Shelby Allen: A Local's Insight into the Ever-changing Back Bay Community
By: Madisen Armstrong
At first glance, Shelby Allen may come across as your everyday, average woman living in Boston, Massachusetts. With her petite frame, wide rimmed glasses, and pursed lips, she’s reminiscent of your typical Massachusetts grandmother. Her presence is comforting, reassuring almost. With almost every person that passes by her she gives them a warm smile and asks how their day is going. She is inquisitive and wise, she asks questions that go past small talk and gives responses that are carefully thought out and insightful. Because of the maternal aura that she gives off, it’s easy to dismiss her as any other friendly person someone may just run into and have a nice conversation with. However, Shelby Allen is so much more than your typical sweet woman who asks you about your day. If you’re lucky enough to have a longer conversation with Allen, her sharp wit and wild hand motions start to come out, demanding attention from everyone in the room. Her larger-than-life personality is simply perfect for her volunteer job as a tour guide for the Boston Public Library, a job she took to come out of retirement and to be involved with the community she loves so much.
As a resident of the Back Bay community for over 40 years and as a resident of Massachusetts her entire life, Shelby Allen is truly a local of Boston. Shelby Allen represents a figure in her community that is needed in every neighborhood. She is proud of where she lives; she is proud of her neighborhood’s history and of what her neighborhood has evolved into. For Allen, Back Bay represents a thriving community with a rich cultural background that can be found in the heartbeat of the neighborhood, the Boston Public Library. Within the previous four decades she has lived in the Back Bay, she has not only watched the Boston community evolve and change with its modern architecture, but she has also witnessed the presence of art flourish and expand into something that simply didn’t exist when she first moved to the area.
Despite the lack of arts in the Back Bay community when she first moved to the neighborhood, Allen found her own ways to surround herself with the arts. In addition to her passion for history, Allen possesses an artistic side that’s carried with her her entire life.
When Allen isn’t making some form of art on her own, she’s admiring it or learning about it. Shelby Allen first got her job working as a tour guide for the Boston Public Library when admiring a sculpture in the courtyard of the BPL.
When asked why she loves being a tour guide at the Boston Public Library, Allen chuckled.
If one thing's for certain, Allen isn't going to stop being a tour guide anytime soon. Her love for the library and passion for teaching others about the art and history of the library is simply too large. It is through Allen that people from all over the world and locals alike can marvel at the Boston Public Library. She is a storyteller that brings art and culture to not only her community, but to those who live outside of Boston who can take a little piece of the art and culture of Back Bay with them after a tour of the museum with Shelby Allen.
If you are interested in taking a tour of the Central Boston Public Library in Back Bay with Shelby or with another tour guide you can find information here