Posted tagged ‘BPL’

The Fight for Kirstein

April 7, 2009

The BPL is having problems, same as every other library in the state, but their’s an extra layer of politics involved in their situation that makes things interesting.  Last year in a widely publicized battle the BPL’s director, Bernard Margolis, was ousted thanks to his conflict with Boston’s Mayor Menino, to be replaced with Amy Ryan in October.

Ryan is the political player that Margolis wasn’t, not to mention someone who gets along very well with Menino.  Which calls into question her decission to close the Kirstein Business Branch in the financial district and move the collection to the main library at Copley.  On the surface it makes sense, it saves on the upkeep of an extra building, adds accessible hours to the collection, and avoids the need to duplicate materials in both locations.

However, the other thing the Kirstein is known for is its $5.2 million endowment, which may or may not be dependant on the building (the legal battle is ongoing).  Now one of the key points that contributed to the Menino/Margolis conflict was the Mayor’s desire to meddle in the BPL’s budget, and its endowments specifically.  So here we’ve got a new director who has Menino’s ear, whose first major budget cutting solution is to move the one outlying collection with such an endowment so that it lies withing the purview of Copley.

I can sympathize with the wish to have tighter control over endowments.  We have one at my library so restricted that we can almost never use it.  There are thousands of dollars sitting in an account, and if we’re lucky one book comes out a year that fits into the requirements necessary to tap into those funds.  It’s incredibly frustrating when you need funding and there’s a pile of cash just sitting there that’s still out of reach.  

But that’s how they work, and if we can deal with it for a fund that’s totally useless than the BPL ought to be able to do the same for what is one of their greatest assets.

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Getting Involved

September 22, 2008

I’m back from a long weekend and a short MLA meeting and it’s time for a sales pitch.

To anyone who has read this site frequently it should come as no surprise that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the professional organizations.  I think my main issue with them is that I have a vague feeling of unfulfilled potential (with the exception of advocacy of course, they are good at that) coming from many of them.  But there’s also the more general concern that they are too geared towards the larger libraries at the expense of everyone else.

The solution is simple, do what you can to make your voice heared, starting with joining your local organization.  I’m still new to this but my short time in the MLA has been one of the more rewarding experiences of my career to date.  It’s a place where a newcomer like me is welcomed completely and where the interests of a mid-size public library like mine can be given equal weight with the concerns of a giant like the BPL.

Finally, a shameless plug.  On October 28th the MLA will be holding a full day program entitled Introduction of Library Digitization.  If you are in the Worcester area I highly recommend attending.  There will be presentations of funding sources, technical considerations, copyright law, and examples of projects from all types of libraries.  I hope to see some of you there next month.

Failed intentions

July 31, 2008

I was holding off on posting anything concerning this, but now I see that adds are available online and open to comments so I’m going to go ahead and do it.  The Boston Public Library is in the process of launching a new ad campaign, and the results do not paint libraries in the best light.  For example one commenter says it makes “the library look like a disorganized place full of arrogant know-it-alls”.  Hardly a flattering image.