An element of the second phase of the Central Library renovation includes a new space for the library’s innovative digitization lab, where a team of skilled photographers shoot both the BPL’s collection and collections from libraries across Massachusetts as part of the Library for the Commonwealth program. When construction is completed, this lab will be located on the lower level of the Johnson building along with partners-in-residence, the Digital Public Library of America and the Internet Archive. Viewing windows and digital monitors will allow visitors to see the interesting work taking place in the lab, and the collaborative work done by these three groups will be well served with a shared space.
Posts Tagged ‘digitization’
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.
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.
The 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.