Boston Public Library
Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Preparing for Construction in the Johnson Building

by Michael Colford

Teams at the Central Library have been preparing for the moving of Johnson Building second-floor collections and public service desks in order to be ready for the start of renovations in December 2013. As noted in earlier posts, Boston Public Library is working with the target of closing the second floor of the Johnson Building to the public in October of this year.

During the next few months, collections and service points currently on the second floor will be located to other spots in the Central Library. While it is clear that  a major renovation is not “business as usual,” it is our goal to provide the very best service we can during construction and to communicate changes in a timely fashion. We’ll strive to keep not only our maps and website updated, but also to be present for you, our users, and provide assistance in locating materials and navigating the building.

The library’s collection development team, the group that is responsible for ongoing management of Boston Public Library’s collections, continually evaluates the books and other materials that circulate (available for checkout to take home) throughout the Boston Public Library system, which includes the Central Library and 25 branches. With this particular construction project in mind, the team is devoting their thoughtful attention on materials currently in the Johnson Building. All materials will be reviewed and will be organized in to three general categories:

  1. Books most in demand and with the highest use will be moved to the first floor
  2. Nonfiction books that support historical reference or research or are used less frequently will be moved to the Johnson Building stacks or the City’s state-of-the-art Archival Center in West Roxbury. Books in the stacks or at the Archival Center can be requested, placed on hold, and checked out just as any other book can in the BPL system.
  3. Books in poor physical condition – i.e., torn covers, pages missing – and those that are part of a large set of duplicates, will be removed from the collection.

Microtext and reference services will be moved from the second floor of the Johnson Building to new locations and will continue to provide public service during the construction and renovation period.

Books that leave Boston Public Library’s collection go through multiple steps. Dependent upon several factors, a book may be reviewed by friends of the library for friends’ book sales, selected by the Internet Archive’s Open Library program for potential digitization, given to an online company for possible sale, donated to literacy-based charitable organizations, or lastly, carefully recycled.

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