Friends of the San Francisco Public Library has found a way to connect every neighborhood in the city with its branch libraries. Libraries level the playing field for everyone, provide access to knowledge and information, and create welcoming anchors to communities. Friends helps make our libraries great by funding programs, restoring aging libraries and advocating to ensure public funding. They connect the public institution to the community it serves and supports SF's robust literary scene as well.
As a volunteer, I have been very happy with my experience with Friends. I donate my time each year at the Big Book Sale and am excited to volunteer this year at the Spring Sale! My branch library, the Park Branch was recently renovated and I am happy to have been a part of making it great.
Having attended all meetings of the San Francisco Public Library Commission, I have seen nothing which qualifies as effective oversite. The "Freinds" come in with PowerPoint presentations which show nothing that would rise to any acceptable level under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). They show amounts raised over a specific time period and then show amounts provided to the SFPL for an entirely different period of time. I have taken the City Librarian to the local open government oversite body, the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF). The found the City Librarian in violation of the Sunshine Ordinance for denying access to public records regarding the donations received from the Friends. The Friends recently lauded their contribution to the Branch Library Improvment Program (BLIP). The sums so far this year went from $1.4 million, to $4.2 million, and then to over $8 million without any supporting documentation. I have to wonder if ANYONE is actually overseeing this organization. I know the members of the public who try are consistently blocked from doing so.
Like public schools, we can't live, learn and grow without public libraries. In the last 15 years the Friends has led the effort to build a New Main library and to renovate and/or build new branch libraries throughout the city (e.g. Mission Bay, Ocean View, West Portal, Marina, Noe Valley, Mission, Chinatown). We are half-way through the Neighborhood Library Campaign, which will be finished with the renovation/new build of every branch in the city. We also have led the effort to pass two ballot measures which guarantee that the citizens of the city have one of the healthiest library budgets in the country. If you don't believe me, ask around and see how other public libraries are doing in these down times. And there's more: Project Read for teaching literacy, our Book Bay bookstores at the New Main and Fort Mason, our many book sales including the Big Sale in September, etc., etc. Remember a Friends membership includes discounts at many San Francisco bookstores. Join us: we need your money and your support.