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Boston Public Library to Renovate Johnson Building

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As I have mentioned before, the Boston Public Library’s Central Library occupies two buildings, named after their architects, The McKim Building and The Johnson Building. Normally, the circulating collections are in The Johnson Building, while the research collections are in The McKim Building.

However, while The Johnson Building undergoes renovations, a number of circulating collections will temporarily move into The McKim Building. The Fiction, Large Print, and World Language collections will move to the lower level of The McKim Building, which is currently closed to the public.[1]

Tech Central will move into the Washington Room on the second floor of The McKim Building. The popular DVD and CD collections will move into the Orientation Room on the first floor of The McKim Building.
Further, a temporary Teen Room will stay within The Johnson Building, but will move downstairs. Some of the collections, the computers, and the service desk from the Teen Room will move to the Boston Room, which is currently used for children’s programming.

For the past two months, the Boston Public Library (B.P.L.) has revealed how The Johnson Building will be renovated. On Monday, March 24, 2014, Gianna Gifford, Manager of Reference & Instruction, stated, “Bienvenido a la Biblioteca!” [This phrase means “Welcome to the Library!”] “The Community Learning space on the renovated Mezzanine level of the Johnson Building will be a lively, open, and welcoming conversation spot for patrons who are learning English, preparing for citizenship exams, or who enjoy reading, studying, and practicing foreign languages. The library’s World Language books, test preparation materials, and literacy collection will be arranged in the surrounding space to support literacy programs, small group tutoring, and conversation circles.”

The newly designed space will have three study rooms perfect for tutoring sessions and small group conversation.

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, Gina Perille, Chief of Communications & Strategy and authoress of the B.P.L.’s Compass Strategic Plan, announced, “The second floor of the renovated Johnson Building will include a community reading area with comfortable seating as well as work space for individual and collaborative efforts… A large, arched window will bring in light from Boylston Street into the reading area as will the skylights in the Johnson Building’s center atrium. Nonfiction collections will be on both sides of the community reading area and near the elevators. The second floor also includes a new children’s library… teen central… and reference area...”

On Friday, April 18, 2014, which was Good Friday, Michael Colford, Director of Library Services, announced, “In late June and late July, renovation work will begin on the ceilings of the first floor/mezzanine of the Johnson Building. The work will be done in sections so that only portions of the Johnson Building will have to be closed off, but several collections will be moving into the McKim Building or to a different location in the Johnson Building during this work.”

One of the most significant moves will be the Fiction collection, currently located outside of the Rey Children’s Room on the first floor of the Johnson Building. The Fiction collection will be moving to the Lower Level of the McKim building, a space that is currently not open to the public. Along with Fiction, the Large Print collection will move as will the World Language collections, currently housed on the mezzanine. This move will take place in mid-June.

Just before that, some of the collections, the computers, and the service desk in the Teen Room will be moving downstairs into the Boston Room, which is currently being used for children’s programming opposite the Borrower Services Desk. This will function as a temporary Teen Room until the new Teen Central opens in March 2015.

Another major move involves theTech Central area where computers are available for public use. This popular service will move back to the Washington Room on the second floor of the McKim Building, Longtime library users will recall that the public computers used to be in the Washington Room back in 2009 and before. This move will take place in July. In order to make room for Tech Central, the Microtext Department will be moving into Bates Hall. In addition, new Microtext reader equipment will be installed that will provide better service for those using this format for research.

The popular DVD and CD collections will be moving in July as well. The Orientation Room is located on the first floor of the McKim Building, down the hall from the public rest rooms. This glassed in room will house the DVDs, the music CDs and the Books on CD. A second check-out desk will be activated in the McKim Lobby to accommodate the Fiction and audio-visual collections in the McKim Building.

Later in the year additional collections including new Fiction and Nonfiction, Travel and self-pick-up of books on hold will be moving into the McKim building as well. All of these moves are subject to change, so stay tuned for additional information about these moves.

On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Laura Irmscher, Chief of Collections Strategy, announced, “The adult nonfiction collection will cover much of the second floor of the renovated Johnson Building. This collection will provide users access to current materials on a large variety of topics, including religion, sports, history, health, and crafts, just to name a few. Users will be able to browse titles and topics that are in the most recent demand, while still having access to books in lower demand through the closed stacks and remote storage facility. In response to frequent requests by library users, the second floor will also feature a new biography collection that is separate from the rest of the nonfiction books.”

Nonfiction books specifically written or designed for teens will be shelved side by side with the adult nonfiction books. This change will be a great benefit for teens using nonfiction materials. While researching a topic, teens will be able to find a larger selection of books without having to look in multiple locations. Plus, they will have close access to reference librarians to help with their research needs. Moving the teen nonfiction books into the adult area also leaves more room for leisure reading books and a place to hang out in Teen Central.

On Monday, April 28, 2014, Ms. Gifford announced, “Included in the Central Library Renovation’s plan for the mezzanine level is the wonderful addition of a Tech Classroom. The Library’s free and popular Research, Computer & Career classes will meet in this new space, designed to fit 20 students at individual computer workstations for hands-on practice with computers and online resources. Classes delve into a whole host of topics, from very basic keyboard and mouse practice to using our new streaming video service to how to tackle a research paper/project.”

[1] By “World Language” I hazard to guess they mean foreign languages plural.

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