Friday, July 30, 2010

Safe Driving Act

Distractions while driving contribute to making the roads unsafer for all. The Safe Driving Act, signed by Govenor Deval Patrick on July 2, bans texting behind the wheel. With its enactment, Massachusetts became the 29th state to prohibit all drivers from texting and junior drivers from conversing on a cell phone.

The legislation bars e-mailing, searching on the Internet, and other activities on a phone, laptop, or other electronic device by the operator of a vehicle. This also applies to waits at traffice lights and stop signs. Drivers under 18 are restricted from talking on a mobile phone. Texting and cell phone use by younger drivers are allowed in emergencies and when a vehicle has parked after pulling over. Motorists 75 and over must have a vision test every 5 years and are required to renew their license in person. This act goes into effect on Sept. 30.

Laws passed during each session of the Massachusetts Legislature are available through the Library's web site. Click on the Massachusetts Acts and Resolves button on the far left to access these.

Reference Dept.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mt. Rushmore and the State Library

What do we have in common?


Please visit the Library between July 26, 2010 and September 3,
2010 to see the sculpture of Theodore Roosevelt.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library

Friday, July 23, 2010

Massachusetts Highway Photographs on Flickr

As a part of the Mapping Massachusetts: the History of Transportation in the Commonwealth grant that the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners awarded to the State Library, nearly 380 photographs of roads and highways in Massachusetts from 1892 to 1893 have been digitized. These images have been added to the library’s online repository and also to Flickr. The photographs in this collection accompany the Report of the Commission to Improve the Highways of the Commonwealth, which was published in February of 1893.

These photographs are interesting not only because they show the condition of the Commonwealth’s roadways in a time when travel by horse and buggy was commonplace, but also because they show some of the architecture in the cities and towns of Massachusetts during this time period. For example, some houses may be seen in the photograph below, which depicts a roadway in Cottage City.

In some of the photos the photographer’s shadow may be seen, along with the shadow of the camera set up on a tripod. Some of the towns’ inhabitants even show up in a few of the photos, posing for the camera, as seen below.

In addition to these highway photographs, the grant awarded to the State Library has also allowed for the digitization of a set of maps produced by the Board of Harbor and Land Commissioners in the late 1880s to the early 1920s and a set of images depicting the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Decorated Book Bindings

Decorated bindings arose in the 1800s as a solution to book publishers' need for an inexpensive, durable, attractive book cover. Prior to the 1800s, just the pages of books were sold, allowing owners to have the books bound in the cover of their choosing. The decorated cloth bindings provided publishers with a cover that was more durable than paper, less expensive than leather, and quite attractive. These bindings remained in favor through the early 1900s, when they were replaced by illustrated paper dust jackets.

Seen here is a selection of decorated bindings from the State Library's collection. More images are available on the library's Flickr site in the set "Decorated Bindings." These images are just a sampling of the items available in the collection. To view the originals, please visit the Special Collections department.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Special Collections

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Charter Schools

Massachusetts Charter Schools were established by the Education Reform Act of 1993. These schools are granted a charter by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The charters are for a five year period.

Charter schools have the freedom of hiring, curriculum, teaching methods, and budgets among other facets of the school.

For those communities that are seeking information and guidance about charter schools in Massachusetts, the State Library has a collection of the applications, prospectuses and annual reports of the charter schoools.

Bette Siegel
Government Documents Librarian

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Waltham Car Barn Case

Three men, John J. Devereaux, Edward J. Heinlein and John J. McLaughlin, robbed the offices of the Middlesex and Boston Street Railway in Waltham. During the crime a murder took place. The case is commonly known as the Waltham car barn case. A car barn is where railway cars are stored. One person was shot, and the three men received the death penalty in 1927. The citation for this case, Devereaux vs. Mass., is 256 Mass. 387.

One point the court made was: “If two or more combine to commit a robbery and a homicide results, each is criminally responsible for the acts of his associates in the perpetration of the common design for which they conspired; and it is no defence for the associates of the one who committed the homicide, that they did not intend to take life in its perpetration, or that they forbade their companion to kill.” (256 Mass 387, p. 387-388)

The Commonwealth stated that "there was evidence that they drove in an automobile to the car barn of the street railway company in the night time; that two, armed, went to the office of the cashier on the second floor, placed the occupants in fear of their lives and stole money; that the third, armed, was left on guard below, where he placed two men in fear of their lives and made them lie down and then shot and beat a watchman who had seemed to offer him resistance, as a result of which the watchman died. The evidence of the Commonwealth was that the watchman was killed while the other two defendants were in the cashier's office, and the evidence of the defendants was that at that time the first two defendants had retired to and were waiting in the automobile." (256 Mass. 387, p. 387)

All three were found guilty and given the death penalty. It was the only time three men were given the death penalty for the same crime in Massachusetts.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Monday, July 12, 2010

The 9C Law: An Introduction to Legislative History Research

What is it? What is its history? Why do the newspapers always refer to it?

Join us for a BROWN BAG LUNCH
TUESDAY, July 13th 2010
in Room 442 of the State House
Noon until 1:30 PM

You will learn how to do a legislative history by looking at how and when the law was added and then amended.

Bring your lunch!

Please RSVP by calling 617.727.2590 or emailing

Sponsored by the Friends of the State Library

Friday, July 9, 2010

Massachusetts Benchmarks

The Journal of the Massachusetts Economy is entitled MASSACHUSETTS BENCHMARKS. It is a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the University of Massachusetts and is published quarterly.

The economy of Massachusetts is analyzed and discussed in articles, reports, and commentary by regions and industries. The most current issue, for example, has an article about Housing in Massachusetts and the Economic Vitality of the Blackstone Valley Mills.

The State Library has this publication in both paper format (tangible) and in its online collection.

We invite you to enrich your understanding of our economy using BENCHMARKS.

The Documents Department

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Putting the "P" in Preservation

When I encountered this document on the shelf of the Massachusetts Room in the State Library, the true value of this preservation project become clear. The Mass. Labor Relations Commission Report from the 1940s documents decisions made regarding the treatment of union workers in Massachusetts during the Great Depression.

As you can see in the photograph, the document was held together with a cloth ribbon. The document itself resided in a thick stock file folder that had definitely seen better days.

As soon as I untied the cloth ribbon, the front cover of the folder fell off, as it had become increasingly brittle over the past 70 years! Needless to say this document was crying out for some attention and a new enclosure.

Before I could create a new folder, I had to unfold the tissue paper thin document that had been placed on top of a second document.

After both documents were laid flat, I then created a new folder from archival quality acid free paper stock to better support the items. These materials were both over-sized, that is larger than 8 1/2 by 11 inches. I placed the documents on top of an over-sized folder and then marked where I would cut the folder to better line up with the margins of the documents. You can see the markings on the bottom right corner of the image on the left.

After using the paper cutter to ensure even and level cuts, the items were ready to be placed in their new folder. The new folder housing the items then goes into a large envelope, also made from archival quality acid free paper.

This item was not yet entered into the library's online catalog and so, I cut out the original folder (remember the one that had fallen apart) that contained the author and call number information and paper clipped it to the new envelope and set the entire package aside to be sent to the cataloging department.

From the moment I take the item off the shelf and begin to plan how best to preserve it, I spend at least five minutes with each item. It's far too easy to rush the treatment process, but having encountered this tricky item I certainly appreciate how important it is to be careful and thorough.

And as you can see from the image of the final product- the effort is well worth it!

- Lori Satter, Preservation Intern

Friday, July 2, 2010

Library closed Monday, July 5

The Library will be closed in observance of the July 4th holiday. The Main Reading Room and the 4th floor balcony will resume regular hours (9:00am through 5:00pm) on Tuesday. Special Collections will be open next week on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00am until 1:00pm and by appointment. Please call 617.727.2595 to schedule an appointment.

image: Lincoln Memorial during July 4th, 2008 fireworks display
by J.W. Photography at Flickr. Licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License