Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update from the Preservation Lab

As mentioned in a previous post, the preservation intern and I have been working on boxing a selection of editions of the Public Officers of Massachusetts. As of Friday, all volumes in the project have been boxed. The preservation intern, Denise, had this to say about the experience:

"Though initially daunted by the prospect of building boxes for a full shelf of books, I became more confident in my skills as I progressed in the project. Lacy provided an excellent and detailed set of instructions (including diagrams and visual aids) to assist my memory after our step-by-step box construction training session. I soon developed a sense of the work flow and the physical memory of "making a box" which allowed me to assemble multiple boxes simultaneously. I asked questions as necessary and as I finished cutting stock for the final boxes I realized I had developed a skill I could keep for life."

The boxing project was Denise's final project as summer intern and she did a great job!

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Assistant

Thursday, August 21, 2008

From the Preservation Lab Intern

As part of ongoing pamphlet binding work performed this summer, I turned up documents from the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency (MCDA) and the Massachusetts Committee on Public Safety. Those with an interest in National Security issues at the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War era may find this information interesting. The purpose of civil defense as stated in the pamphlet is: "to minimize the effects of enemy attacks or major disaster upon the people, property, industry and commerce of the Commonwealth."

The Organization Plan includes a map and organization chart that specifies which agency has responsibility for which region and the services provided within that region (medical, water supplies, rebuilding, etc.). It also contains an appendix with the Administrative Orders designating this responsibility and the date the order was issued.

The MCDA coordinated efforts with the Federal government in order to most efficiently cover the state's emergency needs. Some of the wording of the document is specific to the Cold War era (nuclear fallout shelters) but as the main purpose of the document is to give an accounting of which agencies are responsible for the welfare of the citizenry during a disaster, much of the information is still pertinent.

The Committee on Public Safety document is a report on air raid alarm signals. It rates the alarm's effectiveness in terms of sound and how it carries in a specific urban area in order to gauge how well the signal would travel during "air raids, blackouts, fire and contingent emergencies." The detailed testing of different air horns is meticulously graphed and reported in order to provide the best equipment to the community during wartime (1941).

As the binding on the Organization Plan is quite firmly attached, I merely built a four flap document enclosure to protect it and provide support. I removed staples and sewed most of the other documents in this group.

-Denise Anderson, Preservation Intern

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From the Preservation Lab

Yesterday as I was repairing a gift book published 1909 I noticed an interesting bookplate in the front. (Click on the image to increase the size.) The warning at the bottom struck me, as I had just fully detached the front cover.

Since I am employed for the explicit purpose of cutting old books during repairs, the threat of up to six months in jail wasn't too scary. However, as I spoke to the head of our department about the statute quoted on the plate, we began to wonder if such a law was still on the Massachusetts books. A few minutes searching in LoisLaw yielded my answer. Yes, indeed this law still existed and both the fine and jail time has increased. It's lovely to know that the commonwealth has put up this front line of defense, in effect lessening the amount of items that come to the lab through malicious intent. Now, if only there were a law preventing inherent vice.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Assistant

The State Library and UMass Boston Healey Library Announce Digitization Partnership

Partners to Scan 250,000 Pages of Massachusetts Documents

The State Library has issued the following press release:

BOSTON, Mass., August 14, 2008 – The State Library of Massachusetts and the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston have announced a partnership to scan and electronically preserve 250,000 pages of Massachusetts session laws from 1620 to the present, making it easier for people to access these important historical documents.

"This is an exciting project and a significant undertaking," said Dr. Daniel Ortiz, university librarian at UMass Boston.

UMass Boston will sponsor the digitization of the State Library's collection of Massachusetts Acts and Resolves, with the scanning of the documents to be performed at the Northeast Regional Scanning Center, housed at the Boston Public Library and sponsored by the Sloan Foundation, Boston Library Consortium, Inc., and Internet Archives.

The partnership, and its planned project, will provide students, legislators, historians, genealogists, policy researchers, and interested citizens with greater access to the vast wealth contained in these volumes.

After the announcement, Elvernoy Johnson, state librarian, said, "We are delighted and look forward to partnering with Daniel Ortiz to make these incredible documents readily available to the public, fostering R&D and informed citizenship."

The project is expected to begin this fall.

Contact Information

Elvernoy Johnson
State Librarian of Massachusetts
State Library of Massachusetts
Telephone: (617) 727-2592
Fax: (617) 727-9730
E-mail: elvernoy.johnson@state.ma.us

Dr. Daniel Ortiz
University Librarian
University of Massachusetts Boston
Telephone: (617) 287-5916
Fax: (617)287-5950
E-mail: Daniel.Ortiz@umb.edu

-Patrick Mahoney, State Library Staff

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

The CMR (Code of Massachusetts Regulations), according to MGL 30A section 5, are required to contain certain information when they are promulgated.

On the "cover" page of the individual agency regulations in the MASSACHUSETTS REGISTER, there is a wealth of information among which are:

  1. the regulatory authority

  2. an agency's contact, address and phone number

  3. public review and hearing date

  4. fiscal effect of the regulation for up to 5 years

  5. small business impact

  6. effective date

The individual MASSACHUSETTS REGISTERS are available at the State Library. The Reference Librarians are always available to help search for this information.

-Bette Siegel, Government Documents Librarian

Friday, August 8, 2008

From the Preservation Lab

Over the next few weeks the preservation intern and I will be building phase boxes for twenty-nine editions of the Public Officers of the Commonwealth. This series, also known as the Bird Books, contain photographs and biographical information for legislators and public officials of the Commonwealth. These items are particularly useful for tracking the term of a legislator and for the pictures of early Twentieth Century legislators. The library maintains a copy of record, library use copies in both the main library and in the Special Collections Department and digital access copies available through the Internet Archive.

The library use copies located in the Special Collections Department are the focus of this boxing project. The leather covers on the editions from 1919 to 1943/1944 are deteriorating, a condition known as red rot. Red rot is a process of leather decay caused by the interaction of sulfuric acid within the leather fibers. It results in weakened leather and a powdery rust colored dust. By housing these volumes in phase boxes the leather covers will be protected from further deterioration due to abrasion from pulling these items off of the shelf. The picture above shows the volumes to be repaired as they are shelved. You'll notice that some appear to be bound in brown leather. In fact that coloring is due to red rot - all of these items are bound with black leather.

For each volume we will be building custom-sized boxes made from acid-free folder stock. These boxes will not only provide the above mentioned protection from abrasion, but will also provide stability for these historic items and will facilitate easier handling by library staff and library users.

The State Library recently scanned all of the Bird Books from the early 1900s to the most recent edition. While digitization is an exciting means of providing greater access to an item and a digital copy can diminish the need for handling the original item, technology's forward moving hardware and software requirements prove a challenge in creating a digital copy that can be guaranteed to be readable in 100 years or more. Traditional preservation, on the other hand, can provide the conditions under which an item can survive for hundreds of years and still be readable. Both digitization and preservation have complimentary points and the processes dovetail nicely: the digital image provides an access copy to legislative researchers the world over and preservation of the primary source provides access to legislative researchers into the future.

-Lacy Crews, Preservation Assistant

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Retirees' Health Care Benefits

The State Library has just received the report of the Special Commission to Investigate and Study the Commonwealth's Liability for Paying Retiree Health Care and Other Non-Pension Employee Benefits.

The report explains the liability issue and the options for managing and allocating funds and recommendations for Massachusetts.

-Bette Siegel, Government Documents Librarian

Monday, August 4, 2008

Massachusetts Governors fun facts

Last month, we finished fact checking a portion of a website about the Governors of Massachusetts for the National Governors Association.They list the governors of all fifty states on their website. Here are some fun facts about the Governors:

  • Governor George Dexter Robinson (1884-1887) was famous for defending Lizzie Borden.

  • There was a governor named John Quincy Adams Brackett (1890-1891), who was born in Bradford, NH.

  • Governor William Lewis Douglas (1905-1906) began the W.L. Douglas shoe company in Brockton. He set up a leper colony on PenikeseIsland, 12 miles Southwest of Woods Hole near Cape Cod.

  • Governor Francis Sargent, (1969-1975) asked Republican former Vice President Spiro Agnew to stay out of Massachusetts. (We did not confirm this fact.) Governor Sargent also was the keynote speaker for Earth Day and ordered the flags to half-mast in recognition of the student killings at Kent State. He sponsored legislation challenging the legality of the war in Vietnam.

-Naomi Allen, Reference Librarian