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Michael Patrick MacDonald Kicks Off Fall Author Talk Series

Posted on September 14th, 2016 by in General
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mpm_1Michael Patrick MacDonald, the author of All Souls and Easter Rising, spoke to a captivated audience that filled the newly renovated Rabb Hall at the Central Library in Copley Square last night. MacDonald spent the hour reading from his debut novel All Souls and exploring his emotional journey and experience in South Boston during the 1980s and 1990s. A slideshow of his family and the South Boston Old Colony Housing Project where he grew up played in the background, giving a quiet but powerful context to the memories MacDonald related.

The first reading included an ode to the time MacDonald spent at the Boston Public Library during his high school years. He described the library as his shelter and safe haven. He spent so much time at the library, he added, that he eventually got a job shelving books—an anecdote that garnered applause from the audience. Fond memories of the library segued into his relationship with the world of punk rock. MacDonald’s story of stalking the band Sex Pistols, who were staying at the Central Library’s neighbor the Lenox Hotel, illustrated his sense of living in two worlds: South Boston and the punk rock scene, which allowed him to escape the harsh realities of Southie life.

MacDonald also explored the tragedies that took the lives of four of his eleven siblings and informed the writing of All Souls. His grief over these losses manifested as physical ailments. After going to see doctors all over the city, MacDonald finally was recommended to a therapist, an experience that made him realize that what happened to his family and his circumstances in Southie were not “normal.” Even more importantly, it helped MacDonald acknowledge the tragic events in his life.

The night concluded with numerous questions from the audience. MacDonald talked about his community organizing and the importance of that work as a way for him to transform his pain into good. MacDonald’s new book, with the working title The Echoes, focuses on the heroin epidemic in South Boston and Charlestown in the 90s and is slated for release in 2017.

This talk is part of the Boston Public Library’s Lowell Lecture Series and is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute, established in 1836 with the specific mission of making great ideas accessible to all people, free of charge.

The next  Author Talk is on Thursday, September 15, at 6 p.m. featuring Karin Tanabe, author of Gilded Years, and takes place in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library in Copley Square.

Boston Public Library’s Read Your Way to Fenway Summer Essay Contest Winners Recognized at August 28 Red Sox Game

Posted on August 29th, 2016 by BPL News in Media Releases

IMG_0612 (2)Boston Public Library’s Read Your Way to Fenway summer essay contest winners enjoyed the magic of Fenway Park on Sunday, August 28 when the Red Sox took on the Kansas City Royals – celebrating the game and their reading accomplishments this summer.

Youth ages 5-17 were encouraged to read a minimum of three books and write an essay about their favorite for the chance to attend the game; 679 kids participated in the program and 473 winners were chosen. The on-field winners, who were part of a pre-game ceremony Sunday night, include Fatuma Mahdi Ahmed – Dudley Branch, Angelina Coral Hernandez – Charlestown Branch, Aayush Patel – Central Library, Zachary Riviello – Parker Hill Branch, Malik Cross – Grove Hall Branch, and Gabriel Custodio from the Uphams Corner Branch.

“I’m extremely proud of our young Bostonians for spending the summer reading and participating in Boston Public Library’s programs. Through their participation in library programs, they are well prepared to start the school year – and there is no better way to end the summer than by spending a night at Fenway Park with the Red Sox,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

“We received hundreds of insightful essays from young people all across Boston and are thrilled to reward their accomplishments with this fun summer activity,” said David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library. “The support of the community and of our critical sponsors allows the Boston Public Library to offer programs supporting the reading and literacy skills our youth need to succeed in school and life.”

In addition to the Read Your Way to Fenway summer essay contest, youth and adults participated in summer reading programs throughout the Boston Public Library system from June through August, engaging in a variety of enriching skill-building programs.

Read Your Way to Fenway is sponsored by John Hancock, The Red Sox Foundation, and The Boston Public Library Foundation.

Pictured above (left to right): Boston Public Library President David Leonard, Boston Public Library Manager of Youth Services Farouqua Abuzeit, Executive Director of the Red Sox Foundation Gena Borson, winners Angelina Coral Hernandez, Aayush Patel, Zachary Riviello, Malik Cross, and Gabriel Custodio. Additional photos are available upon request.

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


The Boston Public Library Foundation is a fundraising arm of the BPL, with a mission to raise private funds for library programs and special projects.  Working closely with the leadership team of the Library, as well as the Board of Trustees, the Foundation has made over 15 grants to the BPL in Fiscal Year 2016, ranging in size from $10,000 to $175,000, to support programs such as the Lowell Lecture Series, Concerts in the Courtyard, Read Your Way to Fenway, Community Learning Center programs, and the upcoming “Celebrating Shakespeare” initiative, among others.



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Boston Public Library September Literary Events and Programs

Posted on August 25th, 2016 by BPL News in Media Releases

collageBoston Public Library offers an abundance of author talks and programs across the city’s locations in September, including classes designed to build career skills by the Central Library’s newly renovated Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center. Visit for a complete list.

  • The library’s first Lowell Lecture of 2016 features Michael Patrick MacDonald, who details his memoir All Souls: A Family Story from Southie on Tuesday, September 13, at 6 p.m. in Rabb Hall at the Central Library, located at 700 Boylston Street.
  • Lori Stokes debunks five myths about the Puritans on Wednesday, September 14, at 6 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library, located at 700 Boylston Street.
  • Karin Tanabe speaks about her book The Gilded Years, which tells the story of Anita Hemmings, the first black woman to attend Vassar College by passing as a white woman, on Thursday, September 15, at 6 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library, located at 700 Boylston Street.
  • Kim Kerrigan and Steven R. Wells discuss Get a Grip on Business Writing: Critical Skills for Success in Today’s Workplace and give tips for attendees on Thursday, September 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the West End Branch, located at 151 Cambridge Street.
  • The Friends of the Connolly Branch Library hold their annual book sale on Saturday, September 17, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 433 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.
  • Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches: Salem, 1692 examines the legal and social ramifications of the Salem Witch Trials, the truth about witchcraft, the adolescent mind, and how the events of 1692 shaped America’s future. Tuesday, September 20, at 6 p.m. in Rabb Hall at the Central Library, located at 700 Boylston Street.
  • In Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, Larry Tye draws upon unpublished memoirs, unreleased government files, and 58 boxes of Bobby’s papers that had been under lock and key for the past forty years to peel away layers of myth and misconception to paint a complete portrait of him on Thursday, September 22, at 6 p.m. in Rabb Hall at the Central Library, located at 700 Boylston Street.
  • Ted Reinstein, a native New Englander and local writer, shares stories from the history of New England and brings to life many of the fights, spats, and arguments that have, in many ways, shaped the region in Wicked Pissed: New England’s Most Famous Feuds. Tuesday, September 27, at 6 p.m. in the Abbey Room at the Central Library, located at 700 Boylston Street.
  • Stephen T. Moskey explores the intersection of wealth, celebrity, politics, gender, and race in Larz and Isabel Anderson: Wealth and Celebrity in the Gilded Age on Wednesday, September 28, at 6 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library, located at 700 Boylston Street.

Read more »

A New Entrance: the Boylston & Exeter Streetscapes of the Central Library Renovation

Posted on August 3rd, 2016 by BPL News in Central Library Renovation Reopening

LandscapeThe Central Library Renovation starts at the curb. Guided by a philosophy of welcome, warmth, and engagement, once you set foot on the block your experience of the Boston Public Library begins.

At the Boylston Street entrance of the Central Library there is new space for community gathering that extends the library experience beyond its doors. Once intended for pedestrian movement alone and separated from the building by a series of granite screens or plinths, the sidewalk is now an inviting space that visitors can enjoy, thanks to a redesign by landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand, working under the guidance of Willam Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. A subtle row of eight Honey Locusts shade the sidewalk on the Boylston Street side, and Autumn Blaze Maples stand on Exeter Street, bringing a welcoming, colorful, and natural presence to the streetscape.

Visitors will now be able to take a seat, perch, or hold informal group meetings inside and outside the library, at an exterior group of benches or at the communal “Civic Table” with its differing heights for children and adults, providing a welcoming area for gathering and hanging out.

After dark, a system of catenary lights interspersing the tree line illuminates this “outdoor room” on Boylston Street. In addition to creating a community space, the Civic Table brings elements of the Library outside, inspired by the large tables inside the Central Library and wired to support digital access. The landscape also helps visually extend the Library onto the street, as the pavers form a pattern that mirrors those inside the new building entrance.

While this new streetscape meets the current needs of today’s Boston, it also preserves the history of the Johnson building by repurposing its materials. The granite plinths that once guarded the windows of the building and enclosed small inaccessible gardens have been reimagined as sidewalk pavers. In a nod to their past, one edge of the plinth pavers aligns with the outside edge of the former gardens. The square pavers that once marked the entrance to the Johnson building on Boylston Street have been re-laid in their original pattern, continuing a type of granite carpet from curb to interior.

Thanks to this new welcoming and warm landscape, the Central Library is now more intimately connected to the streetscape and the city of Boston.

Color Boston Public Library’s Collections for National Coloring Book Day

Posted on August 2nd, 2016 by BPL News in General

August 2 is National Coloring Book Day, and in celebration, we bring you four prints from our collections for you to color. To get started, click on the picture below to download a PDF of each image in coloring format. Then, print the image and color away!


19th-Century American Trade Card for Lothrops, Farnham & Co. See the original here.

McKim Buildling

Boston Public Library Postcard from the Tichnor Brothers Collection. See the original here.

Philosophy Panel

Philosophy Mural Panel by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes at the Central Library in Copley Square.
See the original here.


Set design drawing by Antonio Aquaroni. See the original here.