The Library as a Cool Space

If you've been in Boston the past two days, you know that we have issued in summer with a bang.  Record-setting temperatures of the high 90s (with the humidity making it feel like the low 100s) have made people seek cool spaces, whether outdoors in the shade or by a pool, or indoors, in the air-conditioning.   Having air-conditioning can often be a life or death matter for people at high risk of heat stroke (the elderly, young children, the infirm, the homeless), but not everyone owns an air-conditioner, or has the means to adequately cool their residence (my own apartment currently has seven fans and a portable AC running).  That is why Boston, like many cities, designates places as cooling centers, where people can go and escape from the heat for a few hours.  Suggestions include hanging out in shopping malls, movie theaters, museums, or libraries.

Now, I don't know about you, but if I'm in the first three places, chances are high I'm going to be spending money while staying cool.  Great for the economy, sure, but not so great for my bank account.  That's why I greatly appreciate the fact that many public libraries across the Boston area are designated cooling spaces. You can hang out for hours on end, catch up on your reading, and there's no pressure to spend money.  It's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned.  It's not a function most of us would necessarily associate with a library, but it's another example of the vital role that our public libraries play in our communities: not only do they provide knowledge and resources free of charge to all eligible citizens, they also provide shelter from the elements for those who need free access the most (in the winter, it is not uncommon for libraries to be heating centers, where people can come in to escape the cold).   So there you have it.  The public library - a literal and figurative cool place to be.

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