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Books for Boston

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Books for Boston

Boston Public Library, Mass.

Customer Experience | 2020

Innovation Summary

Books for Boston was a fundraising and awareness campaign, launched by the Boston Public Library Fund in March 2020, that purchased and safely delivered new books to nonprofit organizations that serve some of the library's most devoted, yet, vulnerable patrons: those who are unhoused or coping with mental health problems or substance use.

Problem Statement

After the Boston Public Library closed to the public due to COVID-19, the BPLF and BPL staff brainstormed ways to safely broaden the BPL’s reach to marginalized patrons since library books were potentially unsafe, staff was working from home and organizations needed to minimize contact. To alleviate these concerns, the BPL worked with local, independent bookstores to deliver brand new books to selected nonprofits, which was funded by the BPLF’s Books for Boston fundraising campaign and the BPL’s collections budget.


The BPLF and BPL partnered with 28 nonprofits in Boston invested in community health, elder care, health care, providing shelters and homelessness services that support families, children and youth. Local booksellers, including Frugal Booksellers, Trident Booksellers, Porter Square Books and Brookline Booksellers, and the generous support of donors helped give the gift of reading to those who need it the most. Titles were selected based on input provided by the organizations about their clients’ interests.


Through the generous support of 174 donors, the BPLF raised over $100,000 to purchase additional books for the Books for Boston campaign. The BPLF and BPL was able to safely deliver over 6,000 books to 28 nonprofit organizations in Boston, surpassing the original goal of distributing 5,000 books. The nonprofits that the BPLF and BPL partnered with include: Boston HOPE at the Boston Convention and Expo Center, Department of Youth Services, AIDS Action, Pine Street Inn and St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.