The Boston Public Library was established in 1848. It was the first publicly supported municipal library in America. It was also the first public library to allow people to borrow books and other materials.
The library was initially located in a former schoolhouse located on Mason Street, and was opened to the public on March 20, 1854. Later that year, the construction of a new building was authorized by the Library Commission, to be located at the corner of Boylston Street and Dartmouth Street on Copley Square. Charles Follen McKim, of the architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White, was engaged to design the new building, which opened in 1895. The new building included a children's room, the first in the nation.