Logo   Boston Public Library, Boston MA
The Boston Public Library is the oldest free city library, and one of the largest city libraries in the world.



The Boston Public Library is the oldest free city library, dating from 1852, and among the largest municipal library systems in the world.

It is the third-largest library (by number of books) in the USA, following only the Library of Congress and the Harvard University libraries.

The Central Library of the "BPL" has two main buildings, the more familiar and immediately impressive McKim Building, facing Copley Square (map), designed by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead and White.

McKim's design was influenced in his design by the Palazzo della Cancellaria in Rome, the Templo Malatestiano in Rimini, and the Bibliothèque Ste-Geneviève in Paris.

Enter the library from Copley Square to admire its architecture. The vaulted tile ceilings inside the main entrance are the work of Spanish architect Rafael Gustavino. Bates Hall, the main reading room upstairs with its many windows and coffered ceiling, is a triumphal monument to learning and knowledge.

The Johnson Building at 700 Boylston Street, adjoining the McKim building to the west, was designed by Philip Johnson and opened in 1972. Constructed of the same pink granite, it echoes the major elements and proportions of the McKim building in a much more restrained, severe modernist/ post-modernist style.

To get to the "BPL," take any Green Line MBTA subway train to the Copley station (all outbound Green Line trains from Park Street station stop at Copley).

If you like libraries, you must also have a look at the historic Boston Athenaeum, one of America's greatest 19th-century private libraries, just off Boston Common on Beacon Hill. More...

Boston Public Library
700 Boylston St (Copley Square) (map)
Boston MA 02116
Tel 617-536-5400

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Boston Public Library

Above, the Boston Public Library's
McKim building from Copley Square.

Below, Bates Hall, the main reading room.


Bates Hall, Boston Public Library