Boston Public Library
Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Posts Tagged ‘Special Collections’

Central Library Renovation: Exhibition Gallery

Posted on January 7th, 2015 by Beth Prindle in Johnson Building Study, Major Projects

BPL_DraftNewGalleryA new, customized gallery space — illustrated above — is planned on the first floor of the renovated Johnson building for when renovations are complete in the summer of 2016. The gallery is going to be designed to accommodate the preservation and display needs for special collections exhibitions in an easily accessible, high-traffic public space. The gallery will include four custom built-in walls of cases totaling nearly 80 linear feet of display space. Special features of the new gallery include:

  • museum-grade, fixed air exchange systems for preservation of sensitive materials
  • integrated adjustable lighting
  • high-level security features
  • modular shelving and hanging systems to accommodate a broad variety of objects and display needs
  • easily customizable and interchangeable graphics system.

The space will feature a series of themed special collections exhibitions. Content will be rotated throughout the year, with each rotation featuring 15-30 items from the library’s extraordinary holdings. Displayed items may include prints, photographs, maps, rare books, manuscripts, paintings, architectural drawings, artifacts, and other items from the library’s collections.

Strategic Plan Implementation: Special Collections

Posted on December 12th, 2014 by admin in Outcomes, Strategic Plan

bpl-compass-report-cover-200One 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.

Strategic Plan Implementation: Special Collections

Posted on October 16th, 2014 by admin in Outcomes, Strategic Plan

bpl-compass-report-cover-200One of the ways the BPL fulfills the Special Collections principle and the accompanying outcome “Special collections will be discoverable by users in buildings and online” is through consolidating and moving off-site storage space to the City of Boston Archival Center, and adding public access. Library operations at the City of Boston Archival Center in West Roxbury are getting close to being open for public service. All the materials that were previously at the Charlestown service building and in the Norwood facility are now at the Archival Center. Well over one million of those items have been completely cleaned and already shelved on the high-density shelves, and in the near future the rest of those materials will be shelved. In addition to the materials that were formerly in the Charleston and Norwood buildings, tens of thousands materials that were previously housed at the Central Library have also been transferred to the Archival Center. While it will take some time to clean, accession, and shelve all those items, the goal is to process them as quickly as possible.

Strategic Plan Implementation: Special Collections

Posted on October 5th, 2014 by admin in Outcomes, Strategic Plan

bpl-compass-report-cover-200One of the ways Boston Public Library fulfills the strategic plan’s Special Collections principle and the accompanying outcome to “Strengthen and grow collections and focus on existing strengths and geographic specialties” is to prioritize archiving, storing, and describing current collections over acquiring new ones. The library is in the process of cataloging two of the library’s notable special collections. The descriptive bibliographic records for these collections will be added to the library’s Polaris database so that patrons and scholars from all over the world will have access to these important resources.

Below are two collections in the works:

  1. Joan of Arc Collection: Joan of Arc as a historic figure, religious icon, and female warrior is represented in about 7,000 monographs related to her life. The material includes early Latin and French texts, histories, biographies, plays, novels, poetry, scores, and children’s books.
  2. John Merriam Collection: This collection consists of approximately 3,000 commercially published children’s books, all of which include illustrations by famous artists.

The Technical Services team anticipates these records will be fully loaded into Polaris by the end of the year.

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.