Why the Library

People turn to libraries to fulfill their aspirations. They want to dive into history, find a better job, or learn more about a topic that intrigues them. No institution does as much as the Boston Public Library to make these kinds of opportunities available to every member of the public—and does so free of charge.

Why the
Library

People turn to libraries to fulfill their aspirations. They want to dive into history, find a better job, or learn more about a topic that intrigues them. No institution does as much as the Boston Public Library to make these kinds of opportunities available to every member of the public—and does so free of charge.

A Place of Firsts

Built as a “Palace for the People” in 1848, the Boston Public Library is one of the world’s great libraries.

  • First publicly funded library in the U.S.
  • First public library to lend books
  • First library with a dedicated children’s room
  • First library system with branch locations
  • First library to offer free wireless internet connection

ALL ARE WELCOME

The BPL brings together people with all kinds of goals and ambitions, and helps them gain the knowledge and skills they need to create wide-ranging and beneficial social impact.  No other civic or cultural organization has the power to demonstrably improve the lives of so many while remaining free to all.

  • 6 million visitors to 27 locations each year
  • 2nd largest public library in the U.S. with a circulation of 23 million items, after New York City
  • 8 million items borrowed each year, including 1.8 million ebooks and audiobooks
  • More than 12,000 free programs each year
  • Hundreds of recent immigrants participate in ESL classes and conversation groups each year
  • Over 1,000 adults participate in computer education classes each year
  • Over 2,000 children participate in pre-school programs
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