The Boston Globe reports today on the trend to hold weddings in the Boston Public Library (BPL). Joseph P. Kahn (one of my favorites of the Globe regulars) notes that the trend is on at the New York Public Library as well. The BPL has not advertised at all, but simple word of mouth has increased the number of weddings from 24 last fiscal year to 54 this fiscal year (2011).
BPL tries not to let the weddings interfere with the core mission of serving the public with library services. There are a few patrons who are becoming suspicious of weeding projects and plans to physically reorganize departments, assuming that it is all in service of wedding catering.
The photos at the Globe are lovely, and if you have ever visited the main branch of the BPL, you will understand why people are willing to pay fees that can total into five figures for a wedding venue so lovely and unique. It also helps the very needy bottom line of a Boston institution, and speaks (ahem) volumes about the interests and values of the bride and groom. The budget of the Boston Public Library, like so many other libraries, has been slashed, and they have laid off 90 staff, according to Mr. Kahn. The wedding catering brought in $825,000 gross last year (fiscal year 2010), but netted only $220,000 after considering the extra costs for security, cleaning, events office, and utilities. Perhaps this year, they will have a higher net to gross ratio. We can hope!