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Bus riders can now access free digital 'pop-up' libraries in Boston — no card required

The MBTA's 23 bus stops alongside one of Boston's new "Browse, Borrow, Board" sidewalk decals. (City of Boston)
The MBTA's 23 bus stops alongside one of Boston's new "Browse, Borrow, Board" sidewalk decals. (City of Boston)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Cue up the Donald Glover; it will feel like summer as we cap off this week — perfect for this weekend’s lineup of porch music, night markets and Duckling Day… and a Game 7.

But first, the news:

Remember the pre-smartphone days when people read newspapers and books on the MBTA? Well, the phones aren’t going anywhere, but Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s office is working to at least open up the Boston Public Library’s deep digital archive of books, newspapers and magazines to MBTA bus riders — no library cards required.

  • How? This week, Wu’s office installed sidewalks decals at 20 bus stops across Boston with QR codes that riders can scan with their phones, linking to the BPL’s “digital pop-up library website.” The new pilot program will run through the end of August.
  • What’s in a “digital pop-up library”? The website includes a BPL-curated selection of ebooks and audiobooks — primarily short reads, best-sellers and books for children and teens. There’s also thousands of newspapers and magazines from over 125 countries. It’s a great option to be able to read otherwise-paywalled papers like, say, The Boston Globe, if you don’t have a subscription.
  • Where to find them: Wu’s office created a map of all 20 decals — eight of which are along the city’s three fare-free bus routes.
  • Try it out: You can open the pop-up library right now by using your phone to scan the QR code off your computer screen. Or if you’re reading this on an iPhone, take a screenshot of the QR code, save it to your photos and then go to the saved photo and press on the code to open the link.

Wellesley school officials are asking for the state’s help to prevent a teacher strike this Monday. In a letter to the state’s Department of Labor Relations, the town’s school committee said there’s “significant evidence” that the Wellesley teachers union is “laying the groundwork” to vote tonight on a strike next week.

  • Zoom out: Teacher strikes are technically illegal in Massachusetts, but that hasn’t stopped educators in Brookline, Malden, Haverhill and Woburn from striking within the last year. Union leaders have found the work stoppages are “worth it” long term.
  • Zoom in: Wellesley’s teachers have been without a contract for over 300 days. According to the union, the two sides have been at an impasse over minimum pay for paraprofessionals and paid parental leave for union members.
  • Farther down the Pike: Meanwhile, there’ll be no state help needed in Worcester. School officials in the state’s second-largest city announced yesterday that they’ve reached a tentative deal with the teacher’s union on a new contract that runs into 2026.

A home for the homeless: After multiple meetings, the Boston Planning and Development Agency signed off on a proposal to convert the Comfort Inn on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester into permanent supportive housing for formerly unhoused people.

They did it! The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced yesterday they finished their work on the Sagamore Bridge — well ahead of the busy Memorial Day weekend. All four lanes are now reopened.

Taking the T this weekend? Due to track work, shuttle buses will be replacing all Red Line service south of Broadway, as well as commuter rail service between South Station and Braintree. At least they’re free!

Good news for the people who need to hop on a plane to see mom: State transportation officials are keeping the Sumner Tunnel open this weekend due to an expected increase in Mother’s Day traffic.

P.S.— A Newton woman won $37 million in a lawsuit this week. Do you know who (or what) it was against? Then take our Boston News Quiz and see how you stack up against other WBUR readers.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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