BOSTON - Thursday, May 11, 2023 - Mayor Michelle Wu today announced that riders at 20 bus stops across Boston are now able to access free digital content this spring and summer provided by a Boston Public Library (BPL) pilot program called “Browse, Borrow, Board.” While waiting for the bus, riders can use a QR code to browse and borrow audiobooks, eBooks, e-newspapers, and e-magazines for all ages before enjoying their reading materials on the go. Library cards are not required to use this service and readers don’t need to download an app, as the City’s primary goal with this pilot is to introduce riders to the Library’s offerings, making resources through the BPL more accessible and convenient for families.
“Our investment in our city’s public transit riders has taken a variety of forms, from eliminating fares for three crucial bus routes to expanding the bus lane network,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “This pilot program builds on our efforts to make public transportation more enjoyable, while also connecting our residents to the resources the Boston Public Library already offers. Thank you to the BPL and the MBTA for their continued partnership.”
“We share in the value that knowledge and transportation could both be ‘Free to All.’ This opportunity connects public library and public transit offerings around learning and movement in our city, allowing us to better serve our residents,” said President of the Boston Public Library David Leonard.
“The MBTA continues to seek out innovative ways to improve our riders’ experience on the T, and we’re proud to partner with the BPL and the City on this exciting initiative that expands the digital reach of the Library’s offerings to our riders,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng.
From now through the end of August, blue slip-proof decals are on sidewalks at 20 bus stops and MBTA-owned busways throughout the city, including at eight stops serving the fare-free bus routes. The decals, installed this week, have a QR code for riders to scan, bringing them to the digital pop-up library website. For a full list of digital pop-up library locations, visit this map.
“The ‘Browse, Borrow, Board’ initiative is a wonderful customer amenity which will bring books to where people are, giving many MBTA riders a free and convenient way to take books out,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca. “We are grateful to officials with the City of Boston and the Boston Public Library for working with the MBTA to identify locations where people will benefit by the pilot, especially those residents who travel in environmental justice communities.”
“Browse, Borrow, Board came about as a result of a survey one of our summer fellows conducted with public transit riders last year,” said Maddie Webster, Program Manager in the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. “Bus riders in particular indicated that access to the BPL’s digital offerings would be ‘very likely’ to bring delight to their commutes, and we are so pleased to see the pilot come together to serve them this summer.”
Today’s announcement, made in partnership with the MBTA, builds on Mayor Wu’s commitment to making Boston the best city in the country to raise a family. During this pilot initiative, patrons will find offerings in English and Spanish primarily. In the pilot program, the Library has focused on items that are easy to browse for riders on the go, including poetry, short stories, and short audiobooks, as well as a selection of best sellers, and titles for children and teens. The newspaper and magazine content includes 7,000 titles from over 125 countries.
Patrons may check out up to five titles at a time for two-week durations. After two weeks, patrons can scan the QR code again to re-register and checkout new materials. The BPL will be adding new offerings to the site throughout the summer.
ABOUT THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY (BPL):
Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of 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. The Boston Public Library of today is a robust system that includes the Central Library in Copley Square, 25 neighborhood branches, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, the Kirstein Business and Innovation Center, and an archival center, offering public access to world-class special collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and prints, along with rich digital content and online services. The Boston Public Library serves nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. All of its programs and exhibitions are free to all and open to the public.
ABOUT THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF NEW URBAN MECHANICS (MONUM):
Founded in 2010 as one of the first municipal innovation offices in the world, the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics serves as the City's civic research and design team, building partnerships between internal and external agencies to pilot projects that increase the quality of life for all of Boston's residents and visitors.
ABOUT THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (MBTA):
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, more commonly known as the T, is one of the oldest public transit systems in the United States. It's also the largest transit system in Massachusetts. As a division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the MBTA provides subway, bus, Commuter Rail, ferry, and paratransit service to eastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island.