To borrow from President Bush, “Amy, you’re doing a heck of a job.” As in the case of the hapless Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, who proved himself inadequate to the task following the Katrina disaster, it becomes clearer by the day that Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan and the board of trustees have not taken heed of the rising storm of protest from people throughout this city. The people in this city have come out, and they have spoken. The message is very simply this: It is not time to talk about library closures. The message is, in fact, “Don’t even think about it.”
It is time to think about ways to fully support the library system, every single branch and twig of it—how to make it even more viable, and even to expand the services. Of course, it will cost money! This is how to fight poverty; this is how to fight the rising tide of violence in our city; and this is how to strengthen our communities. Libraries are about combating the forces of ignorance and despair. Libraries represent the best of what we aspire to in this country, and hundreds of people have proven that by speaking out in meetings in the past month.
I know Amy Ryan and trustees were present at one such meeting, held at the Curley School April 6 in JP. I was there, too. The voices were loud and unmistakable. They could hardly have been any louder. The words nevertheless fell on “deaf ears.” It’s time for a new person to step in to fight for our library system, someone who can also listen. This is a disaster in the making.