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Meet Gregor Smart, Electronic Resources Specialist

Posted on January 6th, 2015 by admin in General
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IMG_5369What do you enjoy about working for the BPL?
The Kirstein Business Library has been providing business and company research information since 1930. Our patrons come to us with dreams, whether it’s to start a business, a new career, or they have a desire to reach their financial goals for retirement. I love being a part of helping them reach those dreams by showing them the research tools to get them there. And, these resources are free.

What are some of the most popular electronic resources people use?
Our AtoZdatabases resource contains profiles on over 30,000,000 companies. This resource helps those looking to start a business find competitors, research a given industry, and create targeted mailing lists. Our Career Transitions database is a very popular resource for our job seekers. It offers a resume wizard and gives tips and advice for job searching. For those who need help researching stocks and mutual funds, the Morningstar Investment Research Center is a great resource. You can screen for funds, look at analyst ratings or download their investing newsletters. Small business guidance, employment searching, and personal finance research are some of the most popular kinds of assistance we provide.

How does technology enhance library service?
Technology makes our resources much more accessible to people. Now people can access many of our directories online without having to visit us in person or having to wait for someone to return the printed version. There are so many ways to access the data — via tablets or phones, and much more.

How do you assist users in using digital services?
I do a lot of one-on-one support – if someone wants to start a business, I can help with their market research, find similar businesses, or point them to various associations that might be beneficial. I have also taught a variety of technology workshops such as conducting an online job search, creating a budget, resources for researching stocks and mutual funds, and how to build a web page.

What electronic resources do you use?
I love using our Ancestry Library Edition resource for genealogy. It’s been fun to find out more about where my grandparents worked and lived. It is also a helpful resource if you want to look at historical Massachusetts city directories.

Meet Laura Barkema, Reader and Information Librarian

Posted on December 12th, 2014 by admin in General
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IMG_5306Laura Barkema works in the Reference and Reader’s Advisory department at the Central Library in Copley Square, assisting patrons with a variety of needs from research to helping users with their devices.

Why do you enjoy working for the BPL?

I enjoy explaining to library users that our services our free, because a lot of people do not realize that. The excitement people show when they realize this is great. Through teaching classes, I also see how appreciative people are to learn about the Internet and gaining computer skills.

How do you assist users in using digital services?

I’ve taught classes that give overviews of e-books and drop-in sessions for people with devices that need assistance. I also help users frequently at the reference desk with any of our digital services, such as our digital magazines, the mobile app, or streaming media. I like being a go-to person if someone has a question on how to navigate one of our digital services step-by-step.

How does technology enhance library service?

In a digital world, it’s important that our library services are up to date. The technology opens up our services to a new population of users; people who live anywhere in the state are able to get an e-card and access our digital resources. If a print copy of a book is not available, I might suggest the e-book version, and many people are open to learning.

What is an area of your job that some people may not know about?

In addition to reference, we also help users with our Reader’s Advisory service. I like giving book recommendations to people and giving them some options, and I hope to do more of that when the New Books area opens on the first floor of the Johnson building.  The other day I helped a patron who was looking for a David McCullough book. We didn’t have it in, but I knew she was interested in history and biographies, and I found a popular presidential biography for her and a few other recommendations — she was very happy.

Meet Paul Cho, Special Library Assistant

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by admin in General
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IMG_4568Paul Cho works with library users at the Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library. He has worked at the library for more than 25 years; working at the Charlestown Branch and the Central Library previously. His work supports the Community Gathering principle of the Compass Strategic plan through linking community members with to library programs and services within and beyond the BPL system.

Why do you enjoy working for the BPL?

All staff have the opportunity to increase their work knowledge through trainings provided. Working for the library is a very rewarding experience; I get a lot of satisfaction in helping patrons achieve their goals.

How do you assist users in using digital services?

I explain all of the options they have for using a certain service, such as the streaming media service hoopla. You don’t have to worry about expiration dates, patrons can browse music or TV shows, and hoopla is compatible  with a number of devices. I love using hoopla for music and it is very popular with users as well. I also let patrons know we have Zinio, a digital magazine service. People are surprised to know they can check out an unlimited number of magazines. We  have a lot of electronic databases that users may not know about that I also promote.

How does technology enhance library service?

It helps bring people in to the library. A lot of people in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood come in to use the computers, check out DVDs, or browse the online catalog. It’s very easy for the patron to find information in today’s world.

What is an aspect of your role that people may not know about?

I am able to assist people who speak languages other than English; I am fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese.

Bacchante and Infant Faun Sculpture Restored

Posted on November 14th, 2014 by admin in General
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Frederick MacMonnies’ (1863-1937) spirited piece Bacchante and Infant Faun, which is located in the courtyard of Boston Public Library’s Copley Square location, was recently restored. The piece was originally given to the library by architect Charles Follen McKim, but removed in 1897 amid protest by the local community, who thought the dancing woman celebrated drinking — and, even worse — subjected her young child to debauchery. The original piece was removed and given to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. More than 90 years later, Bacchante returned to her intended home in the fountain, cast from a copy of the popular original in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Conservators first constructed scaffolding around the piece and used granulated walnut shells to “blast” green corrosion off the sculpture. Next, they treated the sculpture’s surface to recreate the original patina. A lacquer was applied to recoat the sculpture and re-wax its surface, which adds a final protective coating. Restoration work recently took place on Bela Pratt’s Art and Science sculptures outside the Central Library’s Dartmouth Street entrance. Further details on library artwork not to miss can be found on the walking tour section of the BPL website. Visit www.bpl.org/tours for information on the library’s daily art and architecture tours.

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East Boston Branch Celebrates First Anniversary

Posted on November 9th, 2014 by admin in General
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The East Boston Branch at 365 Bremen Street completed its first full year of operations, marking a busy and productive year for the branch and its communities of users. Below are a few highlights from this past year:

  • Teens and Boston Bikes: Boston has many urban bike paths, and learning how to navigate the city safely is key. Teens learned bike safety rules and bike mechanics, meeting once a week for four weeks, and teens that attended three of the four sessions then received a bike, lock, and a helmet. They also learned about the parts of the bike and regular maintenance work, such as fixing flat tires or broken chains.
  • Eastie Week Open House: The branch participated in neighborhood celebrations honoring Eastie Week in June through a variety of activities for people of all ages. The branch hosted an ice cream social for 500 attendees, a farm visit, Spanish dancing, and a bilingual magic show.
  • Children’s programs: Homework help, story times, science experiments, arts & crafts, preschool films, and lapsits are among the activities children participated in this past year, which were met with high attendance numbers and youth ready and excited to learn.
  • Lego Mindstorm Robotics: Best Buy’s Geek Squad visited the branch during national Teen Tech Week, bringing Lego Mindstorm kits as part of a robotics program. Aspiring engineers and designers broke up into teams and designed a robot and programmed the robot to drive through a maze.
  • Adult Education Classes: English conversations groups and computer classes in Spanish generate much enthusiasm as each are often filled to capacity with adults eager to practice their English or acquire computer literacy skills.

Features of the library include dedicated areas for children, teens, and adults, free building-wide wifi, 54 computers, a flexible multipurpose room, an early literacy nook, and a quiet reading room with local history materials. Designed for building and energy efficiency, the branch recently achieved LEED Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council. The East Boston Branch’s reach, a library formula used to determine level of activity, is second only to that of the Central Library in Copley Square and continues to grow each quarter.