The Boston Public Library’s Operational and Financial Assessment, called for by Mayor Walsh, and conducted by Chrysalis Management, LLC, is an independent operational and financial assessment to identify strengths and weaknesses of the Boston Public Library and to specify both short and long‐term practical improvement opportunities. Boston Public Library is one of several agencies and departments of the City of Boston that have undergone audits since January 2014. The audit launched on December 8, 2014, and began with senior team meetings and a review of key documents provided by the staff at the Boston Public Library, followed by in‐person interviews with staff from the BPL, City of Boston, and coordinating organizations such as the Leventhal Map Center, Digital Public Library of America, the Boston Public Library Foundation, President of the AFSCME union, and more. The final report was completed on May 1, 2015. The BPL will respond with an Action Plan based on the opportunities identified in the audit to be submitted to Mayor Walsh by June 19, 2015.
Category Archives: Strategic Plan
Posted on June 2nd, 2015 by admin in Strategic Plan
One of the ways the BPL fulfills the Special Collections principle of the strategic plan and the outcome Special collections will be discoverable by users in buildings and online is through creation of a three-year plan to make items and collections discoverable in the online catalog, including retrospective conversion (the process of converting catalog cards into electronic format) and in-house cataloging.
For many years now, the BPL has been working on the retrospective conversion of items not reflected in the online catalog. Earlier in 2014, the Trustees approved continuing the project for another three years. In addition to the tens of thousands of MARC records (a MARC record is a machine-readable cataloging record) created by a vendor, the Technical Services team also continuously creates records for these older titles and add them into the BPL catalog. Staff work on materials that are being digitized and on special projects. Some of the types of materials worked on include:
- Antislavery pamphlets and manuscript correspondence
- Genealogy materials
- Chap books
- Old cookbooks
- French language rare books.
According to records, the Technical Services team has cataloged 31,583 titles and processed 37,036 items to date. Once Technical Services is done, the Digital Services team digitizes these materials. The process is then completed by inserting the URL to the digital resource into the MARC file so that all these materials are fully discoverable and viewable in the library’s online catalog.
One of the ways the Children and Teens principle of the strategic plan and the outcome Collaborate with area organizations on early learning experiences is fulfilled involves expanded outreach to special institutions that serve children. The BPL collaborates with many organizations on a systemwide and local neighborhood level to offer early learning experiences in all locations. In addition to the well established “Reading Readiness” program that takes place at all BPL locations, several youth librarians have expanded their reach into early learning programs with these organizations:
- Family Nurturing Center: The center offers play groups for infants and toddlers aged 0-3 at the Grove Hall, Honan-Allston, Faneuil, and Brighton branches.
- Dudley Thrive in Five: Children’s librarians at Dudley, Grove Hall, Mattapan, and Uphams Corner work with Thrive in Five staff to provide programming to parents that is directed at helping them as they learn to be their child’s first teacher. This nationally-recognized program helps provide opportunities for parents to support young children’s healthy growth, development, and school readiness.
- Boston Medical Center bWell Center: The library continues its partnership with the bWell Center by providing a rotating book collection focusing on health and wellness. Children’s librarians also read to kids in the waiting room of the Pediatrics Department and sign up kids and families for library cards.
- Boston Children’s Hospital: Launched in 2014 by Youth Outreach Librarian Amanda Bressler, the library began offering early literacy programming to staff and patients based on national early learning initiatives “Every Child Ready to Read” and “Mother Goose on the Loose.”
One of the ways the BPL fulfills the strategic plan’s Fun principle and the accompanying outcome to “Connect people to popular books, music, films, and artwork – whether the materials are brand new or simply new to select audiences,” is through book discussion groups. Boston Public Library staff members facilitate 12 distinct book groups for adults across the BPL system. Some groups have themes – Hyde Park’s “Reading Around the World;” Parker Hill’s “books based on movies” – and some groups take turns choosing titles. Books include fiction, nonfiction, best-sellers and award-winners. The Central Library in Copley Square hosts a successful book group in Chinese. Attendance varies from intimate groups of 5 readers to the West Roxbury Branch group with 48 participants. It is wonderful to share books and reading via this core library service.
One of the ways the BPL fulfills the strategic plan’s Center of Knowledge principle and the accompanying outcome to “Expand adult literacy volunteer and mentor program,” is through the coordination of ESL Conversation Groups across the library system. There are currently 40 volunteer-led, drop-in conversation groups running weekly, giving immigrants and visitors the opportunity to practice speaking English and the chance to develop relationships and network with people who have similar goals and needs. These groups are in high demand and attract several hundred attendees per month. They represent one of the most successful, continually-running programs at the library. The BPL’s Conversation Groups program is also unique in the City of Boston as a whole, where many other agencies and organizations offer literacy programs.
In addition to the ESL Conversation Groups, the BPL also succeeds in reaching the strategic plan’s adult literacy outcome through the provision of the Small Group Mentoring Program. At present, there are 25 groups across the library system (no-more-than 5 students at a time) that meet with volunteer mentors to learn English. Free tutoring sessions like these, tailored to students’ specific needs, are vital to patrons citywide.