Chinatown library ribbon-cutting on Saturday, Feb. 3

Saturday, Feb. 3

11 a.m.

2 Boylston Street

Boston, MA 02116

The Chinatown temporary branch library will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the China Trade Center.


Mayor Walsh and Boston Public Library officials will join the Friends of the Chinatown Library in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the launch of library services for Chinatown at the China Trade Center.

WHO:             City of Boston and Boston Public Library

WHAT:          Chinatown Library Ribbon Cutting

WHEN:          Saturday, February 3, 11:00 am

WHERE:        2 Boylston Street, Boston

WHY:             City and library officials will join Friends of the Chinatown Library and others from the Chinatown community in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of Chinatown library services at the China Trade Center.

After seventeen years of organizing and advocacy led by community youth, Chinatown will celebrate the launch of ongoing public library services at the China Trade Center on February 3.

A local public library branch opened on Tyler Street in 1896 but was demolished in 1955 during Urban Renewal.   In 2001, a group of high school students from the Chinese Youth Initiative learned about this history from longtime community activist Stephanie Fan, who remembered going to the library while she was growing up in Chinatown and mourned its closing.

Youth launched a community survey about the need to return a library to Chinatown in the summer of 2001, and for more than 15 years continued to be the driving force behind the campaign for a Chinatown library.  In the open mayoral race in 2013, a committee of youth created a giant pledge card to support bringing library services back to Chinatown and asked every mayoral candidate to sign his or her name, then followed up after Mayor Walsh’s election to remind him of his promise.

Friends of the Chinatown Library, Chinese Youth Initiative, and other community members will celebrate the keeping of that promise on February 3.


Chinatown Library Historical Timeline 


1896: Boston Public Library opens a branch at 130 Tyler Street.

1938: Branch library closed.

1950: Branch library reopened.

1955: Branch permanently closed and demolished during Urban Renewal.

Summer 2001: Chinese Youth Initiative surveys 331 community members about the idea of bringing a Chinatown Branch Library back to the neighborhood.

Fall 2001: Community members meet with President of Boston Public Library and community stakeholders, establish Friends of the Chinatown Library (FOCL) with staff support from the Chinese Progressive Association.

April 2002: SAMPAN publishes article spotlighting the Library Campaign.

2002: Youth organize field trips to other branches, storytelling events to demonstrate library services.

2003 – 2005: Letter-writing, postcard and visibility campaign to call for returning a library back to Chinatown. Over a thousand signatures collected and mailed to Councilor Kelly and Mayor Menino.

June 13, 2006: Over 100 supporters attend a Boston city council hearing regarding feasibility of returning a Boston Public Library branch to Chinatown. City councilors Michael Ross, Michael Flaherty, and Sam Yoon listened to testimonies from over a dozen local residents, students, and community activists in support of a Chinatown branch library.

July 2006: Mayor Menino approves a $35,000 feasibility study for a Chinatown Library.

May/June 2007: Miller Dyer Spears hired by City of Boston as consultants for Chinatown Library Feasibility study.

July 2007-March 2008: Members of the FOCL Committee participate in a Task Force for the first                feasibility study. Task force members gave input into programmatic needs as well as siting preferences for a possible library site.

June 2008: Completion and release of feasibility study by Miller Dyer Spears.

October 2009: Boston Street Lab partners with Harvard Department of Micro-Urbanism and the Friends to create the pop-up Chinatown Storefront Library, energizing and inspiring the community and its partners.

January 2010: FOCL meets with BPL to plan for a public-community partnership particularly focused on the Copley Branch delivering limited services to Chinatown.

March 2011: Barr Foundation provides grant to Friends for start-up staff to launch Pilot Library.

April 2011: Friends core and community stakeholders hold strategy session, decide to shift strategy toward launching a community-owned, community-led center which includes public library services. With a major gift from an anonymous donor, The Chinatown Coalition provides part-time staff support for planning and pilot library project, Barr Foundation grant funds pilot startup manager.

2012 – 2013: Pilot Library project is renamed the Chinatown Lantern Reading Room. Reading Room project operates at the Oak Terrace Community Room for 10 month period.

Spring 2013: Strategy explored and pursued to develop a community-led Chinatown Cultural Center that includes library services.

Fall 2013: Chinese Youth Initiative members secure mayoral candidates’ commitment to providing library services to Chinatown and send community postcards to Boston Public Library.

Winter 2014: Incorporation of committee as Chinatown Community Center, Inc. Newly inaugurated Mayor Walsh restates his commitment to bring a full-service library back to Chinatown.

September 2014: Committee pursues advocacy with City of Boston to start up provision of library services at the China Trade Center, returns to Friends of the Chinatown Library name as Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center begins planning for Pao Arts Center.

2015: FOCL advocates for allocation of both operating and capital funds for library services and planning for a branch.

May 2016: Mayor puts new feasibility study for a Chinatown library into capital budget.

September 2016: FOCL meets with Boston Public Library President David Leonard and gives him a tour of Chinatown.  These Words exhibit and panel highlight the history of the Chinatown library and the library campaign.

January 2017: Planning begins for Chinatown library service project at the China Trade Center while feasibility study for permanent branch unfolds.

January 2018: Second feasibility study report released and opening of China Trade Center library project set for February 3.

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