Book Review: David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library
Boston was recently ranked Best City for Book Lovers in the nation, and this comes as no surprise to anyone immersed in the rich tradition of reading and writing found across all the neighborhoods of Boston. We like being steeped in and challenged by our history, we are as proud of our academic and cultural institutions as we are of our sports teams, and we simply love to debate ideas and their merits.
One of Mayor Walsh’s signature initiatives is Imagine Boston 2030, and what better way to promote dialogue on Boston’s future than by assigning some homework? Thus, the Imagine Boston 2030 Reading List was born—a list that is inspiring for youth and adults alike and to which we can continue to add as a city.
The booklist highlights some of the major themes that make Boston the city it is by including the perspectives of such local notables as Mel King, Dennis Lehane, and Michael Patrick McDonald. The list also includes books that reach beyond the stories of personal and community challenges and successes to address themes of urban planning and development, the inequality and inequity that these efforts can expose, and the opportunities cities face as they have these conversations. Whether fictionalized storytelling or lived history, the books on this list help us engage with the question of what Boston could be in the 21st century.
As the Boston Public Library plans enhancements to our spaces across many of the twenty-four branches and continues to invest in the recently reopened Central Library in Copley Square, we too turn to the booklist to guide us in thinking about how our library branches can address the needs of each of Boston’s unique communities, ensuring equity in access to resources.We are guided by the fundamental library principles inscribed on the façade of the Central Library in Copley Square: Free to All and dedicated to the Advancement of Learning.
It’s these influences that inform our belief that all our spaces should be warm, welcoming, open, innovative, and safe, at the heart of every Boston community, with reading and literacy at the core, and offering a range of engaging programs that serve interests in history, culture, art, learning, and skill development.
If we tell each other our stories—where we have come from, what we struggle with, our hopes and aspirations, and how we hold each other accountable—then we will be stronger as a city. If we can do this now and imagine Boston in the future, we will see our city thrive in 2030 and beyond. The Boston I choose to believe in is the Boston that came together three years ago under the phrase Boston Strong. We accomplish more when we do it together and when we see our differences as enriching rather than dividing. Let the dialogue begin…