Friday, April 9, 2010

It's official: BPL to close Orient Heights Branch Library in East Boston

A shameful day in the cultural life of East Boston; Orient Heights Library to Close. People of Boston urge Mayor to reject BPL Trustees move.

From the BPL press office:
Boston – April 9, 2010 – The Boston Public Library Board of Trustees today approved a proposed $38.9 million budget for the upcoming 2011 fiscal year. The plan keeps twenty-two branches of the Boston Public Library open with their current hours. It also closes four branch buildings: Faneuil (Brighton), Lower Mills (Dorchester), Orient Heights (East Boston), and Washington Village (South Boston).

“After much study, the board has come to what I deeply believe to be a judicious and prudent decision for the Boston Public Library in a difficult time,” said Jeffrey B. Rudman, Chairman of the Trustees. “We are very grateful to President Ryan and her team for the rigor, fairness, and wisdom they have brought to this budgetary process.”

The Trustees further voted that the Boston Public Library would establish as the first priority in its capital projects expenditures the construction of a brand new branch library in East Boston. Earlier this week, the Trustees announced that the City of Boston would fund the library at the same level as the current fiscal year, adding nearly $300,000 to help close what had been a $3.6 million gap. The Boston Public Library Board of Trustees also approved the submittal of the library’s budget recommendation to Mayor Thomas M. Menino to be included in the total City of Boston budget to the Boston City Council. Funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will be finalized in the coming months.

Boston Public Library President Amy E. Ryan expressed her confidence that FY11 budget would begin to move the library forward. “While we understand the natural attachment that people have to the branch with which they are familiar, all of the efficiencies in this plan will lead to a more robust, sustainable, and modern library system,” said Ryan.

At the morning meeting, Ryan reiterated that the BPL’s FY11 budget also includes significant reductions at the Central Library in Copley Square and in administrative services and support. Two-thirds of the library’s budget gap is being closed by cutting back in these areas, including the reduction of up to 69 positions. Non-personnel reductions and efficiencies identified in the FY11 budget range from reducing the library’s leased vehicle fleet by one-third to cutting back on maintenance contracts. In the branches, up to 25 positions are expected to be eliminated.

Even as the library sees a decrease in overall revenues, the demand for books and programs is on the rise. In the last three years, the number of books, CDs, DVDs borrowed from the library is up 31%. “Today, half of Boston residents use their Boston Public Library card,” Ryan noted. “With our resources aligned properly, we can reach even more. The plan approved today is a significant step forward in making the library the reliable and responsive institution that the people of Boston deserve.”

In the months since her preliminary budget presentation in January, President Ryan and the Boston Public Library staff hosted multiple community and Trustee meetings, and solicited feedback about the proposed budget. More than 1,000 email messages and letters were sent to the Boston Public Library, and more than 100 community members spoke at Trustee meetings at the Central Library and community meetings in the neighborhoods.

Meanwhile People of Boston is urging the mayor to reject BPL trustee's budget move.

For Immediate Release
Press Release

Contact Information:
Brandon Abbs

April 9, 2010

People of Boston Branches Calls on Boston Mayor to REJECT the Boston Public Library Budget Recommendation

Boston - Today the Trustees of the Boston Public Library authorized President Amy Ryan to submit a budget to the city that includes in its plans to layoff 90 workers and the closure of 4 branch libraries: Lower Mills in the Dorchester neighborhood, Washington Village in the Old Colony Housing Project in South Boston, Faneuil in the Brighton/Oak Square neighborhood, and Orient Heights in East Boston.  An amendment to delay a vote on the Orient Heights closure until September 2011 failed on a 3-3 tie.  Both votes come as no surprise to people who have been following this process closely, but are a failure of the democratic process.  The vote was 5-0-1 in favor of closure, with one abstention from Trustee Paul LaCamera due to the failure of his amendment.  Trustee Jeff Rudman was visibly upset at LaCamera for the proposal.

Not one voice from one person who has spoken up about these plans has called for the closure of these libraries.  No public official who is honestly representing their constituents concerns has said to close these branches or lay off workers.  The decision by the Trustees is unilateral and should be rejected by Mayor Thomas Menino for not representing the voice of the people.

The people elected Mayor Menino so that he could appoint Trustees that would represent them in their decisions.  Today they failed in representing the public and now Mayor Menino must reject their budget and give the library the democratic choice.  It is clear that the democratic choice is for Option 1: reduced hours in the branch libraries.

A candlelight vigil will be held at Faneuil Branch library tonight at 5:30 P.M.  The Faneuil Branch is located at 419 Faneuil Street in Brighton, MA 02135.  The phone number for this branch is 617-782-6705 and the branch librarian is Dorothy Keller.  Maria Rodrigues is organizing the event  Councillor Mark Ciommo represents this district and is chairman of the Ways & Means committee, which will hold a hearing on the city budget's funding of the library sometime after April 14, 2010. ---
"Today is not THE END"
Phone: 617-942-1692