part of a good process was to carefully evaluate what the Library already had. President Higueras noted that the Acting City Librarian met all of the criteria of the very best candidate, pointing out her award as one of the top five city department managers. President Higueras reported that Ms. Hildreth had demonstrated excellent leadership and enjoyed the Mayor's confidence. He suggested that she would have certainly been a finalist in any search process. President Higueras said that choosing anyone else apparently equally qualified would be taking a chance that they could do as well, when the Library already had a proven candidate.
AGENDA ITEM #2 LIBRARY STRATEGIC PLAN
Acting City Librarian Susan Hildreth presented a detailed overview of the lengthy community and staff input process which formed the basis for the Strategic Plan. Ms. Hildreth then discussed the revisions and additional staff comment on the Library's Strategic Plan since the Library Commission in January 2000 had last considered it. The Acting City Librarian outlined in detail the yearlong process of considering the Commission's comments together with additional revisions suggested in a Fall 2000 facilitated meeting where all of the various issues were again addressed. The Acting City Librarian explained that the Leadership Group had drafted the plan and then a second staff group had responded to the recommendations and refined the plan. At the September meeting facilitated by Ms. Rhea Rubin the document was further revised. Ms. Hildreth described the changes in format and focus of the plan, noting that the Library Directions were key to the development of the plan. She reported that the goals and objectives had needed to be modified to clarify and focus the plan. Ms. Hildreth noted that adding a Value Statement to the strategic plan articulated the values that would guide implementation of the goals identified. The Acting City Librarian recommended that the proposed plan be adopted as the Library Services Plan, clearly stating that service priorities would be guided by the values described. Ms. Hildreth next spoke about the second step of this process where the resources needed to carry out the initiatives called for by the plan would be identified. Ms. Hildreth noted that many items in the Library's budget reflected goals and activities proposed in the plan. She noted that an important issue would be to clearly establish the relevance of the library's collections to their users , pointing out that the Library's ongoing bibliographic review of its collections was the beginning of this process. Ms. Hildreth proposed to bring the final draft of the Library Strategic Plan back to the Commission for its final review and approval in the near future.
Public comment on Agenda Item #2 LIBRARY STRATEGIC PLAN
An anonymous member of the public observed that the explanatory documents described in the agenda were not matched by the materials provided, noting that use of the term "service plan" generally referred to a staff created legal or technical reporting document not a strategic plan which reflects public input. This individual found this effort going in the wrong direction, noting a page 3 reference to developing collections with the involvement of affinity groups. The anonymous member of the public felt this reference meant that those that paid had more say in developing the library's collections than the public. This person also felt that the plan's extensive emphasis on developing computer based Internet resources was not that high a priority with the public. Mr. Ed Regan commented on the discussion on diversity of collections, suggesting that that the non-fiction parts of the collection were more critical to the public, and proposing that the same collection of non-fiction materials be available in every library. Mr. Peter Warfield questioned if the copy of the plan provided the public was the same document being reviewed by the Commissioners. Mr. Warfield expressed no problem with having a service plan, but noted puzzlement at an apparent lack of discussion of Library hours in the plan. He commented that patrons wanted more weekend and evening library hours. Mr. Warfield also asked for more references to building the book collections, observing that the collection assessment made some sense, but that he would like further explanation about how this fit into the overall plan.
Commission comment on Agenda item #2 LIBRARY STRATEGIC PLAN
President Higueras observed that he preferred to describe the plan as a strategic plan as it was a plan for providing services over a number of years. President Higueras suggested that the Commission hold a special retreat to discuss the proposed plan, seeking public comment and input on the details of this proposal. President Higueras noted that the strategic plan had major ramifications for future Library budgets and for the development of the branch bond program. Vice President Steiman expressed the hope that it would not take another year to complete a final draft but that staff should move forward to bring the plan to the Commission for action. Vice President Steiman noted that a full day had been taken to address these issues by the leadership group and that it was very important to preserve the key directives from the community in the final plan. She also emphasized that relevance to the Library's needs should guide any partnership relationships which the Library might consider. Vice President Steiman in general, expressed approval of the plan, recommending the goals be highlighted. In particular, she observed that the plan addressed the important issue of collection development and commented that the Library must be aware of changing services needs, not become a book museum. Vice President Steiman mentioned that in gathering additional input on the strategic plan care should be taken that there was no appearance of favoritism. She noted that it was important that everyone received a fair hearing and that there was no inside track. She additionally suggested that additional affinity groups could be formed if there was a need for them. Commissioner Swig commented that many people had worked very hard to contribute to the development of this plan. She additionally noted that this revision retained previous good content but in an improved format, calling attention to better ordering of the goals and objectives. Commissioner Swig also emphasized the importance of the page 5 discussion of maintaining the collection properly and noted that she felt that a services plan was only a part of the overall strategic plan that the Library needed. Vice President Steiman stated that excellent customer service must be the first priority and that it involved more than staffing issues. She observed that providing good service was the whole point of building a good collection. President Higueras recommended that the Commissioners review the proposals and arrive at an agreement on what should be in the final format. Commissioner Swig observed that this draft had come a long way. Commissioner Bautista suggested that there should be another round of checking with the community to see if goals had changed as a result of the approval of the branch bond issue. Vice President Steiman suggested that the draft be available in all branches and on the Library's website with an invitation to comment. The Acting City Librarian outlined a plan to seek additional staff and community input on the plan and expressed a hope to be able to gather these additional revisions and present a draft to the Commission in May. Commissioner Bautista raised concerns that the plan address the need for a broader range of languages referring to discussions on pages 6 and 16. She noted the absence of both Japanese and Filipino languages and recommended that the various languages collections be reviewed with the goal being to add significantly more language groups to the Library's collections.
AGENDA ITEM #3 PUBLIC COMMENT
An anonymous member of the public noted that Susan Hildreth was not Ken Dowlin, who was not John Franz, and was not Dr. Starr. The anonymous member of the public expressed shock at the Commission President's comment that bad process leads to bad results as good process does to good results. This person also made an observation about respect accorded to a person's ideas and issues. This individual additionally wondered that someone might say of Ms. Hildreth's successor, he/she is not Susan Hildreth. Mr. Ed Regan recommended that Library public services hours be extended from 6AM until Midnight, seven days a week, 365 days per year. Mr. Regan also recommended the same uniform collections of books be available in both the Main Library and the Branches.
Agenda Item #4 - ADJOURNMENT
MOTION: by Commissioner Steiman, seconded by Commissioner Bautista that the meeting be adjourned.
ACTION: AYE 4-0 (Bautista, Higueras, Steiman, and Swig)
The meeting was adjourned at 6:28PM
The number of members of the public who spoke anonymously at this meeting 2.
Michael Housh, Commission Secretary 5/4/01