Boston, Feb. 3, 2018 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh and library community members today celebrated the opening of Boston Public Library Chinatown at 2 Boylston Street in the China Trade Center. The event marked the return of library services to the neighborhood for the first time in more than 50 years, and a $1 million investment in library services in Chinatown. Regular library hours will begin on Monday, Feb. 5, at 10 a.m.
“I’m so proud that today fulfills our promise to the Chinatown community, and brings library services back to this neighborhood for all to enjoy,” said Mayor Walsh. “So many Chinatown residents have waited decades for this day, and the opening of this space marks our commitment to ensuring all neighborhoods have the resources and support they need. I look forward to residents benefiting from this space and services.”
In his 2017 State of City address, Mayor Walsh pledged to bring library services back to Chinatown. The location will operate for three to five years while plans for long-term library services in Chinatown are developed. Planning firm Miller Dyer Spears worked with the Boston Public Library (BPL), the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services and the community to develop long-term requirements for a library services program in the neighborhood. Their completed planning study is available here.
“BPL Chinatown demonstrates our commitment to our communities and the importance of physical libraries’ presence throughout our city. Chinatown is a vibrant, evolving neighborhood and Boston Public Library is eager to bring long-term services to the neighborhood,” said Boston Public Library President David Leonard.
The BPL Chinatown location represents an investment of almost $1 million in bringing library services to Chinatown. BPL Chinatown includes bilingual staff, books, newspapers, and periodicals in English and Mandarin, children’s programming, a 2,500 item collection, DVDs in English and Mandarin, holds pick-up, immigration and citizenship information, laptops for in-library use, and WiFi. Hours are Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. All are welcome to utilize its services.
“Residents, including youth, have worked for many years to return library service to Chinatown,” said Suzanne Lee, President Emeritus of the Chinese Progressive Association. “We are happy this is finally a reality, and we will continue to work toward a permanent solution.”
The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) owns the Chinatown Trade Center and served as the project manager for the build-out of the temporary library services space. In order to expedite the process to open BPL Chinatown, last year the BPDA extended an existing contract with Bargmann Hendrie + Archtype Inc., the architectural firm overseeing the BPDA’s overall renovation of the China Trade Center, to also include design and build- out supervision for the library services. In July of 2017, the BPDA awarded the construction contract to Northern Contracting Corporation, Inc.
In addition to housing the new library services, the China Trade Center is also the home to several non-profit agencies that provide essential services to Chinatown residents, including the International Institute of New England and the Urban College of Boston.
“Over the past several years, the Boston Planning & Development Agency has worked to bring providers and services to the China Trade Center that benefit the people of Chinatown,” said Brian Golden, Director of the BPDA. “After many years without a library in Chinatown, we are pleased that the Chinatown Trade Center can serve as the temporary home of BPL Chinatown and look forward to working with BPL and the community to find a permanent home for library services.”
The opening of BPL Chinatown highlights Mayor Walsh’s commitment to investing in all Boston neighborhoods, delivering exceptional city services. Nearly $14 million of library projects expenditure are planned across the city in fiscal year 2018, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh is investing $102 million in funding for library projects slated for fiscal year 2019 – fiscal year 2022. The Adams Street, Dudley, Parker Hill, Roslindale and Uphams Corner branches are currently in various stages of planning and renovation. Most major renovations or new construction projects undergo a programming, design, and construction phase, which always include significant community engagement at each step to gain input, feedback, and insight from users. More information on can be viewed online.
Boston Public Library has a Central Library, 25 branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit bpl.org.