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Chinatown could finally get a library again

Old Chinatown library

Old municipal building, where the library was, at Tyler and Oak.

WBUR reports on work to add a BPL branch to the China Trade Center, 60 years after Chinatown lost its library to make way for the Central Artery.

Photo from the BPL. Posted under this Creative Commons license.

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Reference Desk Department services could be updated for 2017 in may ways...

a) Floating Reference Librarians around the floor with digital telecommunications equipment offering Reference services instead of from behind a desk.

b) Group Reference Desk sessions for Librarians and Library Users discussing hints, tips, pointers about library usability.

c) Better and more online forums for Librarians and Library Users discussing hints, tips, pointers about library usability.

d) A Guide to Problematical Boston Public Library Use including outside the box hints, tips, pointers.

e) WebPages for treasured BPL Librarians, Curators with particular expertise, like webpages of faculty of colleges and universities.

f) The BPL Teaching Library, like Teaching Hospitals and Medical Centers, offering more onsite opportunities for advancing professional knowledge of libraries and information studies.

g) A BPL onsite Library and information Studies program for Public Librarians through University of Massachusetts Boston or Northeastern University. Not through overpriced Simmons!

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I just want to be a stinker here to make a point.

Rumor has it that a certain board member of the BPL wanted Menino to shut the Lower Mills Branch about 6 or 7 years ago to make the people of Lower Mills use the then new Mattapan branch. It was passed off as a way to save money. That was a walk of 1.6 miles each way or at least two bus routes to get to the library from Richmond Street. Why seeming to be a reasonable request, making a 11 year old ride their bike 3.2 miles round trip along River Street and Blue Hill Avenue in the dusk of wintertime after school maybe wasn't the best idea.

The real motive may have been, allegedly, a certain Boston Globe opinion page writer, and I believe Back Bay resident who may or not been a priest at one point, who wanted to force the two neighborhoods together in the interest of his idea the common good. A noble idea yes, but in practical terms, perhaps the cause of the maiming or death of 1 or 2 kids on their bikes over the course of a few years trying to get back and forth to the library on icy streets that do not have the traffic calming and street lighting of the Back Bay.

Thankfully the idea got squashed after some virulent opposition from Lower Mills, which has a very, very diverse clientele despite this new brahmin's supposed vision of the area.

Now the city is proposing to create a new library when there is a really, really big library 3/4's of a mile from the China Trade Center, with subway lines nearly directly linking the two sites, as well as libraries 0.7 miles to the north on Cambridge Street and 1.1 miles to the south on Tremont Street.

Seems kind of odd that the city is creating a new library when there are multiple resources nearby to Chinatown, no? Perhaps in the interest of diversity, there be a section of the BPL, rather than say a place for Jim and Margery to gab, for the BPL's collection of Chinese and Chinese interest materials?

I'm sure that there is a need for Chinatown to have a new library. I hope it works out and maybe it should really be located closer to Tai Tung Village in the heart of the neighborhood rather in a section of the neighborhood that even though it has the subway station at it, closer to where the majority of the people of the neighborhood live.

To make my point, it seems to certain decision influencers in the city that certain neighborhood libraries are "good" when others are "bad". Seems weird when those libraries (and I have had a card since I was 5) benefit all.

On a side note, thank you to the great staffs of the Lower Mills, Adams Street, and Codman Square branches who helped me satisfy my intellectual curiosities over the years.

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... of the new luxury high rises aren't likely to send their kids and nanny over to Tai Tung village for story hour. Which is a shame.
There needs to be more traffic calming on Stuart, Kneeland and Washington so everyone in Chinatown can get to the China Trade Building safely and enjoy getting there as well.
It's a good use of the building though!

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The dropoff and pickup curb area is dangerous at 1 Kneeland Street Tufts Dental as well there at that difficult intersection Stuart St,, Kneeland St., Washinton St. for patients walking to/from Tufts Medical area.
map https://www.google.com/search?q=1+kneeland+st+boston+ma+02111

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Politics.

They really pushed closing 4 branches, ended up closing 2 (though Orient Heights is a tough call, since they kind of built a new branch between the 2 East Boston branches and combined.) Lower Mills and the one in Oak Square survived.

But yeah, how to they go from saying there are too many branches to saying we need more?

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Kirstein Business (which used to be in the financial district), or some other neighborhood branch?

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That was tricky. The BHA rehabbed the complex. The library was replaced with a community center.

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Answering this question honestly would limit any chance in hell I could ever run for office again ...

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Maybe, maybe not. Recall that the BPL president at the time was my Ryan, who'd made her reputation in Minnesota shutting small neighborhood branches and creating larger sort of "regional" branches, and that she tried doing that here - it wasn't just Lower Mills she wanted to shut, it was a bunch of other neighborhood branches as well. She, and Menino, lost (except maybe in East Boston, but you could argue the branches there were kind of beyond help any way).

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I still don't understand why Chinatown so desperately needs a branch library when the main library is less than a mile away and easily walkable. I can walk there from Chinatown in under fifteen minutes easily. Or two stops on the Orange Line from Chinatown to Back Bay. In fact the Copley Library is far closer to Chinatown than the East Boston or South Boston libraries (for example) are to many parts of those respective communities. The Copley Library also employs many Chinatown residents if I am not mistaken.

Having said that however, I'll also say having more libraries can only be a good thing.

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Copley Square is also less than a mile away from the existing South End BPL Branch on Tremont Street, and arguably a nicer walk than from Chinatown.

Pro tip: if you need to reserve an MFA pass and there are none available for pickup at Copley for the date you need, there is an excellent chance you will be able to reserve at the nearby South End Branch.

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It feels like the large central library of a large library system. There's a lot more to a neighborhood library. Where are the places where Chinatown kids can put up their posters, where neighborhood seniors can gather for clubs, etc., etc.? Plus, Copley's really only close in nice weather.

Now, when does the Seaport get a library?

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Pretty sure we have already commented and defended why the Copley library is not a replacement for a Chinatown library in a previous post a few months ago, but now I'm dying to know how you know (or what makes you think) that the Copley library employs "many Chinatown residents"? Have you asked them all where they live or is that a blanket assumption that Asian-looking people = "Chinatown residents"? This is a serious question.

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"Branch Facilities Review
"From December 2012 through February 2013, a review of all Boston Public Library branch locations was conducted. The goal of the review was to evaluate how successfully the branches meet the Principles for Excellence established by the Compass: Strategic Plan approved by the library’s Board of Trustees on November 15, 2011."
http://www.bpl.org/branches/branch_capital_projects.htm

Compare Cambridge Public Libraries...
Budget page V-142 and other pages, search... library
at
http://www.cambridgema.gov/~/media/Files/budgetdepartment/FinancePDFs/fy...

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Branch libraries offer more than just a shorter walk for residents that a lot of the people commenting don't seem to understand. They are an extremely important part of the neighborhood both for youth having a safe place to go and do their homework (often with extra help) and adults who don't have the mobility to walk 2 miles roundtrip with a pile of books. A neighborhood brand often also specializes in a specific topic that might get overlooked in a large branch.

My librarians know me by sight and say hello to me when I see them in the neighborhood. They offer classes, spaces for tutoring, programs for everyone, and its all well organized. I'm glad they might get a branch...seems a little odd that it wasn't just moved and was disbanded entirely.

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We can easily walk/bike to Copley too, and probably go there about as much as we go to our library in Roxbury. Copley is a great facility and has a tooonnn of amazing resources, but it's huge and impersonal. The librarians at our local library know our kids and all the other neighborhood kids and will put aside things they come across that match kids' interests or school projects they're working on. The librarians at Copley are different every time and don't seem to know any of their patrons. Which is fine; as I said, we view the branch library and Copley as serving very different purposes. I would also never send pre-teen kids to Copley alone, even if I lived within sight of it, because it just isn't the same in terms of familiar people looking out for the community. The branch libraries are very much needed.

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