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Boston Public Library in Copley Square will allow people inside to use computers

Officials say Wi-Fi will be boosted outside nine branches, too, in an effort to increase online access.

Lisette Desouza of the Back Bay has her temperature taken by Vandi Sandy before entering the Boylston Street entrance to the Boston Public Library to pick up a book.
Lisette Desouza of the Back Bay has her temperature taken by Vandi Sandy before entering the Boylston Street entrance to the Boston Public Library to pick up a book.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Lots of people go to the library not just for the books, but for the computers.

Now, Boston Public Library is going to start letting them back inside, at least for the computer part.

Library officials and Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Tuesday that the Central Library in Copley Square will open back up for public computer access, effective this week. Patrons can reserve a computer in two-hour blocks, or walk in, four days a week between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The library will also boost Wi-Fi service outside nine of its branches around the city.

It’s a recognition that many patrons rely on the library for services that stretch beyond books, and particularly to help access the Internet, said BPL president David Leonard.

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“Today’s public libraries are critical resources for closing the digital equity gap and are more important than ever as we respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” Leonard said. “Inside or out, our buildings are there for the local community.”

Nancy Veznaian used a computer work station inside the Boston Public Library's Central Library Copley Square branch.
Nancy Veznaian used a computer work station inside the Boston Public Library's Central Library Copley Square branch. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

While some suburban libraries have reopened for in-person service, this will be the first time since March that Boston Public Library has allowed people inside to use its facilities. In June, the library launched “BPL To Go,” which lets people pick up books they had reserved. That program has since been expanded to several branches. Now patrons will be able to go inside and use computers.

Lisette Desouza picked up a book at the Boston Public Library's Holds and Pick Up window.
Lisette Desouza picked up a book at the Boston Public Library's Holds and Pick Up window. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

For computer use, capacity is limited to 10 people at a time and only at the Central Library for now. Masks will be required and the computer room will be cleaned between every two-hour block of time. The library will also extend its Wi-Fi services to cover parks, parking lots, and other public areas outside of nine branches — Mattapan, Codman Square, Parker Hill, Hyde Park, Grove Hall, Egleston Square, East Boston, Honan-Allston, and the South End. Those locations were chosen based on the rate of broadband access, household income, and nearby public space.

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Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.