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Central Library Renovation: Tech Central

Posted on March 5th, 2014 by Gina Perille in Johnson Building Study, Major Projects, Technology
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9sq_grid

The Johnson Building is arranged in a nine-square gird. Imagine Boylston Street as being at the bottom of this image, underneath the letters H – A – B.

Included in the renovation plans for the first floor of the Johnson Building is an updated and improved Tech Central area. Today, Tech Central is in and to the left as you enter the Central Library via Boylston Street.

Using the image at right as a guide to the first floor, Tech Central occupies the G area today. The current plan is to move it to the E section and a bit into the F section with additional computers and expanded work space for library staff to assist library users with their technology questions. A new set of restrooms is also planned for the F area on the first floor.

Another new feature planned is bar-style seating at the back window of the E section, which faces a small sunlight garden on the Blagden Street side of the Central Library.

 

Making E-books Easier

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 by Scot Colford in Library Services, Technology, Web Services
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One of our most popular services is our e-book collection, but for many years, library users faced some unexpected complications managing the digital items they borrowed. For instance, if you wanted to search for something to read but didn’t mind whether it was in digital or physical format, you could search our online catalog. However, once you found an e-book you wanted, you would be directed to an entirely different site to check out and download the title. If you wanted to continue searching all formats, you’d have to leave the OverDrive site to switch back to the full catalog. Furthermore, you used to have to check two places if you wanted to see how your holds queues were progressing for digital and physical titles.

Considering our Compass principle of Access and Innovation, we’ve made it a priority to make the whole e-book process easier. Now, if you find a digital title in our online catalog, you can check its availability, place a hold on it, or check it out without being shuttled off to another site. Want to know what you’ve got checked out? It’s all there in the My BPL section. You can even manage all your pending holds from that same location.

e-book record

Of course, there are still some valid reasons you may want to use our OverDrive site. But even that experience has been streamlined. The new design of the OverDrive site released last month features smarter search results, lets you check out titles with fewer clicks, and even allows you to start reading immediately in your web browser. The design of the site adapts to the device you’re on as well, so you can do the same things on your smartphone as you can on your tablet or computer.

We hope you’re enjoying the improvements we’re making in our online services and we intend to keep removing as many barriers to digital access as we can.

Central Library Renovation: Upcoming Phases

Posted on February 28th, 2014 by David Leonard in Johnson Building Study, Major Projects
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As Phase 1 work continues, library staff members are engaged with the next phases of design as well as planning for where library services would be temporarily located and operate during future construction.

While it’s possible that the Central Library renovation project could ultimately be funded as  a multi-phase project, the current approach is to complete design for the total remaining scope of the project. The complete design builds on what was covered in the master plan and will include all the remaining elements in one set of design documents. At present, the next stage of approvals is estimated to take place in April 2014.

The City of Boston capital budget process, managed by the City of Boston Property and Construction Management department and the City of Boston Office of Budget Management takes place now through to the City Council approval vote at the end of June 2014.

Central Library Renovation: New Reads

Posted on February 26th, 2014 by Michael Colford in Collections, Johnson Building Study, Major Projects
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As the construction starts on the second floor of the Johnson Building, design work is being finalized for the next phase of construction which will include work on first floor, pending capital budget approval. There are exciting plans in the works for the lobby and the two front sections of the library that currently include the circulation area, Boston Room, and the Rey Children’s Room. The walls in those areas will be coming down to create one large open space that will feature interactive, electronic kiosks informing visitors about library events; a proposed digital art-installation as you walk in the door; and a new open area currently called “New Reads” where library staff will engage with readers about books, new books will be displayed, and popular collections will be featured. Readers will be able to browse new titles, sit in comfortable chairs with a cup of coffee while deciding what to read next. Take a look at this early concept drawing of what the space might look like.

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A rendering of the “New Reads” section.

 

East Boston Branch: First 100 days of service

Posted on February 24th, 2014 by Christine Schonhart in Branches, Collections, Library Services
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The new East Boston Branch opened on November 2, 2013, and the first two months of service saw over 23,000 visitors. People of all ages and from all walks of life have come to the branch to read, use the computers, attend a story time, get a free museum pass, and to marvel at the beauty of this new neighborhood landmark. Computer use by all ages has certainly been popular as have the variety of programs for all ages. The collection has grown by the thousands since opening day. Each month new books, DVDs and CDs are added and it’s evident that the collection is responsive to community interests by the following facts:

  • On average, 34% of the collection is in circulation at any time – this is the highest in entire system, even higher than the Central Library
  • In November 2013 alone, the number of books, movies and CDs borrowed was 28% more than the November 2012 circulation of the former East Boston and Orient Heights branches combined
  • Over 20% of books are checked out at the self-check kiosks
  • Juvenile DVDs are in highest demand with 59% of that collection in use, on average
  • Juvenile easy books and early chapter books follow in highest demand at 57% in use
  • 41% of the children’s picture book collection is in use at any given time.

William Rawn, Architects, the City of Boston and the Library are finishing up some small ‘punch list’ items including installing lights on study tables, addressing some air vent noise in the quiet room, and installing additional signage. Community support and dialogue about the new branch has been strong. The East Boston Times ran several articles about the $25,000 Massport programming donation, the Friends fundraising efforts for the Frederick Leonard King paintings, and profiles of users of the branch. In the coming months, the Library will be highlighting additional user profiles and their stories as well as promoting the various programs for kids, teens and adults. The Friends have also begun conservation efforts on the first of the Frederick Leonard King paintings and we look forward to seeing it back in the branch when fully restored.

Branch Librarian, Margaret Kelly reports that overwhelmingly, the community has shown great support of the library. The staff sees about 50-60 children and teens from the local schools each day; patrons report loving the book drop as it offers them an opportunity to return books off-hours that they didn’t have before; and the teens are especially excited about the new PS4 video game system that is coming to the branch soon. The first 100 days were filled with greeting old friends and making new ones, teaching classes and preparing story time, learning new systems and procedures, getting to know new staff members, and figuring out all the ins and outs of a new building. The increased demand for services has been an adjustment as well, but one that the staff has fully embraced.

First 100-day quotables:

  • Jill on Facebook said: “I can not wait to visit our new and improved East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library!”
  • Branch patron said “When I come here, I feel like this is what it must be like to work at Google.”
  • Teens lounging in the Teen Room said “We love it here, we didn’t go to the old branch because there wasn’t a good spot for us, we like this one.”
  • A Yelp user reviewed: “My third time here since I moved to Boston. I finally got my Boston library card. And I’m sooooo excited.”
  • From this blog: “Thank you for this beautiful library. I am so proud that East Boston residents have this wonderful resource.”