As a decades-long volunteer at the West Roxbury branch of the Boston Public Library, I was appalled to read that Mayor Thomas Menino’s top agenda item before retirement is a plan to spend more than $14.6 million on a glass front facelift for the main library’s Johnson Building in Copley Square (“Putting new face on library tops Menino’s agenda,” Metro, May 2).
The West Roxbury branch, which has the highest branch circulation in the city, has operated without a fourth librarian for years after staffing cutbacks. Its entrance is flanked by broken and dangerous outdoor seating, bathrooms are in disrepair, and the electrical switches in its lecture hall are broken. Much of the audio-visual equipment, book carts, programming, and grounds maintenance has been contributed by volunteers and the fund-raising efforts of its friends auxiliary.
Nor is West Roxbury’s experience unique among the BPL branches, several of which faced threatened closings in recent years. It is high time that our leaders learn to eschew cosmetic solutions to deeper problems. The Johnson Building rehab was planned long before the Marathon bombings; it seems as if Menino is simply cashing in on a tragedy to announce it now.