Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Ahsha Safai Introduce Charter Amendment to Renew the Library Preservation Fund
Legislation guarantees stable funding for next 25 years to ensure key Library services
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai today announced a charter amendment to renew San Francisco Public Library’s Library Preservation Fund, which supports library services and materials as well as operations of facilities and capital projects. If approved by the Board later this summer, this legislation would appear on the November 8, 2022, ballot.
“San Francisco Public Library’s offerings include not only world-class print and digital collections but also hundreds of free resources to support residents in their career growth, literacy, and education programs,” said Mayor Breed. “Our libraries and hard-working staff will play an invaluable role in the City’s economic recovery and equitable futures for our communities. With the full support of the charter amendment by our Board of Supervisors, voters will have a chance to vote yes on renewing the Library Preservation Fund this fall.”
In 1994, the Library Preservation Fund (LPF) was approved by more than 70% percent of San Francisco voters after a successful effort led by the nonprofit Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. The Fund is derived from a baseline budget equivalent to less than 2% percent of the City’s overall budget, plus a property tax set aside of $0.025 cents for each $100 in assessed valuation. Since its adoption, the LPF has enabled the Library to expand its hours, collections and program efforts improving services to all San Francisco communities and to engage in capital renovation and construction projects throughout the Library system. The Library Preservation Fund is SFPL’s largest budget source, measuring 95% percent of its FY22 budget of $171.2 million.
“Our libraries are an essential part of the fabric of San Francisco, providing needed services to seniors, families, and every San Franciscan with a love of learning,” said Supervisor Safai. “Renewing the Library Preservation Fund is vital to protecting this community resource for future generations and I am thankful for Mayor Breed’s leadership and support from community and colleagues in this effort.”
Last renewed in 2007 with 74% percent of the vote, the LPF is set to expire on June 30, 2023. The revised charter amendment reauthorizes the LPF for an additional 25 years, an increase from its current 15-year term. It 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. These allocations are necessary to provide 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. 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, a 16% percent increase from the current baseline.
“The impact of the Library Preservation Fund on the Library’s capacity to deliver a high level of service cannot be overstated. Since its inception and renewal, SFPL has been transformed into one of the nation’s premier urban libraries with leading edge programming, facilities, and services, including the largest book budget per capita among major U.S. libraries. Over the past two decades, the dedicated funding has allowed us to upgrade our beloved neighborhood libraries and enhance library services to the community. Renewal of the LPF would secure the future of the San Francisco Public Library for generations to come, and further our mission to help San Franciscans to live their best lives,” explained Michael Lambert, City Librarian.
“Through the many difficulties of the past two and a half years, San Francisco Public Library has stood as a beacon for the critical and essential roles libraries play in the resilience and recovery of our communities. When the public schools closed, the Library provided remote learning support for our most vulnerable youth and put ten free books into the hands of every SFUSD student. When unemployment reached more than 12% percent, the Library doubled down on programs that help with career growth and technology literacy. No matter what challenges we face in the future, the renewal of the Library Preservation Fund will guarantee that the Library can continue to wrap its arms around the residents and workers of this City to help them succeed in their life journeys,” said San Francisco Public Library Commission President, Connie Wolf.
“Friends is grateful to Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors for introducing the Charter Amendment to renew the Library Preservation Fund this November,” said Marie Ciepiela, Executive Director of Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. “Voters will once again have the opportunity to extend the legacy of this community investment, ensuring that every resident can benefit from our world-class library system for years to come.”
Ahead of this fall’s election, the Board of Supervisors plans to conduct a full board deliberation in summer 2022. Pending their findings, they will submit the charter amendment to San Francisco’s Director of Elections to extend the Library Preservation Fund for an additional 25 years, through June 2048. Voters will then have an opportunity to vote on renewing the Library Preservation Fund in the November 8, 2022 election.