Library patrons pan plan to close Sundays

JoJo Jacobson of Jamaica Plain said it would be hard for her to get to the library if it closed on Sundays. JoJo Jacobson of Jamaica Plain said it would be hard for her to get to the library if it closed on Sundays. (Dina Rudick/ Globe Staff)
By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / March 28, 2011

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College students fleeing campus libraries, where chatty pals stand in the way of a polished term paper. City residents showing off a historic landmark to friends visiting from out of town. Job seekers down on their luck. They all come to the same place on Sunday afternoons from October to May — the central facility of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. But next fall, they may have to look elsewhere, after the library’s Board of Trustees approved a budget proposal last week that calls for closing the Copley library on Sundays, as part of a larger effort to keep neighborhood branches open and avoid layoffs.

“That’s terrible,’’ said Jojo Jacobson, 27, of Jamaica Plain, who brought friends visiting from Nevada to the Copley facility yesterday to take in its ivory staircases, arched ceilings, and rare books. Jacobson, an English tutor at Roxbury Community College, said she encourages her students to visit the library on Sundays because they have full-time work during the week.

Several college students at the library yesterday said they enjoy Sunday studying because it offers a better working environment than their school libraries, where work sessions can often turn into social gatherings. And, they said, working at the Copley facility provides a wel come relief from the monotony of plunking down their books and laptops in the same place every day.

Roslindale native Tastery Reed, 22, a junior criminal justice and forensic science major at the University of New Haven, said he studies at the central library on Sundays whenever he comes home.

He said that he could try the libraries at Bunker Hill Community College and Northeastern in a pinch, but the Copley Square library is quieter and more spacious.

“I think it’s pretty horrible,’’ he said of the Sunday closing.

Jillian Ceballos, 19, a sophomore majoring in Spanish and education at Clark University in Worcester, expressed shock when informed of the plan.

“I don’t like that at all,’’ said Ceballos, who said a Sunday trip to the Copley library is part of her routine.

“I don’t really know anyone here and I can just get my work done,’’ she said, adding that she has a backup spot in mind — but it has its minuses. “Maybe Barnes & Noble, but it’s still kind of noisy there.’’

Library officials say Sunday closure would save the system $243,000 in overtime costs. Other cost-saving measures in the budget proposal include spending less on books, CDs, and DVDs, and leaving up to 15 job vacancies unfilled. The plan requires the approval of the City Council and Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Gina Perille, a spokeswoman for the Boston Public Library, said in an e-mail that staffing the Copley facility on Sundays requires “100 percent’’ overtime pay for employees.

Perille also said she believed the Sunday plan for the Copley facility was “just a component of making the [fiscal 2012] budget balance,’’ and suggested that curtailing the hours might not be a permanent move.

“I have been part of no conversation that indicates this is either a) ideal, or b) a long-term decision,’’ she said.

Last year, the trustees approved a budget that would have closed four neighborhood branches, but the city and the Legislature came up with funding to keep them open after months of outcry from activists and lawmakers. Menino, however, told the Globe in January that branches may still close.

“I believe we have too many branch libraries,’’ Menino said at the time. “As a politician I shouldn’t say that because it makes people mad. But if we really want to be honest with ourselves and the public you have to say that.’’

The mayor could not be reached for comment yesterday.

At the Copley library, Boston resident Maurice Johnson, 55, an unemployed aerospace engineer, said he comes there every day, including Sundays, to look for work and read up on current events. Johnson said he can always read on a bench in the square during a warm spring day. But the winter months are another matter.

“If it was [closed] this winter it would have been really bad,’’ he said.

Travis Andersen can be reached at

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