Named in honor of Rev. John Bapst, SJ, first president of Boston College, Bapst Library is located behind Gasson Hall on Linden Lane.
John Bapst was born in Switzerland in 1816 and, after graduating from the Jesuit College at Fribourg, joined the Society of Jesus. He came to the United States, where he worked among the Indians of Maine. In October 1854, a nativist "Know-Nothing" mob tarred and feathered the priest, permanently impairing his health. On July 10, 1863, after Boston College was officially incorporated, the trustees elected Father Bapst the first president of Boston College.
Bapst Library was designed by Charles Donagh Maginnis in the English Collegiate Gothic style. The Mary Elizabeth Ford Memorial Tower, resembling Merton Tower at Oxford University, rises at the northern end of the building. Extensive renovations during the mid-1980s transformed the entire north wing of the building into a major research library. The Burns Library, dedicated to the memory of alumnus Judge John J. Burns (`21), provides a state-of-the-art facility that houses archives, rare books, and special collections.
The main entrance to the Bapst Library is located at the southern end of the building. Above the central doors of the south porch is the sculptured figure of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, flanked by prophets and the four Evangelists. The spacious first floor of the library was originally used as the University auditorium. With the renovations of the 1980s, however, the first-floor area was converted to what is known as the Kresge Reading Room, an area of quiet carrels that provides one of the choicest study spaces on campus.