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Boston Public Library Sets Focus on New Branches, Renovations.

February, 2017

BOSTON-- Chinatown is back in the library business. Boston Public Library will cut the ribbon on a temporary Chinatown branch this Saturday. The Chinatown branch opening is the first in a list of renovations and new branches the library has planned for Fiscal Year 2018.
Boston Public Library’s (BPL) newest branch fills a service that has been absent from the Chinatown neighborhood for over 50 years. The location, 2 Boylston St., opening this weekend will be a temporary fix for the neighborhood, used for three to five years, while the library searches for a permanent location.
The Board of Trustees released a proposed budget for other new branches and renovations, at a meeting on Tuesday. Most notably, is the closure of the Dudley branch for major renovations. The $14.7 million renovation is a joint venture between BPL and the City of Boston’s Public Facilities and Arts and Culture Departments. The branch is expected to reopen in the spring of 2020.
The library’s budget for 2018 includes funding for planning and work on nine branches of the public library system.
The library’s focus on infrastructure did not sit well with some in attendance of the meeting. An East Boston resident, who did not give a name, said, “not enough thought is given to the front line people in the design phase.” She continued, “the new buildings are beautiful, but without the people to run them, they are empty shells.”
The woman urged the board to consider the library workers when designing new branches. Specifically, how the new branches, which incorporate more natural light, are beautiful but can become harmful or uncomfortable to librarians and other staff that must be behind the desk for extended periods.
In addition to construction projects, The Board of Trustees heard from affiliates of the library. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center President, Connie Chin, gave a report on the center’s acquisitions from last year and a preview of the exhibitions being held this year at the center. Acquisitions made by the Map Center in 2017 include 96 purchases and 760 donations. The center also passed a bylaw to add six more members to the board, bring the totally number to 25.
Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston, gave a report on the Percent for Art project. The project, which uses 1 percent of the city’s borrowing budget for public art, is working to commision pieces from local artists for the Jamaica Plain and Dudley branches.
The Board will meet next at the Roslindale branch on March 8 at 5 p.m.

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