People’s voice on their libraries is heard, heeded

On Wednesday morning, the trustees of the Boston Public Library voted to approve a budget for FY 2012 that reverses its direction from last year, and evidently spares the four branch libraries that had been targeted for closure.

Later in the morning, an aide to Councillor Maureen Feeney sent an e-mail blast stating, “Councillor Feeney wanted to share the good news with all of you: The trustees of the Boston Public Library have just voted to authorize the recommended FY12 budget.  Under the terms of this budget, there will be no layoffs and no branch closures.”

If the budget remains unchanged, it appears that the year-long struggle to preserve the Lower Mills branch library and three other neighborhood branches has yielded the desired result.  Remember, it was just a year ago the same trustees voted for the closings, in a move that seemed at the time to be fast-tracked by the “heavy-hitters” in the town.

At this time last year, no one had asked the people of the neighborhoods what they thought, and it seemed the people’s voices were not being heard. The skids were so well-greased that the Boston Globe editorial board weighed in with its support even before the vote was taken, an act seen in some quarters as a brazen attempt by the newspaper to give political cover to the trustees, and blunt any neighborhood voices before they could be heard.

It was a tough fight, and the heated debate strained longtime friendships. But the good news is the voices of the constituents have been heard, and cooler heads have prevailed.

Kudos to the BPL leadership, the trustees, the mayor, and our elected officials for preserving and protecting the people’s libraries.

– Ed Forry