At their most recent public meeting at the Adams Street Library in Dorchester, the BPL trustees voted to accept $503, 078.96 worth of donations during the 2013 fiscal year from different sources, including the MA Library Commissioners' Board ($147,350), Harvard University ($5,900), library patrons and many library Friends groups. Among them was a gift of $6,700 raised by FOSEL to make the South End branch fully handicapped accessible. FOSEL's was the next-to-largest gift to the BPL in the fiscal year, exceeded only by a donation from the Citywide Friends of the BPL for more than $28,000 for a variety of goals, including museum passes and audio-visual equipment.
The official gifts to the BPL are only part of the story of local contributions to neighborhood libraries, suggesting a fertile source for fundraising should the BPL Foundation suddenly wake up and decide to partner with branch libraries on matters of concern to neighborhood patrons. For example, a previous FOSEL board member paid more than $7,000 to have the library's oak tables restored several years ago, something that was never entered in the BPL's Gifts Received book. FOSEL also installed and maintains plantings in the tree pits around the library to the tune of thousands of dollars. FOSEL had the rugs cleaned. We refurbished the very popular seating area for yet more thousands. We purchased a lectern, book displays and computer tables, among other items. (We have asked the BPL several times to replace the broken pavement in front of the library, thus far without results. We also requested the five oaks in Library Park be trimmed, as their dead limbs and branches present a danger to park users. So far, no results.)
Most recently, FOSEL paid for a complete refurbishing of the South End branch's library counter. The wooden surface not only looked old and worn but also caused splinters in the hands of the staff when checking books in and out. The red vinyl upholstery facing the patrons was faded and torn, with the foam backing hanging out. Thanks to the excellent work of local contractor Jack Crane and long-time South End upholsterer John Egan, the counters are gleaming and smooth, the upholstery beautifully installed, and the staff is thrilled. FOSEL spent about $3,000 for the project, funds raised from you, our neighbors and supporters. A special thanks to long-time library volunteer Virginia Eskin, who brought the deteriorated counter to our attention and pushed us to get it done.