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Category Archives: Johnson Building Study

Roundtable Recap: Johnson Building Improvement Project

Posted on November 27th, 2013 by Eamon Shelton in Johnson Building Study, Library Services, Major Projects
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At the November 14 roundtable, members of the public joined Boston Public Library staff for an interactive session to discuss the services that will be offered in the soon-to-be renovated spaces of the second floor of the Johnson Building.  Phase I of the project, which includes the second floor, is scheduled to begin next month.

Discussion topics included a review of the new Reference and Instruction area; an update on the Nonfiction, Reference, Children’s and Teen collections; and a look into Youth Services programs that are planned for the new spaces. The discussion topics were presented by Gianna Gifford, Manager of Reference and Instruction; Laura Irmscher, Chief of Collections Strategy; and Jessi Snow Coordinator of Youth Services.

The highlight of the program was an interactive question and answer session led by Christine Schonhart, Director of Library Services, Branches. Participants gathered around a physical model of the Johnson building to review the proposed design and discuss the services being offered in the spaces. Many participants stayed after the meeting to explore the model in detail and to continue the conversation about the programs.

About the Collections – What’s happening upstairs with the books?

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by Michael Colford in Collections, Johnson Building Study, Library Services, Major Projects
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Many people have asked about the collections and what work has been done to prepare the collections for the renovation project. Much of the second-floor nonfiction book collection is being moved to the first floor in order to accommodate construction upstairs. At the same time, the team at the library has identified alternate locations for books and has continued its efforts on some much-needed collection maintenance. Boston Public Library uses this set of guidelines in making decisions about the collection:

  • Focus on the books most in demand to determine what is placed on browse-able shelves.
  • Move some collections to other parts of the Central Library for closer relationships to non-circulating collections. For example, circulating business books have been moved to the Kirstein Business Library. Circulating books in the areas of fine arts and music have been moved to the Arts department on the third floor of the McKim Building.
  • Move books of lasting historical value for research purposes and unique titles not available in other branch locations or in research collections to the City of Boston Archival Center. Books at the Archival Center will be available for request and use just like books available in any branch library.

Abundant duplicate copies, books that are physically damaged, and books that include obsolete and out-of-date information – such as older computer manuals and medical books – will be removed from the collection. Any books that are identified for removal will first be offered to the City-Wide Friends for their book sales. Next, the books are sent to the Internet Archive, a nonprofit library whose mission is to digitize all published information for storage and digitization. Books that the Internet Archive does not select will be sent through a third-party company to a variety of retail outlets, including, to be sold. Proceeds from these sales are returned to the BPL’s collections budget and used for library collections. Any books not sold or in poor condition will be recycled.

You Asked. We’re Answering: Johnson Building Improvement Project

Posted on November 19th, 2013 by Gina Perille in Johnson Building Study, Library Services, Major Projects
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For many, many months, the library has been collecting comments and questions about the Johnson renovation project. The lastest version of the display in the Johnson atrium includes answers to some of the most frequently asked questions so far received. For those who aren’t able to make it into Copley Square to review and enjoy the display in person, we include the questions and answers here.

Power, Outlets – Will you be adding more places to plug in phones and laptops?

Absolutely. This was one of the most-requested things even before the Johnson renovation got started. There will be a significant increase in power available in the Johnson Building. We will be adding outlets and running power to specific furnishings so that individual devices can be charged from variety of locations.

Furnishings – Are there plans for more individual work tables? What about comfortable seating?

Yes. The first phase of construction calls for new, durable seating around the second-floor atrium and a large grouping of chair and table options within the nonfiction collection (also on the second floor). The chairs will be a mix of upholstered and non-upholstered options.

Restrooms – Will you add more bathrooms, please?

We certainly will. The first phase of construction includes new bathrooms on the second floor and in the children’s library. Later phases include new bathrooms on the first floor.

Sidewalk – Why not replace the brick sidewalk with something safer?

That is a terrific idea and is included in later phases of the project. The exterior of the Johnson Building is landmarked so we are in careful consultant with the Landmarks Commission about the look and feel of any new landscaping. An accessible entrance is a priority.

As always, please feel free to share your ideas by commenting on this blog, sending an email to, or mailing a letter to Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston MA 02116.

Updated Display in Atrium: Johnson Building Improvement Project

Posted on November 8th, 2013 by Gina Perille in Johnson Building Study, Library Services, Major Projects
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The display in the atrium section of the Johnson Building — known as Deferrari Hall — was recently updated. Thank you to those who have been adding comments and questions to the interactive boards throughout the spring and fall.


The boards feature updated floor plans for the first phase of construction which will begin in December. The second floor of the Johnson Building will have a new children’s library and teen room as well as updated collections and reference services. Also on the boards is a section titled “You Asked. We’re Answering.” with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions so far received from the public.

The library continues to collect comments and questions via the interactive display. In addition, there is roundtable discussion about the first phase of construction on Thursday, November 14. If you are not able to visit the Central Library this fall or attend the roundtable, please feel free to share your ideas by commenting on this blog, sending an email to, or mailing a letter to Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston MA 02116.

Johnson Improvement Project Landmarks Process

Posted on November 5th, 2013 by Eamon Shelton in Johnson Building Study, Library Services, Major Projects

In order to achieve the transformative changes planned for the Johnson Building, the library, the city and architects have worked closely with the community, its neighbors and numerous city agencies and local organizations.  The Boston Landmarks Commission, the municipal preservation agency for Boston’s Historic Buildings has been important to this process.

When the McKim building was officially designated as a Boston landmark in 2000, the façade and lobby of the Johnson building were landmarked as well.  Therefore any proposed changes to the landmarked portions of the Johnson Building must be reviewed by the Commission.

The project was first presented to the Landmarks Commission over the summer in a session that included several members of the public as well as supporters, many of whom spoke in favor of the project.  More recently specific elements of the project including the removal of the granite screen walls, the replacement of windows, and a preliminary landscaping plan were presented to the design subcommittee and later conditionally approved by the full committee with provisions that project team return with additional detail.

The project team will return to the Boston Landmarks Commission to present at the November and December hearings.

Below is a link to some of the letters of support that were written to the Boston Landmarks Commission on behalf of the project.

BLC Letters of Support compiled