Appreciating the Boston Public Library


The Boston Public Library provides an array of resources for Bostonians. (Photo Credit: Uyen Nguyen (II))

The Boston Public Library (BPL) was founded over 170 years ago and has evolved to meet the needs of the Boston community. With a network spanning over two dozen branches, the BPL provides countless resources to students and the public. Many patrons, however, have yet to realize all that it has to offer.

The BPL offers several types of services outside of physical books. Kanopy and Hoopla are two examples of how the BPL has acclimated to modern technological needs. Kanopy is a streaming service with on-demand movies and documentaries, while Hoopla is a hub for e-books, movies and TV shows. Users are able to access both services through their BPL library cards, where they can borrow six and ten items per month, respectively.

In addition to literary and streaming services, the BPL also sponsors various events within the community. Local branches offer their patrons free or discounted tickets to places such as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Children’s Museum and the New England Aquarium. The BPL also sponsors the annual Boston Book Festival, which brings hundreds of authors and readers to Copley Square.

The Central Branch in Copley Square is a popular tourist attraction as well. With a marble courtyard, tea room and a space designated for teenagers called “Teen Central,” the building balances historic architecture with modern spaces. Boston Latin School Keefe Library Librarian Ms. Susan Harari comments, “I went [to the Copley branch] to see a play last year. They have a beautiful theater.” The Copley Branch also houses the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center, which contains numerous map collections and rotating exhibitions available to the general public.

Although Keefe Library is not an official branch of the BPL, they share many resources. The Keefe Library utilizes the BPL’s literary records to update their book catalogs. They also receive technical support for their computers and online resources from the BPL. Additionally, students use their BPL library card to check out books from the Keefe Library.

Even though many BPL initiatives — such as SAT preparatory classes and preschool story times — are targeted towards children and teenagers, their resources also encourage working adults to continue reading. “I like that so many books are available online now,” shares BLS English teacher Mr. Aaron Weitz. “I can instantly pick up a book that I’m interested in reading, and the BPL probably has it online.”

Public libraries are a central part of any community. BLS Keefe Librarian Ms. Deeth Ellis remarks, “Libraries allow all citizens to have equal access to very important resources.” They provide quiet study spaces, digital resources and over 23 million books, serving as a grounding space for learning and community interaction in Boston.