Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

New Display in Atrium: Johnson Building Improvement Project

by Gina Perille



A new display in the atrium section of the Johnson Building — known as Deferrari Hall — was installed last week. Thank you to those who have already added comments and questions to the interactive boards. On one side of the display, sample second-floor layouts of the children’s and teen areas are posted with some questions about future programming. The questions are:

  • What kind of teen programs and activities would you like to see in the new teen zone?
  • What kind of children’s programs and activities would you like to see in the new children’s library?

On the other side of the display, information gathered from the public during the springtime is shared (review that information here and here). Also posted is a depiction of what the entrance of the Johnson Building might look like without the granite screens in front of it along with the schedule of public roundtables. The second side of the display includes these two questions:

  • What great experiences have you had in public buildings?
  • What questions do you have for us?

If you are not able to visit the Central Library this fall or attend the one of the upcoming roundtables, please feel free to share your ideas on these questions by commenting on this blog, sending an email to, or mailing a letter to Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston MA 02116.

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2 Responses to “New Display in Atrium: Johnson Building Improvement Project”

  1. Brendan Smart says:

    1)What kind of teen programs and activities would you like to see?—–> collaborative workspaces for studying and projects; a “hub” software platform that would allow BPL librarians, school librarians, teachers and teens to directly share files and webpages for collaborative learning; video editing and podcasting software and equipment; try reaching out to Tim Rowe, founder of the Cambridge Innovation Center, for suggestions of how to create a space/programs that will foster entrepreneurial dynamics; create a “teen curator” program, to foster teen reading, writing, and exhibition groups (teen curators could be mentored by a group of librarians, university students and professors, and arts curators/educators).

    2)What kind of children’s programs and activities would you like to see?——>story-times in multiple languages, with significant out-reach to Boston’s substantial Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin) community; book check-out stations directly in the children’s library, to lower the parent/care-giver’s hassle in leaving the library; child-friendly restrooms/baby-changing stations located in the library, kept separate from general library users; collaborate with MFA, ICA, Children’s Museum, Science Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History, and Arboretum in curating specific story-times/book collections, to complement museum exhibits/programs.

    3)What great experiences have you had in public buildings?——->In my experience there are three categories of public building: #1:Places where we spend most of our time waiting (airports, hospitals, the DMV) #2:Places where we spend most of our time spending money (malls, restaurants) #3:Places where we spend our time having/sharing a cultural experience (libraries, museums, theaters, churches). ——>Personally, I’ve always found the time spent in “category #3 public buildings” to have been most satisfying, in terms of feeling more deeply connected to the past and future, and to a more humane aspect of society (where human beings might be considered as ends unto themselves, rather than as mere means). I have lived in a place in which there were no museums or theaters, and very few libraries–the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia–and I found the experience to have been enormously alienating, and not merely on a personal, individual level. If you live in Saudi Arabia you will basically find yourself spending all of your free time in an enormous shopping mall, which is the only public/share-able space: these Saudi shopping malls are a space that is only tenuously connected with the past, and in which the future (continuity of community) is arguably an absent question. Which is to say: I value libraries/the BPL, because it is a living expression of Boston’s “community of the open/curious/hungry mind”, richly connected to this city’s past, and promising a healthy future in which books/ideas are still available to be sought after, read and discussed. —–>If you want to know specific public spaces which I have loved/been inspired by: the Reading Room and central courtyard of the British Museum, for elevating the notion of study; the patio and fountain of Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Museum, for elevating the act of meditation (we might rest ourselves on a bench anywhere, but Kahn gives us the feeling of resting-in and with the space); the Spanish Steps, for how they become their own theater, giving the crowd back to itself; and the ramps of the Guggenheim Museum, for how they allow themselves to be read, across the space of the atrium, opening-up the experience of walking through the museum like the pages of a book (you can immediately “flip back the pages” to see where you have already been, and where you are going.) What all of these impressions have in common is a sense of being embedded in a resonant space– a space that lives in our motion through its shapes.

    4)What questions do you have for us?——>What steps will you take to convince those who are wary of change that the renovation of the Library, and the possible reorganization of its collections, will not damage the value(s) which they customarily use or perceive? I understand that anytime a Library undertakes a major shifting/weeding operation of its collection, there will be stake-holders (patrons and staff) who become extremely anxious that the core values of that collection are being eroded– can you provide an action-plan that will clearly express: the core-use of the library’s various collections (in what areas does BPL consider itself to be a research library? Is the BPL primarily dedicated to local community use (children, teens, university students, general readers) with a few research-level special collections (rare books, archival materials, etc)? If a large portion of the BPL’s nonfiction collection is going to be moved off-site, can you provide a very clear description of the service that will provide access to those materials, beyond referring to existing interlibrary loan policies? How can you streamline these services, to minimize the perception of hassle to the user?

  2. Don Warner Saklad says:

    Big Bulletin Board uncensored free speech.

    A big bulletin board comfortable to view where uncensored free speech local notices can be left along with stacks of our communities news publications, leaflets, brochures, flyers, etc. including all the current public library notices and city notices, official and unofficial.