Friday, May 28, 2010

Library Closed on Memorial Day

The Library will be closed Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Regular hours will resume on Tuesday. The Main Reading Room and 4th floor balcony will be open from 9:00am through 5:00pm and Special Collections from 9:00am through 1:00pm.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Treasures of the State Library for May, 2010 - Reports on Native Americans in Massachusetts

The State Library owns many materials about Native American life and culture in the Commonwealth. Among the special holdings of the library are two reports from the 1800's concerning Native Americans in Massachusetts. The Reference Department has had several requests for these, and they are being added to our electronic repository.

In 1827, the Massachusetts House of Representatives Report Number 68 was published. It speaks "on the condition of the Native Americans and Descendents, in this Commonwealth." This document focuses not only on the "census" of Indians in the state, but also reports on their schooling, on land issues, and suggests a system of government which would include a "Guardian" appointed by the Governor as well as an "overseer" chosen by the Indians themselves. The General Court also passed a law in 1827 assuring that 300 copies of the report were printed and that copies were distributed to those discussed. This document will be available electronically very soon.

A second report is from 1871 and is entitled:

Report of the Commissioner appointed to complete the examination and determination of all questions of title to land, and of all boundary lines between the individual owners, at Gay Head, on the Island of Martha's Vineyard.

This piece begins with a beautiful discussion of the area of Gay Head and its geology. It reports on religious aspects of the area. Land ownership and land boundaries, very significant historical concerns, are addressed. The appendix provides its main component, a detailed census of the area. Often known as the
"Pease Report" its main author was Richard L. Pease, the Commissioner appointed to compile the study.

Pamela W. Schofield
Reference Department

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Salvaging Wet Books

In celebration of National Preservation Week last week, the library posted a display on the salvage of wet books. A poster outlining the process of wetting books and then air drying them was created by preservation intern Sarah Pickard and can be viewed above. (Click on the image to enlarge it). Sarah, a library science student at Simmons College, said the experiment was a great way to put into practice concepts she had been discussing this semester in her preservation classes.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Interesting Acts from 1955

Recently I was working on transforming the scanned version of the Acts of 1955. I was taking the big file and chopping it up into individual chapters so that it is easier to search in the State Library's electronic repository.

There are some interesting acts that passed that year.

Chapter 481 of the Acts of 1955 deals with the purchase and distribution of the Salk vaccine for poliomyelitis or polio. This law is entitled "An Act relative to furnishing Salk poliomyelitis vaccine to certain children and others throughout the Commonwealth."

The Minimum Fair Wage went from $.75 up to $.90 per hour by Chapter 762 of the Acts of 1955.

The Rights and Privileges of Veterans was further defined by Chapter 708 of the Acts of 1955.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Friday, May 14, 2010

Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan

Massachusetts' largest public trust is its 1500 miles of coastline with 1.6 million acres of subtidal land. In May, 2008 Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the Massachusetts Ocean Act designed to safeguard these waters. After one and half years of research, analysis, and five public hearings, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs released the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan on Jan. 4, 2010. This comprehensive plan is the first of its kind in the U.S. and is considered a critical building block in the Obama administration's effort to create a National Ocean Policy around regional ocean management plans.

Commercial use is balanced with personal recreation and preservation of ocean habitat and marine life. It ends decades of adhoc decision-making by protecting and responsibly developing the state's oceans and coastal waters. The document identifies areas suitable for renewable energy development, initiates a five year program of high priority research, and institutes stronger siting and performance standards for environmental resources. New protections for marine life and habitats are added, and revised management provisions for Regional Planning Authorities around wind energy development are provided.

The management plan is available in the Library's electronic repository of state documents.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Library Celebrates National Preservation Week

The State Library is celebrating National Preservation Week with a week-long display and a Brown Bag session.

Please visit the library this week to see a display on the ways water can impact books and what library staff can do to salvage the materials. The display will be available in the main reading room throughout the week. The library is open to the public from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

On Thursday the 13th, please join us for a Brown Bag on Preserving Family Papers from noon to 1:30 pm. Bring your lunch and visit the State Library to learn how to apply preservation techniques used in the library to preserve your family papers. You may sign up by calling the Reference Department at (617) 727-2590 or by emailing

We hope to see you this week!

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Friday, May 7, 2010

Women in Congress

Our State Library exhibit entitled Massachusetts Women in Politics reminds us that Bay State women also served in the United States Congress.

At the Library's Reference Desk, in Room 341, is a book produced by the Federal Government with the title of Women in Congress, 1917 - 2006. This covers the 65th Congress to the 109th Congress. It is the most comprehensive source of information regarding the 229 women who have served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Three Massachusetts women (Edith Nourse Rogers, Margaret Heckler, and Louise Day Hicks) have represented the Commonwealth during this time period. Edith Nourse Rogers (pictured above), up until 2006, had the longest Congressional tenure of a woman legislator. This is another Massachusetts first!

Please ask the Reference Librarian for the book; it is a jewel.

Reference Staff

Monday, May 3, 2010

Back to the Future

Since working on the Massachusetts Room Project, I have been able to see so many interesting pieces of Massachusetts’ past. Ranging from economic growth pamphlets to energy conservation efforts of the 1980s, I have learned so much about the importance of preserving the information from the past.

This past week I came across two very different, yet wildly interesting pamphlets. The first, entitled Business Opportunities in Space by The Center for Space Policy, outlined the goals of a conference held in 1984 to promote and expand space exploration. More specifically it was “aimed at developing a pragmatic understanding of the issues involved in the commercial exploitation of space.” Within the packet there is a letter from Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis encouraging people to attend said conference. Most interestingly, he notes that the conference will discuss the United States’ commitment to build a civilized space station for $8.5 billion. This space station was projected to create more than 5 million jobs by the year 2000 and was expected to build new industries related to gravity-free living. Since I was born in 1986, I found this pamphlet to be extremely interesting as I never had the opportunity to live through the Reagan Administration and it's ideas on space exploration. Thinking back to my childhood, it is quite humorous to think that a civilized space station was more understandable and believable than current technology such as the Internet.

The next pamphlet I found that piqued my curiosity has the longest title: In the 1950s Something Happened in a Few Small Laboratories in Massachusetts that has Transformed the World Forever. It is About to Happen Again. It contained information on what was then called photovoltaics, a term from the 1970s that means solar panels. This pamphlet outlines some goals set by Governor Dukakis which include applying these panels to all state highways, marine and railroad facilities. He also wanted to build a village demonstration project, where an entire community could be shown to run economically and efficiently on photovoltaics. Although this is not where we are in the United States today, this idea is definitely more likely to happen in the near future than a civilized space station. For now, any further information on these two topics can be found in the Massachusetts Room of the State Library. Hopefully I will have some more interesting finds for you soon!

- Sarah Pickard, Preservation Intern