Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

BPL’s Consolidated Archival Storage Facility

by Mary Frances O'Brien

A key to meeting the library’s Compass principles that focus on Special Collections and the BPL as a Center of Knowledge is ensuring that the library’s unique and valuable collections are safe and accessible. Although space in Central Library totals almost a million square feet, it is still not large enough to hold the extensive collections that the library has gathered through its history.

Since the 1940s, the library has used a number of buildings to serve as storage facilities, but now we are entering the final phase of a long term project to consolidate our offsite storage space in the City of Boston Archival Center, located at 201 Rivermoor Street in West Roxbury. When completed, much of the library’s special research collection will be stored in a secure climate controlled state-of-the-art facility that will enhance the efficient storage and retrieval of books, journals, newspapers, maps, films, and archival materials. The facility is based on a high-density shelving plan and is designed around the “Harvard model” in which materials are shelved according to size. Barcodes are assigned to match each item with a specific location on a shelf. Requested materials will be retrieved by staff and delivered to the Central Library or, for some titles, to a branch location. Occasionally, if a large collection is requested, users will be welcomed to the spacious reading room which is shared with the City of Boston Archives.

For those interested in local history, the facility will be most convenient as they pursue their research into the history and culture of Boston.

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