Hundreds of residents turned out Saturday to take part in the grand opening of the new East Boston Branch Library on Bremen Street. The event marked the completion of the $17.2 million state-of-the-art library but also gave the community a chance to thank Mayor Thomas Menino for his service to Eastie during his last public appearance as Mayor of Boston here.
Before Menino’s arrival, dozens of residents lined Bremen Street outside the new library and held green and white ‘Thank You Mayor Menino’ signs.
As the Mayor emerged from his vehicle a round of thunderous applause and cheers erupted.
The tribute to the mayor continued inside the library during the speaking program.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina pointed out all the projects Mayor Menino initiated to help grow Eastie’s profile as a up and coming neighborhood in Boston. LaMattina pointed to the new library, greenway extension, the Maverick Gardens development, the Pier One development on the waterfront, all the senior housing, the new Zumix building as all examples of Menino’s commitment to Eastie over the years.
“While we celebrate the opening of this new library we also celebrate Mayor Menino and his 20 years of service to the people of Boston, particularly the people of East Boston,” said LaMattina.
LaMattina pointed out that the community room inside the new library has been named in honor of Boston’s longest serving mayor.
“Today we also designate the Mayor Thomas Menino community room at the East Boston Branch Library because he has placed great emphasis on education and made a commitment to East Boston to build a new branch library here,” said LaMattina.
Menino was touched by the honor.
Senator Anthony Petruccelli added, “When you look around this room you see how many new people and families there are living in East Boston today and it’s because the fabric of our community grows every day because of the investments Thomas Menino has made over the course of 20 years in East Boston.”
Representative Carlo Basile also took the opportunity to thank the mayor.
“Mayor, thank you for all you have done throughout your career for the people of East Boston,” said Basile. “You have done so much for this community and I just hope over the next 20 we get the same recognition from a new administration. While East Boston may be on different sides on some issues it is something like this that brings us together as a community and it’s because of the vision of Mayor Thomas Menino.”
At 15,000 square feet in size and with space to accommodate nearly 20,000 books, CDs, and DVDs, the new East Boston Branch features an open floor plan with dedicated areas for children, teens, and adults. The creation of a dedicated space for teens is new for library service in East Boston as is the creation of an early literacy nook in the children’s area, the first in the Boston Public Library system. Other features of the library include free building-wide wifi, 54 computers available for public use, a flexible multipurpose room, and a quiet reading room with materials dedicated to East Boston’s history.
“The residents of East Boston are going to love their new library. It will serve as an educational center for the whole community, bringing together children, teens, and adults for opportunities to read, learn, and contribute positively to our city,” Menino said.
The new library overlooks scenic Bremen Street Park, complete with views of the Boston skyline from the library’s inviting reading porch. The diversity of East Boston is signified and celebrated by stone pavers on the exterior of the branch that show the name and distance to the capital cities of the top 21 countries of origin of the residents of East Boston.
“Libraries have never been more important than they are today,” said Amy Ryan, president of the Boston Public Library. “The opening of this branch is a celebration of tireless community support. It is also a promise to East Boston residents of today and tomorrow that the library will be an active partner in their learning and a welcoming place for all.”
Boston Public Library’s new East Boston Branch was designed by William Rawn Associates Architects, Inc., and is a capital project of the City of Boston, managed by the Property and Construction Management Department. The project budget is $17.25 million. Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners supported the project with a grant of $7.25 million. The branch was designed for building and energy efficiency, and will achieve LEED certification from the United States Green Building Council.
Mary Berninger, who served on the neighborhood Library Committee, said the Committee spent many hours fulfilling the charge given to them–to bring to fruition a library that would speak to the pride we all have in our neighborhood. “From the planning for what programs would be in place here, to choosing a suitable site, to picking the most qualified architectural firm and to helping steer the design of the building…the community input process worked as it was intended,” said Berninger. “Watching this edifice rise from blueprints to what we see here today, one thought continues to echo for me: This library is, and will continue to be, an iconic structure in this neighborhood.”