Boston has a long history. Not just in the founding of the U.S., but also in literature and the arts. On a recent trip, I stopped in the Boston Public Library’s Central Library at Copley Square. It was built in two parts, the McKim Building and the Johnson Building. The McKim Building drips history with its idealistic, Renaissance-esque architectural features, first constructed in the late 1800s. Called McKim after the architect, the building imitates an Italian style with an elaborate courtyard surrounded by Renaissance-inspired cloisters. The motto when the library opened was “a palace for the people”- which is perfect.
Complete with a coffered ceiling study room, the lovely courtyard, a café, a map gallery and millions of books, this is the library of my dreams. One of the features I love best about this library are the words “Free-To-All” carved above the McKim entrance. It feels like a preserved piece of Enlightenment.
But the McKim building is just half of the Central Library, the Johnson Building was added on in the early 1970s, a juxtaposed modernist building with an open plan. The Johnson Building draws modern readers and researchers with its “Teen Central” section and a 3-D printer as well as a radio station. The Boston Central Library sets a high bar for public research facilities.
Whenever I travel to a place, I imagine what it would be like to live there, how I might spend my days. If I lived in Boston, I would spend my time at the Boston Public Library, reading, writing and sipping coffee while philosophising under the cloisters.
Do libraries speak to you in special way? Do you have a favorite? Leave a comment!