An interview with Davene Wright, a member since 2022.

What drew you to become a member of the BA?

Davene: I love libraries. And I wanted a “third place” that wasn’t home or work, but another place to spend time. And for me specifically, at least for where I live in the city and where I work, I don’t have a reason to come all the way into downtown Boston. So, that’s been really nice to be able to come to this area where I wouldn’t normally spend time and explore other things.

What’s your favorite spot in the building?

Davene: The Bornheimer Room at the end of the Long gallery. It’s a great view — you can see all the tourists in the Granary Burying Ground and know that “I’m in here and they may not even know about it!” — which is wild. That room in particular acknowledges explicitly the role of colonizers and comes to terms with that. That is very, very important.

We have a lot of good spaces, but the fifth floor is a particularly nice one. I love it when people doing research leave books on the tables. I like to look at the stacks and see what they’re interested in.

What are you working on at the BA currently? 

Davene: I’m an academic, and we have to write manuscripts and papers, so being here is a way to focus on that. It’s quiet and I’m not going to get distracted by things at home or by what’s going on at my office — I can come here to a beautiful place and use it as a writing space.

Is there anything you’ve discovered here that you’d want to share? 

Davene: After the book readings, there was a wine and cheese reception and I was not expecting that! Even though I’d made plans to go out after the book reading, we stayed here instead. I’ve come to like the social events; I get to meet other people and find out why they come to the Athenaeum. 

What’s your favorite perk of being a member?

Davene: My favorite perk is the ebooks! Over the holidays I was getting on the plane and thought, “Oh, I don’t have anything new to read!”  I have five library cards and went to see what ebooks were available at other libraries and many had 20-week waits, but when I went to CloudLibrary a book I wanted was available immediately. It’s amazing. 

If any, what fictional character or historical figure would you expect to find in the Athenaeum? 

Davene: President Bartlet from the West Wing. He would be particularly mad about people talking in the silent reading room, not following the rules or not being good members of the community. I think he’d like to read here, he’d like the history, he’d play chess, he’d have debates — he’d like all those things! And he was from New Hampshire, so I think he would love it here.

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