Skip to content Skip to navigation

COVID-19 Response & Re-Opening

September 18, 2020

The library has been re-opened since July 8. We welcome our members and visitors who purchase a Day Pass. We offer a maximum of five Day Pass users per day.
To help us meet occupancy requirements, we are asking all members and visitors to reserve time in the building in advance. Please call the Membership team at 617-720-7604 to book your visit.
Same-day reservations are usually available.
  • Every person in the building is required to wear a mask or face covering throughout their visit.
  • COVID-19 protocols for social distancing, hygiene, staffing, cleaning, and disinfecting have been established, in accordance with Massachusetts state guidelines.
  • The number of people in the building is limited to 40% of occupancy, per Massachusetts Phase 3 guidelines.
  • We will do our utmost to create a safe environment.
Welcoming You to 10½ Beacon Street
  • Most spaces are open for your use, including the Gordon Newspaper Reading Room; the first, second, and fifth floors; Upper Pilgrim (the Art & Architecture library); Lower Pilgrim; and the Drum stacks.
  • Floors 3, 3G, and 4 are reserved for staff only. The librarians will retrieve books for you from these floors; just ask!
  • Reservations open every Friday morning for the week ahead starting on Monday. Please call the Membership team at 617-720-7604 to schedule your visit.
  • We will book reservations one week at a time, to monitor the process carefully and make any needed adjustments.
  • You can reserve flexibly: a full day or just a half hour, depending on what you need.
  • We don't have a system in place for self-service booking; we can only take your reservations by telephone.
  • We will only be allowing people in the building who have an appointment, although you can make a spur-of-the-moment decision to come in and we'll happily welcome you (as long as we have not reached the capacity limits. We have dozens of safely-distanced spots waiting for members).
  • Questions? Visit our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Page
Call us and make plans to come in!
Accessibility During Facade Renovations
The accessible pathway into the BA has moved temporarily. Scaffolding on the facade for the current renovation project is obstructing the ramp to the front doors. The scaffolding will remain in place for the project's duration, until late 2020. For accommodation via an alternative entrance nearby, please call us at 617-227-0270.


Please check events listings and our social media feeds regularly for the many online book talks, lectures, and other events you can join from home. We are sending our most timely updates via email; all are welcome to join our email list here.

In-person member and visitor activities, including lecture and concert programs, class visits, rentals, and meetings, are suspended.

To register and learn more about upcoming virtual events, see the links below.

Book Talk: A Supreme Fête Thursday, October 8 5:00 pm
Dawnland and Dear Georgina Online Film Screening + Live Filmmaker Q&A Monday, October 12 8:00 pm
This is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot Wednesday, October 14 6:00 pm
Eye of the Expert: Views of Boston Wednesday, October 21 6:00 pm
Reader Services

Library staff are in the building! They are responding to emails and voicemails and providing the usual services, including help with electronic resources. They are available during regular open hours. Call (617) 227-0270 x302, email, or make an appointment to come in by calling the Membership line at 671-720-7604.

Many discussion groups have decided to hold virtual meetings. The BA is providing online videoconference access to encourage all discussion groups to meet online.

All in-person reader services, including book borrowing and returns, are re-opened, with overdue fines waived, and subject to state occupancy and safety guidelines.

Staff and Facilities

All hourly and salaried employees were compensated during the closure, with much of their work continuing remotely. The building’s security and climate maintenance systems and procedures remained in effect at all times. Crews completed a thorough cleaning under the direction of facilities and security staff, and continue to maintain the building every day.

We care foremost about the people of the Athenæum and Boston communities. We will remain vigilant and respond prudently to this unprecedented situation, and look forward to offering you a warm welcome when you choose to come in!


Information about the COVID-19 coronavirus and the Massachusetts response