Obituaries 6-14-24

Barbara Rhodes
August 8,1956—May 21, 2024

Barbara Rhodes, a Children’s Librarian for the Boston Public Libraries for over 40 years, who brought a love of books and stories to innumerable children and their families during her tenure, passed away on May 21.

The beloved Children’s Librarian at Boston Public Library’s busy Jamaica Plain branch for more than 30 years, she also served at the Field’s Corner, East Boston, and Central branches inspiring a deep love of reading and literacy in a community comprising thousands of young scholars. Barbara impacted many lives through her work, her generosity, and her unwavering curiosity about the world. Creating a children’s component for nearly every library event, she brought a broad selection of speakers, storytellers, artists and performers to the library. She dedicated her time to building personal relationships with all of the children and parents who entered the children’s room.

Barbara was an Advisory Board member of JP Reads, a community-building initiative to explore an individual book through a range of programming, including readings and book groups. She enlisted the other librarians at her branch to join JP Reads and created all the children’s programming, providing creative input at every step and single-handedly elevated the quality of the overall project.

Expanding the Library’s programming to engage with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth, she brought the Boston-based social justice group Wee the People, among others, to the library. She created special programming for her weekly Preschool Story times, Kids Club, and the JP homes schooling community.

Additionally, during COVID closures, Barbara put together “crafts-to-go” kits and individualized book packs for neighborhood children so that they could have books to read and activities to do at home while they couldn’t come to the library in person. In 2023, she was the recipient of a much-deserved Shattuck Public Service Award for her four decades of inspiring young readers in Boston.

Barbara loved being outside in nature — kayaking, hiking, biking or walking along beaches in Wellfleet/Truro, Maine, and Barbados. Her muffins, blueberry crisp, and rhubarb pie are legendary.

She leaves her husband, Wayne Rhodes and daughter, Emma Rhodes, along with myriad family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and community members who will sorely miss her vibrant and loving spirit. She brought joy into the lives of everyone who knew her.

Contributions in her memory can be made to the Barbara Rhodes Children’s Collection Endowment Fund at (Please check the box that says I would like to dedicate this gift and add Barabara Rhodes’ name)

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