The Annual Meeting of the BPL trustees, which begins at 8:00 AM Tuesday, May 11, should provide an interesting window on how the trustees view both the past year and what lies ahead for the BPL. Another $42 million projected city budget cut for FY12 may explain why a source is telling the People of Boston Branches, the recently formed Library Friends umbrella group, that the BPL is already scouring for four additional branches to close next year. Yesterday's Boston Globe Sunday cartoon has a good suggestion on how to finance a public library system when its trustees don't seem to want to be bothered lobbying the state, the city or local Friends groups for funding, and prefer to just close branches and lay off a 100 people instead.
Separately, at a meeting sponsored last week in Lower Mills by the Citywide Friends for the Boston Public Library, an older Library Friends umbrella group closely allied with the BPL, City Councillor Maureen Feeney said the councillors are working on a proposal to keep ALL libraries open for one year, even at reduced hours, while a more nuanced public debate can take place on the BPL's future. "We never heard about a plan" about transforming the BPL until the proposed closings were announced, said Feeney. This proposal closely resembles one of the three options originally proposed for a vote by BPL president Amy Ryan, but rejected by the trustees in favor of closing four branches and laying off dozens of library staff. The City Council's library budget hearing will take place Thursday, June 3, at 6:00 PM at City Hall.
Finally, twelve state legislators have attached amendments to the state budget requiring state funding is conditional on keeping Boston libraries open. While the matter of the state inserting itself into city politics is always a delicate issue, the lack of public debate and outreach in the original decision to close libraries (ostensibly over state and city funding cuts, but subsequently described as a matter of "transforming the BPL" into a 21st Century system) seems to have raised the comfort level to do so anyway for at least half of the Boston delegation to make sure its funding is allocated to reflect the wish of the residents of Boston. The state representatives are: Linda Dorcena Forry, Michael Moran, Carlo Basile, Brian Wallace, Willie Mae Allen, Gloria Fox, Kevin Honan, Liz Malia, Aaron Michlewitz, Byron Rushing, Jeffrey Sanchez, and Marty Walz. Please contact your state representative to offer your support, as well as those who have not yet but could be persuaded to do so.