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Jamaica Plain Branch Library Receives Bequest

The estate of longtime Jamaica Plain resident and library supporter Carolyn Harrigan bequeaths funds designated for capital improvements to the Jamaica Plain Branch Library.

Following her death at age 90 on May 28, 2010, the estate of Carolyn J. Harrigan, a longtime JP resident and library supporter, bequeathed approximately $19,000 to the .

Among Harrigan’s many accomplishments, she worked as the director of development at the Children’s Museum at its original location in Jamaica Plain.  

“Carolyn was a good friend,” said Don Haber, co-chair of the Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library. “For many years, she served on the friends’ board as its secretary. She was very involved in the planning process to get the branch renovated.”

Completed in late 2006, the $8.5 million expansion plan for the branch, which , has not progressed beyond the drawing board.

At the BPL’s Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month, Harrigan’s bequest was officially accepted and voted upon by BPL officials with the terms that BPL President Amy Ryan, or a designee, will use the funds for capital improvements at the Jamaica Plain Branch Library. 

Haber said that there are many possible uses for Harrigan’s gift at the , which has not been renovated since 1963 and is one of the busiest in the BPL system

“The library will be working with the branch and the community to determine how to best use the funds,” noted Haber.

Some potential uses of the money at the aging branch include repairing the disconnected lights over the building’s circulation desk, acquisition of a public address system or the purchase of comfortable chairs or a book drop, Haber said.

During the public comments period at the BPL’s recent board meeting, Haber read a handwritten letter, which Harrigan penned in 2007 to the Mayor and the Boston city councilors, urging them to move the renovation plan forward. 

“Her letter could have been written today,” said Haber. “Time has stood still."

In Harrigan’s letter, a portion of which appears below, she wrote:

  • "The building is close to 100 years old, and the
    interior was last remodeled 44 years ago
  • Only one of the three floors is accessible to
    users or would-be users, with disabilities
  • There are no handicap–accessible bathrooms"

“Carolyn was elderly and had mobility issues,” Haber said. “It was important to her to be able to attend programs at the branch.”

“It’s been 22 years since the ADA was passed,” he continued. “The friends and the JP community began pushing the city to renovate and make the branch fully accessible eight years ago with a petition signed by over 1,300 residents. It’s time that the JP branch lives up to the BPL motto 'free to all' that’s inscribed in granite over the doors at the central library downtown.”

,” the library’s strategic plan. Entitled “Sustainable Organization," the event features an appearance by the BPL's chief financial officer, and a discussion of the library's FY13 budget. For a complete schedule of upcoming Compass Roundtable meetings, visit the BPL's website. 

Gretchen Grozier January 26, 2012 at 01:28 PM
The JP Branch is a true treasure in our neighborhood. Carolyn's bequest proves that people cherish it and want the building to better serve its patrons. I hope folks will show up at the Roundtable on Thursday and let the budget folks know that!!
Rhea Becker January 26, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I love our branch library, and even the vintage feel of it, but it sure could use an update and a better collection!
di January 26, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Thanks, Jim, for your ongoing coverage of the library, which has such a central role in our family and community. Thanks also for reminding us about this stalled plan. That is something worth rallying around.

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