Under Intensified Public Scrutiny, BPL Trustees Acknowledge Need to "Become More Serious" About Fundraising as Fiscal 2012 Budget Cuts Loom

At Tuesday's BPL Trustees meeting in the Roslindale branch, members of the Library Board signaled to the rapt audience of more than 60 people that they had "heard" the public clamor for better funding of their public libraries. As little as a year ago, trustees meetings were hardly attended by the public, which is now paying attention as a result of the BPL's attempts to close branch libraries. "You let us know we have a public obligation and we share that," said Paul LaCamera, departing General Manager of WBUR and a trustee since 2009. "In the spring hearings, there was a strong sense from the public that trustees had responsibilities at the State House and elsewhere," he added. "You told us 'you guys have to become more serious,' and we will do that." LaCamera added library trustees had embarked on several "exciting efforts" that included contacts with the Development

Office of the Museum of Fine Arts. The MFA recently opened its new wing for which it raised more than half a billion dollars from donors in the Greater Boston area in the last seven years.Basketball Water Games hire "We are on our way," said LaCamera. "We've heard loud and clear what constituents and patrons want." "Don't walk there--RUN," commented trustee Donna DePrisco, whose efforts years ago to engage the BPL in MFA-style fundraising bore no fruit. LaCamera pointed out that the current chair of the Legislature's Library Caucus was defeated, but trustee Byron Rushing, State Representative for the South End, responded that the Boson delegation to the State House would be "a lot more involved" in the state-wide caucus than before. "No one is giving up on getting money for the library. Our request seems pretty small," said Rushing. "We're not giving up." Trustee James Carroll confessed anxiety about being "blind-sided" by the budget, the way the board was a year ago. "It would help me if I knew what the parameters were in advance and what fiscal decisions would be made," he said. Rep. Rushing reminded the trustees that things had changed somewhat for the better. "You have a better relationship with the Legislature than you've ever had," he commented. "The lines of communication are more open." President Amy Ryan, who recommended keeping all library branches open while moving forward on a strategic plan, expressed concern about next year's budget challenges. A representative from the Mayor's Office confirmed that there likely would be a ten percent cut in local aid that would have to be borne by all city departments, including the library. The budget guidelines will be out in a few weeks and are to be discussed at the next trustees meeting, to be held on January 18, 2011.