black & white photo of two men in a library. The man on the left is in a wheelchair, reaching for a book, and the man in the right reading in a rocking chair

Former site of the Warren Library

The Warren Library was the recreational library for patients (later also employees) of the hospital. In 1823, hospital co-founder John Collins Warren purchased the library’s first books with a $50 donation he received. In 1841, he established the Warren Fund with $1,000 to purchase books on religion and other moral subjects. (To heal the body, he said, one must also heal the mind.) Members of the Ladies Visiting Committee were the first official library volunteers, and in 1881, began purchasing books for the library.  

The library began in the Matron’s Room of the hospital and moved in 1888 to the front office. Later locations included the portico of the Bulfinch Building and the Clinics Building. Starting in 1910, a rolling book cart system was also put in place. The final move for the library was to the Bulfinch basement in 1926. Circulation reached its peak in the 1940s. In 2012, the library closed for good, continuing to operate as a mobile cart run by Volunteer Services.