Rudman promised to let everyone speak, who signed up on the sign in sheet in the lobby; and this meant that the City Councilors would have to wait until everyone spoke to be heard- an unlikely occurrence.
One could almost feel the objection to breaking political protocol, perhaps even feeling a need to speak up, but no one did; It was as if everyone realized that what was happening was exactly what needed to happen. If this was any indication of what the evening was going to be like, this promised to be an exceptional evening where precedence were being set repeatedly.
There were no breaks, city councilors did not get to speak first, protocol was broken, one woman came to tears, another woman who came to tears made such a riveting testimonial, others in the audience must have been in tears as well. And yes, everyone who signed up to speak, got to speak.
People made a broad range of appeals, from asking the wealthy to recognize the importance of the public libraries, to proposals asking Boston athletes to step up their game in a show of support for BPL. Some pledged to donate money right on the spot, while others produced their students or children as testimonials. There was only one rude outbreak from a woman who frequents the Copley branch, she showed no sign of respect for the Trustees and how they managed the affairs of the Library. While she made a mild point that the Trustees should have made a more responsible effort to begin raising money or campaigning for funds to support the library system sooner; her approach was acidic. Most of the audience seemed to be dismissive of her brashness.
What made the Trustee meeting captivating was that nearly all of the testimonials were exclusive stories of the pain people and communities would experience if every effort were not made to keep the libraries open- without exception. There was not the typical in-fighting you usually see at community type meetings, this was an exhibit of solidarity- and it was impressive.
Not only was the audience convinced, but so was one of the Trustees, Donna DePrisco. Mrs. DePrisco was prepared to resign after hearing the testimonials she stated, “…I refuse to take a vote to close any of the libraries and if we do I resign!” It was perhaps the second most powerful protest that evening. The first came from a homeless abused woman, whom I spoke with after the meeting.
She trembled when she spoke, jitters in her voice, as she described her abusive experience growing up and how the library served as both refuge and educator– she used the library to learn how to read. The difficulty she had maintaining her composure punctuated the passion in her voice, resulting in a unsophisticated eloquence that was unforgettable.
You could say that people felt compelled because they are angry, or that they just had enough and they see that the way things are going just isn’t working. It was a refreshing evening filled with emotion and authenticity. And if we are fortunate enough, it might have been exactly what was needed to convince the Trustees that 3.6 million dollars is not too far of a leap.
What happened at the meeting you can call the Scott Brown effect, or the Tea Baggers effect. I prefer to keep it neutral and call it the climate change; it is a change in the atmosphere when people all of a sudden feel empowered, that they no longer have to wait for the bureaucracy of civic leadership to make a monumental shift in the situations with which they are confronted. If the people don’t like the climate, they make it change- but the real change is in the composed, well thought out, sophisticated understanding, that they have the power and will to change the status quo.
The woman he brought in from Minnesota was brought in to close the libraries. $3m is nothing. The problem is the mayor.
p>Please let’s hear from his supporters on this, where are they? There were plenty here during the election, going on and on, and on, about what a great guy he was.
Where in the city budget can funds be reallocated to the BPL?
p>I view the public library much like I view keeping multiple US submarine construction facilities open … once you lose that very specialized infrastructure, it’s gone forever.
p>That said, do we really need the West End branch on Beacon Hill? It’s tiny. Given proximity to the main branch, and the BPL’s fabulous internet connectivity (I reserve books on-line all the time), maybe we don’t need it.
p>Then I read this article and get so pissed off that the BHA has been WASTING money — millions — for years by failing to do what any homeowner or rental apt. owner would have done to improve their property. Faucet aerators for God’s sake!
p>We’d all like to keep the branches open, but maybe we can’t really afford it. Why not cut some sort of deal with Starbucks to joint venture micro-branches instead? Just a thought.
Zero me all you guys want, it has nothing to do with money. The trustees claim they only knew a month ago about the shortfall… it’s BS. The library director did the same thing in Minneapolis, she is here to close branches.
p>This is what Menino wants. The money issue is a distraction and makes us all try to come up with budgets. He just doesn’t want branch libraries.
He thinks he’s bringing the library into the 21st century or something.
Not only does it cheapen the argument against cuts (and ignore the interest of patrons without computers or internet access), it ignores the major arguments for libraries which are still best expressed in terms of dead trees, and brick-and-mortar.
p>Libraries are first and foremost civic resources transcending technological bells and whistles.
p>IMHO, sometimes people forget that.