Back to top

Date set for opening of renovated second floor at BPL's Central Library

January 16, 2015

Boston Public Library

Published by:


First phase of Johnson building renovation to open on Saturday, February 21.

The date has been set for the opening of the renovated second floor of the Johnson building at Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square. On Saturday, February 21, the residents of Boston and beyond will get their first look at the new second floor, which includes a new children’s library, teen area, nonfiction collection, reference services, and a community reading area.

“The opening of the Central Library’s renovated second floor is an exciting preview of what will be a world-class renovation of one of Boston’s cultural gems,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Libraries are places of opportunity and people of all ages will enjoy the books and programs as well as the family-friendly, state-of-the-art space in Copley Square.”

The Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street, opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday, February 21. Both the Boylston Street entrance and the Dartmouth Street entrance will be open. The celebratory ribbon cutting will take place at 11 a.m. The Mayor is scheduled to attend.

A key feature in the Children’s Library is an early literacy area for the youngest learners, with a sensory learning wall intended to help children explore the world around them as they grow. An adjacent story time space is designed for engagement and participation in imaginative play. The nearby technology and computer area contains a digital learning table and collections of word and picture books. The tween area, a first for the Boston Public Library system, is a bridge space between the Children’s Library and the separate teen area. The tween space includes computers, graphic novels, and a craft area. A program room will be used for a variety of activities, featuring multimedia systems to enhance programs.

“It’s fitting that so much of the first phase of this renovation is dedicated to some of our youngest users,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. “Serving Boston’s children and families is at the heart of this project. This is the place where future leaders, readers, and makers can come to connect with one another, their city, and the larger world of ideas.”

The teen space, dubbed “Teen Central” by the young people destined to use it, includes a media room that provides many options for engagement in a fun, safe, and social environment. Adjacent to the media room is a digital lab that will host classes and workshops for teens. Graphic design software, tablets, laptops, and a 3D printer are all available to enhance teens’ learning experience. Diner-style booths and room for group work are included in the setup along with a quiet study space. Designed as a supremely flexible area, collections and furniture can be moved to adapt to any programs offered.

The library’s circulating nonfiction collection is also located on the second floor of the Johnson building. Amid the book stacks is a community reading area and places for individual and group work. The renovated second floor is a vibrant and welcoming space, awash in natural light, and supported by skilled staff available to answer questions and assist visitors.

The Central Library renovation project continues well after the opening of the second floor of the Johnson building. Work related to the second phase of the renovation is currently underway and scheduled for completion in the summer of 2016. It includes significant improvements to the first floor, mezzanine, lower level, and exterior of the Johnson building and will offer a new community learning center, updated lecture hall, the fiction collection, expanded technology, landscape improvements, and much more.  

The renovation is a City of Boston capital project totaling $75.5 million, headed by the City of Boston’s Property and Construction Management department. Consigli Construction Co., Inc. is the contractor and the project architect is William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. Updates on the renovation can be found via the Compass blog on the Boston Public Library website ( Download a PDF copy of the project fact sheet.

CAPTION: Architects’ rendering of the Central Library in Copley Square as seen from Boylston and Exeter Streets.

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit