by Marianne Salza
Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston Public Library (BPL) staff, the Board of Trustees, elected officials, and more than 1,000 residents attended the grand re-opening of the Central Library, in Copley Square. Attendees commemorated the July 9 milestone with a ribbon cutting in celebration of the final phase of the three year renovation project.
“It’s a great day in the 168 year history of the Boston Public Library,” said Mayor Marty Walsh. “The Boston Public Library is an important treasure in our city with unlimited potential. When we invest in our collective towns and resources, we live up to the best of our great history and make it possible for the next generation to change the world.”
The 110,000 square feet of renovations to the Johnson Building –which opened in 1972 and is located on the corner of Boylston and Exeter Streets — were managed by the City of Boston’s Public Facilities Department, and included updates to the lower level, first floor, mezzanine, and building exterior.
William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. began the revitalization in the fall of 2013 with the goals of improving user services and access to the McKim Building, connecting the library to the city, and creating a bright and inviting atmosphere.
“This is about the transformation of library services,” said David Leonard, BPL President. “We hope that you will find us welcoming, and a place that is new and engaging. This library is a resource for everyone, regardless of means, origin, or background. This library is a safe place.”
The 21st Century urban public library features cutting edge work spaces, a new eatery, The Newsfeed Café, opening mid-summer and operated by The Catered Affair, and a WGBH News satellite bureau and studio.
“We’ve redefined public access to knowledge and public space. This is the first of its kind in Massachusetts,” said Mayor Walsh. “What you see takes legacy to a whole new level. It’s a place where everyone can learn.”
Visitors explored the new innovation center, computer areas equipped with new Mac and Windows computers, the enlarged fiction section, and digital stacks that provide access to thousands of the BPL’s digital collections. Highlights include a refurbished lecture hall for guest speakers and programming, and high-tech community and welcome centers.
The granite supports that previously covered the Johnson Building windows have also been removed to reconnect the building to the street and create a spacious environment illuminated with natural light.
“The Boston Public Library is an important place for people of Boston to make a connection with literacy, learning, history, innovation, technology, and each other,” said Robert Gallery, BPL Board of Trustees Chairman. “The commonwealth requires the education of the people as a safeguard of order and liberty. Let this renovated building stand as an active environment to a city that is thriving, healthy, and dedicated to providing citizens with access to opportunity.”
To learn more about the state-of-the-art facilities at the Central Library, visit www.BPL/BPLReno and by following the BPL on Twitter (@bplboston), Facebook, and Instagram (@bplboston).