Thursday, April 26, 2012

Town Reports: A Book Can Be Judged by Its Cover

When librarians shelf the annual town reports for the state of Massachusetts they can learn a lot of fascinating facts about a town. Many towns use the front cover of their town report to dedicate that town report to someone that has died during war; they put long time town employees or longtime town residents on the cover, and well known people from that town. Many town reports have scenic covers or covers that remind us of that town’s history. The Hingham town report has a Victorian scene at a railroad station on its 2003 annual report.

 The 2009 cover of the annual town report for Charlton has a picture of the grave of Grizzly Adams. The inside cover explains that he was an outdoorsman born in the town of Charlton with the name of John Capen Adams (1812-1860). According to the town report Adams was a premier bear hunter who earned the dubious distinction of greatly contributing to the extinction of the California grizzly bear. He worked at times for P.T. Barnum and captured some bears live giving them to zoos, exhibits, and cruel animal fights. His 1860 gravestone “is illustrated by a scene of Adams walking side-by-side through the woods with one of his bears.” The Charlton Historical Society put up a stone marker in front of his gravestone in 1976 that is labeled “Grizzly Adams.” There was also a motion picture and television show about Grizzly Adams that aired in the mid 1970’s.

The Sandwich town report of 2010 has a beautiful cover of the town hall. Inside there are some facts about the town and two pages entitled: Sandwich Town Hall 1834 Significance & History. The 2010 town report states on page two:
“In July 1847, the last wolf in Sandwich was killed by George Brailey, a teamster and wood carter for the furnaces of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory, then becoming one of the largest glass factories in America. The wolf was brought to the Town Hall and the body hung between the columns for exhibition. Bells were rung, and there was much rejoicing among Sandwich farmers for their loss of sheep had been great.”
The town was incorporated in 1639 according to the inside cover of the 2010 Annual Report of the Town of Sandwich; it is the oldest town on the Cape; the town hall was built in 1834 and renovated in 2009.

The State Library has a list of the town reports that we own.

Naomi Allen,
Reference Librarian

Friday, April 13, 2012

Celebrate Patriots’ Day and National Poetry Month

In honor of both Patriots’ Day and National Poetry Month, visit our Flickr page for a selection of historical and patriotic poetry. In this small set, read about the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Paul Revere, and how to be a patriotic citizen.

Poems were taken from Poems of American Patriotism, Longfellow’s Poems, Poems: Being Volume IX of Emerson’s Complete Works, and The Spirit of the American Revolution, as Revealed in the Poetry of the Period, all volumes from the State Library’s Special Collections Department.

For more poems and literary works, including many compilations of war poems, poetical quotations, orations, and complete works by Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and more, visit Special Collections in Room 55. Hours are 9 – 5, Monday through Friday.

Bianca Hezekiah
Program Coordinator, Reference Department

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Massachusetts Snapshot Day

Today is Massachusetts Snapshot Day! So join the celebration and visit the Massachusetts State Library on April 12, 2012, smiles are welcome but not required.

Nationally, Snapshot Day is supported by the American Library Association. Locally, Massachusetts Library Snapshot Day is sponsored by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the Massachusetts Library System, the Massachusetts Library Association, and the Massachusetts School Library Association. You can see the snapshot Flickr set from last year.

- The Marketing Committee

Monday, April 9, 2012

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States

From the time of Herbert Hoover (1929) to Barack Obama (2012), the Federal Register Division of the National Archives and Records Service has published official, multiple volumes about the Presidency of each individual who served or is serving in the office of President. These volumes are presented in chronological order.

There was a series that covered the period from 1789 to 1897 and 1896 to 1899. These were assembled by James D. Richardson and published under the authority of the Congress. Then private compilations were issued. The Public Papers of the Presidents series was officially done as of 1957.

The volumes contain photographs, addresses to the Nation and appointments as well as information about bill signings and vetoes. There are included: executive orders; proclamations; interviews with the news media; meetings with foreign leaders and letters and messages. Each volume contains a subject index, name index, document category list, a digest of White House announcements, nominations submitted to the Senate and a checklist of White House press releases.

This set is an excellent, official resource for information about our Presidents.

Photograph: Attending the funeral service for Former President Gerald R. Ford at the Washington National Cathedral, January 2007. Public Papers of the Presidents: George W. Bush 2007, Volume 1, Photographic Portfolio.

Note that there are former Presidents in attendance: George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and the widow of Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan.

The State Library holds this set of documents which can be accessed at our reference desk in room 341 of the State House. The call numbers are: GS 4.113 and AE 2.114.

The Government Printing Office (GPO) has a searchable database for these documents at: The University of Michigan has digitized the set which one can access through the State Library’s catalog ( Choose the keywords: Public Papers of the Presidents.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Get Ready: National Library Week, April 8-14, 2012

Next week kicks off the annual week-long American Library Association-sponsored celebration that recognizes the many important roles that libraries play in our communities. This year’s theme is “You belong @ your library”, which encourages community members to take advantage of what programs and services their libraries have to offer. The State Library has a couple events planned for next week: Thursday, April 12th we are hosting a Brown Bag on the topic of redistricting titled “Breaking New Ground: Technological Advances for Redistricting”. The library is also participating in the Massachusetts Library Snapshot Day, sponsored by MLA, MBLC, MSLA, and MLS.

On Tuesday, April 10th, National Library Workers Day recognizes current professionals in the field of library and information science. It also reminds us of historical figures that have contributed greatly to our understanding of library science and laid the foundation of our current practices. In honor of the upcoming celebration, I decided to examine one of our larger archival collections that houses records of the State Library. Of especial interest in Ms. Coll. 66 is correspondence addressed from Melvil Dewey and Charles Ammi Cutter to Caleb Tillinghast, the first State Librarian of Massachusetts; Tillinghast has been on our minds recently with the near completion of our preliminary Massachusetts Legislative Biographical File database. (

Dewey and Cutter were innovators in library science and, if anything, we immediately associate their names with the Dewey Decimal System and the Cutter Expansive Classification; each classification system, developed in the mid-to-late 19th century, has made an enduring impression and continues to help modern libraries better categorize and arrange their materials with efficiency and specificity. In addition, Melvil Dewey was, among other things, the founder and editor of Library Journal; a founding member of the American Library Association (ALA); Librarian of Columbia College, where he founded the School of Library Economy; and Director of the New York State Library. Charles Cutter was also a founding member of ALA, over which he served as president from 1888 to 1889; worked for the Winchester (Mass.) Town Library and the Boston Athenaeum, both at which he applied his newly developed classification scheme; and was General Editor for Library Journal (1881-1883).

Below are just two examples of the correspondence in our collection: one message depicts the usual day-to-day library activities, and another is a letter that seeks Caleb Tillinghast’s opinion on a more personal matter.

National Library Week events
Month of April – School Library Month
Monday, April 9 – 2012 State of America’s Report released
Tuesday, April 10 – National Library Workers Day
Wednesday, April 11 – National Bookmobile Day
Thursday, April 12 – Support Teen Literature Day

For more information please visit ALA’s Library Week website at:

Kaitlin Connolly
Library Technician, Reference Department

Breaking New Ground: Technological Advances for Redistricting

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
State Library of Massachusetts
Room 442 State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and hear Representative Michael J. Moran and the staff of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting as they present “Breaking New Ground: Technological Advances for Redistricting.” Representative Moran and members of the committee staff will discuss the tools and technology used during the 2010 redistricting of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts including: the process of soliciting opinions on the redistricting from elected officials, advocacy groups and the public at large, the use of interactive tools on the internet, and the use of Census and geographic information to produce maps and analysis.

To register: please go to :

You may also call the Reference Department at 617-727-2590 or e-mail to to let us know you will attend.