Facing consolidation and closing of their branches, library advocates are meeting all over town to fight the BPL plans in its efforts to close a $3.6 million funding gap. Petitions are being signed, state and local representatives are hauled to meetings, Friends' groups are organizing evening and weekend meetings to rally their members. This Saturday, some 25 people sat on chairs in the Parker Hill Library's basement to develop their plan of attack. State Rep. Jeff Sanchez had a representative there, as did Mayor Menino, and Mike Ross, City Council President, showed up himself. Ross reported that he had met with BPL President Amy Ryan in his office for more than an hour recently. She showed him a list of criteria that he could not make a copy of but included such factors as circulation, attendance, size and handicapped accessibility. It was his impression that library consolidation was what she wanted to do, "regardless of the financial situation." The philosophy underlying the move is that the BPL president feels the current constellation of branch libraries does not work in the 21st century. Some libraries are not where they need to be while, in other neighborhoods, there are too many, Ross relayed. The City Council president told the Parker Hill supporters that, as far as he was concerned, he'd rather get rid of some BPL executives first before he agrees to close any libraries. In addition, he said he plans to hold a public meeting on March 11 at 10:30 AM to discuss with the BPL leadership to go over every expense and cost-saving measure he can find. "Some of the unions already have come up with good lists," he remarked. Closing libraries while keeping others open may also run afoul of some "turf" issues, Ross explained. "Urban kids have to deal with these things," he said, "so a number of our youngsters may end up not being able to get to a library if "theirs" closes and the open library is not "on their turf."
Ross encouraged everyone to show up at the next BPL trustees meeting on March 9 at 3 PM at Copley Library. "The entire City Council will be there," he promised.