Library Commission Minutes - May 3, 2002

Minutes of the special meeting of Friday, May 3, 2002. (As approved amended June 20, 2002) The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a special meeting called by the Commission President on Friday, May 3, 2002 in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library. Commissioner Coulter called the meeting to order at 12:06 PM. The following members were noted present: Commissioners Bautista, Chin, Coulter, and Streets. Commissioners Higueras, Steiman, and Swig were reported excused attendance. AGENDA ITEM #1 EXCELSIOR BRANCH LIBRARY RENOVATION PROP. 14 APPLICATION City Librarian Susan Hildreth provided the Commissioners with an overview of the Library’s Prop. 14 (California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2000) application for the Excelsior Branch Library’s renovation. Ms. Hildreth cited in particular the very hard work contributed by Deputy City Librarian Paul Underwood, Library Chief of Branches Donna Corbeil, Librarian III Joan Goldman, and Terry Gwazdowski, Excelsior Branch Manager in helping to prepare the application. The City Librarian then introduced Deputy City Librarian Paul Underwood who discussed the details of the community needs assessment and highlighted background information and statistics about the Excelsior Branch Library. Mr. Underwood discussed in some detail the Library’s efforts to gather branch library staff input, review background data, such as information provided by the 157 respondents to the Library’s David Binder Survey that identified Excelsior as their branch library and the information gathered at two community meetings in proposing plans for the branches’ renovation. The Deputy City Librarian characterized the Excelsior neighborhood as a proud and diverse community that hoped to build on the strengths of the existing library and improve its ability to provide services the neighborhood wanted. Mr. Underwood noted that community and staff input had recommended significant improvements in the building’s technology infrastructure to allow for more computers, called for increases in materials available in Chinese and Spanish, that the branch be more active in community outreach, and that there be an increased focus on serving neighborhood children, youth, and teens The Deputy City Librarian reported that that residents had requested more opportunities for computer training for residents, in particular seniors. Also reported of interest to the community were a homework help program, a portable computer lab, more uses for the community room as a neighborhood “Commons” and changes to the building layout that would create more comfortable zones for reading. Mr. Underwood additionally noted that the plans also included extensive technology infrastructure improvements so as to allow for future technology expansion and flexible uses for the Excelsior Branch. Branch Bond Program Manager Marilyn Thompson then presented an extensive description of both of the proposed building plans that had been presented to the community for its consideration. Ms. Thompson noted that Scheme A, which placed the children’s spaces near services areas and the renovated and ADA accessible rest rooms was the preferred alternative by those attending the community meetings. The Branch Bond Program Manager reported that it was proposed to remove interior partitions, move the front walls forward gaining 234 sq. ft. by eliminating an existing set back, integrate the community room as program space and relocate it to the rear of the building opening onto an exterior space. Ms. Thompson noted that branch staff gave up their existing break room and that staff functions were proposed to be shifted to the front of the building and provided with ergonomic upgrades and a new staff restroom. Ms. Thompson additionally pointed out that making all of the changes and improvements required to meet both ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements and the community’s request for services had made some trade-offs necessary. Ms. Thompson noted that the community’s requests for more children, youth and teen services, additional multi-language collections, and more computer access required that the new design have less back of house space and more spaces for public services. The Branch Bond Program Manager called attention to the planned installation of a cellular floor pad to provide for maximum future flexibility for technology upgrades. Ms. Thompson additionally pointed out proposed lounge seating area near a large window, the potential for putting in skylights, and rearrangement of book stacks to allow better light flow throughout the structure. The Bond Program Manager noted that additional computer stations were being added including an amoeba table for children’s computers, more space was provided for Chinese and Spanish materials, an improved circulation desk was to be created, better quiet reading areas placed at the rear of the building added, and that teens would have their own area with specialized collections and computers. Ms. Thompson also reported that the floor plans had been set up to allow clear staff sight lines throughout the building The Branch Bond Program Manager then discussed the financing package proposed for the Excelsior Branch Library, noting that if successful the Prop. 14 (State Library Bond) funds could provide 65% of the $4.3 million project cost including, unlike local bond money, some funds for furniture, fixtures, and equipment. The City Librarian noted that a Letter of Credit provided by the Friends and Foundation would provide for the 35% or $175,000. local match for these funds. Public comment on AGENDA ITEM #1 EXCELSIOR BRANCH LIBRARY ENOVATION PROP. 14 APPLICATION An anonymous member of the public commented on the importance of the old English concept of "Commons", but cautioned against efforts to expand the library’s scope. This anonymous member of the public suggested that the role of the library was preservation of knowledge and literature, not as a community meeting place. Mr. Peter Warfield reported that he had attended the April 20th Excelsior Branch Community meeting and what he had heard were requests for books and more books. Mr. Warfield commented that this was not emphasized in the presentation and further noted that the library’s plans called for a reduction in books, space for books, less seating and tables, and reduction of two service desks to one. Mr. Warfield observed that there had not been enough time for members of the public to review the plans and that the community comment process had been flawed. Mr. Steven Currier, President of the Outer Mission Residents Association, presented a letter about the proposed plans to the Commission and suggested that more books, not more computers, were wanted by neighborhood residents. Mr. Currier also suggested that the branch library become the archival repository for materials documenting neighborhood history. He provide a copy of a letter from Ms. Carol Taylor, a neighborhood resident, suggesting more books were wanted at the branch. Mr. Martín Gómez, Executive Director of the Friends and Foundation, expressed the Friends and Foundation’s eagerness to be an active partner with the Library in the renovation of the Excelsior Branch Library and noted the Letter of Credit that they had provided to meet the required local matching funds for this project. Ms. Sue Cauthen, Council for Neighborhood Libraries, observed that the Excelsior Branch needed more books as well as other things, but expressed support for the proposed design. Ms. Cauthen then gave to the Commissioners and described an informational document on branch library circulation, staffing, and use she had complied from library figures. Ms. Cauthen noted that she hoped that this document would become a project of the Council for Neighborhood Libraries. Mr. Ed Regan commented that he was opposed to any cooperative relationship with the San Francisco School District at the Excelsior and Portola Branch Libraries, noting that in his view schools, as part of their educational mission, should provide library services for those under 18 and the public library should serve adults. Commission comment on AGENDA ITEM #1 EXCELSIOR BRANCH LIBRARY RENOVATION PROP. 14 APPLICATION Ms. Hildreth briefly outlined the nature of the required relationships between schools and libraries mandated by Prop. 14 (State Library Bond) to be a 1st priority project for new construction and commented that the Excelsior Branch was clearly a 2nd priority renovation project with no special school cooperation agreement. In response to a query by Commissioner Streets, the City Librarian clarified that the Friends and Foundation Letter of Credit was expected to cover the entire period until the expected completion of this project in 2004. In answer to questions by Commissioner Chin, the Deputy City Librarian reported that overall amount of seating available in the reconfigured branch would drop from 73 to 68 but that in doing so the library would be able meet the requirements of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements for wider aisles and fully accessible restrooms. In response to further questions by Commissioner Chin regarding the proposed lounge seats, Mr. Underwood discussed the effort made to balance the competing requests of branch users within the physical limitations of the building. Responding to a question by Commissioner Bautista, the City Librarian reported that staff proposed to refresh the book collections at the Excelsior Branch so as to have a collection that met the needs of branch users. Commissioner Bautista reminded the Commission that the Excelsior Branch Library has had a sister library relationship with a local library in Manila, begun during Mayor Dianne Feinstein’s Administration, and that its high profile Filipino collections were an important asset to the community. The City Librarian discussed how the Library proposed to improve the quality of the book collections at the Excelsior branch, noting that its collection was already larger than that of branches of a similar size, in response to Commissioner Coulter’s expression of concern about potential political difficulties created by proposing any reduction to the size of the branches’ book collection. Commissioner Coulter noted that the branch book collections have symbolic value and strongly suggested that their size be maintained. Chief of Branches Donna Corbeil discussed the balancing act staff found necessary to meet the diverse needs of the community served by the branch noting that there was significant use of this branch by neighborhood children. Deputy City Librarian Paul Underwood also called attention to a recommendation that preservation of community history be a part of the branches’ program and in response to Commissioners expressions of concern suggested that staff would monitor the use of the lounge seating areas. MOTION: to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve a Prop. 14 (California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2000) application for the Excelsior Branch Library renovation by Commissioner Bautista, seconded by Commissioner Chin. ACTION: AYE 4-0 (Bautista, Chin, Coulter, and Streets) Michael Housh, Commission Secretary 5/21/02 The number of members of the public who spoke anonymously at this meeting. 1 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 AGENDA ITEM #2 ADJOURNMENT MOTION: by Commissioner Streets, seconded by Commissioner Chin that the meeting be adjourned In Memoriam of the late Annette McNear, a long time and devoted Library employee. Appendix A 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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