Councillor Charles Yancey Wants to Use $300,000 of $9 Million City Surplus to Keep Four Libraries Open But Gets Lukewarm Response From BPL's Amy Ryan

At an October 12 Post-Audit Hearing parsing the FY2011 Boston Public Library,  it was revealed that the City of Boston has a small surplus of $9 million. Budget Chair Charles Yancey, whose advocacy of libraries is legendary and oft-illustrated by his mantra, Bostonians Love Their Libraries, wanted to know from BPL President Amy Ryan whether this surplus could be used to keep open four libraries, currently slated to close in the spring. As previously reported, Boston state legislators have passed a state budget amendment to discourage the closings: if they occur, the BPL will lose an additional $2.4 million and cause another round of layoffs and cutbacks. At the hearing, BPL's financial officer Sean Nelson said the cost to continue services at the four libraries, Washington Village, Faneuil, East Boston and Lower Mills, for the remaining fiscal year would be about $300,000. "What steps do we need to take to reverse the motion set into play to close the libraries?" Councillor Yancey wanted to know. "I would have to go back to the board of trustees," said Ryan who was at the three-hour hearing with a cadre of nine BPL executives and consultants. "What if a generous donor would step forward with that amount?" Yancey persisted. "Whether it is an increase or decrease in funds, I have to go back to my original course of action," answered Ryan coolly, "and that is to go back to the board."

Stay tuned.