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Across city, people rally to save their branch libraries

With BPL trustees meeting Tuesday to discuss how to start closing neighborhood branches, patrons are organizing to keep that from happening:

Kelly Young writes a letter in support of the Roslindale branch:

... I know people have made the argument that students have access to school libraries, so why do they need public libraries. As you know, that's really not the case in Boston. Budget cuts and space constraints mean that many Boston schools, particularly in the West Zone, don't have their own libraries. Schools often help students get their own library cards, but what good will that do if these students don't have their own neighborhood library?

I know it's not the flashiest branch, but I, personally, will be heart-broken if Roslindale loses its neighborhood library.

Mike Mennonno writes the branches are simply too important to close now:

... [T]he populations they serve already too vulnerable to abandon them when the going gets tough. And despite what many who can afford home access to the internet and for whom a trip to the local bookstore has replaced dropping by the library believe, the role of libraries will become more, not less vital in a future where much of the knowledge we have access to in them now is sequestered behind pay walls. The digital divide aligns with the income divide. The folks who most need access to what public libraries can provide are obviously those who are most vulnerable to branch closure.

Andrew Carnegie, that great entrepreneur and philanthropist, once said, "There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library." Libraries are not luxuries, and their closure wherever they still serve a population that needs them, is not an option. ...

The Jamaica Plain Gazette reports users of Jamaica Plain's three libraries are organizing to keep them open.

Matt Conti notes that the Boston Public Library Foundation has a Facebook page to rally support around libraries.

Faegirl objects to Mayor Menino seeming a bit too eager to close libraries:

... How about this, Tom ... Instead of you closing libraries and putting dozens, if not more, of librarians out of work (and onto unemployment) how about you stop taking a paycheck from the city of Boston? How about a few of the higher paid people take a lower paycheck or none, and allow these hard working people to keep their jobs? ...

Chinatown Blogger writes the crisis might actually show the way for Chinatown to finally get its own branch - a small, neighborhood-funded storefront similar to last year's temporary Chinatown Storefront Library.

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Comments

If the closings happen and are influenced by the strength of neighborhood support and political clout, then I presume that the brand-new Mattapan branch is doomed?

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Jamiaca Plain doesn't have three libraries. The Egleston branch is in Roxbury, across the street from the very northeast corner of Jamaica Plain. I'm sure there's overlap in service, but it's a Roxbury library.

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I just read Faegirls' blog entry on this. Say what you want about the current crisis, but Menino has been consistent in his support for the branch libraries before. Did he not recently force out a BPL president because the Mayor was against the guy's plan to build up Copley at the expense of the branches?

Plus, Menino makes about $170K. Not enough to support many librarians, and it's not like the guy comes from money. He needs his paycheck.

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It is what he is saying about the future of libraries that bothers me, especially as a future librarian. Not everything is going to be online, or at least it isn't for a long time.

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Did he not recently force out a BPL president because the Mayor was against the guy's plan to build up Copley at the expense of the branches?

Ha, how is that working out?

I think it was fairly widely accepted that Margolis was forced out because Boss Menino hated his guts, and the bit about protecting the neighborhood branches was just a populist cloak (threadbare, at that).

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Do we really have "too many libraries"? If not, then they shouldn't be closed. It seems that simple. Libraries are like that one last bastion of education and culture that just makes it seem like if it closes, then we've given up hope on people wanting to read and inform themselves. It might be anything from free internet for someone who can't afford a home connection, to free fiction for kids to expand their minds, to reference materials for a high school project.

Books are that one thing I can't bring myself to throw away without a good cause (water damage, excessive tearing, etc). Ok, I can't seem to throw away computers either...but I think the reasoning is connected.

There always has to be something else we should be able to carve back on in order to keep public libraries we have open. Otherwise, what is the "good" of government?

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With the death of the local school - libraries are the community

Since so few children attend the school that is in their neighborhood the local library branches become the place to meet neighbors. They become the support system for the kid who likes to read instead of playing basket ball. It becomes the safe afternoon place to be Not that I think for a second librarians should also be baby sitters.

In the morning they are a place where new parents can take pre school children to be read to aloud. I am quite sure going to a morning mothers reading group with my mother when I was a child helped me learn to love to read.

Because we only have the one library in Revere, and getting there from the beach community takes a bus and a transfer. I know how much I miss having a public library near me. When I lived in Brighton Center I visited the library weekly. For many people the library is the one positive experience they have with the city of Boston.

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The city is poorly run, we all know that. But the city needs money to keep the libraries open, and the schools etc. These things are decided in elections for political office, and unfortunately nobody who ran against Menino had a better idea for getting higher tax receipts. The various Menino supporters who populated this board to shill for him have sunk back into the murk; no doubt they got theirs. But there is only one way to get to Menino, there is only one thing he wants from us: his job.

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been cracked up to be, IMO. For instance: why only now are we talking about a measure to collect unpaid green tickets by attaching liens to properties? With $5 million in uncollected fees apparently outstanding, it's obviously been a problem for quite some time now. Is it smarter to build new facilities rather than updating old ones? Should we have spent $17 million just last year for a brand new Mattapan branch only to turn around and close Libraries in Roslindale or Dorchester now?

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I know I'm not the first one to think of this, but would it be so bad for the city system to merge with the Minuteman system? Is that a possibility?

ETA: After posting I realized that the municipalities within Minuteman fund their own libraries....don't know why I thought for a second it was state-funded...d'oh.

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We need a national economic study of our public libraries independent of library professionals and independent of publishing professionals. It could use the technique of System Dynamics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_dynamics

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