Community News

Deborah Madrey's Retirement Party Brought Tears, Madrey's Favorite Food, a Splendid Farewell Sheetcake, Tables Full of Gifts, and about 75 Well-wishers

A large crowd of well-wishers filled the South end branch during the retirement reception for Deborah Madrey

A large crowd of well-wishers filled the South end branch during the retirement reception for Deborah Madrey

The delicious sheet cake with Best Wishes for retiring library staffer, Deborah Madrey

The delicious sheet cake with Best Wishes for retiring library staffer, Deborah Madrey

The reception to send off longtime South End library staffer, Deborah Madrey into retirement next January brought so many well-wishers to the branch that food ran out within an hour and several tables were needed to hold many gifts. Madrey was quickly overcome by emotions and had to sit down for most of the event in the seating area, where she remained most of the time, surrounded by friends and paper handkerchiefs. 

Deborah Madrey, receiving friends and well-wishers in the library's seating area

Deborah Madrey, receiving friends and well-wishers in the library's seating area

It remains uncertain who will take the place of Madrey, whose pronouncements over the years on the villains of the day --or as she refers to them, the 'you-know-whos'-- and the sports scene (specifically tennis and football) were always sought after by patrons who could not quite make up their minds as quickly on the same subjects. It is also not clear who will from here on out provide biscuits to the dogs who patiently waited outside for their owners to get their library materials checked in or out, or their opinions vetted. 

One of several tables laden with farewell gifts for Deborah Madrey

One of several tables laden with farewell gifts for Deborah Madrey

Born and raised in Boston, Madrey attended church across the corner from West Newton and Tremont Streets. After obtaining a degree in Education from Emerson College, she spent 17 years as a public-school teacher in Los Angeles but returned to Boston in 1995 to join the staff at the South End library. She has observed many changes in the neighborhood and treasures the many friends she made at the branch. She is looking forward to retirement, hopes to travel, and would like to see libraries keep books and not go "all digital." 

Madrey saw most of the changes when computers arrived and when tapes and DVD’s became a “hot commodity,” so much so that she thinks libraries helped put Blockbuster out of business.  And, of course, she notes with some reservation the increasing availability of digital books for Kindles. But the biggest changes have been people's tastes in reading, she says. She recalls how popular V. C. Andrew was back then, especially the novel Petals on the Wind. She has not seen western novels and science fiction in a long while, noting, “Now they watch it more than they read it”. She recalls when urban fiction became very popular, with the work of Terry McMillan, which open the door for other black writers who became well known. 

As she is known to hundreds, if not thousands, Deborah Madrey behind the circulation desk of the South End branch of the Boston Public Library

As she is known to hundreds, if not thousands, Deborah Madrey behind the circulation desk of the South End branch of the Boston Public Library

Madrey will be around until early January, and will gladly reminisce with any of her friends who have not yet the chance to say goodbye. Bring the Kleenex, bring the dog. Biscuits are still distributed from the box on the shelf behind the circulation desk..

 

 

On August 31, National Overdose Awareness Day, Images of Local Individuals Who Died After Overdosing Were Projected on the Exterior Walls of the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library

Images representing the urgency of the opioid crisis were projected on the walls of the South End library on the night of Thursday,  August 31

Images representing the urgency of the opioid crisis were projected on the walls of the South End library on the night of Thursday,  August 31

How to pay attention to those who live among us but who can be so easily marginalized? How to remember them after they're gone?  On the evening of August 31 several images of the many   who died as a result of the opioid crisis were projected on the exterior walls of the South End library. It was the day of National Overdose Awareness Day. The event was sponsored by The South End Forum; the Boston Public Health Commission's AHOPE group (which focuses on needle exchange and related programs); and the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless (BHCHP)

Public libraries, including the South End branch, are among the locales where the social impact of homelessness and addiction plays out on a daily basis. Deploying a full-time guard at the South End library has alleviated some of the acute problems but for many marginalized people, the public library remains the refuge of last resort. It is also where more fortunate library users interact with the homeless and those in need of addiction services in an often-uneasy social dance mediated to some extent by library staff.

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According to Melanie Racine, of BHCHP, the display focused on black and white photographs of local people with the person's name, age and a quote from a family member that says a little about the relative who died as a result of overdose. "We hope to communicate the message that the men and women who have died from opioid overdose were mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons, and each was a unique human being," wrote Racine in an email. "The event gives a literal face --in fact, many faces-- to this epidemic." 

A similar attempt to humanize a marginalized population took place in California in 2012 when both the main libraries of San Jose and San Francisco organized a powerful photo exhibit of homeless and addicted men and women who used their facilities for shelter and services. Titled Acknowledged, images and text described how easy it was to become homeless, and how hard the struggle was to overcome. One subject, a man who grew up in a middle-class family in Indiana, and had a job and a college degree, caused a car crash where someone was killed. He fell into a depression, lost his job, became homeless. It took him many years to recover. 

 

The Last Jazz & Blues Concert of the Summer Featured Two Impromptu Musical Guests and the Start of FOSEL's Capital Campaign, "Writing the Next Chapter"

Pat Loomis  ,  saxophone, and his 'walk-on' guest, soul singer  Leon Beal, Jr . in Library Park, with Zayra Pola, on percussion, in the background

Pat Loomis, saxophone, and his 'walk-on' guest, soul singer Leon Beal, Jr. in Library Park, with Zayra Pola, on percussion, in the background

Saxophonist/vocalist Pat Loomis and his Friends, the band that performed four outstanding Jazz & Blues concerts in Library Park this summer, is aptly named for its Friends. This became apparent again on August 29 when, as has happened many times before in the seven years of the series,  two 'walk-on' musical guests added themselves to the band and electrified the already swaying crowd. Flute player Lance Martin walked into Library Park and joined the band of  Antonio Loomis, guitar; Amy Bellamy, keyboards; Aaron Bellamy, bass; Joaquin Santos, drums; and Zayra Pola, percussion.  Shortly after, classical soul singer Leon Beal, Jr. made his appearance and performed a thrilling Stand By Me.

Pat Loomis  with another 'walk-on' guest, the flutist  Lance Martin

Pat Loomis with another 'walk-on' guest, the flutist Lance Martin

Drummer  Joaquin Santos

Drummer Joaquin Santos

The theme of the evening was The Quiet Storm: An Evening Of Smooth, Seductive Grooves, and featured several by Stevie Wonder (Another Star; Boogie On Reggae Woman and My Cherie Amour, sung by Pat Loomis himself). The weather had turned cool and the somewhat chilled audience also heard Can't Hide Love (Earth, Wind, and Fire); Armando's Rhumba (Chick Corea); The Lady In My Life (Michael Jackson); and the final song of the final performance, Happy People (Kenny Garrett). 

Before the concert began, half a dozen FOSEL board members and BPL president David Leonard were on hand to ring in their joint fundraising project for an interior library renovation, called Writing the Next Chapter. Poster boards displayed the proposed redesign, which elicited several comments along the lines of "about time this happened."  

Proposed changes to the downstairs interior of the South End Library

Proposed changes to the downstairs interior of the South End Library

Brochures detailing the renovation and how and where to donate are now available at the branch, and will be mailed in the near future to South End library supporters. 

Report from the The Eighth Annual Easter Egg Hunt: 1,400 Eggs Filled with Chocolate, Poems and Knock-Knock Jokes Collected by a Horde of Happy Children in Less than Three Minutes...

the 1,400 eggs awaiting the onslaught
the 1,400 eggs awaiting the onslaught

Another Egg Hunt under the belt of the staff and Friends of the  South End library. The sun came out. The park

The hordes at the gate before the 11:00 count-down
The hordes at the gate before the 11:00 count-down

looked great, thanks to a thorough sweeping, weeding and mulching by the Parks Department. The balloons waved in the breeze. The Easter Bunny was better than

the Easter Bunny has extra eggs for late-comers
the Easter Bunny has extra eggs for late-comers

ever. So many happy children. The first outdoor event of Spring 2016. The coffee was hot. The lemonade sweet. Baked good as delicious as ever. A plethora of selfies. Some not-so-selfies, too, as here in this post.

The FOSEL set-up crew
The FOSEL set-up crew

The Easter Bunny Will Host the Eighth Annual South End Library Easter Egg Hunt at Library Park on Sunday, March 27, From 11 AM to 2 PM

The Easter Bunny is ready for you
The Easter Bunny is ready for you

After a one-year hiatus due to last year's snow deluge, the Eighth Annual South End Library Easter Egg Hunt is back on track for Sunday, March 27 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The Easter Bunny is practicing hugs. The 1,400 eggs have been filled with chocolate, poems and knock-knock jokes. The Parks Department and FOSEL will have scrubbed Library Park clean. Police officers from Area D4 have been asked to be there to assist with street crossing, and if previous years' experience is a guide, they will be there.  FOSEL will have created a separate area for little kids up to age four.

Ready to hunt, loaded for chocolates, poems and knock-knock jokes
Ready to hunt, loaded for chocolates, poems and knock-knock jokes

Do not be late: The gates to Library Park will open after a count-down of 20 seconds at 11:00 AM SHARP. It will all be over at 11:03 AM, if past experience still holds. There will be Easter baskets for any child who for forgot to bring one. Refreshments will be served.