Boston Public Library
Collections of Distinction

About Collections of Distinction

Painting of three army officers Collections of Distinction represent the most outstanding, expansive, and renowned of the Boston Public Library’s (BPL) collections. The library’s commitment to the ongoing development and preservation of its distinctive collections and its pivotal role as a center of knowledge are fundamental to the library’s strategic plan, the BPL Compass. Identifying and promoting the library’s Collections of Distinction are key strategies to fulfilling the vision of the library.

Collections of Distinction guide lifelong learners, scholars, and the intellectually curious to the finest of the library’s more than 150 years of collecting. At the same time, Collections of Distinction direct the library’s collection development decisions and expand public access through digitization to these deep and rich intellectual resources.

Collections of Distinction are identified based on the following criteria:

  • Unique, rare, and/or intrinsically valuable
  • Pre-eminent among libraries and cultural institutions
  • Historical significance that reflects the long term BPL commitment to the collection, buttressed by the past and current generosity of individuals
  • Central to the history of the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the communities therein
  • Resonates with communities of scholars and makes the BPL the destination for scholarship in a particular subject
  • Universality of subject matter and furthers the purpose of the BPL by contributing to a democratic education.

Boston Public Library will give priority to Collections of Distinction in its allocation of resources dedicated to research and special collections with respect to public access, acquisition, digitization, preservation, and staff development.