Happy 89th Birthday Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center!

On May 7, 1930, at 9 am sharp, the Edward Kirstein Memorial Library opened at its original Court Square location. Putnam and Cox designed the building (and also later designed the Parker Hill Branch and the original Mattapan Branch). Louis E. Kirstein donated $200,000 (about $2.9 Million in today’s money) for the construction of the original building which had three floors.

The first floor housed statistical data, city directories and atlases from all over the United States, and trade magazines. Patrons could also find government reports, and books covering business and economics. On the third floor was general reading. Head librarian, Mary Watkins Dietrichson, ran the library with the help of eight staff members.


Mr. Kirstein was both the Vice President of Filene's Department store and a member of the Boston Public Library board at the time. He named the library for his father Edward.
When it opened, the Kirstein Memorial Library was one of about 8 business library branches open to the public in the United States and it was well used. The Kirstein Library was averaging 1000 visitors a day in 1939.
It was also well loved.
In 1997, Thomas Drey, a former schoolteacher left the Kirstein Library his entire estate of $6.8 million. Drey was a frequent user of the library for almost 50 years and used the resources at the library to build his wealth. In particular, Drey read Value Line reports and used other resources to track the performance of stocks over time.
The Kirstein Business Library Branch remained at the Court square location until June 2009 when the Boston Public library began consolidating it's branches. It opened later that summer on the Lower Level of the Boylston Street Building in Copley Square. KBL continued the programming and workshops geared toward entrepreneur and investors.
In July 2016 the Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center opened with a new suite of services and technology offerings including:
  • Eight Macs with the Full Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Bookable InnoLAB with camera and audio equipment
  • Bloomberg workstation
  • 3D printing
  • Legal Clinic Hours
  • Small Business Mentoring
We hope that our services honor Louis and his father. Mary Dietrichson said it best, “The constant growth of business, new and old, is what makes a city live. We like to feel we have a part in that.”
As we look forward to 2020 and our 90th anniversary we hope that you join us at one of our programs or stop by for a visit.