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The BPL Compass

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Life as a Service Hub for the Digital Public Library of America

Posted on March 12th, 2014 by admin in Collections, Library Services, Strategic Plan, Technology
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by Tom Blake

With millions upon millions of items to potentially digitize at the BPL, you would think we would have enough on our plates. But, in our role as a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Service Hub, we have taken on the digitization of collections across the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Any library, archives, museum, historical society, or other cultural heritage institution in the state is eligible for this service. We have already been engaged by over 150 different institutions seeking our help get their collections digitized and made available online.

Although it might seem strange or even imprudent to take on such a task in a day when resources can be stretched thin, we believe that extending our state-of-the-art digitization services beyond our walls significantly increases the value of our own collections.

06_01_002590.LARGEThe works of Lowell Mason are a perfect example. Boston Public Library’s music department holds significant materials by this turn of the century composer and teacher, and these materials are critical in understanding the history of public music education. The Lowell Mason Foundation, a small nonprofit organization based in Medfield, requested our services to have complementary items digitized. Once digitization is complete, these items will become unified, virtually, with the holdings of the BPL via Digital Commonwealth and the DPLA. As our materials are connected to these other resources, we will have created a more comprehensive online resource for researchers who otherwise would have had to travel to multiple locations. This ability to enable a high level of discoverability for small, local collections bolsters our position as a leader and an innovator for library services. This has been our reputation since our founding and a source of pride for Boston ever since.

Library Projects in the News: East Boston & Central Library

Posted on March 10th, 2014 by Gina Perille in Branches, Johnson Building Study, Library Services, Major Projects
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A pair of Boston Public Library’s major projects have been in the news recently. The Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell wrote a review of the new East Boston Branch. In his review, Mr. Campbell wrote:

“This is the best small contemporary library I’ve seen anywhere.”

and

“Architecture always embodies a message. Here in East Boston, the message is a metaphor. The library floor is like a piece of land shared by many kinds of people under a soft bright sky. It embodies the truth, or maybe the hope, that with all our many differences we can be one community.”

 

The New York Times New England Bureau chief Katharine Q. Seelye wrote a feature article about the Central Library renovation.The sub-heading of Ms. Seelye’s article is “Boston and other cities turn sanctuary of the past into an information center of the future.” In the article, Ms. Seelye wrote:

“With a major renovation underway, this Copley Square institution is breaking out of its granite shell to show an airier, more welcoming side to the passing multitudes.”

Central Library Renovation: Children’s Library

Posted on March 7th, 2014 by Beth Prindle in Johnson Building Study, Library Services, Major Projects
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Ask the BPL’s youngest visitors about the most exciting area currently under construction?  It’s the new Children’s Library on the second floor, of course. At 9,500 square feet, this expansive and welcoming new space for kids and caregivers will be nearly double the size of the current children’s room. The Children’s Library will be filled with opportunities for children to read, create, play, explore, and learn together. Plans for a dedicated area for infants and toddlers feature cozy furniture, stacks of books and toys for little ones, and a variety of experience-based learning materials designed to stimulate young minds. Story time for young readers will be extra-special as they explore the land of make believe in a custom-built nook. The spacious program room calls out for kid creativity with room for crafts, performances, workshops, and much more. Tweens will have their own dedicated space for homework, reading, and hanging out with friends. And that’s not all—more fun, whimsical surprises are in the works.

A rendering of the new Children's Library.

A rendering of the new Children’s Library.

 

Central Library Renovation: Tech Central

Posted on March 5th, 2014 by Gina Perille in Johnson Building Study, Major Projects, Technology
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9sq_grid

The Johnson Building is arranged in a nine-square gird. Imagine Boylston Street as being at the bottom of this image, underneath the letters H – A – B.

Included in the renovation plans for the first floor of the Johnson Building is an updated and improved Tech Central area. Today, Tech Central is in and to the left as you enter the Central Library via Boylston Street.

Using the image at right as a guide to the first floor, Tech Central occupies the G area today. The current plan is to move it to the E section and a bit into the F section with additional computers and expanded work space for library staff to assist library users with their technology questions. A new set of restrooms is also planned for the F area on the first floor.

Another new feature planned is bar-style seating at the back window of the E section, which faces a small sunlight garden on the Blagden Street side of the Central Library.

 

Making E-books Easier

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 by Scot Colford in Library Services, Technology, Web Services
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One of our most popular services is our e-book collection, but for many years, library users faced some unexpected complications managing the digital items they borrowed. For instance, if you wanted to search for something to read but didn’t mind whether it was in digital or physical format, you could search our online catalog. However, once you found an e-book you wanted, you would be directed to an entirely different site to check out and download the title. If you wanted to continue searching all formats, you’d have to leave the OverDrive site to switch back to the full catalog. Furthermore, you used to have to check two places if you wanted to see how your holds queues were progressing for digital and physical titles.

Considering our Compass principle of Access and Innovation, we’ve made it a priority to make the whole e-book process easier. Now, if you find a digital title in our online catalog, you can check its availability, place a hold on it, or check it out without being shuttled off to another site. Want to know what you’ve got checked out? It’s all there in the My BPL section. You can even manage all your pending holds from that same location.

e-book record

Of course, there are still some valid reasons you may want to use our OverDrive site. But even that experience has been streamlined. The new design of the OverDrive site released last month features smarter search results, lets you check out titles with fewer clicks, and even allows you to start reading immediately in your web browser. The design of the site adapts to the device you’re on as well, so you can do the same things on your smartphone as you can on your tablet or computer.

We hope you’re enjoying the improvements we’re making in our online services and we intend to keep removing as many barriers to digital access as we can.