It's been about seven years since the nine-member Library Board graced the South End branch for a public meeting. The BPL trustees meet most often at the Central Library but on a regular basis visit the branches to show the BPL flag in the hinterlands. All nine members of its current board were appointed by former Mayor Thomas Menino. They include, among others, our distinguished South End State Rep. and library aficionado, Byron Rushing; internationally acclaimed author Dennis Lehane, who drew a huge crowd to the branch when he came to talk in May 2013; Paul LaCamera, former general manager of WBUR and the moving force behind the new East Boston library branch; and Carol Fulp, a prominent business consultant who is also a trustee of the JFK Library and a President Obama appointee in 2011 as US delegate to the United Nations. Trustees have five-year terms for which there seem to be no term limits. Nor is there a risk for a slap on the wrist when trustees don't show up at meetings: One trustee did not attend meetings for four years before she was replaced in 2011, after five terms.
Among the items on the January 13 Agenda, linked here, is a report on a hearing held in December by City Councilor Frank Baker on the subject of developing new branch libraries in to-be-built housing developments. Mixed-use developments already exist in other US cities, notably St. Paul, MI, where the 2006 Rondo Library occupies an entire lot's floor, but the levels above contain a mix of 98 affordable and market-rate housing units. Similarly, in the Seattle, WA, public library system, its Chinatown branch is on the first level of a five-story building that also offers housing and a community center, while its Delridge branch anchors the first floor of a three-story building with 19 apartments. Councilor Frank Baker's territory, since redistricting, now includes part of the South End.
Other meeting agenda items include an update on BPL's capital projects, including the Johnson Building renovation on Boylston Street and next steps in finding a retail partner for the Central Library once the renovation is complete. Head librarian, Anne Smart, will talk about what's happening at the South End branch and FOSEL president Curt Seborowski will describe the South End Friends group's plans and achievements.
Should you still harbor questions about the Boston Public Library or its South End branch, here's your chance to voice them. You have to sign up to speak and keep your comments or questions to two minutes. You don't know what to ask? Here are some suggestions: When is the pavement in Library Park going to be fixed? Or the sidewalk at the park's opposite side on Rutland Square? Are there any plans to straighten out the fence on the alley side of the park that has been askew for about a year?