A Look at Massachusetts’ Midcentury Modern Libraries

These vintage photos capture the book-filled buildings of yesteryear.

massachusetts libraries 1960s

Photos via Digital Commonwealth/Creative Commons

Libraries have been invaluable and ever-efficient palaces of knowledge for centuries. It’s fitting, then, (and maybe a little meta) that these photos depicting Massachusetts public library designs of the 1960s and 1970s have been archived by the libraries of Massachusetts.

Built in the middle of the 20th century, these spaces boast funky geometric shapes, dark bricks, and clean lines. The vintage photos capture the midcentury modern furniture and architecture that proved popular in the book-filled buildings. In fact, many current branches of the Boston Public Library are housed within the same flat-roofed brick buildings built 60 years ago.

The design of public libraries across the country has grown and changed since then, though the BPL Central Branch’s newly renovated Johnson building (the Brutalist wing built in 1972) seems to have taken a page from these interiors with its bold light fixtures and furniture.

Here, take a look at the spots where studious residents of Massachusetts hit the books in the ’60s and ’70s.

Lawrence Public Library


Brookline Public Library, Coolidge Corner Branch


Brookline Public Library, Putterham Branch


Worcester Public Library

midcentury modern library massachusetts

Photo via Digital Commonwealth/Creative Commons

You can get lost in more midcentury libraries in the state’s online archive, DigitalCommonwealth.org.