Librarian’s care for one child exemplifies branches’ service

The following letter was addressed to Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan:

I am writing to let you know about an above-and-beyond story from one of your branches. I have come to expect helpful, friendly and responsive services from all of the Boston Public Library neighborhood branches, especially the branches I use most: Connolly, Jamaica Plain on Sedgwick Street and Egleston Square. Recently I was so impressed by one librarian’s actions that I am compelled to write and let you know.

My daughter is 10. She attends the Curley K-8, which lets out at 2:30 p.m. each day. While she sometimes has activities after school, most days she’s free as of that time. My husband and I both work, and though my schedule is flexible, some days we ask her to walk to the JP branch and get started on her homework while she waits for someone to come collect her. She always agrees happily as she loves to read, and often there are fun activities at the library for her to do while she’s there.

On a recent Friday afternoon, I asked her to do just that. I was downtown for a meeting and expected it to end by 4:30—in time for me to collect her at 5 p.m. The meeting ran late, but I didn’t worry, thinking the library was open until 6. When I left the meeting at 5, I noticed a call from the library’s number and upon calling it back found that I’d been mistaken. On Fridays, this branch closes at 5. So there was my 10-year-old on a dark Friday afternoon at a closing library with no one to come collect her until I could fight the rush-hour traffic from downtown.

The librarians were really great about this. First of all, they called me and were not going to leave her until we figured out a solution. After a few minutes, I settled on the best option I could come up with: Ask my daughter to walk three blocks to her uncle’s house and stay there. I told the librarian that this would be OK, and thought no more about it, other than to be relieved at both the librarian’s concern for my daughter and her understanding at my predicament. She was courteous and professional the whole time, despite the ridiculous situation I’d put her in.

When I arrived to collect my daughter, she told me that the librarian had actually walked her to her uncle’s house, taking care to make sure she crossed the street carefully and had a safe place to wait for me. I am so appreciative of this librarian’s willingness to do this on her personal time, on a Friday evening, without even mentioning it to me, and certainly with no hope of overtime pay, recognition or even a thank-you. This was a kind of service one couldn’t expect, and yet, I doubt that this is an unusual kind of story for the Boston Public Library’s branches. Thanks to you and all of your staff for all you do.

Liz O’Connor
Jamaica Plain

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