Unpleasantness at the BPL

By EDITORIAL  |  November 7, 2007

When it came to expanding library hours and services in the neighborhoods, Margolis has had to fight City Hall every step of the way, and usually lost or had to settle for much less than requested or required. In a tight fiscal environment, that is the way of the world. But to suggest that Margolis favored the historic Copley Square library at the expense of the neighborhoods is just not true. Look at where the painful cuts in staffing have occurred and you’ll see that Copley Square suffered so that the branches could soldier on.

When Margolis suggested consolidating redundant branches in order to provide better service in a more cost-effective way, City Hall thundered elitism: more rubbish. Keep your eye on East Boston. Now that former Senate president Robert Travaligni, who hails from that neighborhood, has left the State House, one of its two branches will likely be closed, and operations consolidated.

One of the tricks to keeping political score is not to listen to what public officials say, but to watch what they do. In this regard, Margolis was remarkably consistent. He said what he meant and he tried to act accordingly. A more politically acute individual might get away with that. But even Margolis’s most ardent supporters will admit that policy, not politics, is his strong point. Couple this with his constitutional inability to kiss the mayoral rump — perhaps the most important requisite for survival in the Menino years — and you can begin to understand why Margolis’s gold-plated library card is not being renewed.

Margolis, the library, and Boston deserve better. The letter-writing campaign that has been mounted on Maroglis’s behalf will most likely have no immediate effect. The mayor spent years appointing sufficiently pliant souls to the BPL’s board of trustees to achieve his end, and it is unlikely that his appointees will not do what the mayor requires. That sad bit of reality aside, it is important for the trustees to remember that their first loyalty — their only responsibility — should be to the library itself. It is their job to insulate the library from the vagaries of political life. Let us hope that in the future they are up to the task. Boston is watching.

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Related: Menino aims to take another bite out of the BPL, New insurance, no assurance, While you were out . . ., More more >
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