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Boston Public Library Renovations Highlighted in New York Times

BPL Johnson building, image © David Jones

The New York Times recently published an article about the changing nature of libraries in the US, focusing on the current renovations to the Boston Public Library (BPL) Johnson building—originally designed by Philip Johnson—to demonstrate changes being seen in libraries across the country. The Times New England bureau chief, Katharine Q. Seelye, reports that library usage has risen dramatically over the past few years, possibly due to the recession, the availability of technology and Internet access, and “because libraries have been reimagining themselves.” Notably BPL’s central library—where the Johnson building is located—experienced a 40% increase in visits from 2012 to 2013.

As Seelye says, BPL “is breaking out of its granite shell to show an airier, more welcoming side to the passing multitudes.” The BPL renovations will give the Johnson building a more open feel by replacing the tinted windows with clear glass and by removing 95 of the 112 vertical granite slabs that encircle the building. The lobby will include a new-book lounge and retail space, which will be visible from the street. Plans for the interior also include a new space for teenagers, with lounges, game rooms, digital labs, and technology for recording music and making comic books.

Read the complete article, “Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond,” by Katharine Q. Seelye in the March 7, 2014, online edition of the New York Times.