As city officials weigh possible library closings, Dorchester civic groups and organizations will get a chance to meet the head of the Boston Public Library on Saturday.
A noontime meeting, organized by City Councillor Maureen Feeney’s office, will be at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center on Worrell Street. Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan will attend before taking off for a separate community meeting at the Codman Square branch library at 2 p.m.
“We have so many in Dorchester, in District 3,” Feeney said of the number of libraries. “And we’ve heard from so many people.”
There are seven branches located in the Dorchester and Mattapan area: Lower Mills, Adams St., in Codman Square, Fields Corner, Grove Hall, Uphams Corner, and the branch on Blue Hill Ave. in Mattapan. Feeney said she expects the Dorchester neighborhood to be “one of the most heavily impacted because we do have so many.”
City officials are facing a $3.6 million budget gap and say the library system must be upgraded, with the potential for branch closures. At a meeting of the library’s board of trustees earlier this year, Ryan compared the library system to “a ‘70s car on the information highway.”
The specter of closures has jolted local citizens into action, including Fields Corner and Lower Mills. City councillors have been deluged with calls from constituents pressing them to prevent closures in their respective neighborhoods. For their part, several councillors have called on the city to dip into its fiscal reserves in order to delay any potential closures until the next budget cycle.
Tony Paciulli, president and CEO of Meetinghouse Bank, plans to present Ryan and Feeney with 3,584 signatures on a petition in support of keeping Lower Mills open. “People are angry,” he said. “They feel there’s lot of other areas that cuts could be made.”
In addition to the Codman square session on Saturday, city officials are sponsoring a series of community meetings in several neighborhoods next week ahead of trustees’ meetings: at the Honan-Allston branch on Monday at 6 p.m.; at the Curley Middle School in Jamaica Plain on Tuesday at 6 p.m., and an online chat at bpl.org on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The meetings are scheduled ahead of a pair of special meetings of the library board of trustees: an 8 a.m. meeting on April 7 at the central branch in Boston’s Copley Square, and a final vote on Friday the 9th at the same place but at 8:30 a.m. Trustees will decide how many library branches to close, and it will be up to Ryan to decide which ones, Feeney said.
No list of libraries slated for closure exists, she said. “If there is a list, I’ve never seen it,” Feeney added. “I don’t think any specific decision has been made.”