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Boston libraries subject to closure

NOT SUBJECT TO CLOSURE
Brighton, Central Library (Copley Square), Codman Square, Dudley, Grove Hall, Honan-Allston, Hyde Park, Mattapan, and West Roxbury.

SUBJECT TO CLOSURE
Eight of these will be closed because the mayor is using the current fiscal crises to drive long term planning for the BPL. If you want to fight to keep your branch open, or all branches open, write the mayor, BPL president and BPL Chair of the Board of Trustees and ask them to fully-fund the BPL and plan the future based on full funding.
* Adams Street
* Charlestown
* Connolly
* Dudley Literacy Center
* East Boston
* Egleston Square
* Faneuil
* Fields Corner
* Jamaica Plain
* Lower Mills
* North End
* Orient Heights
* Parker Hill
* Roslindale
* South Boston
* South End
* Uphams Corner
* Washington Village
* West End

IMAGE(http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk143/nfsagan/Do-Menino-and-Ryan-want-to-.jpg)

If you'd like to see the city come up with 3.6 million budget shortfall to fully fund the libraries, and to plan the future of BPL based on full funding and not budget shortfall, please write and tell the following decision makers:

Mayor Menino, [email protected]
BPL President Amy Ryan, [email protected]
Mr. Jeffrey Rudman, Esq., Chair of the BPL Board of Trustees, [email protected]

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Comments

In a March 26 article called "Boston Public Library Budget Meetings: Bolster Your Branch (with Literary Lights?)" on an obscure blog called the Bostonist, Kerry Skemp writes:

This week, BPL Trustees met to discuss the organization's budget. You can find full budget information on the library's site, and a summary of the trustees' 24th meeting, where the board approved measures to protect libraries near schools, and picked "lead libraries" that will not be subject to closure. These are Brighton, Central Library (Copley Square), Codman Square, Dudley, Grove Hall, Honan-Allston, Hyde Park, Mattapan, and West Roxbury. Lead libraries have 20,000+ square feet of space, new or renovated buildings, higher levels of energy efficiency, current electrical and data systems with ability to expand, parking lot with branch or public parking adjacent to branch, and strong school-age services, and are readily accessible via public transportation, ADA accessible, and adjacent to existing/expanding commercial service areas. (read the whole thing)

What's clear is that "lead" library means only one thing, not subject to being shut down. Let's look at which branches are subject to be shut down.

Why, in an age when libraries are at once a community center and a source of material for education for all age levels would the city of Boston and the BPL plan the future based on money's allocated during the current fiscal crisis?

If the trustees and president were responsible, they'd plan the budget needs, appeal to the people of Boston for funding and not let one man, the mayor, determine the future of their libraries based on a current budget shortfall.

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Its $3.6 million a year

This is not a one time fund raising venture. That $3.6 million will need to be raised annually and then factor in inflation.

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You have no clue what state funding next year will be - they could cut yet again and we're in the same boat. What you do have to keep in mind are two items

- 3.6 million dollars is 'nothing'. The Mayor or the Gov can find that in pocket change. They Mayor doesn't want to, as he's using the shortfall as an excuse to do other things he would do on his own, but it would make him look bad, so now he's blaming the state while he does what he's wanted to do for a while.

- The state money was just supposed to be used because the BPL bought 'state wide' resources - like buying extra books for other libraries in the 'network'. Technically state money should only effect those state services, but either their twisting the cut to their own means, or they've been 'illegally' using state money for other BPL operations.

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BPL budget shortfall $3,600,000 / Boston City Annual Budget $2,420,000,000
BPL budget shortfall as a percentage of Boston City Annual Budget = 0.15% or 15/100ths of 1%

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West Roxbury does not have parking. It does have city workers in four out of every five houses.

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Its not even close to any of the subway lines, just a commuter rail stop (with infrequent service). This is a city, why is parking more important than public transit? Oh right, Menino. He's living in the 1950s and trying to pull Boston back to those suburbanized days. Not surprising that his local local in Hyde Park wont be closed (part of it he had named after him).
The Globe recently exposed that Menino could have put city retirees on medicare and saved 5 million a year, more than enough to save the libraries. But they are apparently more important than libraries.

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But if you have trouble finding a place to park around it, you're not looking hard enough.

Yes, kind of underserved by public transportation, although there are a couple of bus lines that stop right there - and it's probably the only place in the entire MBTA system that has a commuter-rail stop two blocks away on either side (I've never gotten how that happened, but that's another issue).

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W. Roxbury is one of the busiest branches, which was one of the criteria.

What are the other branches like? Are they busy? I know any time I go into W. Roxbury or Roslindale libraries there are lots of people there, always a few waiting to check out books, kids doing homework, people using the computers & WiFi access, people hanging out reading magazines, tutoring sessions, etc.

Is it like that at the branches that might close?

I don't like to see any library close, but I'm wondering if any really are under-used.

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Why in the world would they put Charlestown on the "subject to closure" list. It's an isolated neighborhood with no other branch nearby. Maybe because they don't vote for Mayor Mumbles?

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(1) I can't believe the city has this many libraries. Orient Heights? That place in Old Colony Housing Projects?

(2) Assuming all else equal (big assumption, I concede that), it should be pretty easy to knock off eight libraries from this list. Does Dorchester need six libraries? Does South Boston need two (especially in light of point (1))? (Full disclosure, I currently live in South Boston.) Does East Boston need two? Brighton need three? I apologize for ruffling feathers, but the objective answer to all these questions is no. Even if we weren't short the cash, cutting down on the amount of branches is fiscally prudent and responsible.

(3) You could probably get rid of either the West End or the North End library. They are within walking distance from each other.

(4) The fellow above who thinks $3.6MM a year is pocket change: do you own a home and pay RE taxes? Have you bought a new or expensive used vehicle and paid sales and excise tax before? Have you ever not received a refund from Mass DOR? Finally, do you keep up with the Herald or the Globe? That is a lot of money and we don't have that much. Plus, as much as I love Boston and can't stand venturing outside its city limits, there are other folks in the Commonwealth who have claim on tax revenues. Supporting 20+ branches for Boston's 600K (?) residents is not the most pressing issue we face. It's unfortunate, but the responsible thing to do is consolidate the branches.

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1-2 The libraries on the death list are serving a lot of people, so they are being used. If the ones that stay are "needed" then it's hard to argue that the ones set to go aren't needed.
3 don't know, don't live there. But as for distance, I'm sure there are separate Dunkin Donuts and CVSs closer to each other than these libraries.
4. From a budgetary standpoint, $3.6M is really a tiny slice in the city budget. The budget issue is confused with the issue of civic buildings vs. the internet. When you make a case for buildings, the budget comes up. When you make the case that the money is available, the 21st century more-than-just-books library is the reason.

As a fellow taxpayer I appreciate your concerns and have made many attempts to get elected officials to run the city in a more intelligent way on both spending and tax sides. However they can't use their own failure as an excuse to just step away from one of the few working civic buildings in my neighborhood.

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I only note that maybe each neighborhood doesn't need multiple libraries. For example, if Dorchester ended up with five (instead of six) libraries, would it be possible that it could be done in a way that the citizenry were impacted in the least way possible? Yes, I think our elected officials and the BPL trustees are capable of doing that.

As far communities that "need" libraries, I am not sure why you imply that folks at Old Colony need a library exactly where they live more then anyone else in Boston. They are still able to walk (or take transportation) to the library on E. Broadway, which is probably a 15 minute walk (up Dorchester Street, then walk two blocks down E. Broadway). It's closer than the supermarket!

The West End and North End library are remarkably close to each other. I'm not sure the "Dunks proximity" test is very relevant to the discussion, but I digress.

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I'm surprised no Dorchester chauvinist has pointed out that Dorchester is the largest part of the city....

I'm certainly not going to sit here and say that Faneuil should stay and the West End should go, because that's what the cutters want, they want us to fight it out now amongst each other. If the whiter libraries stay, it's racism. If the blacker libraries survive, it's reverse racism. Not a good situation for people, but good for a bureaucracy that has an easier time with a divided and desperate population.

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Pocket change is in comparison to the budget. Boston's budget is 2.42 BILLION dollars. comparatively, 3.6 million is pocket change. It's even smaller pocket change compared to the state's 28.2 BILLION dollar budget. Every cut helps, and every dollar is my tax dollar. But there are other places to save 3.6 million state dollars than cutting libraries.

"It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it".

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I can't believe the city has this many libraries.

If you aren't familiar with these libraries, you don't know Boston. And what you think is not "objective." With an attitude like that, you must be a yuppie blow-in.

They are all intensively used during much of the day, including the one in the Old Colony Projects (I have been there).

The reason is elderly people and children after school. It might be easy for you to walk two miles from Cambridge Street to Parmenter Street, but others cannot.

I suggest you move elsewhere and save your money.

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It's quiie a hike -- and there is no public transportation route (that I am aware of) that would make it easy to get from one area to the other.

I always thought Menino was supposed to be a library supporter -- how did he come to regard libraries, librarians and the services these provide with such contempt?

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I've been wondering too... I went to the Copley Library and parts of the modern side just look like hell. Corners must have been cut during construction outside the central vault and it shows. The stairwells are dirty, the carpet is stained and frayed etc. It just hasn't aged well. My guess is they want a shinier Copley and don't have the budget to redo it.

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Really? Copley looks great. Who gives a rat's ass about frayed carpets and dirty stairwells? I'm there just about every other week and I've never noticed the condition of the decor nor have I noticed particularly dirty stairwells. Aren't you more concerned with the quality of staff, books, availability of information and the tools with which to acquire it... computers, microfilm readers, etc.? This isn't the Harvard Univ. or the Boston Athenaeum, it's the PUBLIC library.

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No it's ok with me. I feel like it's denuded of books in some parts. It's a little embarrassing though how nice the old section is, and then how damaged the new section looks. Maybe I just like the old part, but then I like books so I'm a dinosaur.

I just imagine the mayor taking the Japanese delegation through there and getting annoyed about the stains all over the place.

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I remember going to the Faneuil library for the first time when I was 22, it looked like half the books were about the Kennedys. Some of these things take a while to appreciate.

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Oh.

Most of the time I visit the West End or the Broadway South Boston library, they are empty. But when I visit its only to park my gigantic SUV for free so I cAN walk to the local RE office and buy a 1000sqft condo on the market in excess of $500,000. Plus I drink a foamy latte from Starbucks and talk on my iPhone the whole time while doing this. But from what I can tell, ghost town.

Not necessary to be so rude. Thanks for the caricature though.

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Every time I go to West End that tiny library is full of people. I had to sit on the floor recently because the tables were taken. (Okay, I choose to curl up with my book on the floor.) Look at the numbers for that branch in today's Glob. Its my favorite branch!

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Brighton has two libraries, Faneuil and Brighton. Not living there, I don't know enough about traffic patterns and use rates to know if it deserves them both, but it does have only two.

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The map shows three, right?

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Wrong. The map shows two in Brighton and one in Allston.

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It seems odd to close the North End branch or the Charlestown branch when part of the criteria for deciding which were the "Lead" libraries was proximity to a school. The North End branch has a school right behind it and at least two elderly housing buildings within a block or two of it. I know elderly housing isn't a school but a lot of them use that branch as a community center of sorts and it's important to provide opportunities to keep active for citizens regardless of age. The Charlestown one is, as someone else pointed out, the only branch in an isolated section of the city so by default it's the closest library to any schools located in the neighborhood.

Keeping in mind that we do live in "Taxachusetts" and the mere suggestion of an increase of any sort, maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing to raise the late fees for books. Right now the fee is $0.10 a day per a book; an increase to $0.15 or $0.20 per a day per a book might not completely close the gap but it would certainly help the problem and maybe that would mean less branches closing. I use the BPL quite frequently (actually I use the North End, South Boston and Copley branches regularly), sometimes taking out 2-3 books a time every other week or so. That starts to add up considering the number of people using the whole BPL system. A nickle or a dime more isn't going to ruin anyone and if it's really an issue for someone then it's simple to avoid by returning their books on time.

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Sorry, all fees collected by the BPL go into the city general fund - they do not support the library, nor help pay for the loss the library might incur. (if you lose a book, the fine goes to the city, not to the library to replace the book)

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Libraries will be a low priority for him. A bloated City Hall full of hacks and an even bigger city hall on the waterfront will be his priorities. That, and putting his name on everything in the city.

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All I know is they tore down my former elementary school to build that branch, concurrently selling the perfectly serviceable library building just up the same street (which I seriously loved as a kid.) If they close the branch now, I will have lost a whole bunch of my past for nothing.

Old fart rant over.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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The house just passed a "" to reimburse cities and towns for the special election...
soooo let me get this straight...
you change the rules so that a republican governor can't appoint a senator, then change the rules back to appoint an interim senator, then you have a special election.
Why exactly do the cities and towns deserve to be reimbursed???
where did that "Supplemental budget" come from??

why can't they make 3.4 million appear out of thin air for libraries that will be used to educate our next generation of elected officials??

down with libraries!!! down with education!!! hooraaay ridiculous incompetent government!!!

Maybe I'm off base, but shouldn't we be giving that money to neighborhood libraries, not to cities and towns who have a responsibility to hold these elections??
I understand that money is tight and times are tough, but how do you determine that they get a special dispensation for doing what they are expected to??

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Link to google map of BPL branches.

IMAGE(http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk143/nfsagan/BPL.png)

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I guess that's what happens when you have a "suburban" mayor.

Closing East Boston should be considered a hate crime, given that you need to either pay a toll or an MBTA fare to get to another branch.

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They really don't understand how truly divisive they've made the process, a process that is based on a wrong-minded conclusion: that you have to close branch libraries to make them more accessible to "the people" (TM) of "the neighborhoods" (TM) - Mayor Tom Menino.

I reject the process.

Can you believe that people on the Board of Trustees are rolling over for this? It's shameful.

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> They really don't understand how truly divisive they've made the process

I would assume that this WAS intended. Why? Now, that's another question.

The Board of Trustees was gradually packed with sycophants, in order to muster a majority in favor of dumping Margolis -- on the (now especially ludicrous) trumped-up charge of insufficient concern for the branch libraries.

The bottom line is that the guy ultimately in charge no longer has to pretend to try to please constituents (i.e. voters).

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One of the bigger Boston Public Libraries isn't on that map, if you notice. But still, the point is well taken. No branches in Charlestown or East Boston is ridiculous.

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Beside BPL central in Copley?

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That's all you missed. But it's a pretty huge miss, considering the bibliographic bloodbath in the northern and eastern sections of the city.

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not 27, 8-10 of which are subject to closure. Thanks for pointing it out nonetheless. If I update the map, I'll add it.

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Oh, I certainly didn't think you did it maliciously. Just pointing out that the map shows an (inadvertently) skewed picture of the resources available to, say, Beacon Hill residents compared to those in Hyde Park.

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Knew it'd be great to have you back again. Keep on cracking down on those evil libraries.. who needs 'em? Sarah Palin doesn't know how to read anyway.

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