The Boston Public Library board of trustees unanimously approved a plan April 9 to close four branches and eliminate dozens of positions to address a $3.6-million budget shortfall for FY2011.
The plan, proposed April 7 by BPL President Amy E. Ryan, calls for the closure of four branches—Faneuil, Lower Mills, Orient Heights, and Washington Village—and the elimination of up to 69 positions at the main library in Copley Square and in administrative offices, the Boston Globe reported April 9.
Ryan said her plan would "preserve as many branches as possible" and allow hours at the remaining 22 branches to remain the same. Neighborhoods losing branches would benefit from a new program to move services “beyond the walls,” sending librarians into community and senior centers for story hours, book clubs, and homework help.
The plan passed on a 5–0 vote, with one abstention. The board rejected two other options Ryan had also presented: One would have retained all 27 libraries but with 18 on a reduced schedule; the other would have closed seven branches.
David J. Vieira, president of the City-Wide Friends of the BPL, who attended the board meeting, told American Libraries, “It appeared that public sentiment was in favor of keeping all branches open with reduced hours.” He noted that nine of the 13 members of the city council have signed a letter opposing any branch closings, and he suggested they would try to stop the measure after Mayor Tom Menino presents his budget to the council on April 14.
Vieira said the City-Wide Friends “will follow the process. We may participate in local activities that are planned by the [Friends groups of] the branches that are slated to be closed,” as well as possible ones by groups representing the ones that escaped the ax.