A Timely Renewal of the Special Collections Department at Boston Public Library

Finegold Alexander’s renovation ensures that the BPL’s rare treasures are preserved and made accessible to all

Boston Public Library | Special Collections Department

City of Boston
Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Public Library’s Special Collections Department contains some of America's most historic documents, including a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio and original printings of the Declaration of Independence. Finegold Alexander collaborated with library staff and Boston’s Public Facility Department on the Concept Master Plan and the full renovation that ensued. Mechanical system upgrades create stand-alone climate control for the Special Collections Department, a great improvement to protect irreplaceable collections. Other building improvements include the installation of a state-of-the-art fire suppression system throughout, and an enhanced security system. The reconfigured public lobby and reading room now feature climate-controlled display cases, allowing patrons to spend time with and enjoy the historic materials. Taken as a whole, the renovation ensures the long-term preservation of the library’s civic treasures and their continued public access.

(Phot credits: project photos by Raj Das Photography; photo of dedication ceremony and detail photos of display cases and books by Tony Hsiao; photo of Johnson building exterior: Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

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22,700 SF
Master Plan and Design for the Special Collections Department Renovation
Visitor’s Entrance, Archival Staff Spaces, Conservation Lab, Archival Materials, Stacks, Secure Vault Room, Reading Room Facilities, Classroom Space, updated building systems
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“We are so lucky to have historic books and manuscripts on display at the Boston Public Library, and with that comes a responsibility to take care of these works and make them easily accessible. I’m thankful to the BPL and all who made restoration of the Special Collections possible for future generations of Boston residents to enjoy.”
--Boston Mayor Michelle Wu

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“The BPL can once again provide full service to our Special Collections’ treasures and continue stewarding the Rare Books and Manuscripts collections in our newly renovated world-class space, accessible to all, both in-person and online. The historic items in this collection belong to the people of our city, and we look forward to sharing them with our community and the world.”
--David Leonard, Boston Public Library President