On an Upward Swing, Library Board Trustees Meet for Strategic Planning Session and Hire a New (and Experienced) Director for its Foundation

The upward swing at the Boston Public Library is continuing apace with the recent hiring of David McKay, an experienced fundraiser to head the anemic Boston Public Library Foundation, and the brainstorming at the committee level of a group of trustees and library luminaries about how to make the BPL "better than anyone," as trustee Carol Folpe put it. "Let's stretch ourselves, reach for the stars," she said. McKay, who is scheduled to meet with library Friends groups next month for a Q and A, has most recently built a development program at Berklee College that raised $50 million for a capital campaign. Previously, McKay served in development and alumni affairs positions at Trinity College of Vermont, Medical College of Georgia, Norwich University, and Vanderbilt University.

At the April 13 Compass strategic planning committee meeting, trustees and other members looked at several other library systems' long-range plans, including the British Library's and Seattle's. Trustee Zamawa Arenas liked the way the British Library saw fostering economic growth and development as an appropriate library function. BPL president Amy Ryan brought up visual presentation of library services as an important feature, especially as illiteracy in Boston may be as high as 23 percent. Bridging the digital divide, creating "green" libraries, weaving the BPL's history into its technology, developing sustainable partnerships and forging a user-centered institution crowded the wish list, as did innovation and intensive use of social media.

Members of the committee, chaired by Representative Byron Rushing, include:

  • Rep. Byron Rushing, Boston Public Library Board of Trustees
  • Carol Fulp, Boston Public Library Board of Trustees
  • Zamawa Arenas, Boston Public Library Board of Trustees
  • Amy E. Ryan, President, Boston Public Library
  • Meg Campbell, Executive Director, Codman Academy Charter Public School
  • Alice Hennessey, Special Assistant to Mayor Thomas M. Menino, City of Boston
  • Mimi Jones, Friends of Dudley Branch Library
  • Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero, Esq., Associate, Nixon Peabody LLP
  • Pamela Seigle, Former Trustee, Boston Public Library; Executive Director, Courage & Renewal Northeast at Wellesley College

The goal is for the committee to present a final plan to the trustees by the end of the year. Between then and now, the public will be apprised of  progress and invited to comment on the plan's details. The next such roundtable will be Thursday, May 5, at the West Roxbury Branch, from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. The next strategic planning committee session will be held at Copley Library in mid-June.

There will be a second set of Compass roundtables during the summer. Visitwww.bpl.org/compass for additional details or send comments via email tocompass@bpl.org.