Open process, creative solutions needed

April 16, 2010
By

The following was sent to Boston Public Library trustees:

I imagine you are swamped, so I will aim to be brief.

1) I rely on the libraries (both main and branches) and would be hurt by branch closings or scaling back hours/services.

2) There are many who are more dependent than I, and I have heard them calling for a better process. Public libraries can be an equalizer, allowing free access to knowledge and spaces for community gathering.

3) I implore you to have a transparent and open process, with real community input and the possibility for creative problem-solving, whatever your final decisions.

4) A proposal: We have many folks out of work who care about and use the libraries regularly. Could a cooperative, volunteer-based system allow branches that have lost staff to stay open? Surely closing a branch has costs; perhaps that money could be used instead to have staff organizers and trainers to equip volunteers to do the bulk of the work that needs doing in the branches. As budgets stabilize, etc., then perhaps some of these volunteers could even be hired—a long-term solution for multiple challenges, including unemployment and library budget shortfalls. I would be happy to offer more thoughts on what I’m picturing

I realize it is complex, but I ask you to please consider this and other input from the community.

Greg Buckland
Jamaica Plain