Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: "Boston Public Library"

Boston Public Library (Images of America)
by Catherine J. Willis
Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2011

This book quickly caught my attention at (where else?) my local library. Part of the "Images of America" series, it is primarily a pictorial history of the Boston Public Library system, but the introduction and photo captions provide a wealth of information. Written by Catherine J. Willis who is manager of technical services at the Boston Public Library, it takes the reader back in time to the beginnings of the public library system in this country.

Originally founded in 1852, the Boston Public Library was the first large municipally funded library in the United States. Later on, it would become the first public library to open a branch and to have a dedicated children's room.

This book will be of interest to anyone who loves libraries, architecture or social history. I personally loved seeing the way the books were delivered to patrons - you actually had to request the books and then the call slips were sent via pneumatic tubes to stations on each of the six floors where librarians would retrieve the books and send them on elevators to the delivery room where patrons would pick them up! It was also interesting to see how women had their own reading room.

This book is truly fascinating. I cannot recommend it enough!

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