How many of us have relished the peace and community afforded by our libraries? I know that I’m not alone in my love for libraries: the quantifiable value of literature on shelves; the shared desire for knowledge acquisition; the simple pleasure of reading in a space in which you are seated at the same table as your fellow bookworm.
Sure, it’s great to access the Internet. But it’s even better to give yourself time to open the pages of a book and allow the ethereal process of reading to engulf your senses.
In Boston, the city has threatened to close 8-10 branch libraries. This is not a small number–10 out of 26 libraries is nearly half of the city’s public libraries. Mayor Menino and members of the City Council have decided that shuttering small libraries will help make up for the city’s $3.6 million budget shortfall.
It’s a shameful tactic to attack public libraries. What does the mayor have to do with the potential closings? According to the grassroots organization People of Boston:
The mayor appoints all of the trustees. The trustees are not vetted and are not confirmed by anyone. The trustees vote on the budget that goes to the city. Thus, it could be said that the mayor controls the budget that is sent to him. The mayor has also made his opinion clear, calling for the closure of branches (as well as community centers — schools are also at risk due to a budget gap). This is a choice that he has made despite the fact that he has the power (through city reserves) to fill the budget gap and he has a choice to push for cuts to state services instead.
My hunch is that the branches to be closed will not be chosen with the local community’s interest in mind, but because they are the least economically viable. Let’s hope that if it comes down to it (which I hope it doesn’t) that the closed branches will not be in the poorest neighborhoods of Boston: Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan. Join me and write an email to your city councilor to protest this wrong-headed move.