Library Commission Minutes - September 4, 2001
Minutes of the regular meeting of Tuesday, September 4, 2001.
The San Francisco Public Library Commission held its regular meeting on Tuesday, September 4, 2001 in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.
The meeting was called to order at 4: 06pm by President Higueras.
The following members were noted present: Commissioners Bautista, Coulter, Higueras, and Streets.
President Higueras noted that Mr. Cooley Windsor would act as Commission Secretary for this meeting.
Commissioner Steiman joined the meeting at 4:11pm
AGENDA ITEM #1 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF August 7, 2001 SPECIAL COMMISSION MEETING
Public comment on AGENDA ITEM #1 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF AUGUST 7, 2001 REGULAR COMMISSION MEETING
An anonymous member of the public noted that this person's comments concerning site selection for the Ingleside Branch Library were not included in the recording of the meeting. This individual also observed that a comment offered by Commissioner Swig requesting that the Secretary carefully check and amend any errors in the reported descriptions of the various proposed branch library sites reported in the Minutes so that they correctly matched the designations identified in the report made to the Commission was not accurately reported and that needed corrections were not made in the approved Minutes (as available at the Library's Government Information Center). The anonymous member of the public further suggested that these comments on these topics would also not be reported in the Minutes.
Commission comment on AGENDA ITEM #1 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE AUGUST 7, 2001 REGULAR COMMISSION MEETING
Commissioner Chin noted that she had informed the Commission Secretary that she would be out of the city and therefore unable to attend the August meeting. Commissioner Bautista requested that amendment be made to the Minutes to correct any error in the letter designations of proposed branch library sites as identified by the anonymous member of the public.
MOTION: by Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Streets for approval of the August 7, 2001 Minutes as amended.
ACTION: AYE 6-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras, Steiman, and Streets)
AGENDA ITEM #2 CITY LIBRARIAN'S REPORT
City Librarian Susan Hildreth called the Commissioners attention to the selection of Mr. George Nichols, Library Finance Director, as one of five citywide winners of an award for managerial excellence by the Mayor's Fiscal Advisory Committee (MFAC), a matter that became known after the meeting agenda had gone to print. Ms. Hildreth then announced that the Anza Branch had reopened after extensive improvements and that a reopening ceremony would held at 1pm on September 15, 2001. The City Librarian next discussed ongoing work at the Bayview Branch noting that it would reopen with a new roof and building upgrades on October 3, 2001. Ms. Hildreth noted that the Presidio Branch Library would be closed for furnace replacement work and that it would re-open on September 10, 2001.
The City Librarian then discussed aspects of the library's staff's efforts to put out a request for proposals (RFP) for an Integrated Library System. She described the work of the various staff committees in each area of specialization which would be put together in a proposal for a system by library consultant Diane Mayo. Ms. Hildreth noted that this RFP could be issued by the end of the year, with all proposals to be received and preliminarily evaluated in February 2002. Then she reported that during March and April of next year the top three vendors would be evaluated further by staff and members of the public before a finalist was chosen in April or May with contract approval by the Fall of 2002. The City Librarian suggested that the system could be installed and active by July of 2003.
Ms. Hildreth next discussed the Zapfest, calligraphic design in the digital age, a library celebration of the calligraphy and typographic work of Hermann and Gudrun Zapf.
The City Librarian then reported on a series of lectures featuring well know figures in the world of calligraphy and typographic design being held in conjunction with the Zapfest.
Lastly, Ms. Hildreth reported on Land and Scape, the Art of the Farmer, an exhibit and series of lectures sponsored in part by the Library's Stegner Center on the Environment.
Public comment on Agenda Item #2 CITY LIBRARIAN'S REPORT:
An anonymous member of the public expressed a hope that this would not be the last exhibit of work by the Zapf's and called attention to the importance of their work and of the art of calligraphy. This anonymous member of the public noted concern with the cost of the Integrated Library System. This person also expressed the view that members of public as well as the Commissioners should have opportunity examine in detail all aspects of the proposed Integrated Library System while the proposed systems were being evaluated rather than at the end of the process. Peter Warfield echoed concerns of the previous speaker and urged that the interests of library users be given full consideration when evaluating any proposed replacement system. Mr. Warfield noted that staff might not be as familiar with problems and needs of the users as they frequently access the catalog differently. Mr. Warfield recommended that user views be sought out in both addressing difficulties and seeking improvements in the online systems.
COMMISSION COMMENT ON AGENDA ITEM #2 CITY LIBRARIAN'S REPORT
President Higueras pointed out that last year City Librarian Susan Hildreth had been a winner of the prestigious MFAC Managerial Excellence Award and that the Mr. Nichols being named a winner this year called attention to the respect which our library's management team had gained in recent years. President Higueras expressed the hope that this trend of award winning management would continue with additional winners next year.
AGENDA ITEM #3 LIBRARY 2000/2001 BUDGET UPDATE REPORT
Mr. George Nichols, Library Finance Director, expressed his appreciation to the City Librarian and the management team for nominating him for the MFAC Award and for their strong commitment to effective fiscal management which made his efforts much less difficult. Mr. Nichols also acknowledged the dedication and hard work of his staff in the Finance Office whose devoted efforts led to this recognition.
Mr. Nichols then provided the Commissioners with an extensive overview of the final figures for the FY 2000/2001 Library Budget, (copy attached).
PUBLIC COMMENT ON AGENDA ITEM #3 LIBRARY 2000/2001 BUDGET UPDATE REPORT
An anonymous member of the public commented on the MFAC Award and noted that there was an explanatory four-page document related to Mr. Nichols' report that was not noted in the agenda. This person additionally commented on an observation by Mr. Nichols that the budget had been approved by the Supervisors without controversy suggesting that members of the public might be interested in reviewing tapes of the Board of Supervisors approval of the budget to see if they felt that it had been approved without controversy. Mr. Peter Warfield expressed disappointment that that Mr. Nichols' written report was not referenced in the agenda or included in the agenda mailing. Mr. Warfield found that making the report available at the meeting allowed insufficient time to study and understand such a complex document. Mr. Warfield also inquired regarding whether all of the funds budgeted for books in the 2000/2001 budget had been spent as was proposed in the budget.
COMMISSION COMMENT ON AGENDA ITEM #3 LIBRARY 2000/2001 BUDGET UPDATE REPORT
In response to a question by Commissioner Steiman, Mr. Nichols explained that permanent salary savings referred to regular staffing losses resulting from attrition. Responding to questions by Commissioner Bautista, Ms. Hildreth and Mr. Nichols outlined various proposals under consideration by the city to address power usage issues. Ms. Hildreth identified Matt Smyth as the Library staff member overseeing overall conservation and energy use by the Library. In answer to a query by Commissioner Streets, Mr. Nichols noted that the Controllers and Mayor's Budget Policies for the next fiscal year are expected to take a very conservative approach with a 3 to 5% revenue growth level the maximum to expected. Responding to another question by Commissioner Streets, Ms. Hildreth and Mr. Nichols outlined the status of the Library's current labor contacts and proposed to inform the Commission concerning when they would next be re-negotiated. Responding to a question by President Higueras, Mr. Nichols explained that funds budgeted for electrical improvements could be reallocated to mitigate immediate needs in branch libraries prior to major improvements which would be undertaken through the Branch Library Bond program. Mr. Nichols further clarified for President Higueras that all of the encumbered funds budgeted for specific purposes in this budget must be spent from those purposes.
President Higueras announced that Agenda Item #6 Branch Library Bond Committee would be taken up next.
AGENDA ITEM #6 BRANCH LIBRARY BOND COMMITTEE
City Librarian Susan Hildreth recommended that the Library Commission create a special committee of the Commission to address the many and complex issues that must be addressed in managing the Branch Library Bond Program. Ms. Hildreth suggested that by creating this committee, which would make regular reports on its work to the full Commission, a significant amount of needed attention could be focused on bond related issues without overburdening the regular Commission meetings. President Higueras agreed that this committee could address in detail aspects of the bond program, preparing them for discussion and approval by the full Commission and that it was his recommendation that at least initially that it meet monthly. In response to a question by President Higueras, Deputy City Attorney Adine Varah noted that the commission committee would become a full policy body subject to all public meeting laws. President Higueras noted that he would serve as chair of this committee and requested that other commissioners volunteer to serve on this committee. Vice President Steiman and Commissioner Bautista agreed to serve on the Branch Library Bond Committee. In response to a question by Commissioner Streets, President Higueras suggested that the Committee would act to address routine reports and extensively prepare items for the Commission's approval. He further commented that framing its exact charge for the full Commission's consideration and approval would be among the first duties of this committee. Deputy City Attorney noted that according to the Commission Bylaws the Commission was authorized to create an Ad Hoc Committee for the purpose of overseeing implementation of the Branch Library Bond Program.
MOTION: by President Higueras, seconded by Commissioner Streets that the Library Commission create an Ad Hoc Committee on the Branch Library Bond Program composed of Commissioners Higueras, Bautista, and Steiman to meet on a monthly basis.
PUBLIC COMMENT ON AGENDA ITEM #6 BRANCH LIBRARY BOND COMMITTEE
An anonymous member of the public observed that this person had previously supported the creation of commission committees but had two questions, first regarding whether creation of such a committee required an amendment of the Commission Bylaws, and secondly concerning what the charge of this committee would be. The anonymous member of the public noted that they were City Charter restrictions limiting the power of Commissions to delegate action items to committees. This person found creation of this committee a step toward greater public input and access to the work of the Commission.
ACTION: AYE 6-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras, Steiman, and Streets)
AGENDA ITEM #4 BRANCH LIBRARY FACILITIES PLAN
City Librarian Susan Hildreth gave a brief overview of the background of the Branch Library Facilities Plan funded by the Friends and Foundation. She then introduced Mr. Jorge Alfaro, of the Bureau of Architecture, David Binder, and Library Consultant Dallas Shaffer for a more detailed presentation of the aspects of the plan.
Mr. Alfaro discussed in some detail the yearlong effort that went into creating this first draft of the guide to educate the professional teams which will be working on making needs assessments, facilities condition assessments, working with design standards, and implementation scenarios for the various branch library projects. Mr. Alfaro focused his report on facilities condition assessments and setting design standards. Mr. Alfaro noted that these facilities conditions assessments were based both on review of many years of records and site visits to develop preliminary lists of needs in the areas of seismic conditions, disability access, code impacts, condition repairs, and hazardous materials. Mr. Alfaro then discussed the preliminary development of design standards based around both the existing branches as well as the needs of new branches. He noted that these standards were based on general building design principles, specific design guidelines developed for libraries, and design standards for building systems such as heating, air conditioning, electrical, and accessibility design standards and codes. Mr. Alfaro finally discussed special design needs for these branch libraries that were being identified. Mr. Alfaro noted that these guidelines could provide a roadmap and a tool to guide the designers of the various library projects.
Mr. David Binder discussed the focus groups and branch surveys that were done in conjunction with the development of the facilities plan. Mr. Binder discussed information gathered from the five focus groups that were done in April. Mr. Binder reported very positive remarks about the branch libraries and gathered some information concerning the what improvements participants wanted to see in their libraries. Mr. Binder reported up to date materials as the number one request for improvement and lack of space and poor maintenance as the biggest concern of these respondents. Mr. Binder noted the more natural light, comfortable seating areas, and lounging spaces as among the amenities favored.
Mr. Binder noted a number of areas where questions asked received a mixed response such as availability of more computers and concerning the look of the branch libraries. He noted that naming book collections or spaces for individual donors was favored but naming for corporate donors was reported disfavored. Mr. Binder reported that there were some concerns about long lines with the questions about combining check out and service desks. Mr. Binder reported that there were 2,355 surveys completed in branch libraries and outlined in detail the responses gathered through these surveys. Mr. Binder in particular pointed out differing answers among the various ethnic and demographic groups' responses to the various questions and differing levels of interests in various kinds of proposed improvements. He in particular pointed to strong support for more teen spaces in branch libraries when respondents were asked to choose among various options for improvements. Finally, Mr. Binder discussed interest in various suggested options for other alternative services. He noted that the most frequently volunteered comments were various positive comments about the library.
Ms. Dallas Shaffer gave the Commissioners a wrap up of the functional building program and suggested that now that the Commission was going to have to make decisions based on all of the information it had received. Ms. Shaffer discussed in some detail the impact of the demographic changes that were highlighted by the results of the 2000 census including reductions in numbers of both seniors and children as potential users of the library with a very large group of adults as the primary users of the library. Ms. Shaffer discussed the impact of technological change on how the library provides services and what kinds of spaces which can be made available in the library. She emphasized that all of this information will confront the Library Commission with the responsibility for making very difficult choices. Ms. Shaffer noted that there would not be significant increases in space in most of the branch libraries with greatly increased demand for uses of various spaces. Ms. Shaffer emphasized that to meet these demands some changes had to be made to take some things out of the branches to allow space for those things that were wanted. She discussed extensively examples of choices made by other library systems, including reducing some branch book collections, to make their branch libraries function in the most effective way for their patrons. Ms. Shaffer cited a number of options which the library could consider to create workable staff work space, apportion branch library space for various users to match the demographic profile of its neighborhood, and consider reducing some branch book collections to emphasize quality instead of quantities of materials which might be available in other formats.
President Higueras called a brief recess at 5:552pm
The Commission returned to session at 6:01pm
PUBLIC COMMENT ON AGENDA ITEM #4 BRANCH FACILITIES PLAN
An anonymous member of the public commented that the report was interesting and that it raised very important issues. This person observed that the reports pointed out that people had rising often-contradictory expectations of what the library should provide. The anonymous member of the public noted that the Commissioners would have to make choices based on not clearly understood information but that this individual had no doubt that libraries as libraries rather than community centers or computer centers would remain important. This person pointed out that the traditions of libraries have withstood centuries of changes by fulfilling the important role of tying the present to the past. Mr. Peter Warfield found it unfortunate that the documents had not been made available earlier. M r. Warfield expressed concern that there was no specific mention or any commitment made to any level for volume of books, or book and material storage, to be maintained in branches. Mr. Warfield commented that the survey demonstrated that people wanted books, as well as hours, although that had not been a question asked. Mr. Warfield expressed interest in questions being asked concerning the availability of old books and expressed concern with Ms. Shaffer's suggestion that branch library book collections be reduced.
COMMISSION COMMENT ON AGENDA ITEM #4 BRANCH FACILITIES PLAN
In answer to a question by Commissioner Streets regarding the impact of demographic trends on the on going planning from the new branches, Mr. Binder highlighted the various kinds of data that would be available to the library. The City Librarian called attention to information in chapter 5 of the report and observed that staff was seriously considering doing detailed neighborhood surveys as the planning for a specific branch went forward. Commissioner Coulter praised the reports and emphasized that it was important the Library have a picture in detail for each branch as the planning goes forward. He pointed out that some of Ms. Schafer's suggestions would be explosive and asked for a more detailed description of exactly how the Portland Library addressed these issues. In particular, he asked what people wanted and what people wanted to get rid of. Vice President Steiman noted that maybe a better way to look at this problem would be to identify what was most appropriate for a branch. Commissioner Bautista suggested considering a mechanical book storage system as way of solving the space problem such as cleaners handle storage. Commissioner Bautista expressed reservations about informing a community that some of their books might be taken away. She also expressed a preference for better lighting, including skylights. Commissioner Bautista expressed happiness that teenagers had taken interest in spending time in the libraries and recommended that programs be tailored to help them. Commissioner Bautista also requested information concerning university students using the San Francisco Library. Vice President Steiman offered a personal observation that branch libraries were not sufficient for university students for anything other than recreational reading. Commissioner Chin called attention to the heavy use of public libraries by public school students and noted that often these students depend on their branch libraries. Commissioner Chin also inquired concerning how realistic it would be to include extensive seating areas given their small size. Commissioner Chin requested that a chart be prepared which outlined the dollar amount that would be allocated to each of the branch libraries. Vice President Steiman noted that floor plans should be made to allow flexibility as needs change and that preparing for this change will make it easier to accommodate. President Higueras commented that that the report was excellent and in particular agreed with Ms. Shaffer's point that difficult choices will have to be made. President Higueras noted that many of the issues that would have to be addressed went far beyond facilities questions and into broader questions of policy. President Higueras thanked the presenters for providing an excellent report and setting the stage for future discussion of these important issues.
AGENDA ITEM #5 BRANCH LIBRARY BOND UPDATE
Library Branch Improvement Bond Program Manager Marilyn Thompson reported that the initial $17.665 million from the initial bond sale had been appropriated and set up into bond project accounts. Ms. Thompson noted that site acquisition budgets were created for the Glen Park, Ingleside, Visitacion Valley, and Portola Branches. Ms. Thompson informed the Commissioners that design and engineering budgets had been set up for the Marina, Noe Valley, Parkside, Richmond, Mission Bay branches, and for the Support Services Center. The Branch Bond Project Manager commented that she was preparing the first quarterly budget report on funds available, expenditures, and encumbrances for each of the various projects to be presented to the Commission's branch Bond Committee next month. Ms. Thompson next gave the Commission an update on developments regarding the proposed Mission Bay Branch. Ms. Thompson informed the Commissioners that the work in preparing the Prop. 14 (State Library Improvement and Construction Bond) applications for work on the Richmond Branch Library would be undertaken in earnest during September in order to be ready for the first cycle of funding in June of next year. Ms. Thompson reported that she would propose other projects to be considered by the Commission's Branch Bond Committee for application for Prop. 14 funds. The Branch Bond Program Manager reported that cooperative discussions were underway with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) concerning the possible co-location of some branch libraries on school district properties.
Public comment on AGENDA ITEM #5 BRANCH LIBRARY BOND UPDATE
An anonymous member of the public commented that this report again reflected the potential for conflict between what was wanted and what was possible, observing that the original bond amount had been reduced by $25 million. This individual expressed approval that the Prop. 14 (State Library Construction and Improvement Bond) process required public input, and looked forward to participating in particular regarding the Richmond Branch Library.
Commission comment on AGENDA ITEM #5 BRANCH LIBRARY BOND UPDATE
In response to a question by Commissioner Bautista, the City Librarian reported that there was no official limit of the number of Prop. 14 applications, but that practically speaking that the Library would only probably submit 2 or 3 applications in the initial cycle with the understanding that there would be two more opportunities to apply during the life of the bond program. The City Librarian noted that there would be a very great number of applications in the first cycle because of pent up demand. In response to questions by President Higueras, Ms. Hildreth noted that the application process was fairly onerous and that the Library would be very carefully choosing the projects that it proposed to submit for these funds to insure greater chance of success.
Agenda item #7 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION REPORT
Ms. Denise Donovan, interim Executive Director of the Friends and Foundation, informed the Commissioners concerning the big annual book sale taking place at Fort Mason, this year featuring 125,000 volumes. Ms. Donovan informed the Commissioners that Mr. Charles Forester, Executive Director of the Friends and Foundation, had resigned and that she would serve as Interim Executive Director while its Board conducted a search process to fill this position. Ms. Donovan next informed the Commissioners concerning the charette exploring design issues and concepts for future branch libraries which the Friends and Foundation will be holding in the Koret Auditorium on October 5,6, and 7, 2001. Ms. Donovan then informed the Commissioners about plans for next year's Laureates Dinner. Ms. Donovan next reported to the Commissioners about a September 19, 2001 discussion sponsored by the Friends and Foundation featuring Library Consultant Dallas Schafer and Library Chief of Branches Donna Corbeil which would address new trends in branch libraries. Ms. Donovan then gave the Commissioners an update on this year's Literary Lecture Series and a reading by author Alice Randall that had been arranged by Commissioner Streets.
Public comment on Agenda item # 7 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION REPORT
Ms. Sue Cauthen requested that the microphones be adjusted so that members of the audience could hear the speakers. Ms. Cauthen also expressed the hope that information on the design charette would be made widely available so that all that might be interested in attending could do so.
Commission comment on Agenda item # 7 FRIENDS AND FOUNDATION REPORT
In response to questions by Commissioner Bautista and President Higueras, Ms. Donovan explained that more that 300 invitations to the design charrette would be sent to members of the public, the Council of Neighborhood Libraries, library staff, Friends and Foundation donors, members of the Board of Supervisors, and neighborhood residents identified by the District Supervisors as community leaders interested in this subject. In response to a question by Commission Coulter, Ms. Donovan confirmed that members of neighborhood associations had been invited as well. In response to a question by the City Librarian, Ms. Donovan indicated she would look into posting the invitation to the design charette on the Friends and Foundation website. President Higueras remarked that this design charrette was not intended to offer solutions to the needs of any specific branch library but was intended to create excitement and offer ideas and concepts which could inspire those ultimately chosen to design the new branch libraries. Ms. Donovan then outlined in some detail the various parts of the design charrette program to be held during October 5, 6, and 7, 2001.
Agenda Item #8 LIBRARY LABOR UNION REPORT
No report was made.
Agenda item #9NEW BUSINESS
Agenda item #10 PUBLIC COMMENT
The anonymous member of the public offered two brief comments, first noting that the discussion of charrette contained conflicting implications that it was both open to the public and that it was by invitation only without providing a clear answer to this question, Secondly, this anonymous member of the public observed that given the experience learned through the controversy concerning the design of the Main Library that the concept that controversy is our friend should be embraced. This person disagreed with the aphorism that the administration of power is not consistent with the concept of loyal opposition noting that controversy in fact revealed truth that broke through institutional barriers.
Agenda Item #11 ADJOURNMENT
MOTION: by Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Chin that the meeting be adjourned.
Commissioner Streets raised a point of clarification regarding whether or not there was a Commission Policy or a general city policy concerning the appropriate manner by which members of the public should communicate with commissioners. In response to Commissioner Streets inquiry, Deputy City Attorney Adine Varah replied that she was aware of no existing policy addressing this issue, but that she would be happy to discuss this matter with the Commissioner. Ms. Varah recommended that discussion of this question be calendared for appropriate discussion at a later meeting.
Public comment on Agenda item #11 ADJOURNMENT
An anonymous member of the public found it extraordinary that this topic should be discussed during the Adjournment Agenda item and suggested that it was regrettable that there should be either an aggressive or defensive stance in such a question, noting that an inquiry is either about a public record or it is not. In response to President Higueras' remarks that civility should dictate that such questions be pursued through proper channels, the anonymous member of the public noted that an individual always had the option to file suit.
ACTION: AYE 6-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, Higueras, Steiman, and Streets)
The meeting was adjourned at 6:52PM.
Michael Housh, Commission Secretary 10/5/01
Please note: Copies of Commission Minutes and handouts are available in the Office of the Commission Secretary, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102