Though the focus of this blog is on General Education and online learning, I had to make a few points about the current situation over at the Boston Public Library. One of my favorite places to visit, and a jewel of the city, the BPL is currently undergoing a bit of an administrative and public relations crisis. For those unfamiliar, a quick update: a number of historically important (and very expensive) art pieces have gone missing, including works by Rembrandt and Durer. There has also been charges of misplaced priorities and a loss of focus of keeping the central library a researched – centered library.
The people of Boston love their library, hence why this has made so much news the past week or so. I choose to address this here because, as a former librarian, I am very invested in what libraries can do for our communities. It goes without saying that a strong General Education program cannot survive without exceptional library services. My institution has an incredibly robust online library with a phenomenal librarian, and we are beyond lucky to have him. But the BPL is able to provide extra resources that we don’t have. In addition, with its focus on rare collections and research services, a student may find resources that he never knew existed. In short, it combines the need to have practical information but also allows students to dig deeper and study theory.
We have to make sure we are protecting this resource and that is being run properly. Without getting into politics, there is no way that now former BPL President Amy Ryan could have done all of this herself. While she bears responsibility for much of this, the city and Board of Trustees need to step up and make sure that the library is being financed properly and that proper oversight is provided. The city depends on the BPL; NECB depends on the BPL — it’s too important to be taken for granted.