Boston's Chinatown on Road to Getting Public Library Back

After more than 60 years, Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood is getting closer to rebuilding it’s public library.

There still isn't a location for the library, but community leaders hope that under the Mayor Marty Walsh administration, they can reclaim a part of the neighborhood.

When Jadine Soo Hoo needs a break running Jook Sing restaurant in Chinatown and craves an outlet for her kids, she heads to the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. But getting there, can be an hour and a half round trip.

“It’s quite a task getting the three kids ready, then going on and off public transportation,” Soo Hoo said.

She’s hoping her neighborhood finally gets a branch that’s within walking distance.

In his state of the city address, Walsh said he would bring back library services to Chinatown.

Boston Public Library President David Leonard says they’re getting close, but it’s too early to say when they would break ground on what could be a $15 million project.

“What we’ve committed to is a study to work out what the needs are and what are the right services to offer,” said Leonard.

Because there still isn't a location for the library, resident Carolyn Rubin is only cautiously optimistic. She says a similar feasibility study under the Menino administration didn’t go anywhere.

However, Rubin and friends of the Chinatown Library Committee say this time around they will hold city leaders accountable.

“We want a library that is rooted in the culture and history of this neighborhood,” said Rubin.

Back in the 1950s, Chinatown’s only library was demolished for the Central Artery Project. Since then, a lot of high rises have come in, long time Chinese neighbors pushed out, and a loss of the community’s cultural identity.

For now, Rubin says a temporary library at the China Trade Center on Boylston street will open by the end of the year.

Soo Hoo hopes they don't settle until a permanent branch is built.

“I hope we are on the right track to actually see this happen,” says Soo Hoo.

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