Friday, February 27, 2009

Electronic Documents in the Jarrett Barrios Collection

A second accession of the papers of State Senator Jarrett Barrios is currently being processed in Special Collections. This collection is causing the staff to quickly make decisions about description and access to electronic documents. Although Paige Roberts, Head of Special Collections, is working on a pilot project for electronic files in legislative collections, the department does not yet have a standing policy for handling electronic files. So when I discovered a tote bag of compact and floppy discs in the collection, as well as several discs mixed in with photo files, we needed to decide how to move forward with minimal processing of the collection. The digital files are mostly pictures of the Senator at events and with constituents, but there are also PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Excel files documenting a number of office functions.

We have not yet come to a final decision on processing in this case, but some of the questions we will need to answer are:

  • Should we reformat any of the material, for instance providing web access or printing hard copy to file in the collection?

  • How much detail should we use in describing the materials?

  • How should the discs be stored?

  • What is the research value of the pictures in particular? How useful will they be to library users?

  • How should we handle privacy issues? One of the discs is marked "confidential." Will we treat this the same as a confidential paper file, or use new criteria to make a decision?

-Katie Chase, Special Collections Librarian

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento Statue

The State Library had a question about a statue on the Commonwealth Mall. The statue is of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. He established the first public school in Argentina. He was a close associate of Horace Mann and was elected President of Argentina in 1868. (The people asking the question thought that the governor gave a speech. This proved not to be true.)

On the internet there was a newspaper article that the statue had been given to the city of Boston.

“The fifteen foot high statue of Sarmiento’s is a gift that was originally offered by the Argentine government in 1913”(Boston City Record, vol. 65, p. 348, 1973). John “Honey” Fitzgerald, the Mayor, gave permission for Boston to receive it.

It was shipped to Boston 60 years later, in 1973. Kevin White formed a committee to decide what to do with the statue (Lucas, Peter “Is Kevin White’s Statue Tall Enough?” Boston Globe December 28, 2005). It was decided to put it on the Commonwealth Mall between Gloucester and Hereford Streets.

In the Boston City record vol. 65 for 1973, on page 378 there is a sizable entry talking about the dedication ceremony. On Monday April 21, 1973 “Mayor Kevin White dedicated the statue of nineteenth century Argentine educator Domingo F. Sarmiento.”

The dedication began at 11:30 am and both the Mayor and Argentine Ambassador Carlos Manual Muniz spoke briefly. The statue was designed by artists at the Argentine School of Fine Arts.

-Naomi Allen, Reference Librarian

The City of Holyoke circa 1876

Recently a patron requested The City of Holyoke: Its Water Power and Its Industries for use in the Special Collections reading room. Upon pulling the item it became clear that this pamphlet was in need of preservation work. Printed around 1876, this oversize pamphlet volume includes pictures of buildings and sites where water power was in use, such as paper mills.

Pages measure 17 inches by 22 inches and the cover is the same weight of paper as the rest of the pages. This item was folded in quarters and stored in an acid free envelope. As the printed paper aged it became acidic and the folds provided a weak point at which the paper cracked. Today the paper is very brittle at all folds, and small sections along the folds and edges have cracked off. The plan for this item is to flatten it, snip the thread keeping the center sections of the pamphlet together, repair each sheet with Japanese tissue, and assess the resulting item's strength. If needed single sheets will be encapsulated to provide further support.

Click on the image above to view the contact sheet of the pamphlet pages before repair. Stay tuned to the blog over the next several weeks to view progress on this pamphlet.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Thursday, February 12, 2009

From the Preservation Lab

One of the first activities for all lab interns is taking a stroll through the stacks to see where the items on which they will be working live. As the newest lab intern, Tina, and I walked through the stacks she spied an item that was bent over a short bookend. Though it wasn't an item that fit the scope of Tina's project, we couldn't leave it on the shelf, so I pulled it to repair.

A closer look showed the items to be several volumes of The Messenger, a newsletter of the Worcester State Hospital. The volumes in this collection were published between 1939 and the 1950s. All issues were folded due to the insufficient support of the folder in which it sat on the shelf, so the first steps were to remove the old folder and flatten the items under boards.

After several days the issues were removed from under weights and each was assessed for repairs needed. Most issues were in good condition except for deteriorating tape that had been used in the past to repair tears. On one issue, a the combination of the glue and the calendaring of the paper turned the paper brown but also made it translucent. In all cases the adhesive carrier had detached from the glue, leaving a yellow stain.

After all the issues were repaired individually, they were stacked in chronological order with a sheet of archival paper filed between each volume. A custom fit box was made of acid and lignin free buffered folder stock and the item was sent off to cataloging. Heavy folder stock was used for the box to provide needed support for this unbound item while it is shelved.
- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cape Wind

The long-awaited report from the Federal Government on the environmental impact of wind turbines on Cape Cod is now in the Library's catalog. It is an online document, entitled Cape Wind Energy Project: Final Environmental Impact Statement (PDF).

-Bette L. Siegel, Documents Librarian

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Preservation Lab Updates

Wow - It seems the fast pace of the holidays kept up right on through January and is only now starting to slow. It's been a busy few months in the preservation lab and I want to share some of what has been happening.

State Library Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Grant
In December the library was notified that we have been awarded a Preservation Assistance Grant to help support library staff training at the Preservation Management Institute at Rutgers University. As part of the coursework for this program a preservation survey and a disaster plan will be completed for the library. These documents will be central to guiding the work of the preservation lab over the next few years.

First Draft of Preservation Survey Complete
The end of January brought the completion of the first draft of a preservation survey of library collections and spaces. It was a great chance for me to really focus on big picture issues as well as small collections in need of care. The next step is integrating feedback from State Library staff and professors at the Preservation Management Institute into a final preservation plan that will outline collections care activities for the future along with a time line for accomplishment.

New Library Exhibit Posted
The last few weeks of January also involved preparation and fabrication of the library's newest exhibit, African Americans in the Massachusetts Legislature: A History. I highly recommend visiting this exhibit before it closes on May 15. The library was lucky enough to receive two interns who conducted the majority of the research for the exhibit, and as a result the information panels are quite rich in history and detail. Lewis Hayden, one of the legislators highlighted, has a remarkable story in which serving in the Massachusetts Legislature is only a footnote to all of the other amazing things he accomplished in his life. Be sure to visit the exhibit, located just outside of room 341, on your next visit to the State Library.

New Preservation Lab Intern
Though it feels nothing like spring, the spring semester has begun for colleges, and the preservation lab is happy to have another Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies student excited to learn preservation methods hands-on. Tina has already begun work on a small portion of a monumental project, so keep an eye out for her blog posts in the weeks to come.

Scrapbook Reorganization Project
A project that came out of the preservation survey was the need to reorganize and place in boxes some of the library's scrapbook collections. When Paige Roberts, Head of Special Collections, and I examined the stack area where the scrapbooks are housed it became clear that by reorganizing the scrapbooks and addressing a selection of gift books shelved nearby we could open up new shelf space for recently acquired manuscript collections. I enlisted Nick, our Northeastern University co-op student, to help with the project, and after several hours we had reorganized the shelving of scrapbooks, placed many books in archival boxes, and boxed up all the gift books to send upstairs to the Technical Services Department. A few more hours of rearranging shelves and giving all of the now-empty shelves a good cleaning yielded a new shelving area for up to 167 manuscript boxes. This new shelf space fills a crucial need and helps preserve the items, as some of our manuscript collections are currently shelved on tables with boxes stacked on top of one another.

Repairs in the Preservation Lab
Now that the bulk of the preservation survey and exhibit work is behind me, I can again focus on the items in the lab in need of repair. An interesting set of newsletters in need of repair were found in the stacks recently, so check back later this week for the full story on these neat items.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

New Exhibit Now Open

African Americans in the Massachusetts Legislature: A History

January 30 - May 15, 2009

An exhibit documenting the lives and contributions of noteworthy people who have served the General Court of the Commonwealth and changed Massachusetts history.

Please visit the exhibit hall located outside the State Library, room 341 of the Massachusetts State House.

-Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian