Excerpts from an interview with Clive Martin, member since 2013 and docent

What drew you to become a member of the BA?

Clive: I’ve been a member of the BA for 10 years. Before I retired, I used to work just down the road actually, and I would come in here on my lunchtimes and just look around.

Ten years ago, my Boston Globe subscription came with promotions including a reduced-price membership to the BA. I thought, “So anyone can join? I’ll try it!” I love libraries, I’ve always loved learning and reading and meeting like-minded people, so it was a no-brainer…I never looked back!

What are you working on at the BA currently?

Clive: It’s rare that I just get a chance to sit down and read! That’s what I always think of doing, but what I come here for is my docent tours, and my book groups, Dickens and Literary Conversations, and I’m also a member of Poetry, and all three of those are very active. It just keeps me very very busy.

How has the BA supported your interests? What have you discovered here?

Clive: Oh, what have I discovered?! …I mean, it stretches your mind and your intellect. The book talks, the concerts, the discussions, the book groups, and the friends you make. …and I love the collections.

I’ve learned a lot about cultural history, and how it’s presented. We [docents] must ensure our cultural history is presented honestly. For instance, the rehanging of the paintings here was so thoughtfully done. Now we tell a much fuller story, with the re-hanging, about our country’s art and history, including so much that’s been neglected or ignored.

What’s your favorite spot in the building?

Clive: Oh, I have a lot of favorite spots… Now you’re going to give away all my good secrets! My favorite place to sit and read is on the fourth-floor gallery. There’s a winged armchair. You get lost in it. I do like the art library. It’s fantastic. Great places to sit, surrounded by all the art books.

If you go to the gallery levels, you can find chairs no one knows about. It’s nice to sit down and get lost. The only person who will find you there is the security guard

What is your favorite perk of being a member of the BA?

Clive: There’s so many… If you boil it all away, it’s the people. There’s no lack of people to talk to, who are glad to engage in conversation– really good discussions with interesting people.

What fictional character or historical figure would you expect to find in the Athenaeum?

Clive: Dorothea Brooke from Middlemarch. And her husband Rev. Edward Casaubon. I would not be at all surprised if I ran into them in here. Dorothea Brooke is full of the delight in learning and the love of literature, the love of philosophy, and the love of theology.

I would expect to find her reading on the 5th floor. And Rev. Casaubon would be studying the books in the King’s Chapel Library collection, turning the pages, and inhaling the accumulated dust that has built up since 1698 when they were shipped to Boston.

Learn more about membership.