Libraries unearthed: Bookworms, book no further

by Beacon Staff • March 18, 2009

Roommates may not be entirely cooperative when it comes to study schedules, and let's face it; Emerson's library is just not large enough to accommodate all of the students who need to cram for mid-terms. Unfortunately, spring has not yet sprung in Boston, so students craving a change of the same old scenery can't yet traipse over to Boston Common and hit the books. Luckily, not all hope is lost. There is a surplus of local libraries eager to cure students' study time troubles. Although none of them have the showcase of the Will Grace set, each of them possesses other vital resources helpful to students cramming for exams.

bThe Central Library in Copley Square/b

i700 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116/i

The main branch of the Boston Public Library, located on Boylston Street just about five blocks away from Emerson, is an excellent resource for students both on-campus and off. The commute from Emerson to the Central Library doesn't even require a T ride and gives students an opportunity to exercise their bodies and their minds. The Central Library consists of two buildings. The original McKim Building was built in 1985 and looks more like a museum than a library with its gorgeous murals, marble statues and high dome ceilings. The Johnson Building was built as an addition to the library in 1972 and looks much more like what one would expect of a library, with endless book cases and study areas. The McKim Building is revered as a national historic landmark. It is modeled after designs from the Italian-Renaissance era and the building itself is composed of marble that came from varying sources around the world, including the Alps, Italy and Africa. Though surpassed by the McKim Building in aesthetic appeal, the Johnson Building wins with its practicality. Most of the books available for public circulation can be found in the Johnson Building. The Central Library also has a quaint courtyard equipped with a fountain, a nice escape one wouldn't expect to find in a city library. Just one piece of advice for those who choose to explore the Central Branch-get a map! They can be found on-line or in the lobby.

bThe Honan-Allston Branch Library/b

i300 N. Harvard Street, Allston, Massachusetts 02134 /i

Another branch of the Boston Public Library, the Allston Library, is located in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. The Allston Library is perfect for those who reside in the area or city dwellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle and get in some quiet study time. According to the library's Web site, Allston's first library services began in 1889 in the form of a delivery service that was run out of a local drugstore. It wasn't until 1924 that the branch became a full service part of the Boston Public Libraries; However, after more than 90 years of services to the Allston community, the library was forced to close in 1981 due to budget concerns. The city was shocked and rallied for the return of the library. The new Allston Library was built in 2000 as a result of hard work and determination from the local citizens. The new building emits a contemporary yet comfortable feeling and the state-of-the-art facility provides a vast array of adult, teen and children's books, dozens of periodicals, and thousands of CDs, books on tape and videos. The library also offers private study rooms, computers equipped with internet access, in addition to listening and viewing stations. Outside the library has a courtyard adorned with chairs and benches for when the weather gets a bit nicer, and bike racks are available for those who choose to cruise to the library. Last but certainly not least, an art gallery and exhibition hall, displaying works from local artists, is open to the public and provides a great excuse for a quick break from studying.

bThe Brookline Public Library/b

i361 Washington Street, Brookline, Ma 02445/i

Located on the outskirts of Boston, accessible by the green line via the Brookline Village T Station, the Brookline Public Library offers a relaxing environment to chill out and study. The library's ornate style is appealing to the eye, with crystal chandeliers dripping from the ceilings and packed bookshelves surrounding mostly all of the study areas. Particularly noteworthy are the study carrels, which are cozy and secluded one-person study areas enclosed with windows because, after all, there is nothing like a good view and sunshine to help stimulate the brain. The library is home to more than one million print and non-print materials. Anne Reed, the reference supervisor of the Brookline Public Library said one of the most convenient features associated with the library is its online electronic database. Also, the online E Journals Finder provides library members access to full text journals from their own home. The Brookline Public Library definitely strives to provide its members with the most resources in the most convenient ways. Another bonus- when studying has run its course; DVDs from the library's collection are available to rent for convenient and cost-free relaxation. Their selection ranges from instructional workout videos to new releases, and if there is a video you feel should be there that isn't, you can put in a suggestion for the library to purchase it and be the first to have access to it upon arrival.

bThe Cambridge Public Library Central Square Branch/b

i45 Pearl Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139/i

The Central Square Branch, surrounded by vibrant Cambridge, is near MIT and Harvard. Unlike the other three libraries, The Central Square Library is a victim of heinous 1960's architecture. Not many redeeming qualities are distinguishable at first glance-its dingy interior and shabby cement walls exude the eerie feeling that the library hasn't changed much since its opening in 1976-but the small and thrifty library does have a lot to offer. Located in a diverse neighborhood, the Central Square Library prides itself on its selection of books reflecting the community which it serves, offering collections that pertain to Spanish Language, Haitian, Black Studies and Bengali. The amount of study space available in the library is limited and most of these areas are not secluded, but the environment is calm and quiet for the most part. The library also does not have many computers available, but it does provide free internet access, so bring a personal computer if surfing the Web is on your agenda. Though it maybe not ideal for a hardcore study session, the Central Square Library has very interesting attributes that sets it apart from the other more contemporary libraries. If a change of scenery is what you need, this could be the place for you. If all else fails, it is definitely a prime place to go people-watching.