By Rosalie Tirella
Here it is, our city library’s 150’th birthday, and what do the citizens of Worcester get? The Worcester Public Library, probably the only public library system in a second-tier city without a branch library system (check out Springfield’s and Hartford’s – much poorer cities – they have several branch libraries in their neighborhoods!), will close its doors on Sundays and Mondays. Of course it’s only the main branch at Salem Square. It would have to be the downtown facility, which was renovated and expanded with a breathtakingly beautiful facade several years ago. Ironically, the newer WPL gets its doors shut more often than when it was a leaky, ’60s throw back with pukey carpeting! How pathetic! The Main library lost (due to lay-offs) 8 librarians and two other staffers. So close its doors we must – on Monday and Sundays, a day when many working parents can accompany their kids to library for fun/homework activities.
Of course, the Greendale Branch library wasn’t touched. Why? Because the upper-middle class/yuppie types who use it (and need its resources less than the poorer folks who use the downtown library) would throw a fit! They would be calling Tim Murray to bitch. They would be whining to City Manager Mike O’Brien. They would – voters every one of them – threaten the politicians with their “throw the bums out” phone calls.
So what do we lose? For two days, Worcester’s flagship library is closed. Closed to the public so that any one who wants to learn about Worcester cannot access the library’s fantastic Worcester room and all its Worcester books, newspaper clippings, etc. If you are a Main South kid – a really smart kid whose parents can’t afford Interent access – and you want to do research for your history term paper at YOUR library on Sunday, forget it. The computers are down because the library is shut down. If you are an immigrant who is looking for a job – or job skills – forget coming to the library to go on line to look at job data bases. That’s all at the freakin’ Greendale Branch!!!
This city oughta be ashamed of itself. Years ago, when my grandparents came over from Poland, they had kids, and like any immigrant family, they wanted to be Americans and succeed in America – and learn, learn, learn. My Uncle Mark used to tell us when he was a little kid in the 1930s, his family couldn’t afford the newspapers. But he was smart – he wanted to go to college. So every day my uncle would walk to the Cambridge Street Branch of the Worcester Public Library to read the newspaper. Every day!! He went on to Fordam University and a couple of masters degrees. His dad was a factory worker and couldn’t speak much English.
The American Dream! What is Worcester telling the world when it closes its first-class main library that – and we shouldn’t be ashamed of this fact – is a short walk from the PIP, poor inner-city neighborhoods, working-class neighborhoods – and chooses to instead keep the status quo in a teeny branch library in the Burncoat/Greendale neighborhood? The Greendale Branch is not losing any librarians (and they are a snooty, unfriendly lot – nothing like the heros of our main branch!). Why shouldn’t they share some of the pain? Why? Because that would mean our city leaders would have to have a sense of fair play.