Allen, who received the award last month at an MLA ceremony at the Statehouse, was honored for his successful effort to earmark a portion of the city’s trash fee to keep three branch libraries open. Last summer, Mayor Domenic Sarno’s budget included a proposal to close the East Forest Park, Liberty Heights and Pine Point branches to save money.
Allen’s proposal was supported by Sarno and passed by the City Council, although not with universal support; several of his colleagues, including Ward 8 Councilor John Lysak and at-large Councilor Tim Rooke, objected to using the trash fee to pay for other city services. But supporters of the city’s beleaguered library system cheered the move; in the Republican article, Molly Fogarty, the city’s library director, praised Allen, saying, “He set his mind, energies, persuasiveness and convictions toward helping libraries and our residents and he managed to succeed in this effort.”
Next week, library lovers will celebrate again at a gala marking the 100th anniversary (it last year, actually, but who’s counting?) of the city’s library system. The event is called “An Evening with Andrew Carnegie,” in honor of the Scottish-born industrialist who donated money to build thousands of libraries around the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Springfield’s main branch. The event will be held on Saturday, April 20, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Central Library; tickets are $50 and can be bought at any of the branch libraries. The proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Springfield Library.