The elves in the Mayor’s Office were busy today. If you sent an email/letter regarding the potential closure of the neighborhood branch libraries, you probably received a form response (at least to those of us regarding the North End Branch Library). Cutting to the chase, there is a key sentence that is bad news for the branches.
“We need to close some buildings that are not offering the highest quality service to the residents of Boston. The Boston public libraries are staying in the neighborhoods but they need to be transformed.”
So, it appears that branch closings are coming. I am not sure how a branch can be “transformed” if it is closed. Sounds like double-talk. Anyway, the quantitative numbers put the North End Branch in the line of fire, so let’s hope the qualitative factors (which include public support) to be discussed next week help our branch. See the Calendar for the April 7th meeting and April 9th vote.
Here is the complete letter:
Dear Mr. Conti,
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns about the potential closings of Boston Public Library branches.
We want to assure you that Mayor Menino understands how important local libraries are to the communities of Boston. Mayor Menino is working closely with BPL president Amy E. Ryan to see that Boston public libraries emerge from these difficult economic times stronger than ever. It is clear the system, as currently constructed, is stretched too thin. The BPL has had to turn down partnerships because staffing is so tight. We need to close some buildings that are not offering the highest quality service to the residents of Boston. The Boston public libraries are staying in the neighborhoods but they need to be transformed. The public library was born in Boston, and we must lead its rebirth too.
We need to build a 21st century system that serves the people of Boston even better. We will make sure that our branch libraries provide world-class spaces in which people can learn and meet and share. We will provide more convenient hours for working families and more resources online to bridge the digital divide. Although the last few years have been fiscally troubling, we are convinced that we can work together to continue to strengthen the BPL for the 21st Century.
A Great deal of information on the BPL budget is available online at www.bpl.org/budget along with information about upcoming community and trustee meetings as well as information on how to support the Boston Public Library. We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.
Office of Mayor Thomas M. Menino
1 City Hall Plaza
Boston, MA 02201
I also recently received a response from Senator Anthony Petruccelli who is clearly against closing the North End Branch. As a State Senator, however, there is not much to do in the short-term on this City issue. Here is his response:
Thank you for your recent email regarding the North End Branch Library. I have received many emails from North End residents on this issue and each one has tremendous passion in its description about the branch. I want to assure you that I am opposed to closure of the North End Branch and will do whatever I can in the capacity that I represent you in order to keep it open.
If you have any further questions or comments on this issue or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
STATE SENATOR, FIRST SUFFOLK AND MIDDLESEX
For those that signed letters and gave them to me to send, the responses came back for all those too, so your letter was counted. If you would still like to send a letter, next week is “crunch time.” Here is the link with the contact information and a form sample letter.