Monday, August 31, 2015

Must-Read Books at the State Library

The State Library is known for its legislative, historical, and special collections, but did you know that we have contemporary fiction and non-fiction books in our collections, as well? While the bulk of our popular books are available as eBooks, we also have an important collection of popular print books dating back to 2001: the Massachusetts Book Awards Must-Read Books.

Given to the State Library every year by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, the Must-Read Books include notable fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s/young adult books that are either about Massachusetts or written by Massachusetts-based authors. This year’s books include The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, The Map Thief by Michael Blanding, Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire, and many others.

We encourage you to stop by the library to browse this year’s Must-Read Books, which are located just inside the library’s third-floor entrance, or to request previous years’ award-winning books from our stacks. All of the Must-Read Books are available for checkout by State Library card holders and are also available to the general public via interlibrary loan.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, August 24, 2015

Massachusetts State Budget Resources

 The Massachusetts State Budget goes through a number of steps before being passed into law. In the middle of July, a number of patrons called the reference desk wondering about updates on the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget and where to find information regarding what stage it was at, how it compared to past budgets and where to find the recommendations from the Ways and Means Committees.  Since the budget must go through the House, Senate, committees and Governor, and is often changed with recommendations, amendments and vetoes, it can be hard to keep track of where we fall in the budget writing cycle.  Fortunately, there are a number of resources available both online and in the State Library to help you better follow and understand the General Appropriations Act of this fiscal year and those that came before it.

First there is the State Budget website through The Official Website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This site doesn’t just lead you through the current budget process  but also includes links to corresponding documents and budget information going back to 2007. There is also a link to a summary break down of specific government areas from Fiscal year 2013 to the current fiscal year, allowing you to track spending within a specific subject you may be interested in like education or health care.  There are also pages devoted to the budget timeline, terminology, and agencies aiding in financial oversight and management of the budget.

Another resource is the State Legislature site which has a special section devoted to the State Budget. What stands out about this site is that it breaks down the Senate and House Ways and Means recommendations going back to 2012. The full text of their budgets, amendments and conference reports are available along with final budgets and bill numbers. These bill numbers can be quite helpful as the legislature’s site also lets you search Bills as well as Acts and Resolves.

Finally, The State Library assembled a quick outline to the State Budget Process to help with your research. We have also gathered all the House 1 (the Governor’s Recommendations) going back to 1939 in one area of our main reading room. For some of our more recent years, the House and Senate Committee on Ways and Means Budget Recommendations are also available in this section. These are grouped together as ready reference for our patrons hoping to quickly look up early stages of the past budgets. For recent budgets, one of the best resources is the bill tracking service MassTrac. The State Library subscribes to MassTrac because it combines bill history, text, reports, press releases, news articles, votes, debate transcript and much more in one place so that our patrons easily have access to all this information in one place. MassTrac can be incredibly helpful to someone who is looking for all the most up to date information regarding the Budget.

If you are interested in using the library’s resources to research upcoming, current or past budgets visit our website or the Massachusetts State Library in room 341 of the State House, Monday through Friday 9-5.

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Department

Monday, August 17, 2015

Video Resources That Can Help You With Your Legislative Research

Many researchers who visit the State Library for legislative research purposes also inquire about
videos of executive branch coverage or legislative proceedings.  Here are some recommendations that we at the library have found to be particularly helpful over the years.

State Library’s House and Senate Floor Session Video Collection
Allowing my bias to take the reins, I will first mention the library’s videotape collection of House and Senate floor sessions (i.e. debates).   Housed in our Special Collections Dept. (Room 55 of the State House), the collection goes as far back as November of 1987 when the library began receiving copies of these videos.  Important to note is that from 1987 to 1993 the videos are that of the House only.  In addition to floor sessions, the collection also contains a handful of committee hearings.  Knowing if it’s House or Senate you want to see, and a specific date, is most helpful for our librarians when requesting video availability.  Our videos must be viewed on site, and copies cannot be produced by the library.  If you have any questions about our video collection, you can contact our Special Collections Department at 617-727-2595, or by email at

Massachusetts House and Senate Broadcasts:
This website provides “access to live gavel-to-gavel proceedings” of the legislature.  There is also an archive of videos, going back as far as January of 2007.  The types of videos you will find here include committee hearings, formal House sessions, Senate sessions, Joint sessions, and other events (ex. inaugural addresses, roundtables, etc.)  You can search by exact date or date range, by keyword, or you can browse the list by clicking “List all archived events.”

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Website: 
The legislature’s website allows users to search its “Events Archives,” which includes House, Senate, and joint sessions, committee hearings, and other special events.  The archive goes back as far as April of 2007, but it’s important to remember that not every event listed in the archive has a video.  If a particular event had a video available, a green video camera icon will appear to the right of the event name.  Users can search for an event by exact date or date range, or by keyword.

State House News Service:
SHNS is an independent, subscription-based wire service that covers the activities of the state’s government year-round.  Their multimedia content includes videos of interviews and events, as well as audio recordings, organized by date, of House and Senate sessions.  Patrons of the State Library can access SHNS onsite in the library.

Boston TV News Digital Library:
This website is an archive of news content produced by a number of Boston-area TV news programs, and covers the years 1960 through 2000.  Users can search the collections through a general keyword search that, when submitted and results are yielded, allows for additional filters (collection, places, date).  Videos (including interviews) of governors, legislators, and committee hearings, and various other institutions and events can be found within this digital library.

C-Span Video Library:
C-Span focuses on televising the proceedings of the federal government, but other public affairs programming is available in their online video archive.  Videos can be searched by typing in a keyword in the search bar near the top of the home page, and also by choosing “videos” from the drop down menu to the left of the bar.  For example, searching “Charlie Baker” (with quotes) yields 10 results, including press conferences and gubernatorial campaign coverage.  Once results are yielded, users can narrow down their topic with a variety of additional filters.

Almost everyone is familiar with YouTube, but it’s often overlooked as a resource for legislative proceedings or executive branch coverage.  While the videos are not as organized or curated in the same way as the above mentioned websites, the benefit is that you can cast a wide net and discover videos that you may not find anywhere else.  For example, if you search for “Massachusetts legislature” hearing, various videos of committee hearings and testimony are among the list of results.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Monday, August 10, 2015

French Posters from World War I

While working with the federal documents, I came across a CD titled “French Posters from World War I” with a call number of LC 1.54: P 84/CD.  This CD introduces “the war poster as a powerful instrument of war propaganda wielded in France during the First World War. By the time France declared war on Germany on August 2, 1914, color lithography had provided the means to paper the streets with images and messages that posters could carry so well.”  There are 284 posters in this CD.

The posters consist of many subject matters including: collecting money for the war, ones about or for women, national symbols including victory shown as a woman with wings and Marianne a French icon.  Marianne is a symbol of the Republic of France representing liberty, egalitarianism and fraternity.  She is a proud and determined woman wearing a Phrygian cap, also known as a liberty cap which is often red.   The posters provided French artists a way to create emotionally moving images, raising funds, support the men in the trenches, promote support for colonial soldiers, and provide support for the orphans and wounded. World War I lasted from August 1, 1914-November 11, 1918. 

Naomi Allen
Reference Department

Monday, August 3, 2015

State Library Receives Grant To Fund Large-Scale Digitization Projects

The State Library has been awarded a $1.2M grant that will fund the digitization of some of the library’s most highly used publications.  These items include the Legislative Documents series, House and Senate journals, select municipal reports, select agency annual reports, and other high priority items.

Learn more about the capital bond grant and the library’s digitization projects in a press release issued by State Senator Jamie Eldridge, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the library, and State Representative Kate Hogan, Chair of the Library Caucus:  

Historical Souvenir Newspapers

You may know that the State Library has many historical newspapers in its collections, but did you know that a few of these Massachusetts newspapers have issued special “souvenir” editions?  These special issues typically commemorate a particular event or anniversary, such as a town’s bicentennial celebration.

One of the more interesting souvenir newspapers held by the State Library is the Sunday Herald Diamond Jubilee, a special edition of the Boston Herald from August 28, 1921. This souvenir edition of the Herald commemorates the newspaper’s 75th anniversary, and the State Library’s copy is one of only three copies that were bound in hardcover by the Emery Record Preserving Company in Taunton, Massachusetts. Among the many interesting articles in this paper is a full-page feature on “A New Massachusetts Town,” Shawsheen Village in Andover.

Many of the souvenir newspapers have beautifully illustrated covers, such as the 1892 special issue of the Daily Evening Item from Lynn, Massachusetts. Entitled “The City of Shoes and Electricity,” this special issue celebrates Lynn’s industrial development and urban growth.

Other souvenir newspapers with intricately illustrated covers include special issues of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper from June and July of 1875. These issues commemorate the centennial celebration of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Perhaps the most amusing of the State Library’s souvenir newspapers is the 1983 special parody issue of the Boston Globe. One of the more prominent articles in this parody newspaper concerns the question of bringing the Olympics to Westwood, Massachusetts: “The International Olympic Committee dropped a bombshell yesterday when it announced that the town of Westwood is one of the five finalists for the 1992 Winter Olympic Games.” Suggested venues for Olympic events include the Westwood High School field (bobsled and luge), the Westwood skating rink (figure skating), and local shopping center parking lots (cross country skiing).

All joking aside, these and other souvenir newspapers held by the State Library provide an interesting snapshot of historical events and celebrations in Massachusetts cities and towns. Come visit us in the State House to view these and other historical newspapers in our collections.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian