Monday, May 20, 2024

Resource Spotlight: Nolo Books

State Library staff are constantly adding new resources to our collections. We keep an eye on new books being published about Massachusetts history and politics, books you might find on the New York Times Bestseller list, and of course, legal and legislative resources. One of the newest additions to our legal resources is our collection of Nolo books.

If you haven’t heard of Nolo before, or Nolo Press as they were formerly known, it is a publisher that produces “do it yourself” legal resources. These books allow people to take care of more simple legal matters on their own, such as how to write your own will or how to do legal research like a lawyer would. Nolo has been around since 1971 and they are a trusted resource in the legal world, so we’re thrilled to have added some Nolo titles to our collection.

Currently we have the following Nolo titles:

These books are in our Reference collection, so you won’t be able to check them out, but you’re always welcome to use them in the library. We’re open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and our friendly Reference librarians are here to help! We can’t provide legal advice, but we can connect you to our Nolo books and other legal resources you may be interested in.

Another newer legal resource we wanted to make a plug for are West’s Nutshell Series books. The Nutshell Series covers a wide range of legal topics and the titles are great for someone just starting their legal research or for someone looking for a quick refresher. Read more about this resource in our blog post. Feel free to check out the other law resources we have in the library as well.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by email or at 617-727-2590. We’re here to help!

Jessica Shrey
Legal Research Reference Librarian

Monday, May 13, 2024

Boolean Searching in SLM Digital Collections

In a previous post, we learned about how to start a search in the State Library of Massachusetts Digital Collections (SLM Digital Collections). Today we are going to take a closer look at a search refining technique called a Boolean search, which you can use to construct searches that will more precisely yield the results (and items) you are looking for.

Although some of the overall functionality and appearance of our digital repository changed significantly during the upgrade to the newest version of the platform for our digital collections, the ability to do a Boolean search remained the same. For patrons who interacted with the version of DSpace we used for our digital collections prior to the upgrade, the steps for how to do a Boolean search will seem very familiar. And if this is your first time visiting the SLM Digital Collections or you want a refresher on Boolean searching, the instructions in this post can help you find out how to do a Boolean search.

First, we will review what a Boolean search is—it is a kind of search commonly used on websites and search engines where you can limit, define, or broaden your search using operators and symbols.

The operators commonly used and what we use for Boolean searches in SLM Digital Collections are AND, OR and NOT. It is important to note that the plus sign (+) commonly used as a substitute for AND is not enabled as a Boolean operator for searching our digital collections. Neither is the minus sign (-), commonly used as a substitute for NOT, enabled in the search functions.

To use Boolean operators either use in all caps or all lowercase between each keyword. Each operator functions in a unique way:
  • AND returns results with words appearing together in documents (example: boats AND harbors)
  • OR returns results for documents containing either word (example: boats OR harbors)
  • NOT returns results for documents containing one word and excluding the other word (example: boats NOT harbors)
Any query of 2 or more words essentially operates as the “AND” in a Boolean search and will yield results with both or all the words from the search in it. We will go through an example of how to apply a Boolean operator in the search box. So, if we typed into the search box boats harbor it yields the same number of results as if we had entered boats AND harbor. The query doesn’t have to be a phrase in this case but can be words that appear together in the documents we want to see. We can use more than 2 words at a time like in the query boats AND harbor AND fish.

Of course, we can also use the Boolean operator AND for pairing together specific phrases to find a specific set of documents. In this case we are interested in finding back issues of DMF News because we remember there was at least one issue that mentioned bluefin tuna fisheries, the Boston harbor and party boats all in the same issue. Rather than navigating through the maze of the communities and collections associated with Department of Marine Fisheries in SLM Digital Collections we can create a Boolean search for this that will find the DMF News issue(s) we are looking for.

First, we need to navigate to the search results page and select the community Division of Marine Fisheries to be entered inside the box next to the search box. The second step is coming up with a list of phrases to use-- bluefin tuna fishery, Boston Harbor, charter and party boats, and DMF News. Now we need to format the phrases properly to construct the search query. When using specific phrases in a DSpace search, Boolean or otherwise, it is important to add quotation marks around the phrase. In this case to construct the search query we need to enter “bluefin tuna fisheries” AND “Boston Harbor” AND “charter and party boats” AND “DMF News” in the search box and press enter, which should return only 10 results for back issues of DMF News covering these topics.

However, we’re seeing some results that aren’t issues of DMF News. It looks like the majority of them are DMF annual reports. This simply means we need to be a little more specific with the phrase “DMF News” in the query string.

To do this we can search with the title field (dc.title) by rewriting this portion of the string as AND dc.title:”DMF News.” And the 10 issues of DMF News are now the only items appearing in the search results.

However, we decided that we only want the issues mentioning the Boston harbor and party boats. If we removed the phrase “bluefin tuna fisheries” from the beginning of our query and moved it to the end using the NOT operator like this “Boston Harbor” AND “charter and party boats” AND dc.title:”DMF News” NOT “bluefin tuna fisheries,” we would get results that excludes the phrase bluefin tuna fisheries but does include results of Boston Harbor and charter and party boats appearing specifically in 3 issues of DMF News.

Now that we have gone over how to do Boolean searching on the SLM Digital Collections website, you have the know-how to do your own Boolean searches!

If you are feeling stuck at any point using Boolean operators in a search while using SLM Digital Collections, you can reach out to our reference department for assistance by email or by calling 617-927-2590. Or if you are visiting our reading room, come up to the reference desk and someone can help you.

Emily Crawford
Technical Services Librarian

Thursday, May 9, 2024

It's Hummingbird Season in the Library!

Once the calendar turns to May, the region gets ready to welcome the ruby-throated hummingbird back from its winter migration! These fast-moving birds might be hard to spot out in the wild, so we've made it easy on you by selecting the ruby-throated hummingbird (plate 47) as our featured Audubon. This print shows the male (labeled 1), female (labeled 2), and young (labeled 3). They are all depicted fluttering around the trumpet flower. 

After spending the winter months in Florida, Central America, and Mexico, the ruby-throated hummingbird heads north for its breeding season. According to the Mass Audubon website, if you are looking to welcome the hummingbird back with feeders, then it is best to place them outside from the end of April into the first week of May. 

The colorful ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird that nests east of the Great Plains, and is commonly seen in Massachusetts. Both males and females have glossy green feathers covering their bodies, and as per its name, the male has a it has a bright red gorget (area covering its throat). The hummingbird's wings beat about 53 times per second, and since it burns so much energy, it must consume more than its own weight each day to stay alive!

Visit us from May 9 through June 7 to see the hummingbird on display in our reading room. 

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Idea City Panel with David Gamble, Matthew Kiefer, and Rosalyn Negron

The State Library of Massachusetts Author Talks Series is excited to host a panel discussion with David Gamble, Matthew Kiefer, and Rosalyn Negrón!

Please join us on Wednesday, May 15th at noon, in our historic reading room for a discussion between David Gamble, Matthew Kiefer, and Rosalyn Negron, all contributors to the recently published Idea City: How to Make Boston More Livable, Equitable, and Resilient (UMASS Press, 2023). The book addresses a range of the challenges that Boston contends with in the twenty-first century and considers ways to improve the city for everyone. Many of the issues tackled, including resiliency, mobility, affordable housing, public health, social equity, and economic equality are of ever-increasing relevancy for cities around the world. The conversation, taking Boston as a case study, will provide food for thought for dedicated urbanists, whether involved in public policy, the design and planning of our cities, or simply involved and concerned urban citizens.


David Gamble
AIA AICP LEED AP is a Lecturer in Urban Design and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies at MIT. An architect and urban planner and Principal of Cambridge-based Gamble Associates, his research and writing investigate the catalytic effects of urban design and planning projects with a focus on the creative implementation strategies to overcome barriers to redevelopment. David is Author and Editor of “Idea City” (UMass Press, 2023) and co-author of “Rebuilding the American City” (co-author Patty Heyda, Routledge Press, 2016). He received his Masters of Architecture in Urban Design from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard.

Matthew J. Kiefer
practices real estate development and land use law at Goulston & Storrs in Boston and is a Lecturer in Real Estate at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. His practice focuses on the nexus of private initiative and public policy and obtaining parcel dispositions and entitlements from public agencies for complex urban projects. He has a particular focus on cross-sectoral projects that address unique policy, feasibility and design challenges. Matthew has written and spoken widely on land use topics. He is a graduate of Boston University and the University of Michigan Law School, and was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard GSD.

Rosalyn Negrón
is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she is also Research Director for the Sustainable Solutions Lab. Rosalyn's research is primarily driven by issues of health and well-being, with particular attention to the role of decision-making, social connections, and social environments. A past Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Rosalyn’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health, the Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She leads several projects, including the Sustainable Solutions Lab climate adaptation stakeholder mapping project, and an NSF study to understand the complex factors that shaped Puerto Ricans' decision to leave or stay in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Beyond Puerto Rico, she has done research in Jamaica, Florida, New York City, and Boston. Rosalyn is a leader in transdisciplinary research and directs UMass Boston’s Transdisciplinary Dissertation Proposal Development program.

We will be livestreaming the talk on our YouTube channel courtesy of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Broadcast Services - tune in at noon.

If you are able to join us in person for this talk, attendees will be able to participate in a question-and-answer session with the authors as well as purchase a copy of Idea City. Books are $30.00; cash, check, and Venmo are accepted. As always, this author talk is free and open to all. Assisted listening devices will be made available upon request. Any questions or concerns, please email us at

Want to stay up to date on future Author Talks at the State Library? Join our mailing list. Also follow us on Instagram, X, or Facebook for updates! For more information on the State Library Author talks series, please visit our site.

Author Talks Working Group

Monday, May 6, 2024

Collection Spotlight: North American Civic League for Immigrants Records, 1908-1946

In 1907, a committee was appointed by the Boston YMCA to investigate what was called “the immigration problem.” This committee, formed in 1908 and chaired by Dr. Chauncy Brewer, was the North American Civic League for Immigrants. The stated purpose of the League was “the betterment of the immigrant, with primary instruction in civics for a ‘patriotic purpose.’” The League’s agents met immigrants at ship ports and train terminals and aided them in the naturalization process. They helped immigrants secure employment and housing, as well as teaching night classes and giving lectures both in English and immigrants’ native languages. The library holds the League's records from 1908 through 1946 (MS Coll. 24). 

League offices formed in many other cities throughout the Northeast and their publications were distributed at libraries across the nation. Pamphlets within the collection list investigations the League conducted at ports of entry and industrial workplaces in an effort to ensure safe conditions. Annual reports describe individual instances in which immigrants were helped by members of the League. Some examples of this are as follows: securing a lawyer, assisting with bank loans and taxes, obtaining wages unlawfully withheld, and aiding a man “who wrongfully supposed wife had sunk on steamer Ancona.” 

While the League certainly provided practical and needed assistance to new and recent immigrants, the League’s stated purposes and goals for doing so reveal less than altruistic motivations. Materials within the collection describe the intention to assimilate and “Americanize” immigrants through League programs, discouraging the continued use of native languages and cultural practices deemed un-American. League publications also express antipathy to labor movements and organizations.

In the League’s 1915-1916 annual report, Dr. Brewer writes,

“The League was organized to do what it might to mitigate the greatest peril that has ever threatened the American people and the principles of its Democracy, - to bring home to loyal people the fact that the extraordinary immigration from over seas was nothing less than an invasion of people untrained in self-government, and, pending national action, to secure such retaining points among the great foreign population as should help it to thwart the plans of revolutionaries and agitators.”

The League’s 1918-1919 annual report states,

“The theory upon which the League bases its programs is as follows: most immigrants are well disposed on entering the United States but do not so continue because of the necessary struggle for existence or exploitation. The alien must therefore be reached as early as possible in his first year of residence. If this is done he may become a useful resident. If it is not done he becomes a menace. In order to rightly influence the immigrant the League has found it necessary to secure his confidence.”

The collection offers a glimpse into the struggles facing immigrants to the United States in the first half of the 20th century, as well as the attitudes surrounding their arrival by those within the League and adjacent organizations. The finding guide for the North American Civic League for Immigrants Records can be found on the State Library’s digital repository.

Alyssa Persson
Special Collections Processing Librarian

Thursday, May 2, 2024

State Library Newsletter - May Issue

Happy May! Catch up on our new books, displays, and upcoming catalog upgrade in this month's newsletter. Pictured here is a preview, but the full issue can be accessed by clicking here. And you can also sign up for our mailing list to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Preservation Week at the State Library!

Happy Preservation Week! Established by the American Library Association in 2005, Preservation Week is a yearly event that raises awareness for preservation work undertaken in library, archives, and museums to safeguard our shared cultural heritage. Preservation Week is also a time to encourage the public to think about actions that they can take to protect their own personal collections. This year, it is celebrated from April 28 through May 4 with the theme "Preserving Identities." 

In our Collection Spotlight case, we’re kicking off Preservation Week by highlighting an item that has benefited from preservation work and also aligns with May’s designation as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month. Last year, we shared a few facsimiles from an album titled “Photographs of Schools,” which was produced by the Hawaii Department of Education and donated to the State Library in July 1924. It comprises seventeen photographs of Hawaiian schools, teachers, and students dating from sometime between 1897 and 1922. This year, we’re sharing the album itself in our Collection Spotlight case. The reason that we can share the actual item instead of facsimiles is because our Collection Spotlight case is specifically designed to protect exhibited items. One of the largest threats to archival items is light damage, from both natural and artificial light sources, which accumulates over time and cannot be reversed. As such, it is optimal for archival items to remain in dark storage unless they are being accessed by a researcher - but this at odds with the desire to display archival items! Luckily, our Collection Spotlight case has been designed with this in mind, and its glass panel is “SmartGlass” which has UV filters and a layer of light-controlling film. When not in use, the glass portion of the case is dark, until it is activated by a button which lights the case for 30 seconds. This allows the case to remain dark for the majority of the time but illuminated when a visitor wants to view the exhibited item, allowing us to safely display even our more sensitive items, like the photograph album we’re sharing this month. Regular readers of our blog may have noticed that the contents of our Collection Spotlight case changes every month. This is another preventative preservation measure, as a monthly exhibit rotation limits the amount of time that an archival item spends out its controlled storage environment. 

Another way that this scrapbook has benefited from preservation initiatives is that it has been digitized. The most obvious benefit of digitization is that it makes our collection more accessible to a wider audience who can access it remotely, but from a preservation standpoint, it is also beneficial because it reduces the amount of handling that the item receives. The more an item is handled, the higher the likelihood is that it will be damaged. By having researchers access a digital surrogate, we can preserve the integrity of the original and ensure its longevity. We do some digitization on-site, but we also send larger projects to vendors off-site. 

This month, we’ve displayed the album open to a show an image of pupils in front of the Kawaiaha’o Common School (above) and an image of a few of the teachers grouped with a few students (right). The Common School was originally the Old Mission School House, founded in the 1830s by missionary Sybil Bingham.  Unfortunately, only two of the images can be exhibited, but the album in  its entirety can be viewed here. And another preservation note, if we were to exhibit this album again, we would select different pages to open it to. 

Stop by the library throughout the month of May to see this scrapbook on display, and follow along as we share preservation content on our social media channels all week! You can also check out our two preservation focused Flickr pages for examples of work done in our lab and preservation tips you can use at home.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian