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COVID-19 Response & Re-Opening

January 5, 2021

Per the City of Boston's order to revert temporarily to Phase 2 restrictions, the Athenæum is open to members for book pick-up and drop-off in the lobby only, during regular opening hours. This restriction is in effect until January 27 at the earliest.
We continue to offer our well-received online events and tours to members and the public. Join our Monday events newsletter mailing list to hear about new events right away!
Numerous membership activities continue:
The health and safety of our staff, members, and the broader Boston community are of paramount importance. We are confident in the effectiveness of preventative measures we follow when the building is open, including masking, distancing, cleaning, contactless book pick-up and drop-off, the reservation system, and more. These practices, and the careful attention our staff has paid to safety both inside the building and out, have kept the BA open through many challenging months, and we hope to re-open to members and visitors soon.
Feel free to contact the Membership team at or (617) 720-7604. As always, exercise caution through these challenging days, and consult these sources for authoritative information:

When we reopen:
We welcome members, as well as visitors who purchase a Day Pass. We offer a maximum of five Day Pass users per day.

To help us meet occupancy requirements, we ask 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 are in effect, 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 are doing 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 book reservations one week at a time, to monitor the process 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 only allow people who have an appointment beyond the lobby, 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
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 early 2021. For accommodation via an alternative entrance nearby, please call us at 617-227-0270.


Please check events listings and our social media feeds 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.


Reader Services

Library staffers are providing services during our regular open hours, including help with electronic resources. Call (617) 227-0270 x302, email, or make an appointment to come in after we reopen by calling the Membership line at (617) 720-7604.

Most of our discussion groups are meeting virtually. The BA is providing online videoconference access.

In-person reader services, including book borrowing and returns, continue to be available as usual during our open hours.

Staff and Facilities

All hourly and salaried employees were compensated during the spring 2020 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 come in!



Information about the COVID-19 coronavirus and the Massachusetts response