There is a reasonable accommodation that has to be made as regards the libraries in Boston. Here are a few facts that no one debates:
More and more information, and more and more books, are being viewed online;
There are specific areas and groups who have less access to online resources;
The libraries are currently understaffed, and that will be more so if no changes are made;
The library hours will need to be cut down if no changes are made.
The mayor deserves praise for raising this issue and noting that we have to change with the times. Does that mean shuttering all the libraries. Heck no. We need libraries as physical spaces where children and moms, people who are employed and looking for information, people who are unemployed who are looking to better themselves, and anybody who wants to walk through the stacks can go.
But we also need more resources dedicated to staff, to hours at branches, and to online options in order to keep up with a number of “customers”. The outcry about closing some library branches strikes me as way out of line. Why don’t we take a look at other cities and see how many branch libraries they have per capita. We may want to have more. But we should know what we are doing and deciding. For example, a quick look at Manhattan, a little bitty slice of land with almost 1.7 million people, has 44 branches.
Boston, with three times fewer people, has 26? Again, let’s talk rationally about these things.
We need to figure out what library users need and ensure that we serve all needs, but I think we can do that without all the halberds raised.