Library supporters asked to be 'patient' as city regroups on branch closings

By 
Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Oct. 1, 2010

A Menino administration official on Thursday night pleaded for patience from residents pushing to keep open libraries slated for closure. Justin Holmes, who handles constituent engagement for the mayor, said the administration had spent the summer in conversations with elected leaders over the proposal to close four branch libraries.

Supporters of the city’s libraries met with Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan and other library officials at the Copley Square branch Thursday night.

Holmes, who has been tapped to help with Menino’s outreach over the proposal, said the administration wanted to share the “context” for the proposal and urge community members to “begin to think about which library services” they find the most valuable, as well as give thought to possible community “partnerships.”

“But I have been patient,” said Mary L. Linn, a supporter of the Lower Mills branch, adding that the mayor did not mention closing libraries when he was running for re-election last year. “I’m running low.”

“We are going to re-engage with the residents, many of you in this room, gather feedback about library services you value most,” Ryan said.

Dates for meetings in the four neighborhoods that could lose a library next year – Lower Mills, South Boston, Brighton and East Boston – are still being finalized, she said.

Rep. Byron Rushing, a Roxbury Democrat who has been appointed to the library system’s board of trustees, said activists should stay involved in order to stop the closings. “A lot of that has to do with how people engage the planning process,” he said.

The Menino administration agreed earlier this year to keep the libraries open through the spring, but Ryan made it clear that the delay was not a permanent reversal of the BPL board's April vote to shutter Lower Mills and three other branches.

Thursday’s evening meeting came days before library officials are expected to appear before a City Council hearing on the system’s budget. The Post Audit and Oversight Committee, chaired by City Councillor Charles Yancey, meets on Monday, 11 a.m., in City Hall’s Iannella Chamber.

“What we’re doing is taking a look at commitments made during the budget process and the actual performance,” Yancey said Thursday afternoon.

The public is also invited to testify, Yancey added.