July 26, 2000
Director, Communications & Public Information
Board of Library Commissioners Honors Mayors of Brockton, Quincy and Springfield
CAMBRIDGE: Three city mayors in Massachusetts have been awarded Certificates of Commendation by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. At its July 20 meeting, held at the Cambridge Public Library, the Board honored John T. Yunits, Jr. of Brockton, James A. Sheets of Quincy, and Michael Albano of Springfield. All three have substantially supported the growth and expansion of vital library services and facilities in their respective communities, strong in the belief that public libraries contribute significantly to the economic, cultural and educational life of the community.
Upon issuing the commendations, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Chairman Edward L. Bertorelli commented that the Board was pleased and proud to honor these mayors. "Mayor Albano has been an outstanding champion of public libraries in Springfield and statewide," he said. "His leadership led to the opening of the ninth branch library as well as the new Brightwood branch." Of Mayor Sheets, he remarked, "He has been an outstanding advocate for the Thomas Crane Public Library, working tirelessly on its behalf." Chairman Bertorelli also praised Mayor Yunits who "made the renovation and expansion of the Brockton library the centerpiece of the revival of Brockton's downtown area. His persistence in the face of great difficulty has been an inspiration to Brockton's residents and to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners."
Ann McLaughlin, director of the Thomas Crane Public Library, describes Quincy Mayor James Sheets as one of those persons "at the heart of every project who dreams that a new building should be built, and the person who transforms that dream into a reality. . . . a lover of history, a reader, and a lifelong library user." Quincy is anticipating the completion of its historic library building's renovation and the construction of a beautiful new addition. There is great excitement and praise for the vision of Mayor Sheets," said Ms. McLaughlin. "The Mayor rolled up his sleeves, got on his phone, went out into the community and raised the money." A $3.5 million state grant awarded by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners gave a significant boost to the project as well.
Mayor Michael Albano of Springfield has been a tireless advocate for the Springfield City Library. "He spearheaded city bonding for $5.2 million for essential and overdue capital improvements to our libraries," said Library Director Emily Bader. "Through these funds we are doubling the size of our Indian Orchard Branch and our Sixteen Acres Branch, the oldest and busiest libraries, respectively. The funds are also enabling us to make important technology improvements throughout the system. "Through the Mayor's initiative and support, a ninth branch library was opened in the city's heavily residential East Forest Park neighborhood, and a new Brightwood Branch replaced the old one that had been destroyed by a flood in 1994." A $1.3 million grant from the Board of Library Commissioners helped support the construction. Thanks to the Mayor's successful efforts, Springfield's libraries have seen an 83 percent increase in hours open since the devastating budget cuts of the early 1990s. "Whether he is championing our cause on Beacon Hill, participating in a city-wide read-aloud, or wearing a hardhat inspecting renovations at the branches, Mayor Albano is a sincere and active supporter of Springfield's libraries," said Ms. Bader.
Brockton's Mayor John Yunits, Jr. has made improving library service for the residents of Brockton a priority and he is not shy about saying it frequently and publicly. According to Library Director Diane Pacheco, "This is a man who truly believes that one of the cornerstones of municipal service is a good public library." The Mayor recognizes that the library provides an important opportunity for the city's diverse ethnic population, and he has been a staunch supporter of the library's literacy program. "He initiated an effort to have the library, school department and private agencies, such as the newspaper and the hospital, work together to coordinate our activities." The City that Reads Succeeds is a phrase coined by Mayor Yunits and his wife. He has been instrumental in securing local funding to match a $3.1 million state construction grant from the Board of Library Commissioners for a complete renovation of the library and a new addition, succeeding in getting the municipal resources required and acquiring state-owned land needed for expansion and parking. During his administration, the Mayor has helped raise up a struggling, antiquated library system to one that has 60 percent more hours open, new materials and technology, increased staff, and a far brighter future for public library services available to the residents of Brockton.
A separate presentation ceremony for each of the mayors has been scheduled in their home cities.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.