Take Action to Protect Boston Public Librarians' Ordering Ability

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Recently, Boston Public Library management announced that local branch libraries and librarians in distinct departments at the Central Branch would no longer have the ability to select the books for their branches and collections. Currently, over one hundred fully qualified librarians who work directly with families, researchers, local schools, and community groups, choose the books for their locations. Under the new plan, a team of 4 people downtown would select all of the books for the entire library system.

The Boston Public Library Professional Staff Association, MLSA Local 4928, AFT, has been negotiating with Boston Public Library (BPL) management over these changes to how books are ordered. Library management refuses to acknowledge that branches and central departments have distinct collections or that local branch librarians have ever had any autonomy in ordering for those collections.

You can support the Boston Public Library Professional Staff Association by signing an email petition to BPL President David Leonard protesting the plan. Please also circulate the link to the email petition to your friends and neighbors who may be supportive.

“Boston is a city of neighborhoods with residents from incredibly diverse backgrounds. Local branch librarians who work directly with residents are in the best place to select the books that serve their neighborhood’s unique needs and interests,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “The Boston Public Library should value the institutional knowledge and professional experience of their library staff, not centralize book selection with automated purchasing and a reliance on algorithms and outsourcing expertise.”

Click here to take action now!

The Boston Public Library's plan minimizes the institutional knowledge and professional experience of library staff. With a staff of only four, Collection Development will have to take more shortcuts and rely on vendor suggestions, quantitative metrics and algorithms to automate buying for collections, as with Automatically Yours. Public libraries are not Amazon. They do not need a plan that formalizes the replacement of professional library work with automated vendor workflows. They do not need library branches stocked with 'best sellers', incomplete series and racist books, purchased by algorithms, by ignorance or otherwise. 

Library staff deserve work that respects their experience and expertise. Library users deserve collections that represent their interests and values, not vendor’s decision-making algorithms. Take action now to protect Boston librarians' ordering ability.