Library Commission Minutes - March 04, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY COMMISSION Minutes of the regular meeting of Thursday, March 04, 2003. (As approved amended April 01, 2003) The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library. President Higueras called the meeting to order at 4:04PM. The following members were noted present: Commissioners Coulter, Higueras, Streets and Strobin. Commissioners Bautista, Chin, and Steiman were excused attendance. Agenda Items: (President Higueras announced a reordering of the meeting agenda, list below has been re-ordered.) 1. APPROVAL OF THE February 4, 2003 MINUTES 2. LIBRARY 2003/04 BUDGET REPORT 3. 2003/04 BUDGET 4. COLLECTION RECOVERY PROGRAM 5. MAIN LIBRARY PLAQUES 6. STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE 7. PUBLIC COMMENT 8. ADJOURNMENT 9. APPENDIX AGENDA ITEM #1 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE February 04, 2003 COMMISSION MEETING Public comment: Anonymous member of the public found these Minutes eviscerated of meaning citing a page 7 public comment that this person felt contradicted their expression of regret concerning the staff explanation of reasons for eliminating the Easter closure of the Library and a page 11 discussion of the rationale for the Collection Recovery Program lacking any valid comparisons. Mr. Peter Warfield commented that the Minutes would be improved by a more detailed discussion of the Page issue, noting that he would prefer his page 3 comment on to emphasize that Pages were “vitally “ important. Regarding the discussion of the Collection Recovery Program, Mr. Warfield criticized the use of Unique Management and questioned whether or not there would be impact on users’ credit rating. Mr. Warfield additionally noted concerns about user privacy resulting from the Library’s use of time-out software. Commission discussion: President Higueras suggested that the anonymous member of the public’s comments concerning the revision of the Holiday Closure Policy be amended to reflect their intent more clearly. Motion: by Commissioner Streets, seconded by Commissioner Coulter for approval of the Minutes of February 4, 2003 as amended. Action: AYE 4-0 (Coulter, Higueras, Streets, and Strobin) President Higueras announced a reordering of the meeting agenda moving Agenda Item #2 to 7th, Item #3 to 6th, Item #4 to 2nd, Item #5 to 3rd, Item #6 to 4th, and Item #7 to 5th, and the remaining items in their posted order. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AGENDA ITEM #4 LIBRARY 2003/04 BUDGET REPORT (Taken up 2nd) Library Finance Director George Nichols provided the Commissioners with a detailed overview (copy attached of the Library’s proposed 2003/04 Budget. Mr. Nichols reported that the Budget was balanced as adopted and called the Commissioners’ attention to a correction to line item #57 in the contingency plan as being a Library technician I rather than a Library Technician II. Mr. Nichols then discussed the underlying fiscal crisis that resulted in new Budget Instructions from the Mayor requiring preparation and adoption of an additional 5% contingency reduction plan by all City departments and outlined the proposed additional 5% contingency reduction plan proposed by staff. The Library’s Finance Director noted that these plans did not eliminate services or programs but did reduce positions and discussed what these would be. The Finance Director concluded his presentation noting that these contingency plans would only go into effect in the worst case scenario. Public comment: An anonymous member of the public pointed out that other City Departments faced the reality of actually making budget cuts and wondered how the interplay of revenues deriving from property taxes and General Fund sources could impact the Library in specific ways. This person suggested such a breakout report would be instructive and useful. Mr. Peter Warfield expressed disappointment that reductions in the book budget remained in the contingency plans but was glad they were not at the top of the list. Mr. Warfield additionally expressed disappointment that books and more open hours were not given greater priority in budget plans and questioned if the elimination of the Chief of IRMO position might not impact acquisition of materials. Ms. Deetje Boler noted a broader perspective on the Budget issues noting that the diversion of tax dollars to war resulted in budget cuts. She expressed concern that the budget problems would impact the retention of older books in the collection and limit ability to replace older books. Commission discussion: In response to a query by Commissioner Coulter, Mr. Nichols outlined steps taken by staff to minimize the likelihood of any reduction in the book budget. The City Librarian reported that staff had carefully considered the proposed reductions and that book budget reductions were far down on the list of things to be cut. Ms. Hildreth clarified that the proposed cut of the Chief of IRMO position resulted from its soon becoming vacant with the retirement of the current Chief, Roberto Esteves. Mr. Nichols noted that, while hopefully never implemented, this process was not just an empty exercise but provided library staff with an opportunity to understand and evaluate how to minimize public service and operational impacts, and preserve the book budget in difficult budget environment. The Finance Director noted that the proposal struck a reasoned balance and that any proposed book budget cuts were far down on the list. Commissioner Coulter emphasized his concerns with the Library’s vulnerability to criticism about reductions in book budgets and expressed concern with the impact of reductions in personnel. The City Librarian noted that any reduction in the book budget was 46th on a 73 item proposed reduction list. Commissioner Coulter suggested making it last as a statement of values. In answer to a question by President Higueras, Mr. Nichols suggested that the full impact of the ongoing budget crisis might not be fully clear until September. The City Librarian reported that, when the amount of the overall City Budget shortfall becomes known, then the Library could be asked to implement the already prioritized reductions to meet an identified number. She reiterated that it was unknown when or if any of these reductions might have to be made but that a clearer picture should emerge by May. In response to a question by Commissioner Streets, the City Librarian indicated that some of the positions on the contingency reduction list were filled and some were not. Commissioner Coulter expressed regret that the Library would be losing the talents of Mr. Esteves, who had contributed so significantly during his decades of outstanding service, upon his retirement. Ms. Hildreth informed President Higueras that Mr. Esteves would retire on June 30th. Motion: by Commissioner Coulter, seconded by Commissioner Streets for approval of the additional 5% contingency reduction plan for the 2003/04 Library Budget as revised with book budget reductions last on the list. Action: AYE 4-0 (Coulter, Higueras, Streets, and Strobin) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AGENDA ITEM #5 2003/04 BUDGET (taken up 3rd) Mr. George Nichols presented the Commissioners a report (copy attached) outlining proposed augmentations to the Library’s 2003/04 Budget that he identified as being much more likely to occur than the contingency reduction plan that the Commissioners had previously approved. The Library’s Finance Director discussed favorable recent revenue reports prepared by the Office of the Controller that indicated that any shortfalls in City General Fund based Prop. E (Library Preservation Fund) monies were being offset by increases in revenues deriving from property taxes. Mr. Nichols called attention to a net revenue gain of $168,000 over previous estimates combined with reductions in anticipated substitution and step adjustment costs had resulted in a $1.393 million increase over the baseline budget. Mr. Nichols additionally noted that given the economic climate salary increases were unlikely in the next year and that these facts taken together encouraged staff to recommend that the Commission approve budget change augmentations to the proposed budget. The Library Finance Director’s recommended argumentations were: 1st making the already benefited Library Pages permanent: 2nd, adding $26, 000 to the Book Budget for a total $5.688 Book Budget; 3rd, a short list of BCP (budget change proposals) described in attachment C; 4th, shifting identified costs from the Library’s Budget Reserve to the operating budget in order to increase the funds in the reserve to $2.3 million against future needs. Mr. Nichols called attention to funds included in the proposed changes to fund start up of the Collection Recovery Program and reiterated the details of his four proposed budget augmentations. Public comment: An anonymous member of the public noted that funds for video monitors for use by the Commissioners were included in the budget and pointed out that the book budget paid for a wide variety of materials rather than just for books. This individual additionally noted that that the cost of books increased each year, wondered as to how the book budget was broken down, and urged that expenditures be prioritized to reflect what needs to be done in a very complex budget. Mr. Ed Regan found the report well done but requested a clarification of the amounts of spending on books requesting total dollar figures for fiction, non-fiction, and encyclopedias. Mr. Peter Warfield thanked Commissioner Coulter for his comment on books, but found the proposed book budget puny in the overall Library Budget. Mr. Warfield suggested that other items included were not a priority. Mr. Warfield additionally decried the choice of Unique Management and the Collection Recovery Program as a mistake. Ms. Sue Cauthen, member of the Council for Neighborhood Libraries, also commended Commission Coulter’s comments on books, noted that the public wanted more books, that technology was also important, and urged that expenditures be 2/3 on books and 1/3 on other materials. Ms. Deetje Boler concurred with previous speakers concerning more expenditures for books and called attention to a number of technology related items such as additional self-check out machines, security systems, media display support and a digital camera that she felt were not as high a priority. Ms. Boler noted that in some cases these items replace services provided by staff and opposed any substitution of automation for services by library employees. Commission discussion: In response to questions by Commissioner Coulter, Ms. Hildreth discussed ongoing efforts to work with the City’s Department of Human Resources (DHR) to expedite shifting the benefited Pages to permanent status. The City Librarian noted that the Union was still seeking additional changes that would grant all of the Pages permanent status. The City Librarian next discussed the public service benefits provided by the ever improving self-check out machines and pointed out that many library users preferred to check out their own materials. Additionally, she noted that the machines facilitated increased circulation with additional staff. Roberto Esteves, Chief of IRMO then briefly outlined proposed improvements in Staff net that would improve its usability and reduce library staff’s need to replace outdated paper materials. In answer to a question by Commissioner Streets, Mr. Nichols outlined the benefits of shifting some expenditures from the Library’s Budget Reserve to the Operating Budget. Motion: by Commissioner Strobin, seconded by Commissioner Coulter for approval of the budget change augmentations for the 2003/04 Library Budget as proposed. Action: AYE 4-0 (Coulter, Higueras, Streets, and Strobin) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AGENDA ITEM #6 COLLECTION RECOVERY PROGRAM (taken up 4th) City Librarian Susan Hildreth presented a detailed report on the proposed Collection Recovery Program (copy attached) including copies of letters of reference from other libraries that had used Unique Management to improve their materials recovery efforts as requested by Commissioners. It was noted there were no negative reports from any library that had used this collection recovery program and that significantly improved levels of materials return were reported by all users. Ms. Hildreth called the Commission’s attention to the approximately $600,000 in materials lost by the Library each year and recommended that the Commission act to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the Library charging a $10 fee to fund the cost of the collection recovery program. She then introduced Roberto Esteves, Chief of IRMO, who discussed the critical importance of getting materials returned and keeping the library’s books and materials in circulation. Mr. Esteves highlighted the positive experience of other libraries in using the Unique Management collection recovery program and clarified that the library did not collect social security numbers, the principal means used to report delinquency to a credit reporting agency. Public comment: An anonymous member of the public disagreed with Mr. Esteves comments and suggested that while this person may have sympathy for the need to get materials returned this proposal would disportionately impact the poorest of the Library’s sers for what this person saw as very little benefit. Mr. Ed Regan expressed mixed emotions concerning this proposal noting that it was important to get materials back and inquired regarding the losses of books by category of fiction and non-fiction. Mr. Regan asked if these lost items were being checked out or just being taken. Mr. Regan also inquired if the age of the persons taking materials and not returning them was known. Mr. Peter Warfield expressed concern at the loss of books but was disappointed that other alternatives were not being considered. Ms. Deetje Boler echoed the concern about the loss of books but reminded the Commissioners that the Board of Supervisors had previously rejected use of a consumer model for the library. Ms. Boler expressed the hope that shame at keeping overdue materials would encourage their return and recommended other ways be considered to solve the problem. Ms. Boler also requested information on materials checked out and not returned and those taken. Commission discussion: In response to a query by President Higueras, the City Librarian noted that children were not charged fines and that if materials were not returned their parents were contacted. In answer to questions by Commissioner Coulter, Mr. Esteves recounted some of the many positive experiences other libraries had since implementing collection recovery programs using this model. Ms. Hildreth concurred that the recovery of materials rather than generating money was the primary purpose of creating such a program and noted that the Tax Collector was legally empowered to go after those not returning materials if the Library did not institute a program to do so. In response to additional questions by Commissioner Coulter concerned at the magnitude of an annual $600,000 in materials lost to the collection, the City Librarian discussed tracking materials checked out and not returned or just missing from collections, noting that there was a combination of non-return and theft occurring. She also noted that losses from branch collections varied. Deputy City Librarian Paul Underwood pointed out that only 13 of 26 branches had theft detection systems. Commission Streets expressed support for the program and wondered what could be done to convince the Supervisors of its necessity; suggesting that the Tax Collector’s assistance be sought to gain the program’s approval. Ms. Hildreth noted that all City Departments were being exhorted to take every possible step to preserve City assets in view of the ongoing budget problems. Motion: by Commissioner Streets, seconded Commissioner Strobin to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of a $10 fee to fund a collection recovery program. Action: AYE 4-0 (Coulter, Higueras, Streets, and Strobin) President Higueras called a brief recess at 5:59PM The Commission returned to session at 6:08PM . -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AGENDA ITEM #5 MAIN LIBRARY PLAQUES (taken up 5th) Commissioner Coulter presented a brief report (copy attached) outlining the background of his proposal for a "Wall of Library Heroes" at the Larkin Street entry to the Main Library to honor citizen activists’ dedication, civic spirit, and hard work that had sustained and supported San Francisco’s public libraries during the past 50 years, calling particular attention to the work of the 3 M’s, Marjorie Stern, Mary Louise Stong, and Margaret "Mig" Mayer. Commissioner Coulter suggested that Carlotta del Portillo’s appellation "Keepers of the Dream" entitle a dedicatory Plaque accompanied by a series of plaques to be funded by the Friends & Foundation outlining the Library’s colorful history from its early days to the present and leaving space for additional plaques to record future history. Commissioner Coulter then introduced Alice Beneicke of SMWM, the Main Library’s Associate Architects, who presented several options for proposed designs for the plaques. Public comment: An anonymous member of the public commented that it was appropriate to honor citizen activists who did not give up and noted in the aftermath of the Civil War aging veterans of that struggle, as they diminished in number, came together to honor their shared past. This person also recounted a recent encounter with former Library Commissioner Ed Callanan and cited author Margaret Mitchell’s observation, "Nothing is really gone with the wind, everything really comes back". Mr. Ed Regan found the proposal a good idea. Mr. Peter Warfield found the proposal a good idea in principle, liked the wording of the plague, but expressed concern that the design might interfere with what he understood to be other plans for the entry area. Commission action: Commissioner Coulter observed that if approved the dedicatory plague would be in place in time to honor the 3 M’s at the Annual Library Laureates Dinner in April. Motion: by Commissioner Coulter, 2nd by Commissioner Strobin to approve the proposal to create a "Wall of Heroes" of commemorative plaques to be located in the Larkin Street entrance of the Main Library and approve the placement and design of a dedicatory plaque honoring those who made significant contributions in the decades long effort to build the new Main Library. Action: AYE 4-0 (Coulter, Higueras, Streets, and Strobin) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AGENDA ITEM #3 STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE (taken up 6th) City Librarian Susan Hildreth presented an overview and update of Library strategic planning activity (copy attached) and detailed the next steps in this process. Ms. Hildreth then introduced Library Consultant Gail McPartland, who discussed how the PLA (Public Library Association) revised "Planning for Results" model had been adapted and applied to finding strategic planning excellence for the Library. Ms. McPartland noted that the model of excellence would be determined by the people of San Francisco and discussed the ways it could be achieved. The Library’s consultant then reported on a February 19th planning meeting and discussed subsequent evaluation by staff and community focus groups to identify strengths and weakness in addressing community needs and find ways to express the shared visions that had been identified. The next planning meeting was reported scheduled for April 23 with library staff to prepare goals and agendas to meet the identified needs. Public comment: An anonymous member of the public remarked that the comments concerning excellence said nothing about really helping people, noting that previous Library strategic plans had been amorphous. This person suggested that any plan should be designed to benefit people, emphasize connections to community and its heritage, and evolve into measurable means of accomplishment. Ms. Marsha Popper, Council for Neighborhood Libraries, and participant in the Strategic Planning Community group, cited the dedication of those working on the plan and recommended that 13 specific services including among them cataloging acquisitions, preserving and making available materials should also be considered as the planning develops. Mr. Peter Warfield decried the absence of mention of books in the strategic planning discussions. Mr. Warfield questioned how this planning effort related to previous strategic planning and asked where those with general issues concerning the Library would have opportunity to express their concerns. Commission discussion: In response to questions by President Higueras, Ms. Hildreth outlined the next steps in the strategic planning process with the draft plan ready in June or July ’03. The City Librarian proposed to report back to the Commission following the next planning meeting and emphasized that books were implicit in all of the discussions of materials in the services planning. Commissioner Coulter saw merit in Ms. Popper’s points and suggested a more robust discussion of books. Commissioner Coulter citing the 1989 Strategic plan suggested both broad and specific goals noting that that Plan had called for efforts to see that every school child in San Francisco had a library card for example. The City Librarian pointed out that the planning efforts were focused on finding ways for staff to focus investment in serving the print and non-print needs of the public. President Higueras announced that due to the imminent loss of its quorum at 7PM the Commission would table the remaining agenda items and go immediately to Public Comment. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AGENDA ITEM #11 PUBLIC COMMENT ( taken up 7th) City Librarian Susan Hildreth noted that it was possible that some individuals with delinquent accounts could have information about that delinquency reported to a credit agency. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AGENDA ITEM #15 ADJOURNMENT Motion: by Commissioner Streets, seconded by Commissioner Strobin that the meeting be adjourned. Action: AYE 4-0 (Coulter, Higueras, Streets, and Strobin) The meeting was adjourned at 7:01PM Michael Housh, Commission Secretary 3/18/03 Please note: Copies of Commission Minutes and handouts are available in the Office of the Commission Secretary, 100 Larkin Street , San Francisco , CA 94102 Copies of Public Comment Summary Statements as authorized by San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.16 can be found in Appendix A. These summary statements are provided by the speaker and their contents are neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the San Francisco Public Library Commission. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Appendix A Library Commission meeting of March 4, 2003 The Public Comment Summary Statements included in these Minutes are authorized by San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.16.. These summary statements are provided by the speaker. Their contents are neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the San Francisco Public Library Commission. The number of members of the public who spoke anonymously at this meeting: 1 Public comment available for viewing in PDF format
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