New library pushed as plus for Burke High, Grove Hall

By 
Martine Louis
Jan. 9, 2008

The Jeremiah E. Burke High School will break tradition as the first Boston public school to include a public branch library and community center within its footprint under a city hall plan. The new facility, to be built this year, is deemed a "national model" by Mayor Thomas Menino, who said the library will serve the needs of both the 1,200 students at the Burke as well as Grove Hall residents.

The new addition - a three-story 27,000 square foot center built along Geneva Avenue - will include a first floor location for Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF), with the school's library on the second floor and the Grove Hall Branch library on the top floor. It will replace the existing branch library on Crawford Street.

"The amazing neighbors who live and work near the Burke have been so accommodating and have contributed many ideas that helped make the project a success," Menino said. "We could not have done this without their support."

Michael Kuzo, community coordinator for the Grove Hall-based Project R.I.G.H.T Inc., says the expanded use of school resources will provide additional opportunities for those who previously had limited access.

"This initiative will provide an entire community with more literature, more computer education and trained professionals to help guide them in achieving their goals," said Kozu.

While the school section will remain focused on student curriculum and training, the larger Grove Hall Branch Library will provide extensive collections beyond curriculum to help students with research in various areas of their academic studies.

During after-schools hours, the Burke will allot its library space to Boston Public Library staff who will assume responsibility for its administration. Residents will also gain access to the school's career center, which will be used as homework center for students and business resource library for adults providing access to employment and entrepreneurship information. Also open to the public is the school gym and auditorium staffed by BCYF employees.

The project, which will cost an estimated $42 million, is expected to be complete by summer 2008. All Burke High School students and staff have been relocated to the King Middle School building on Lawrence Avenue until the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

"This is something that serves an entire community - both the student body and Grove Hall residents," said Mary Bender, director of communications for the Boston Public Library. "The linking of education with libraries is something youth need to give them a broader approach to the futures. It will make them that much more resourceful."