Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Boston Public Library: A Small Branch Makes A Big Impact

Link to March 24 Boston Globe article, "The other side of the story: Small library branches may be targeted, but they’re loved".

Excerpt: The sanctuary Washington Village has provided for To and other youngsters at Old Colony underscores the complex and difficult decisions ahead for library administrators as they weigh closing branches to erase a $3.6 million shortfall.

On paper, Washington Village seems like a prime candidate: It has no room to expand, no space for more computers, no meeting room, no parking lot, and only one bathroom, which would be difficult for a wheelchair to access. A bigger, better-equipped branch is less than a mile up the hill on East Broadway. But not everything can be quantified on a spreadsheet. Amy E. Ryan, Boston Public Library president, has said that the tale behind each branch — the intangible virtues that animate 26 outposts around the city — will factor into the decision. If branches such as Washington Village survive, they will survive on their stories.

“We’re the smallest, tiniest, most fragile place in the system,’’ said Audrey Leppanen, the longtime librarian at Washington Village. “All kinds of libraries have value, but I think this one has been pretty important to this particular neighborhood.’’

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