Free to all*

Some critics say that the BPL’s noble embrace of everyone, as inscribed in the words above its entranceway, “FREE TO ALL,” has led to a free-for-all at the Copley Library. The BPL’s beloved main branch, they say, has become a home away from home for homeless folks, street people, transients, and unstable individuals.

Boston Police Department records show that the location of the central branch – which has an annual gate tally of 1.3 million – is a hectic one: From January 2005 through this May 28, police assistance has been sought inside and just outside the Copley library about 13 times a month. The reasons for summoning police range from purse-snatching to assault and battery. The numbers denote raw calls, not necessarily confirmed offenses.