Plaque Marking History Set to Be at New East Boston Library

December 11, 2013
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There was some concern last week from the East Boston Friends of the Library (FOL) that the copper plaque marking that East Boston was the first neighborhood to have the first branch of the Boston Public Library would not adorn the new branch library on Bremen Street.

The plaque, that once hung outside the Meridian Street branch states that the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library opened on November 25, 1870 in the Lyman School but moved to the Meridian Street location in 1914.

“I was troubled about the decision not to include the Meridian Street outdoor plaque in the new library,” said FOL member Maddy McComiskey. “And I didn’t want to hear there wasn’t any room in the new library.  I was in the new library looked around and was pleased the plaque from Orient Heights was installed prominently in the adult reading room.”

However, much to McComiskey chagrin after looking around at the entire library she realized the Meridian Street plaque was not anywhere she could see.

“I asked the librarians where it might be thinking perhaps it was on an outside wall,” said McComiskey. “I was told it was at Copley in the archives. Over and over this plaque was mentioned as something that should be installed at the new library. I myself spoke to about it.”

McComiskey and the other FOL members felt again the opportunity to promote the history and heritage of Eastie’s legacy of being Boston’s first branch library had been put in the archive at Copley.

“That plaque distinctly mentions that the First Branch Library in the country was in East Boston,” said McComiskey. “I strongly feel the plaque should be retrieved and installed at the new library for generations of East Bostonians to be proud of.”

After several emails by very unhappy FOL members to BPL administrators, the powers that be finally conceded this week to FOL’s request to find a home for the plaque in the new library on Bremen Street.

“Copley has consented to installing the Meridian Street Library Plaque in our beautiful new library as a monumentous reminder of the fact that the first public branch library in the City of Boston and in fact the country was in East Boston,” said McComiskey. “It is a great day for history and heritage of the Boston Public Library at the East Boston Branch Library.”

BPL administrators explained to FOL members that moving the plaque was not a slight to Eastie’s history but a miscommunication with FOL members.

With the Orient Heights plaque in the reading room of the new library, FOL members said it would only make sense to put the Meridian Street plaque in the same room.

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