Boston Public Library

After the last post which featured lots of exterior architecture photos, it would be remiss of me not to give you a glimpse inside one of the buildings at the very least and I was saving this particular one for just this occasion.

SAM_2837Standing opposite Trinity Church and the John Hancock Tower, there is always an air of excitement but that is probably me just projecting,  although the street market (which had plenty of foods from around the world) that popped up on one of the many trips past may have helped.  There was also a man serenading the library with opera on at least two instances rather bizarrely.

SAM_2686Just outside the entrance is an inspiring list of artists that whet the appetite for the creative endeavours that await in the library.  A vast collection that impressed me with the size and scope of its book choice (23 million items including maps, manuscripts and musical, including various first folios of Shakespeare as well as original scores from Prokofiev amongst others), I felt like I was being spoilt wandering the corridors and fully appreciating the air conditioning.

SAM_2689Passing through the main entrance and up a grand marble stairway, with its lions, columns and wonderful art work really sets the tone for the experience, the ideas and scholarship brought together is intoxicating as well as cementing the ‘knowledge is power’ quote firmly in mind.  I spent a good fifteen minutes just appreciating this approach to the main reading hall.

SAM_2697Knowing that all this is free as well is the source of much pleasure, 3.7 million people took advantage of that fact last year alone.  Having the greatest concepts and literary endeavours at your fingertips and knowing that they are yours to enjoy in comfort for nothing.  How much of a bargain is that?

SAM_2699Intriguingly there are many beautiful rooms left empty that one can pootle around and if you do find yourself wandering rooms with empty shelves you will no doubt gravitate to the rare books section.  Sadly my photos didn’t come out for that due to the low lighting and my avoidance of a flash but it does not disappoint with so many amazing old books lining the walls in glass cases and protected.  It really is true history, just looking at how each is bound and its pages are cut, staring at each unique copy was eye-opening bliss.

SAM_2707There is a wonderful courtyard – with shading under a fancy colonnade – replete with tables and a fountain, the soundtrack of which relaxes the mind and makes for a wonderful atmosphere in which to read or hop online with the free Wi-Fi as well.  All in all it is a place I would be happy to spend all my free time in, were I a local.

SAM_2708You may have noticed a lack of actual books in this post but as ever I got distracted by their proximity and failed in my task of actually documenting them..  The building itself was fascinating and on the first day where everything is possible,  I vowed to come back again and finish my exploration with more photos.  Now I will save it for a future trip.

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65 Replies to “Boston Public Library”

  1. What a fantastic building to set up a library in! It would certainly get me in the right mood for reading and learning. Sorry I haven’t commented on your previous posts but I have been off-line for nearly a week so will catch up later.

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    1. No worries my friend, it is the eternal struggle of the blogger, to write posts and visit people on top of all that offline tuff that gets in the way. In a way it was a shame I went there on day one as it was a surprise and I didn’t really have my thoughts in order but I am glad I did spend time there and saw other people enjoying the books, that was most heartening.

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      1. Thanks Ste. We always seem to do everything in the wrong order on our breaks too. In retrospect we always see what we should have done to make the best use of our time.

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        1. Yet planning things causes more stress. I am content to just do whatever, whenever and if I have a bad experience then I find myself planning how to write it up on the blog so it all becomes a good experience in the end, I know how you guys enjoy my mild suffering.

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  2. I thought the Boston Public Library was the highlight of the historic buildings I visited — it made me wish I lived closer and could read there regularly. I’m glad you felt the same way 🙂

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    1. There are so many facets to it, I don’t think anybody can come away from that building without loving it. I am looking forward to making a future 3,000 mile trip to take in the atmosphere once again.

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    1. Thank you, I took more but sadly mastering the camera again was to take a little longer than the first day but I am thankful I got a few good shots out of the experience and a second home for when I eventually go back.

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        1. I just checked out some images for the Library of Congress (being an ignorant Brit and having no clue before hand what it was like), I need to go there now, Boston library’s reading rooms are not half as impressive as that but it would be interesting to compare the two.

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          1. I was attending the Hamlet Academy at the Folger Library (which is amazing in itself) and could manage to only steal moments of wandering and aw-ing at the Library of Congress. Be aware to get in the reading room requires a pass you apply for in advance that involves getting a photo id. Very involved. I did manage to accomplish the task and a few minutes in the reading room. The architecture is amazing and the gift shop is spectacular. I do hope you get to go. Washington DC has all those fabulous museums as well. A worthwhile trip!

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            1. I was considering it before Boston but the prices were too expensive for accommodation which is to be expected in a capital city but I hope one day I will get to venture there. Thanks for the heads up about all the rigmarole involved in order to get in amongst the books. So many libraries so little time. It puts my local library to shame.

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              1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to do a world tour of libraries? I look up the library no matter what my vacation focus is. Now that might make for a wonderful table top book. Only time and money need apply.

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                1. Ha, yes! It would be a joy to work on that book, to wander around and get access to all the rare books. Perhaps my next holiday will be purely literary based.

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  3. Steve, what a beautiful library. I’m surprised you didn’t hide out somewhere and peruse the books to your fancy. I have not been there, my friend, but on next visit when my beautiful daughter-in-law asks what I want to see, it will be at the top of my list.

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    1. You are in for a treat, the children’s books are in a funky area as well and it is a nice walk around with lots to look at other than books, especially the people studying who have given up, they amused me greatly. Had it not been day one I may well have stayed there for a day but I was in tourist mode and was really excited for everything not yet discovered, even if it didn’t have books.

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  4. It puts the rather drab 1970s library in the town where I grew up to shame! But perhaps my local one was a bit more friendly, with boxes of Asterix and shelves of Doctor Who novels in those old plastic slip covers. Although this is a public library, I wonder if its imposing architecture intimidates any kids from going in there.

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    1. I still have a copy of Meglos I bought from the library for 20p on one of my shelves. The kids section is pretty impressive, like a goldfish bowl with loads of books. I would assume there were other entrances to that part of the library, we didn’t take ourselves downstairs at the point as the rare books neeced some attention. Asterix and Tin Tin got so much love back in the day, I have been looking at Les Tuniques Bleues recently, for which the awesome 90’s computer game North and South was based on.

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    1. All those books together is just a wonderful sight, I am sure we would regularly pass each other but would we notice with all those books!

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    1. It was the ideal temperature to be outside and enjoy the atmosphere ant temperature as well. If we had the weather for it, I am sure we would have lots more libraries with courtyards.

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    1. I really was, it was an amazing start to the trip, I had only been out of doors for 25 minutes (plus coffee stop) and then I came across it and knew it was a good choice of destination.

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  5. What a beautiful building. I’m sure you can spend hours and hours there. I missed it when I was in Boston a few years ago, and it looks like a great reason to return. Great share. 🙂

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    1. Yes! You will love it, it’s a wonderful building. I find American cities seem to hide more with the system of blocks, as I tend to not criss-cross cities much so it was only on the last day I found a bookshop with a sale on quite by happy accident.

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      1. Yes, but in Boston you can walk the red line, and see so much more than you can in a car. And you can stop anywhere along the way without having to park! hehe! Believe it or not I had trouble finding the line. I was at the boat, and asked one of the clerks in the parking lot. Turns out I was standing on it. It was so faint in places! I was expecting a big to do, U guess!

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        1. They need to repaint that line, a few times I almost lost it when looking around at things. I bet you were as red as the line when you found out you were on it haha!

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  6. Dear Ste J, You are an excellent photographer! You do us (adopted) New Englanders proud! If you ever move here, I’ll know where to look for you, hiding in some corner of the library. After all, there are several cafes there, Wi-Fi, as you said, restrooms, and a courtyard for fresh air. And some of the homeless have been known to come inside, especially during colder days, for a snooze now and then, which some of their wealthier compeers object to, but after all, “with liberty and justice for all,” and all that. So, you could practically live here (now, you see, I have my nefarious plans to get a lot more posts out of you while holding you spellbound and captive in the library!). He-he! Thanks for the photos.

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    1. In my mind, I would have a mattress in some hidden nook of the library and come out at night and read books and steal food from the cafés and such, a bit like Hugo Cabret but with less gears. Your plan is the very opposite of nefarious, I would embrace it with my whole being and be writing and reading all day. It’s bliss and if I can’t have that, then I want dragons instead.

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      1. Yes, but the problem with household pets like dragons is that you have to train them, and I foresee untold difficulties in trying to teach a dragon to read (even though they are very smart), because in their enthusiasm for fine literature, they breathe gusty sighs over the pages, and are like to set the books on fire!

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    1. It would be wonderful to live there, even if only for a time. I would pay to go into such a place but being open to all will hopefully draw new people into the joys of books. I need to give more time over to books again, you just can’t beat them for value of money and mind.

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      1. Yeah. The amount of knowledge we can get from books is incredible. I love doing video training courses and attending webinars these days, and then trying out new skills. I did an Inspire With Video course and learnt iMovie one-to-one – I love inspirational/motivational videos and now I can create my own and put them on my new Inspiration Inspired channel.

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  7. I wonder what is it like to have such a grand library as this one in your hometown..
    Sarajevo had Vijećnica* but I was a bit too young back then to appreciate any of it’s aspects.
    *It is restored now but someone decided it will no longer be a library.

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    1. It’s always a shame that when younger we aren’t developed enough to appreciate the finer things in life. I wonder where all the books went to from the Vijećnica library…

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  8. I absolutely aDORE libraries and had no idea just how incredible Boston’s is. Wow! I do know how much I love the NY Public Library (the main one). Makes me wonder what it is about lions :)…

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    1. As ever when I go away I forget to do any research whatsoever but luckily seem to run into all the awesome stuff, the library was an utter surprise and I loved every single moment of it. Perhaps there are lions because they are king of the jungle and the jungle is mostly books now…just a guess though!

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  9. Wow, this got me sidetracked with researching what’s behind those lions lol Sheesh! I learned that the Boston Public Library Lions were rendered/unveiled in 1894 and actually had significance, representing Civil War regimens (http://www.celebrateboston.com/architecture/boston-public-library.htm). The New York Public Library Lions have less significance, but it was interesting seeing as how they came about and who actually sculpted them (http://mentalfloss.com/article/73386/birthing-new-york-public-library-lions). And soon, I MUST get into doing some actual work here 🙂

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    1. Remember the time when you would have had to go to the library to find such facts out and now its all there at our fingertips. Fascinating read, which inspire more exploration!

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  10. Even though I am not reading as much as I want to these days, I still feel amazed seeing libraries whenever I travel. I would like to see your reaction when you visit the Prunksaal (State Hall) of the Austrian National Library. Really drool-worthy! Can’t wait to travel with you and explore more libraries!

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    1. The Prunksall looks amazing! I love seeing books celebrated in such ways and sometimes I like to imagine I am reading in one just for the vibe of it. A library tour sounds like a crazy idea for a travel campaign by the way, a beautiful idea.

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