Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Posts Tagged ‘Center of Knowledge’

Strategic Plan Implementation: Center of Knowledge

Posted on November 18th, 2014 by admin in Outcomes, Strategic Plan

bpl-compass-report-cover-200One 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.

Central Library Renovation: Reference & Research

Posted on March 17th, 2014 by in Central Library Renovation, Library Services, Major Projects

Let us help you, your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues with research questions and projects, information-gathering for work or for play, or with that trivia question that’s been driving you mad. Our brand new Research Desk on the renovated second floor of the Johnson Building will be open and modern in style, a welcoming spot where you can work with Library staff on the topics that interest you most. The area was designed to meet the needs of the researcher who may need a table on which to spread out and delve into books and materials, or a place to get help using the BPL’s dozens of online resources to hunt for jobs, scholarly journals, e-books, historical newspapers, genealogy, car repair videos, small business tips, or language learning programs. With brightly colored carpeting, textured ceiling, flexible study tables and seating, the Research area will be easy to spot from the top of the stairs near the 2nd floor elevators, or from the path into the Johnson Building from McKim. The reference collection and Research Desk will also share a serendipitous proximity to the Teen space that will make homework and project help even more convenient for teens and their families.


Life as a Service Hub for the Digital Public Library of America

Posted on March 12th, 2014 by admin in Collections, Library Services, Strategic Plan, Technology

by Tom Blake

With millions upon millions of items to potentially digitize at the BPL, you would think we would have enough on our plates. But, in our role as a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Service Hub, we have taken on the digitization of collections across the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Any library, archives, museum, historical society, or other cultural heritage institution in the state is eligible for this service. We have already been engaged by over 150 different institutions seeking our help get their collections digitized and made available online.

Although it might seem strange or even imprudent to take on such a task in a day when resources can be stretched thin, we believe that extending our state-of-the-art digitization services beyond our walls significantly increases the value of our own collections.

06_01_002590.LARGEThe works of Lowell Mason are a perfect example. Boston Public Library’s music department holds significant materials by this turn of the century composer and teacher, and these materials are critical in understanding the history of public music education. The Lowell Mason Foundation, a small nonprofit organization based in Medfield, requested our services to have complementary items digitized. Once digitization is complete, these items will become unified, virtually, with the holdings of the BPL via Digital Commonwealth and the DPLA. As our materials are connected to these other resources, we will have created a more comprehensive online resource for researchers who otherwise would have had to travel to multiple locations. This ability to enable a high level of discoverability for small, local collections bolsters our position as a leader and an innovator for library services. This has been our reputation since our founding and a source of pride for Boston ever since.

BPL’s Consolidated Archival Storage Facility

Posted on January 10th, 2013 by Mary Frances O'Brien in Library Services, Major Projects, Strategic Plan

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.

Next Roundtable: Monday, October 1

Posted on September 4th, 2012 by Gina Perille in Library Services, Strategic Plan

The next Compass Roundtable will take place on Monday, October 1, at 6 p.m. at the Honan-Allston Branch.

On October 1, join in a discussion about the Center of Knowledge principle with Chief of Collections Strategy Laura Irmscher and Manager of Reference & Instruction Services Gianna Gifford.

The Center of Knowledge principle states: The BPL is a center of knowledge that serves researchers, lifelong learners, and the intellectually curious through its incomparable collections, digital resources, and access to other scholarly networks.

The planned outcomes under the Center of Knowledge principle are:

  1. Develop community-responsive and neighborhood-reflective circulating collections.
  2. Develop and support a public training program that meets the needs of a wide range of communities.
  3. Support the research, scholastic, and literacy needs of the City and Commonwealth.

Download the PDF version of the October 1 Compass Roundtable flyer.

If you are not able to joins us in person in October, you are always welcome to leave a comment on this blog or send an email to with your ideas. There are three more roundtables to come:

  • November 2012: Special Collections. The BPL is committed to the ongoing development and preservation of its distinctive special collections, which provide citizens from all walks of life with access to their common cultural heritage.
  • January 2013: Community Gathering. The BPL exists to serve and sustain communities that foster discovery, reading, thinking, conversing, teaching, and learning, in accessible, sustainable, and welcoming facilities throughout the City, as well as with an engaging online presence.
  • March 2013: User-Centered Institution. The BPL is a user-centered institution with services that anticipate and respond to neighborhood interests and the changing demographics of the City and Commonwealth.

Specific dates, times, and locations will be published for the remaining three roundtables as soon as they are available.