May 18, 2022

Boston Public Library’s Renovated Johnson Building Will Include a Satellite TV Studio and Cafe

From the BPL:

2015-11-10_15-17-11Today, the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees, voted in favor of a joint proposal from the Catered Affair and the WGBH Educational Foundation for a new retail space in the Johnson building, part of the Central Library Renovation in Copley Square. The unique collaboration will feature The Newsfeed Café and a WGBH News satellite bureau and studio. The selection was made based on the quality of the proposal, and its alignment with the mission of the Boston Public Library as a center of community gathering and learning.

The new retail space will be 4,500 square feet and will be located in the Johnson building at the corner of Boylston and Exeter Streets in the Back Bay. The space is currently under construction as part of the larger renovation of the building, and is slated for a summer 2016 opening.


The Catered Affair and public broadcaster WGBH have proposed a unique, enterprise partnership. As currently proposed, the space will feature The Newsfeed Café, managed by The Catered Affair, with a coffee shop and casual food offerings throughout the day, including breakfast, lunch, and small plates. In addition, the space would be designed to be used for catered events and other public functions both during and outside of library hours.

WGBH will construct and occupy an 800 square foot satellite news bureau in the space, primarily focused on their radio offerings, and featuring a WGBH Radio/TV anchor desk for live broadcast and pre-taped segments. In addition, the public media producer plans to explore and identify resources and expertise to enhance the BPL’s programs and services, including children’s and teens programming.

Further negotiations between the Boston Public Library, The Catered Affair, and WGBH will be held following today’s decision before a contract is finalized.


An RFP for the retail opportunity in the Central Library Renovation was released on March 16, 2015, with responses initially due on May 11, 2015.  The response time was extended until July 20, 2015 to allow for additional applicants. More than 100 businesses and non-profits were contacted, and the BPL received a total of three applications. The other two applicants were Café ArtScience and Storytime Stories.

The Café ArtScience proposal included coffee and tea service, snacks and light food, free public seminars, and innovative and experimental products for the public to test. Café ArtScience currently has a location in Kendall Square. The Storytime Stories proposal included a collaboration with local café, The Thinking Cup; books, toys, and gift sales; events, including character/author visits; and exhibits. The proposal was submitted by the owners of The World’s Only Curious George Store in Harvard Square.

A Retail Tenant Advisory Committee (RTAC) was formed and reviewed the submitted proposals during three meetings, evaluating candidates based on the criteria specified in the RFP. Following the review, RTAC recommended to the Interim President of the BPL that The Catered Affair and WGBH Educational Foundation partnership was the most suitable applicant.

On Friday, November 6, the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees’ Audit and Finance Committee voted to recommend to the BPL Board of Trustees to accept the proposal of The Catered Affair and WGBH Educational Foundation.

Read the Complete Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.