Eddy Research Library Opens with Style in Boston. (News Fronts)

By Kniffel, Leonard | American Libraries, November 2002 | Go to article overview

Eddy Research Library Opens with Style in Boston. (News Fronts)


Kniffel, Leonard, American Libraries


"The time for thinkers has come; the place for thinkers is now open," said Virginia Harris at the September 27 dedication of the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity in Boston. The president of the library board of trustees welcomed some 500 dignitaries and guests--including Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and former Archivist of the United States Don Wilson--declaring the new $50-million facility at 200 Massachusetts Ave. a place dedicated to "the quest for meaning."

The library will offer scholars and the public new insights into the life of religious leader Mary Baker Eddy (1821--1910), founder of Christian Science, and will make many of Eddy's papers and records available for the first time. The high-tech facility features a Research Room where documents are being archived digitally as well as in their original form, a Reference Room of books on religion and spirituality; a walk-through, 30-foot, stained-glass globe "Mapparium" showing the world as it looked 70 years ago; a Hall of Ideas programming space; and a Quest Gallery of interactive exhibits focusing on Eddy's role as a spiritual seeker and author.

Lesley Pitts, manager of archival and library functions, is a former nurse who joined the organization two years ago as a media manager. "I like to care for things as well as people," she told American Libraries. Pitts supervises about 30 people, including several librarians and library assistants in the Research and Reference Rooms.

The church has never had a unified and cataloged collection before, Pitts said. "We started gathering materials from all corners, but we needed a strategy."

The strategy became "the quest for spirituality," said Pitts, "and the confluence of spirituality and health." The use of prayer for healing is one of the basic tenets of Christian Science, but the collection is not aimed solely at its practitioners. It welcomes "people who have questions about life: 'Why am I here?"' said Pitts. She hopes the library will attract visitors who are trying "to find their own way through the journey. …

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