Friends of the North End Branch Library presented at this week’s North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association(NEWRA) to update the neighborhood on the library’s activities and the latest news on the budget crisis that may lead to the closure of some branches in the Boston Public Library system.
President, Robin Ardito, and Paula Luccio, Vice-President started off on an optimistic note, emphasizing the possibility that the $3.6 million hole in the BPL’s budget may be met by a City reserve fund and/or effective fundraising before the fiscal 2011 deadline. Robin noted that 200 North End library supporters raised $4,000 at a recent event. On the downside, the circulation numbers are low at the North End Branch Library (3rd from the bottom) because of its small space and collection.
The BPL Trustees have laid out the factors that will go into any decision to close branches. These include:
- number of books and audiovisual material in circulation
- public use and foot traffic
- computer sessions,
- wi-fi access (not in NE),
- geographic proximity to the main library at Copley Square
- number of other branches within 3 miles
- accessibility (NE branch recently upgraded)
- public meeting space
- parking lot spaces
- public programs
- neighborhood feedback and support
Robin & Paula noted that St. Johns and the Eliot School do not have dedicated libraries anymore, relying on the North End branch. They also listed their extensive list of programs including homework assistance, ESL and movie nights.
In terms of assets, the library’s website describes them as follows:
The North End Branch Library is a simple, one-story structure modeled after a Roman “villa”. A courtyard, located in the center of the building, is complemented with plants and a small pool. The building’s exterior is of red brick. Thanks to a grant from the Browne Fund the entrance to the library was recently redesigned by landscape architect, Elena Saporta and artist Tom O’Connel to give the library entrance way a more open and inviting feeling. O ne of the outstanding features of the building is a scale model of the Ducal Palace in Venice. Largely constructed by Henrietta Macy before her death and completed by Louise Stimson of Concord, Massachusetts, the diorama was donated to the Boston Public Library by Nina C. Mitchell of Sheperdstown, West Virginia. The North End Branch also boasts a white marble bas-relief of Dante Alighieri, which was donated to the Central Library in 1913 and later moved to the branch.
The Friends groups runs books sales that usually bring in about $2,000, plus their 1st fundraiser event held at the Fairmont Battery Wharf raised about $4,000.
Robin & Paula gave some examples of events and projects competed by the Friends group:
- Purchased new chairs for the adult section
- Purchased new computer tables for the children’s section
- Commissioned building of new wood book shelving for children’s section
- Rewired computers and printers to work with the new furniture
- Steam cleaned area rugs
- Installed new outdoor garden & artwork project
- Planted and maintained the outdoor garden
- Rat proofing on the left side of the outside garden
- Winterizing of outdoor garden by landscaping service
- Mounted US flag & light
- Funded numerous children’s & adult programs
- Honors Walkway – fundraising and installation
- Hosted the Holiday Open House
In 2010, the Friends have the following ongoing projects:
- Replace diseased trees in outside garden (looking for name donors)
- Install rat proofing on right side of outside garden (much needed)
- Fund maintenance of outside garden by landscaping service
- Add electrical outlets below tables in adult section (just completed)
- Purchase table top lamps for adult section
- Learn to Play Chess Program (just started with 23 children attending)
- Italian Diorama – The Ducal Palace Venice (recently lit & cleaned)
- Contract for cleaning of rugs and curtains in auditorium (complete)
- Upgrade audio/visual equipment
- Refurbish break room
- Maintain indoor garden & resolve atrium water issue
Starting March 15th, the Friends group will be accepting books and CDs/DVDs for their book sale on Saturday May 22nd (June 5thraindate) from 10am-3pm. Items can be dropped off at the library (25 Parmenter St.) Also, on April 21st, there will be the Kevin Harris Project Jazz Concert from 6-7:30pm.
Robin & Paula identified ways you can help the NE branch library.
- Take out books, get the circulation up (soon!)
- Become a friend, $15/family, $10/individual
- Volunteer at the library, the book sale or gardening
- Businesses are welcome to help. Polcari’s is a sponsor currently.
- Signature donors are being sought for each tree out front, $975 per tree, Japanese Maples
To help out, visit the library or email the Friends group at email@example.com. Friends meetings are the second Wednesday of each month from 6:30-8:00 at the library.
Click here for information on a letter writing campaign to the BPL Trustees and local officials in support of the North End Branch Library. Letters should be emailed or mailed by April 1st.