In a welcome sign that the BPL is working hard to improve its ties with the State Legislature, it is hosting a breakfast for the state's Library Caucus on Monday, May 21. The caucus is made up of state legislators from all over the Commonwealth who see libraries as their special charge. Since 2008, when two powerful BPL trustees --MA Senate President William Bulger and State Rep. Angelo Scaccia-- left the Boston Library Board over the ousting of former BPL President Bernard Margolis by Mayor Thomas Menino, the relationship between BPL and Beacon Hill went into atrophy mode. The mayor did not appoint any state legislator to replace Bulger or Scaccia for several years, which meant, among other things, that for several years no one from the BPL was at the Legislature advocating and lobbying for funds to maintain library services. It proved one thing: if one does not ask, one does not get. The legislature cut Boston's library budget; the mayor cut the library budget; and in 2010 the mayor and BPL President Amy Ryan proposed closing up to 10 branches. In the end, none were closed, in part because Boston's state representatives, hearing the outrage in their constituents' voices, threatened to cut off all state funding to Boston if any library branches were shuttered.
Shortly thereafter, State Rep. Byron Rushing, who had assailed the BPL trustees for their lack of competent advocacy on Beacon Hill during the 2010 library closure fight, was nominated to the BPL's Library Board. Immediate improvements ensued. He made public comment at BPL trustees meetings standard operating procedure. He took charge of the long-term strategic planning plan, Compass, which had earlier been initiated by former BPL trustee and author, James Carroll. The May 21 breakfast meeting is another sign of library-climate warming. Kate Hogan (D Stow), will give opening remarks after a welcome by Amy Ryan; the executive director of the Massachussets Board of Library Commissioners, Robert Maier, will discuss budget priorities for the state libraries; and Rep. Rushing himself will talk about ...Library Cards. Stay tuned.
The one-hour meeting is open to the public and starts at 9:00 AM.