Library Preservation Fund Renewal 2022 Ballot Initiative

Library Staff Summer Stride Kick Off
Event in front of the Main Library in the 1990s.
San Francisco Mime Troupe, late 1990s. 

How it started…. 

Following years of budget cuts, curtailed hours of operation, a meager book budget and threatened branch closures, the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library launched a ballot initiative for dedicated library funding. Passed by more than 70% of San Francisco voters in June 1994, the Library Preservation Fund (LPF) charter amendment has enabled the Library to expand its hours, collections and programming and to invest in capital renovations and construction projects to modernize the system.  

The Fund consists of a general fund baseline amount which is 2.3% of aggregate City and County discretionary revenues, plus a property tax set aside of 2.5 cents for each $100 in assessed valuation. The LPF is San Francisco Public Library’s largest budget source, accounting for nearly 95% of its FY22 budget of $171.2 million. 

How it’s going… 

Last renewed in 2007 with 74% of the vote, the LPF is set to expire on June 30, 2023. In May 2022, Mayor London Breed and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai introduced a charter amendment to renew the LPF for an additional 25 years, an increase from its current 15-year term. The amendment also ensures that spending priorities for the annual set-aside and monies carried over from prior fiscal years include operations for the Main Library and 27 branch libraries. Additionally, the charter amendment sets a new standard for weekly service hours, ensuring the Library’s doors are open 1,400 hours per week system wide. On July 19, 2022, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to place the Charter amendment for the renewal of the LPF on the November 8, 2022 ballot.

With support from funding allocated to the Library through the Library Preservation Fund, the Library:

  • Increased library service hours by nearly 50% in 1994.  The new Charter amendment will set 1,400 weekly service hours for a 16% increase over the 2007 baseline of 1,211.  
  • Instituted 7 day per week service systemwide staffed by professional librarians at every branch.
  • Instituted library service inside San Francisco County jails and juvenile hall and added new bookmobiles that serve hard-to-reach communities.
  • Passed bond funds to help complete the renovation of 16 libraries and construction of 8 new library buildings including the Mission Bay Branch Library.
  • Renovated the Main Library including creation of The Mix Teen Center and the Bridge at Main literacy and learning center.  
  • Moved forward to renovate of the historic Mission Branch Library ($24.7M) and Chinatown Branch Library ($29.4M) and build a new Ocean View Branch Library.  
  • Provides high-speed internet at all Library branches and the Main Library. 
  • At 12% of its budget, SFPL funds one of the largest collections and materials budgets per capita, among U.S. libraries. 
  • Provides for library services and access to collections in multiple languages and in all formats in order to meet the current and changing needs of San Francisco’s diverse communities.  
  • Presents thousands of free public programs annually, including classes and workshops that support residents’ economic recovery by boosting job skills and digital literacy. 
  • Eliminated overdue fines in 2019.  
  • Bolsters summer reading for all and supports thousands of new book giveaways to children and youth each year.  
  • Received the highest grade (A-) given to a City Department in the annual City Survey.
Body

What is different about this latest version of the Library Preservation Fund legislation?

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the key provisions of the previous iterations of the Library Preservation Fund and the current proposed legislation.

1994

2007

2022

Term: 15 years

 

Term: No change from the 1994 legislation

Term: 25 years

Funding:

    • General fund baseline: 2.3% of Aggregate Discretionary Revenue (ADR), see definition below.*
    • Annual Property Tax Set-Aside: 2.5 cents for each $100 assessed valuation.

 

Funding:

    • General fund baseline:  No change from the 1994 legislation
    • Annual Property Tax Set-Aside:  No change from the 1994 legislation

 

Funding:

    • General fund baseline: No change from the 2007 legislation
    • Annual Property Tax Set-Aside: Generally, no change from 2007.

However, the 2022 measure allows the City to freeze the City’s annual General Fund Baseline contribution to the Fund for any fiscal year after 2022-2023 at the prior year amount when the City’s projected budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year exceeds $300 million. Following a funding freeze the General Fund Baseline will be restored over two fiscal years to what it would have been without the funding freeze.

Minimum Weekly Service Hours: Total Library weekly hours increased by 28%--from 801 to 1,028 hours.

Minimum Weekly Service Hours: Weekly hours increased systemwide to 1,211 permanent service hours.

Minimum Weekly Service Hours: 1,400 per week, a 16% increase over the permanent service hours set in the 2007 measure.

Days Open: All branches open on Saturdays. Sundays added at the Main Library and 7 branches.

Days Open: All branches open on Sundays for seven-day service system-wide at all 28 locations.

Days Open: No change

 

*The Aggregate Discretionary Revenue (ADR) refers to funds that come into the City as General Funds. The General Fund is the largest of the City’s funds. It is a source for discretionary spending and funds many of our basic municipal services. Primary revenue sources include local taxes such as property, sales, payroll and other taxes. Some of the revenue that comes into the General Fund is discretionary while some is committed by law or regulation for specific purposes, such as paying our debt service or other obligations like the Library Preservation Fund. Here are some helpful resources about how the City’s budget works: Description of Budget Documents & Terms and San Francisco’s Budget: How It Works and What You Need to Know.  

What sources of revenue does the Library Preservation Fund encompass?

The LPF is comprised of funds from two revenue streams: the City’s General Fund and a Property Tax set aside. ​The General Fund percentage is equivalent to 2.3% of ADR* and the Property Tax portion is derived from 2.5 cents of every $100 in assessed property value. In Fiscal Year 2023, the anticipated apportionment between the two funding sources is 43% Property Tax and 57% General Fund for a total of $174.6 million in annual LPF monies. When those monies are combined with the $10.3 million budgeted from the LPF Fund Balance that carried forward from prior years, they account for approximately 99% of the Library’s overall budget of $185.7 million.

*The Aggregate Discretionary Revenue (ADR) refers to funds that come into the City as General Funds. The General Fund is the largest of the City’s funds. It is a source for discretionary spending and funds many of our basic municipal services. Primary revenue sources include local taxes such as property, sales, payroll and other taxes. Some of the revenue that comes into the General Fund is discretionary while some is committed by law or regulation for specific purposes, such as paying our debt service or other obligations like the Library Preservation Fund. Here are some helpful resources about how the City’s budget works: Description of Budget Documents & Terms and San Francisco’s Budget: How It Works and What You Need to Know

How much does the Library Preservation Fund contribute to the Library’s overall budget?

The LPF is the Library’s largest budget source, accounting for approximately 99% of its proposed FY23 budget of $185.7 million.

What does the LPF actually pay for?

The LPF funds the Library’s:

  • Collections & materials
  • Public programs
  • Staff
  • Facilities and capital improvements

See FY22-23 budget breakdown.

When will I be able to vote on the LPF?

Assuming the proposed LPF Renewal Legislation passes the Board of Supervisors in July, it will be on the November 2022 ballot.