February 2, 2024
3 min read

Interview With the Boston Public Library: Are Libraries the Original Coworking Spaces?

Haley Grant
Co-Founder of Sync

In today's remote work landscape, the Boston Public Library (BPL) stands out as a hidden gem for professionals seeking a vibrant coworking experience. In our interview with Gregor Smart, Curator at the Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center, we delve into the library's evolution into a dynamic space that provides not only a quiet work environment but also a sense of community and innovation. 

Discover how this Boston landmark is reshaping the role that libraries play in today’s evolving workforce, offering professionals not just a workspace but a practical and inviting environment for productivity, collaboration, and personal growth.

Personalized connections,
exclusive rewards
Get early access to our
invite-only
app
You’re all set! Thank you !
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get early access to our
invite-only
networking club
Personalized connections, exclusive rewards
You’re all set! Thank you !
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get early access to our
invite-only
networking club
You’re all set! Thank you !
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Hi, Gregor!

Could you tell us what you think sets libraries apart as optimal choices for remote work?

Absolutely! Today, libraries are vibrant, energetic spaces. People are social creatures and crave interaction. Some coworkers in our space have expressed that they are too distracted and lonely at home. They find the library to be a place where they can be a part of a community. And then there’s those who simply need a workspace separate from their roommates, family, or pets. 

While there are some similarities between libraries and coworking spaces, there are some important distinctions. First, you don't have to buy a coffee or purchase an expensive room rental fee. Libraries offer a wide range of beautiful spaces, so you’re sure to find a space that suits your needs. 

Second, your library card gives you access to an array of online resources, streaming services, audiobooks, and an extensive print collection. 

Finally, we offer access to collection specialists, with bookable one-on-one support to help you with your research question. We are connected to many community partners, so if we don't have it, we can find someone who can. Together, all of these things create an ambience that fosters productivity.

Can you give us an overview of how the Boston Public Library has adapted to the needs of people who use the library as a coworking space?

With 26 BPL locations, remote workers from every neighborhood can benefit from the many inviting spaces, events and resources we have to offer. We aim to be a sanctuary for all. In fact, the words you'll find at our entrance are, "Free to all."  

In all our locations, you'll find comfortable seating, work tables, free Wi-Fi, and, if you have a library card, you'll receive $20 each month for printing and scanning services.

What specific facilities and resources does BPL offer to cater to those using the library as a coworking space?

Come visit our Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center. This may be your best locale for coworking. Here you'll find free Wi-Fi, bookable alcoves for your small business meetings,  whiteboards, scanners, printers, and 3D Printers. 

Need a space to edit videos or record a podcast? Check out our InnoLAB! Visitors can also book one of our Macs if they need access to Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop, or Illustrator. 

We also offer career advice and resume support on our Job & Career Support page! 

Are there any programs or events organized by the library to engage and support remote workers?

We offer self-paced eLearning with our Google Career Certificate program to help you learn about Cybersecurity, Advanced Data Analytics, Digital Marketing & E-commerce, IT Support, Project Management, UX Design, IT Automation with Python, and Business Intelligence. No prior education is required to apply for or earn a Google Career Certificate. And upon completion of the program, you can connect with +150 companies that are currently hiring.

Your library card also gives you access to LinkedIn Learning, which offers 16,000 video courses in business, software, technology, and creative skills, taught by recognized industry experts. Courses are offered in English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese.

And when you are in our space, you have access to people who can help you with any questions you may have. Take advantage of one of our KBLIC advisors, who’s available to help with tax prep, small business mentorship, small business legal support, and even entrepreneur-in-residence appointments.

Is the Boston Public Library implementing any innovative approaches to meet the evolving needs of remote workers?

Last winter we added a number of bookable small business alcoves. People love them! They can be booked up to 30 days in advance and can accommodate up to 6 people. Since they are so popular, the booking limit is 2 hours per day, 3 times per week. You'll find these spaces in our Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center. You'll also find community spaces at all our branches.

Are there any tips or resources you would recommend for individuals looking to maximize their productivity while working from the library?

First, get a library card – that is your key to all our great resources! Take advantage of your monthly $20 print/scan budget, courtesy of your library card.

Take breaks and chill out as needed. We offer many events. Have a bite to eat in our Newsfeed Cafe, Courtyard Tea Room, and a cocktail in our Map Room Lounge. Attend our Art & Architecture tour, and visit our wonderful Courtyard. And don’t forget to attend one of our signature programs, like our Summer Concert Series, Author Talks, and Lowell Lectures. 

Personalized connections,
exclusive rewards
Get early access to our
invite-only
app
You’re all set! Thank you !
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get early access to our
invite-only
networking club
Personalized connections, exclusive rewards
You’re all set! Thank you !
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get early access to our
invite-only
networking club
You’re all set! Thank you !
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Do you have any advice for remote workers considering using the library as a coworking space?

Headphones are always a smart idea, although you can always stop by the Kirstein Information Desk for a loaner pair if you've forgotten yours. Take some time to chat with a staff member at one of our Information Desks – we love connecting patrons with whatever they need. It's what we do!