The Jamaica Plain Branch Library is closed for a much needed $10 million renovation. The Gazette recently spoke with Boston Public Library spokesperson Rosemary Lavery via email about where the JP Branch Library programs have gone and what the neighborhood’s other two libraries, Egleston Square (2044 Columbus Ave.) and Connolly (433 Centre St.), have to offer.
Are the programs that were offered at the JP Branch Library still running? If so, where?
Programs take place at the Curtis Hall Community Center at 20 South St., in the first floor community room.
- Toddler/Preschool Storytime: stories, songs, crafts and other fun events for children ages 18 months to 5 years, Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m., starting on January 14.
- Babies and Books: Bounces, rhymes, stories and songs for babies ages 6 to 18 months, Friday mornings at 9:30 a.m., starting Jan. 15.
Book Discussion Groups for homeschoolers:
- Major Bookworms, ages 7 to 9, will meet on Jan. 15. They regularly meet on the first and third Fridays.
- Both Book Birds, ages 10 to 14, and the Teen Book, ages 15 up, Discussion Groups will resume in January (date not yet set). They regularly meet on the second Friday.
- Farnsworth House Reading Group (First Tuesday, 4:30pm)
- JP Jubilee Music Class (Fridays, 10:30-12, will begin again in 2016)
Please contact Jamaica Plain Branch Librarian Laura Pattison at the West Roxbury Branch via 617-325-3147 regarding adult programs.
What programs at the Connolly and Egleston Square branches are similar to the ones at the JP Branch?
Programs for people of all ages are available; similar programs include story times, homework help, and book discussion groups. The Connolly and Egleston Square branches offer free after-school homework help and mentorship provided by high-achieving high school students. Open to students in grades K-8. No registration required. Mondays through Thursdays, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
What makes the Connolly and Egleston Square branches unique? What might entice a JP resident who lives near to the JP Branch to travel to either one?
Connolly has a large Spanish collection and has staff members who speak Spanish. It is architecturally beautiful and contains a great downstairs meeting space that contains a stage. Programs include monthly crafternoons, monthly Lego club, and a weekly film program for preschoolers, which has been running for over 30 years. The toddler story time at Connolly is bilingual. There is an adult book discussion group, homework help with one bilingual mentor, and the branch partners with the Hyde Square Task Force and the Hispanic Writers Week initiative.
The Egleston Square Branch is light and filled with sunshine during the days, there is ample parking, and plenty of green space behind the building. The collection is strong with bilingual, teen, and urban fiction books, as well as graphic novels. Adults can enjoy the quiet atmosphere toward the back of the library in the afternoons to work or study. Youth programs are popular with a Spanish/English pre-school sing-a-long and crafts after school. The branch hosted its very first food & book club on Nov. 18, in which each book is paired with a specific food theme.
Any upcoming events at either branches that are noteworthy?
Connolly offers bilingual programs, including story times and an English/Spanish conversation class. The branch calendar can be viewed here: bit.ly/1PtIIHn.
Egleston held a New Year’s Eve Youth Countdown. Egleston Square calendar: bit.ly/1lWvUN2.
Have the two branches seen an uptick in use since the JP Branch closed? If so, how have they been handling it?
Yes, please see the chart below regarding circulation. Connolly is third highest in branch circulation (statistics combined from July, August, and September, or Q1 for Fiscal Year 16). The branches welcome all community members to visit and explore the unique offerings of each branch.
Below are the circulation figures for the two branches for November:
Connolly : 18,042 (138 percent increase over November 2014 figure)
Egleston Square: 6,336 (55 percent increase over November 2014 figure)
What is the history of the two branches?
The Egleston Square Branch opened on July 8, 1953. The building was designed by the firm of Isidor Richmond and Carney Goldberg, Architects and Engineers. The Egleston Square Branch sits on the corner of Franklin Park and at the junction of Roxbury/Jamaica Plain neighborhoods, and serves as the community living room for the neighborhood.
Library service to the Hyde Square area of Jamaica Plain began in 1897 with a small book deposit in the rear of a neighborhood pharmacy at the corner of Lamartine and Paul Gore Streets. Eventually, in 1905 the Boylston Branch, named for the Boylston Railroad Station, opened its doors. Responding to the need for larger space, a beautiful white limestone building was built and opened in 1932. Designed by Maginnis and Walsh in the Jacobean style, the large arched entrance leads to a large interior space with wood and glass partitions dividing the adult and children’s area. The ceilings, decorated with plaster moldings, are reputedly inspired by the Rufford Abbey Library in England.
On Dec. 12, 1940, the name of the branch was officially changed to the Monsignor Arthur T. Connolly Branch, as a tribute to Monsignor Connolly, a long-time member of the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees and pastor of the neighboring Blessed Sacrament Church.