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Boston Public Library Receives Recognition for Statewide Digitization Work

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Commonwealth Award given at Griffin Museum’s Eighth Annual Focus Awards Ceremony

Boston Public Library received an award honoring its digitization work for Massachusetts’ Digital Commonwealth at the Griffin Museum of Photography’s eighth annual airplaneFocus Awards ceremony. The Focus Awards, held this year on October 19, recognize contributions to the promotion, curation, and presentation of photography. Boston Public Library received the Commonwealth Award, which is given to an organization that brings prominence to the local photographic scene.

“We are honored to receive this award for our digitization work,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. “It is our great pleasure to contribute to Digital Commonwealth and help increase access to photos archives, cultural treasures, and other historical materials for people across Massachusetts and around the world.”

The Griffin Museum created the annual Focus Awards in 2006 in order to recognize individuals and institutions who have made critical contributions to the promotion of photography. They are one of the few awards to recognize the work of those who have been instrumental in building greater awareness of the photographic arts to the general public. Thomas Blake, Digital Projects Manager for the Boston Public Library, accepted the Commonwealth Award on the library’s behalf. The award was presented to Boston Public Library by Bob Cullum, the grandson of photographer Leslie Jones (1886-1967), whose personal collection of nearly 40,000 glass negatives has been digitized by Boston Public Library.

Digital Commonwealth is Massachusetts’ consolidated statewide digital library. Its portal and repository launched in 2007; it promotes the creation of digital resources and provides access to digital collections created by member organizations. Boston Public Library has digitized more than 250,000 photo archives, books, maps, manuscripts, prints, and other materials in the effort to make them accessible online, with the goal of growing and supporting Digital Commonwealth.

In addition to being a partner to Digital Commonwealth, Boston Public Library serves as Library for the Commonwealth for the entire state of Massachusetts. Anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Massachusetts can have a Boston Public Library card.

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, a literacy center, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit


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