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After founder reassigned, library book club finds it hard to turn page

Posted by Roy Greene  November 30, 2010 03:25 PM

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Budget cuts have fallen hard on the West Roxbury public library branch, and devoted book club members say they are dismayed to lose one librarian to layoffs and another to reassignment.

Kathleen Glynn, the former senior library assistant, was laid off and Tim DiPace, the librarian who formed the tight-knit book club, has been transferred to the Dudley Square Branch in Roxbury. Some members of this 50-person book club say they are devastated because of DiPace’s relocation.

BPL photo
The West Roxbury public library

The changes are part of the fallout across the city's public library system as it tries to fill a deep funding gap.

“We hate to see it all go by the boards,” said Barbara Kelley, a West Roxbury book club member. “It has almost felt like a funeral.''

Jessica Holloway, another book club member, said she has attended other book clubs, but they have been nothing like this one. She said DiPace was great at bringing people together from all different backgrounds.

“He was an excellent moderator,” Holloway said. “He made it so one person wouldn’t do all the talking. The whole atmosphere was so great. I really enjoyed his selection of books. Everyone was making friends.

“When someone’s doing such a great job, like Tim was, you hate to lose them,” Holloway continued. “We are horrified that he would be taken away from us like that.”

Holloway and Kelley attempted to bring back DiPace to the West Roxbury Branch, but the book club members were unsuccessful.

“We wrote to everyone concerned. We wrote to the head of the library and the mayor, but nothing happened,” Kelley said. “Nobody could do anything about it. They said that the situation was out of their hands.”

Gina Perille, the chief communications officer at the BPL, said declining revenue has forced the system to eliminated some positions. As a result, the bumping process occurred, which is based on seniority.

“Senior staff members who have lost their positions can bump into open positions or bump into one that is occupied by someone of less seniority,” Perille said. “Tim was bumped by Cordelia Sullivan, who had more seniority than him. Tim was then moved to the position that was vacant at the Dudley Branch.”

Christine Schonhart, director of the branch libraries, said that Sullivan has adjusted to her role at the West Roxbury branch already, as she will continue the popular book club that DiPace built up.

“I just noticed the West Roxbury library’s calendar has been updated for upcoming book club meetings,” Schonhart said. “Books have also been selected for the club members to read.”

Schonhart said she has received several letters from book club members about DiPace leaving and has responded to each letter.

“I know how hard it is for the members,” Schonhart said. “There are so many members of the book club who hate to see him go. I just want them to feel safer about the book club continuing.

“They are such an amazing group in West Roxbury who has given a warm welcome to Cordelia,” Schonhart continued. “I thank the community for their patience and for welcoming new librarians.”

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Boston University News Service.

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