Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blast from the Past: Library Rules

Over the summer, I completed a course on preservation management as part of the archives management concentration at the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. The class took a field trip to the State Library, its Special Collections, and the preservation lab. It was fascinating to see behind the scenes and how a number of preservation techniques that we were learning about were applied in a real situation. After finishing the class, I am fortunate enough to intern here at the State Library’s preservation lab and gain some hands on experience.

The project I am working on is rehousing documents from the Massachusetts Room that are fragile and thin. The items that I have worked on so far have a wide range in dates and cover a number of different topics. One of the best things about this project is that each document is unique. Many are different sizes or different formats and every day I find something new and interesting.

The first thing I do is remove any deteriorating paper or plastic folders. I then take out any staples or ribbons that have been holding multiple sheets together. These steps are taken to prevent further damage to the documents caused by unstable enclosures or fasteners. Next, I measure and cut a new acid-free folder so that it will give a close fit for the document with just a little extra room on the sides. The last thing I do is place the folder inside an envelope that is labeled with its call number, title, and author. This allows patrons to identify the contents of each envelope without having to pull out the item. Now the documents have a little more support and protection from light damage and shelf wear.

One of my favorite things that I have found so far is a document called Massachusetts State Library Rules. They went into effect on December 1, 1926.

A few of my favorite rules are:

#11: It is requested that users of the library shall refrain from removing their coats and appearing in shirt-sleeves in the main reading room

#13: Telephone calls will be delivered only in cases of emergency.

The rules are fascinating because they highlight changes in social conventions, technology advances, and differences in library procedures. Stay tuned for more interesting finds!

- Corinne Philips, Preservation Intern

Friday, October 23, 2009

Medicaid Audit and All Other Audits

The State Library has received a copy of the recent audit entitled:

This detailed audit found the program has inadequate internal controls, policies, procedures, and regulations over the Personal Care Attendant Program.

The State Library receives all the audits conducted by the State Auditor. We have them available in Room 341 of the Library in paper copies.

We also film them, so that we will have a permanent copy of the audits.

Bette L. Siegel, Documents Librarian

Thursday, October 22, 2009

South Coast Rail Corridor Plan

The South Coast Rail Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan integrates planning with economic and land use development on a regional scale. The gateway cities of New Bedford, Fall River, and Taunton will be reconnected to Boston by commuter rail and revitalized through smart growth strategies. This blueprint clusters jobs and residences around new stations, maximizes the economic benefits of transit investment, preserve farms, fields, and forests in each community, and minimizes sprawl. By reducing the need for auto trips, the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions will be slowed. Renewable energy will be incorporated into the design of the stations. Thirty-one municipalities, three regional planning agencies, the Southeastern Massachusetts Commuter Rail Task Force, and multiple state agencies participated in creating this vision for the corridor through 2030.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preservation Update

It has been a busy couple of weeks in Special Collections and Preservation! Two major initiatives are underway and in the midst of these projects, I traveled to New Jersey to finish up my term at the Preservation Management Institute.

The Massachusetts Room Preservation Project
This is a multi-year project focused on rehousing unique documents produced by state agencies and concerning the Commonwealth. Many of these items were produced during the era of brittle paper (approximately the 1850s to 1950s) and are very fragile as a result. The preservation intern for the fall is working on rehousing fragile and thin items into acid-free folders and envelopes to provide support on the shelf and protection from light damage that can further degrade brittle paper. So far this season over 150 items have been preserved as part of this project. Stay tuned to the blog for updates on the project and posts about interesting items discovered in the process.

Mapping Massachusetts: the History of Transportation in the Commonwealth
This year the State Library received a grant as part of the Library Services and Technology Act to digitize collections relating to transportation systems in the Commonwealth. These materials include manuscript maps of railroads (built and proposed), materials from the Land and Harbor Commissioners, and materials relating to canals and tunnels in the state. Preparation for digitization has begun and that includes making sure that items look their best before they go under the cameras. Over the next few weeks I'll be cleaning up and making any minor repairs necessary to our first batch of items to be scanned, approximately 300 railroad maps. It is a great experience to see and work on these hand-drawn maps. With some stretching to over six feet long, they are really a testament to the care and diligence of state mapmakers of years past.

Preservation Management Institute
As mentioned in previous posts, the Library was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant last year to support my year of study at the Preservation Management Institute, a program of the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. This October I traveled to Rutgers to complete my third and final week of the program. The class had some very interesting discussions about mission statements and current trends, the future of libraries in light of growing digital collections, managing change during times of restructuring and budget shifts, and a very enlightening presentation on digital imaging and what saving as a jpeg means for data/image loss. This week of discussions and presentations brought together ideas discussed in the previous two weeks of class and the hands-on experiences I've gained at the State Library over the past year.

The highlight of week three for me was our "backstage" tour of the New York Public Library (Mid-Manhattan Library). We spent a rainy afternoon there touring the preservation and conservation labs, the microfilming lab, the Office of the Registrar which handles exhibits, the main reading room, and the map room.
There were so many amazing things it is hard to express all we saw, but I guess I can sum it up by saying, we walked right by a Gutenberg Bible and only noticed it on a second pass through. What could be the crown of some collections is just sitting quietly in its own exhibit case with no fanfare. A slightly dark picture of the Bible is included at left. (No flash photography was allowed.)

We ended the day by visiting the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. I know their collections are amazing, but I was most taken by the compact map shelving and beautiful decor of the reading room. Below at left is a picture of the ceiling of the reading room. While I appreciate that new technologies can provide library services in remote locations, there's something to be said for providing library services in amazing reading rooms.

For those of you looking for a beautiful space to access library resources and wi-fi here in Boston, the State Library has huge windows for natural light, a beautifully renovated reading room, and a flat screen television on the balcony for viewing House and Senate sessions.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Federal Documents at the State Library

The State Library of Massachusetts is a selective federal depository library and, as such, we participate in the Federal Depository Library Program. The library collects documents from numerous agencies including the U.S. Census, Congress, and the Justice Department as well as laws and regulations.

Some of the federal documents the State Library receives are these:

ED 1.109: 2009
The Condition of Education
This is an annual report on subjects like the growth in enrollment, statistics concerning poverty and education, statistics on homeschooling, reading and scores.

HE 20.7042/6: 2008
Health, United States, 2008: with Special Feature on Health of Young Adults
This publication has charts on mortality rates, influenza and pneumococcal vaccination among middle-age and older adults by age, and health insurance expenditures. It also covers death rates and birth rates.

PREX 3.15: 2008
World Factbook
This book, produced by the CIA, contains many facts broken down into topics by geography, government, military, and additional subjects for each profiled country.

J 1.14/7: 1995-2008 online
Crime in the U.S.
“Several annual statistical publications, such as the comprehensive Crime in the United States, are produced from data provided by nearly 17,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States.” It gives statistics on offenses in the categories of violent crime, property crime, homicides, burglary, and other unlawful acts.

J 1.8/2: F 87/2009
Guide to the Freedom of Information Act 2009
This book is an overview of the Freedom of Information Act requirements, exemptions, and litigation considerations.

For more links to federal documents go to the State Library’s web page at Choose Government Data & Documents, then Federal Data & Resources

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Library Hours for October 12-16

The State Library and the Special Collections Department will be closed on Monday, October 12 for the holiday.

October 13 through 16 the Special Collections Department will be available by appointment only. Please visit the reference desk in the main library (Room 341) to access Special Collections or call (617) 727-2590 to schedule an appointment.

The main library in Room 341 will be open regular hours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm October 13 through 16.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Regular Day in Special Collections

One of my favorite things about working with special collections is the type of materials that can fall into your lap. Recently I was searching the stacks for a volume in our Pennsylvania collection and in the process I came across the volume pictured at the left, Acts and Laws, Colony of Rhode Island, 1730.

The State Library began in 1811 as a document exchange program between states and we have large holdings of other states’ legislative documents. The Rhode Island volume is just one of many we have for the state, but a particularly interesting one, as it was published in 1730 prior to American independence. The volume includes both the 1663 charter of the colony issued by King Charles the Second and the acts and laws of the colony. The information contained in this volume is invaluable for researchers of early American legal history, early Rhode Island history, and history of rule under the crown.

At the bottom of the title page a signature reads “Samuel Bennett.” While we cannot be certain of the provenance of this volume, a bit of research turned up references to a Samuel Bennett Jr. of East Greenwich, Rhode Island who was born around 1664 and died in 1745. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts includes a lengthy passage about the Bennett family and notes that the junior Mr. Bennett was a carpenter and deacon of two churches, one in East Greenwich and one in Warwick. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts is available in the State Library under call number O 929 M31 C99g. Acts and Laws, Colony of Rhode Island, 1730 is available in the Special Collections department as part of the Rhode Island collection.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Health Reform


The report includes hearings, a summary of the findings, testimony by the attendees, and media reports.

Now in the Library, the report is a timely addition to the discussion on health care reform.

Bette L. Siegel, Documents Librarian

Friday, October 2, 2009

Grants for Cities and Towns

Community development grants offerred by Massachusetts state agencies are a click away on the state's web site. To foster livable municipalities, funding in these areas may be available:

brownfield redevelopment
economic development
neighborhood revitalization
downtown revitalization

Technical support programs from these offices are also listed. Grants and Funding is a selection under Online Services at, the Commonwealth's home page.