According to a memo given to department heads at the Boston Public Library (BPL) last week, it appears that the Microtext Department and Newspaper Room is in danger of being closed, and its 2,000,000+ rolls of microfilm and microfiche, and other resources distributed to other locations within and outside of the Central Library. In addition, Library president Amy Ryan's proposal for the elimination of 69 jobs at the central library in Copley Square and administrative offices accepted by the board last Friday, apparently include the employees overseeing the statewide Massachusetts Newspaper Program. The Trustees of the Boston Public Library have been wrangling with budget cuts for weeks now, and last week announced their plans to close four BPL branches - a move that state legislators may fork over money to stop. It seems that those branch libraries aren't the only library resource under the budget cut ax, however, since Library Trustees also appear to want to save money by cutting valuable resources such as the Microtext Room and Newspaper Program.
Are a bunch of old newspapers really that important when balanced against the possible closing of several community branch library locations? All I can say to that is that the BPL's newspaper collection is one of the largest in the state, and the Massachusetts Newspaper Program which it supports has saved countless historical newspapers that may have otherwise been lost. From the Boston Public Library's own Web site:
In the Library's Newspaper Room or Microtext Department, one is likely to find people of all ages and persuasions, bent over a newspaper or microfilm reader, busily taking notes, engrossed in the never ending quest for knowledge. The use of a newspaper does not end with the date of its publication. Its meaning and significance increases with the passage of time. The newspaper that is discarded today may in the future yield a variety of information available in no other source.
If the Massachusetts legislators come through with their proposed $3 million budget increase to the Boston Public Library, which comes with the stipulation that all branch locations remain open, I sincerely hope the trustees can also find the means to keep the invaluable Microtext Department & Newspaper Room fully operational. Make your opinion known and help save this wonderful resource!