The Week in Library Land: May 20th to June 1st

After the many frenzied weeks we’ve recently had, it’s not surprising that a quieter week would eventually arrive. It was a welcome respite - but that doesn’t mean it was an uneventful week, nope, not at all.


On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to meet Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. One of her claims to fame is the fact that she visited all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns as part of a Community Compact initiative. We told her our plan is to one-up her by visiting all 450+ of the state’s public libraries, which earned a chuckle. During her remarks she mentioned the idea of state innovation centers and we suggested that the state’s public libraries might have a role to play. We’ll push for future opportunities to discuss the topic.

Friday was a super big day. We went to two libraries - Egleston Square and Uphams Corner - and in the process finished our visits to all the branches of the Boston Public Library system.

egleston sq.jpg

The Egleston Square library was built in the 1950s and sees heavy usage - especially after school. It was a quiet afternoon when we arrived, but as the afternoon wore on, the noise definitely increased, which isn’t a bad thing. There are no study rooms but there is space for spreading out and getting work done. During our time at the library we could see a lot of activity. Not just the kids coming in after school but also a meeting in the community room, people coming and going to use computers, etc. Hopefully, the library - and the community it serves - will receive the support and attention they deserve. Library Land Score: 3.64.

After the Central Library in Copley Square, the Uphams Corner branch is the oldest library in the system. Opened in 1904, the library was expanded in the 1920s. One of the most unique features of any Boston library came about as a result of that expansion. There was a swimming pool in the basement of the library’s building and when it developed a leak it was closed, drained and ultimately converted into the children’s section!

The swimming pool children’s section.

The swimming pool children’s section.

While this is an interesting curiosity, there are plans for the library to move to a new construction in the neighborhood in the coming years. That would be fantastic! The City of Boston wants to make Uphams Corner an Arts and Innovation district and the library is a big part of that plan. In speaking with the staff (who are awesome!) and seeing the types of programs the library offers, it’s clear that this library is integral to its community. Library Land Score: 3.45.

There’ll soon be a post that looks at all the Boston libraries. It’s an amazing - but uneven - system. The Central Library is a national leader when it comes to creative thinking and innovation for libraries. There are recently renovated branches like Grove Hall and Mattapan and East Boston that are sleek, modern, and state of the art. And then there are smaller branches, like Egleston Square and Uphams Corner, whose dedicated staffs and neighborhoods are doing their best with aging facilities.

Well, that’s the news from Library Land. We have a few interesting irons in the fire and will share more news with you soon.