The 10+ Best Libraries to Visit in Boston

In our opinion, there’s no such thing as a bad library, and this overview of a dozen of the most popular libraries in Boston makes a point to prove that true.

These libraries come in many shapes and sizes. Some are small and quaint. Others, grand and ornate.

Whether you prefer historic or modern architecture doesn’t make any particular difference. It’s hard not to admire what these libraries and their dedicated staff provide to our Boston communities.

Photo Credit: “Boston Public Library Reading Room” by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Boston Public Library – Central Library

The Boston Public Library’s most branch, the Central Library in Copley Square, offers more than just a grand palace of architecture and design.

This location features the largest collection of books within the Boston Public Library system and hosts free concerts, lectures, and author presentations from both up-and-coming and best-selling creative artists and bright minds.

Address: 700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

Website: Boston Public Library – Central Library

Photo Credit: “Museum Exhibitions: JFK Library Letters Exhibit by Phil Manker” by Phil Manker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The aptly named John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s 35th President.

Perhaps more popular as a museum than a library, this iconic building holds exhibits, research collections, and guided tours that any history buff will love to see for themselves.

Any admirer of JFK will also want to visit the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, featured as one of our top parks to visit in the Boston area.

Address: Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125

Website: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Photo Credit: “Cambridge Public Library” by Namlhots is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Cambridge Public Library

The main branch of the Cambridge Public Library, which opened in 2009, is found in the center of the city and offers its patrons all of the important perks and benefits that library guests are after.

In addition to a rich collection of books, this library offers computers available for public use, community meeting spaces, and dedicated rooms for children and teens.

Address: 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138

Website: Cambridge Public Library

Photo Credit: “P_30 Cambridge – The Widener Library (1915) – Harvard University – Massachusetts” by CthulhuWho1 (Will Hart) is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Widener Library

If you’ve ever visited the campus of Harvard University, you undoubtedly saw the grand Widener Library with its tall Victorian columns and broad staircase where students, faculty, and guests love to congregate.

Although this library is primarily dedicated to usage by members of the Harvard community, visitors may visit to explore its special collections and archives.

Address: 1 Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA 02138

Website: Widener Library

Malden Public Library

Starting as a single room in the Town Hall back in 1879, the Malden Public Library has expanded its circulation and offerings while remaining a beloved fixture in the local community.

Open Monday through Friday, this library hosts book clubs and writing groups along with a rotating art exhibit.

Address: 36 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

Website: Malden Public Library

Robbins Library

Expand your world by visiting the Robbins Library in Arlington.

One unique part of this place is its “Library of Things,” which offers its members a chance to borrow kitchen equipment, board games, musical instruments, puzzles, and more.

Address: 700 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

Website: Robbins Library

Brookline Village Library

The Brookline Village Library was home to one of the first dedicated children’s reading rooms in the country.

When renovated in 2003, the library added a small, child-sized door to its reading room as the branch continues to build upon its commitment to inspire another generation of curious readers.

Address: 361 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

Website: The Public Library of Brookline – Brookline Village Library

Photo Credit: “Boston Athenaeum” by oliva732000 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Boston Athenaeum

Unlike other libraries on this Iist, the Boston Athenaeum is a privately-owned library that charges an annual membership fee or day pass rate for its guests.

While not everybody will want to pay the price of admission, it’s still a must-see for lovers of libraries due to its stately appearance, art galleries, and carefully curated collection.

Address: 10-1/2 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108

Website: Boston Athenaeum

East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library

This branch of the Boston Public Library opened in 2013, making it one of the newest locations on the list.

While some of the other libraries on this list are recognized for their historic beauty, the Eastern Boston Branch Library turns heads for its modern, LEED Gold-certified design.

The library hosts many fun, explorative, and educational events including ESL classes and teen-focused discussion groups on books, gaming, and pop culture.

Address: 365 S Bremen St, Boston, MA 02128

Website: East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library

Somerville Public Library

The Somerville Public Library offers a broad mix of programs for patrons of all ages.

For the 21+ crowd, readers enjoy a monthly “Books and Brews” discussion in cooperation with Somerville’s popular Aeronaut Brewery.

Adults also enjoy a weekly “Craft and Chat” where they can work on their creative projects, but don’t worry, the Somerville library isn’t just for grown-ups as their calendar includes lots of storytime and activities for kids, too.

Address: 79 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

Website: Somerville Public Library

Brighton Branch of the Boston Public Library

Monday through Friday, you can enjoy a fulfilling visit to the Boston Public Library’s Brighton Branch. This library became part of the Boston library system back in 1874 when Brighton was annexed to Boston, and it’s been a favorite with residents ever since.

Grab your favorite inspirational biography or indulgent romance novel and take a seat in the lounge area where you can enjoy the views of a peaceful serenity garden.

If you can sneak in a trip to the Brighton Branch during business hours, you’ll be glad you did.

Address: 40 Academy Hill Rd, Brighton, MA 02135

Website: Brighton Branch of the Boston Public Library

Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library

Not far from the Harvard Business School, you’ll find the Honan-Allston Library Branch.

While quiet voices are appreciated in any library, this particular location offers you a unique way to make some noise. The Rita M. DiGesse room is home to a baby grand piano where you can play your favorite song or work on creating a masterpiece.

You won’t be the first one to create something amazing in the Honan-Allston Library. As you walk around, you’ll have the opportunity to admire art exhibitions by other local artists.

Address: 300 N Harvard St, Allston, MA 02134

Website: Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library