Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Profiles – Michael Colford, Director of Library Services, Boston Public Library

by Gina Perille

Michael Colford has many responsibilities at the Boston Public Library, including overseeing the BPL’s role as Library for the Commonwealth, a designation that signifies that the BPL provides services and access to its collections to people across the entire state of Massachusetts. “We have a lot of very rich and deep collections, and access is a very important concern,” he says. “A big part of what libraries do is describe and catalog their materials and make them discoverable.”

For that reason, the library is focused on cataloging and digitizing material in order to make it accessible online. Michael is also taking the next logical step by providing technological equipment and training programs that help to bridge the “digital divide” between the most techno-savvy and those who might not yet know how to use a mouse.

Does that mean that the physical library is becoming obsolete? On the contrary, according to Michael. “The thing I think comes as a surprise to everyone is that people still want to come in to the library and be a part of a community,” he says. “While people are saying everything’s moving online and we’re not going to need the library building any more, that’s definitely not true. People are coming to socialize, to go to programs, to go to events, and to physically interact with the collections. Libraries have a unique role in society. It’ll be very interesting to see how things grow and change.”