Boston Public Library
Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Posts Tagged ‘Special Collections’

BPL’s Consolidated Archival Storage Facility

Posted on January 10th, 2013 by Mary Frances O'Brien in Library Services, Major Projects, Strategic Plan

A key to meeting the library’s Compass principles that focus on Special Collections and the BPL as a Center of Knowledge is ensuring that the library’s unique and valuable collections are safe and accessible. Although space in Central Library totals almost a million square feet, it is still not large enough to hold the extensive collections that the library has gathered through its history.

Since the 1940s, the library has used a number of buildings to serve as storage facilities, but now we are entering the final phase of a long term project to consolidate our offsite storage space in the City of Boston Archival Center, located at 201 Rivermoor Street in West Roxbury. When completed, much of the library’s special research collection will be stored in a secure climate controlled state-of-the-art facility that will enhance the efficient storage and retrieval of books, journals, newspapers, maps, films, and archival materials. The facility is based on a high-density shelving plan and is designed around the “Harvard model” in which materials are shelved according to size. Barcodes are assigned to match each item with a specific location on a shelf. Requested materials will be retrieved by staff and delivered to the Central Library or, for some titles, to a branch location. Occasionally, if a large collection is requested, users will be welcomed to the spacious reading room which is shared with the City of Boston Archives.

For those interested in local history, the facility will be most convenient as they pursue their research into the history and culture of Boston.

Compass Roundtable on Special Collections: Wed., November 7

Posted on November 1st, 2012 by Gina Perille in Library Services, Strategic Plan

The next Compass Roundtable will take place on Wednesday, November 7, at 6 p.m. in the Orientation Room of the Central Library in Copley Square. Join in a discussion about the Special Collections principle with Director of Library Services Michael Colford and Keeper of Special Collections Susan Glover.

The Special Collections principle states: The BPL is committed to the ongoing development and preservation of its distinctive special collections, which provide citizens from all walks of life with access to their common cultural heritage.

The stated outcomes under the Special Collections principle are:

  1. Strengthen and grow collections that focus on existing strengths and geographic specialties.
  2. Special collections will be discoverable by users in buildings and online.
  3. Develop a digitization plan.

If you are not able to joins us in person in November, you are always welcome to leave a comment on this blog or send an email to compass@bpl.org with your ideas. There are two more roundtables to come:

  • January 2013: Community Gathering. The BPL exists to serve and sustain communities that foster discovery, reading, thinking, conversing, teaching, and learning, in accessible, sustainable, and welcoming facilities throughout the City, as well as with an engaging online presence.
  • March 2013: User-Centered Institution. The BPL is a user-centered institution with services that anticipate and respond to neighborhood interests and the changing demographics of the City and Commonwealth.

Specific dates, times, and locations will be published for the remaining pair of roundtables as soon as they are available.

Next Compass Roundtable: Wednesday, November 7

Posted on October 3rd, 2012 by Gina Perille in Strategic Plan

The next Compass Roundtable will take place on Wednesday, November 7, at 6 p.m. in the Orientation Room of the Central Library in Copley Square.

On November 7, join in a discussion about the Special Collections principle with Director of Library Services Michael Colford and Keeper of Special Collections Susan Glover.

The Special Collections principle states: The BPL is committed to the ongoing development and preservation of its distinctive special collections, which provide citizens from all walks of life with access to their common cultural heritage.

The stated outcomes under the Special Collections principle are:

  1. Strengthen and grow collections that focus on existing strengths and geographic specialties.
  2. Special collections will be discoverable by users in buildings and online.
  3. Develop a digitization plan.

If you are not able to joins us in person in November, you are always welcome to leave a comment on this blog or send an email to compass@bpl.org with your ideas. There are two more roundtables to come:

  • January 2013: Community Gathering. The BPL exists to serve and sustain communities that foster discovery, reading, thinking, conversing, teaching, and learning, in accessible, sustainable, and welcoming facilities throughout the City, as well as with an engaging online presence.
  • March 2013: User-Centered Institution. The BPL is a user-centered institution with services that anticipate and respond to neighborhood interests and the changing demographics of the City and Commonwealth.

Specific dates, times, and locations will be published for the remaining pair of roundtables as soon as they are available.

Profiles – Sean Casey, Reference Librarian

Posted on August 10th, 2012 by Gina Perille in Profiles

The George Ticknor Collection of Spanish and Portuguese literature. Shakespeare’s first folio. The first printed dictionary in the West. The John Adams Library. One of the largest collections of anti-slavery manuscripts in the world. These are just a few of the treasures of the Boston Public Library’s Rare Books & Manuscripts Department. And they are in the care of reference librarian Sean Casey.

Much of Sean’s day is spent answering emails or assisting patrons in the reading room. For him, every day brings new discoveries. “We have PhDs and scholars coming here from all over the world and we have people walking in off the street. Anybody can access these collections. It’s amazing.”

While many of these rare books and manuscripts can only be handled at the library, digitization is increasingly making them available online— a phenomenon that is rescuing many precious documents. One such document is the Code Henry, which established the independent government of Haiti in 1812. When the earthquake destroyed Haiti’s national library, the Boston Public Library held the only known surviving copy. It has since been digitized. “With digitization, formerly rare things are now available to the world,” Sean says. “It’s great.”

Profiles – Chrissy Rissmeyer, Digital Projects Metadata Coordinator, Boston Public Library

Posted on August 8th, 2012 by Gina Perille in Profiles

Even in library school, Chrissy Rissmeyer was more attracted to the cataloging side of library work than the research side. So it was only natural that she would be drawn to digitization—that is, converting printed materials or film into electronic files. “Digital libraries open these materials up to the wider world and make them accessible,” she raves. “It’s part of the future of libraries.”

The Boston Public Library has two digital imaging laboratories, one for books and “anything bound,” as Chrissy describes it, and the other for unbound materials such as posters, maps, postcards, photographs and negatives, manuscripts for rare books, and more. It is with the unbound materials that Chrissy shines as the library’s Digital Projects Metadata Coordinator. (“It’s an evolving title,” she laughs.)

“What I love most about digitizing is that it makes things available to people that they might not come across otherwise,” says Chrissy. For example, photographer Leslie Jones’ humorous depiction of 20th-century Boston has inspired a lively online social engagement that probably would not have occurred in a traditional library setting.

“We have some of the most fun in the building,” Chrissy says. “I love seeing people interacting with these collections and enjoying them. Sometimes it even inspires them to learn more about it.”