A standing-room-only crowd packed the Thomas Crane Library’s Adams Shore branch last night to discuss possible budget cuts, and to ask library trustees to fight to keep the city’s three branch libraries open.
The hearing was one of three public meetings held this week at eachof the branch libraries (Wollaston, North Quincy and Adams Shore). The response from attendees was unequivocal: The main library is great, residents said, but the branches fill a special role in their respective neighborhoods – particularly for children and seniors who can’t easily reach or access the main library’s services.
For more than an hour, Quincy residents of all ages and from all walks of life described their personal connection to the Adams Shore branch. Mothers recounted the many hours they spent at the library as children, and how pleased they were to be able to share that tradition with their own children. Seniors described relying on the branch’s large-print volumes and books on tape. A volunteer at the Germantown community center told how she regularly brings dozens of neighborhood children to the library on Tuesday afternoons, where the kids use the computers and reference materials to complete homework. Middle school children recalled how they loved attending story hour with “Miss Laurie” when they were younger, and how they now depend on her to help them with homework and school projects.
Many attendees expressed surprise to learn that the annual budget to operate the main library and all three branches amounts to just 1 percent of the entire city budget. Others questioned why the city would even contemplate closing library branches during an economic recession, when its free resources and computer access are needed more than ever.
“How come (the city) can spend $85 million to build the Concourse and millions more for 1,100 condos, but they can’t come up with a couple hundred thousand dollars to keep the libraries open?” one attendee asked.
Library trustees Harold Crowley, Alicia Coletti, Janet DiTullio and Sandra McCauley — accompanied by library director Anne McLaughlin — assured residents that they shared their support for keeping the branches open. “You’re preaching to the choir,” Crowley quipped.
Trustees also encouraged residents to share their concerns over possible branch closings with Mayor Koch and the City Council.
Click here for a list of city officials and their e-mail addresses.