The Importance of Philanthropy to the Boston Public Library Philanthropy for the Library begins with the assumption and principle that the City of Boston will continue to be the predominant source of operating and capital funding for the BPL. This has been the case historically and will continue in the future, augmented by State funding.
Looking forward, however, it is clear to many that public funding cannot address all of the Library’s needs nor can it address all of the Library’s emerging programmatic priorities as the Library evolves its mission and programs in a changing city. Philanthropy is needed to augment, but not replace, public funding. In broad terms, the categories where additional funding is, and will be, required include:
Enhanced programming and outreach. The work of today’s BPL is characterized as much by robust programming as it is by its holdings and reference work. Newly renovated spaces for users of all ages come with increased expectations of deep and broad programs. The Library’s continued success requires strong philanthropic support to animate these spaces, bringing together essential staff expertise and community partners at the central library and branches. System wide children’s and youth programming and staff remain the banner example of offering.
Digital and Technological Innovation. The twenty-first century urban public library is the go-to community resource for new technology and broadband access to the Internet as well as innovative programs and skill development - both workforce development and personal enrichment, online and in person. Today’s operating budgets did not envision the level of resource commitments needed to make that level of service a reality, in addition to the traditional range of offerings, and given the desire to have many of those collections and services also available online.
Collections Development. Healthy ongoing support both for existing collections and the acquisition of new works – circulating and special – based on the founding vision of the library, currently exceeds the available city, state and library funds. The library desires to continue its commitment to print materials, increase its electronic holdings while ensuring that we fully live up to the stewardship and accessibility goals of the library in service to the principles of cultural education.
Preservation, Renovation and Restoration buildings program. The McKim building in Copley Square is the cornerstone of the library as a cultural icon. The original restoration work of the 1990s remains unfinished: the third floor of the McKim building as well as several back of house spaces remain at a substandard level, as public space, as staff work space and in terms of adequacy for collections storage, programming and exhibitions.