Last week, I took a tour of the changes with Michael Colford, Director of Library Services. He is understandably proud of the look, convenience, and user friendliness of this renovation.
I choose these bar seats along the arched window overlooking Boylston Street as my favorite spot.
Michael pointed out that the library’s circulating nonfiction collection is located here. Amid the book stacks holding 200,000 books is a community reading area and places for individual and group work. This will be a lively section of the building where conversations will take place. The McKim building will provide quiet space for those who prefer a place to work without distractions.
Lower book shelves open up the area allowing the light from the windows and from many new fixtures to provide a bright and welcoming workspace. I was also happy to see some of the materials like the lovely Windsor chairs reconditioned, recycled, and fitting beautifully into the new setting.
And still, there are spots where you can get off by yourself for a bit of quiet texting.
Lots of new electrical outlets also give you a place to charge up your phone, laptop or tablet.
There are new airport-style restrooms on the floor and multi-function water fountains with a separate station to fill your water bottle. And, yes, water bottles are allowed in this section of the library.
Along with the new look, you will also find some changes in the way the library and librarians communicate with patrons. The bookshelves will be marked not only in traditional Library of Congress Classification fashion, but also with signs and banners that let you know, for example, that this section houses books on Politics and Law.
When the flow of traffic at the information desk allows, librarians will move around the floor to answer questions and assist patrons as they search for materials. The openness of the new design will allow staff members to see when they are needed back at the desk.
Digital displays around the floor will highlight items from the BPL's renowned Collections of Distinction. This will remind patrons of all the resources, beyond the books on the shelves, that are available to them within the walls of this building.
A press release from the BPL explained that service kiosks like this one (now found in other parts of the library and branches as well), "are part of the library’s upgraded pay for print system and have several features, including the introduction of paying for printing via standard credit and debit cards. Boston Public Library cards will now store up to $21 for use on the system."
Along with opening this floor last Saturday, the Boylston Street entrance has also reopened. A corridor has been built for library visitors to move through the first floor where work on the next phase of this renovation continues. For those of us who are in the habit of using that entrance, this is most welcome.
I look forward to using this workspace, both when I need a change from my home office and when I want to collaborate with friends and associates on a project.
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Words: Penny Cherubino
Photography: © 2015 Penny Cherubino, Patron using the kisoh courtesy of the BPL