Lower Mills branch backers sense shift of ‘tone’ on closing

Supporters of the Lower Mills library are urging fellow activists to show up in force at a meeting at the branch tonight [at 6:30 p.m. at the Richmond Street branch] with Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan as a local lawmaker said there has been a “shift in ‘tone’” coming from City Hall about whether it will be closed.

At last Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lower Mills Civic Association, a representative from the mayor’s office said “re-use” of the building isn’t the focus of the Monday meeting.

Editorial: BPL board must reverse its decision to close branches

The Lower Mills branch and three others, in South Boston, East Boston and Brighton, are slated to be closed next year. Library officials have cited deep cuts in state funding, overseen by Beacon Hill lawmakers, and a move towards a “modernized” library system as the impetus behind the closures.

Asked by an audience member at the Lower Mills session if keeping the library open will be on the agenda, Lauren Smyth, the Dorchester coordinator for the mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, said, “Everything is on the table. Everything.”

Supporters of keeping the branch library open say there appears to be a move away from the vague agenda that library officials have previously discussed in public. “I think it did sound like a shift in tone,” said state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat and Lower Mills resident who is married to Reporter managing editor Bill Forry. “Now it’s saying everything is on the table, keeping libraries open is an option.”

At the Tuesday meeting, Forry and civic group chief Mike Skillin pushed attendees to pack the Monday night meeting, scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Anthony Paciulli said he is ordering an additional 75 to 80 “Save Our Libraries” signs. He also matched a $500 donation from Rep. Forry to underwrite the cost.