Monday, April 25, 2022

Preservation Week at the State Library

Happy Preservation Week! This week is a time to raise awareness about the importance of preservation both in our professional library and archives settings, and your personal collections at home. Each year, the State Library marks the week with daily preservation content on our social media platforms.

We’re starting the week off by following up on a post from last year. In February 2020, a staff member was looking through a bound volume of 1822-1824 Old Colony Memorial (OCM) newspapers and came across four fern fronds pressed between the pages. We shared the find during Preservation Week and explained the preservation measures that we would take after the ferns’ discovery. Since the OCM is still an active publication, when they saw this post they reached out, asked some follow-up questions, and then wrote about the find. You can read that article here

When the ferns were shared last year, State Library staff was still working remotely so we were unable to take any further preservation actions at the time, and the ferns remained in place. Now that staff has returned to the library, we’ve been able to focus on completing this task. We began by going through the entire bound volume to make sure that there was no additional material hidden within the pages, and it’s a good thing that we did! In addition to the ferns that we knew about, we also found another set of fronds, seeds, and a selection of leaves. Someone clearly used this volume to press a variety of items that they found in nature! 

Each find was photographed to document the original placement, with a notation of the page number. We then carefully removed each item using a microspatula and tweezers. The items were placed on a piece of permalife paper cut to size, with the page number written on it in pencil. Each item was then encapsulated in a polyester sleeve. Finally, all the items were placed in a box, along with a folder of the photographs, and a folder containing a copy of the OCM newspaper article and factsheet that we had provided to the reporter. The box was labeled and stored with the bound volume. 

Some might question why we go to lengths to preserve these materials. Admittedly, they don’t add research value to the volume of newspapers, and we don’t even know who placed them or when (though if you clicked through to read the OCM article you’ll see that we have some guesses, and that this find did lead us to do some further research into the volume’s provenance). But we save them for the hidden history that they represent, and for the personal connection that they add to an item in our collection. We know that at some point in the newspaper’s history, whether it was during the binding process in the 1940s or by a librarian working with the volumes at a later date, someone removed this flora from its natural environment, carefully transported them to where the bound volume was held and placed them within the pages so that they would be pressed and preserved. Many of us can relate to this and recall at least one time when we’ve come across an item in nature that struck us and we wanted to preserve it in this manner. Since we’ve disturbed these items from their original resting spot, the least we can do is document that location and keep the items in archivally sound storage along with the volume.  

We use Preservation Week as a time not just to talk about the preservation measures that we undertake in our library, but to draw attention to the more personal ways that we all preserve the items that make up our own history. We hope that some of the tips that we share for our library collection are useful and applicable when working with your own collection. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as we celebrate Preservation Week 2022, and if you have any preservation questions, reach out to us by email ( or comment on any of our posts! 

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

May 10th Virtual Author Talk: Dennis Duncan


Please join us on Tuesday, May 10th for a virtual author talk with Dennis Duncan as he discusses his aptly titled new book, Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age.

Ever wonder about the creation of the index? Duncan chronicles the history of the index from the thirteenth century to present day – mixing in humor and surprising facts along the way.                           

Duncan is a writer and lecturer in English at University College London. His other works include, Book Parts, coeditor, and The Oulipo and Modern Thought

Please note the start time of the event is 3PM, as the author is joining us from London!

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, April 11, 2022

Virtual Author Talk: Kathleen Teahan

The State Library of Massachusetts is delighted to welcome back former state representative Kathleen Teahan for an author talk on her new book, For the People, Against the Tide: A Democratic Woman’s Ten Years in the Massachusetts Legislature. Please join us (virtually) on April 27th at 7pm to hear Rep. Teahan recount her experiences during her time as a Massachusetts lawmaker. This online event is presented in partnership with the Tewksbury Public Library and is free and open to everyone.

About the book:
Kathleen Teahan, a Massachusetts Democratic State Legislator from 1997-2007, pulls back the curtain on some of the more puzzling, yet essential aspects of lawmaking, lobbying, and gaining an effective voice in governing. With stories and specific examples from her decade as a state representative, Teahan offers steps that women and other concerned citizens can take to gain confidence and inspiration to pursue political positions. 

About the author:
Kathleen Teahan taught English at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School and the Gordon Mitchell Middle School in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. She also represented the 7th Plymouth District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1997 to 2007, during which time she served on a number of committees and focused on the issues of equal rights, quality education, and improved health for all. Rep. Teahan previously spoke at the State Library in 2018 on her children’s book, The Cookie Loved ‘Round the World, which tells the story of the chocolate chip cookie, from its invention in Whitman, Massachusetts, to its eventual designation as the official cookie of Massachusetts.

To register for the April 27th virtual author talk, please visit:

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, April 4, 2022

On Display in the State Library

With its warming temperatures and sprouting blooms, April has been designated by the National Garden Bureau as National Garden Month. To mark this month-long celebration of spring, currently on display in the library’s reading room is a nearly 300-year-old text that would serve as a useful reference for every gardener. Visit us to see volume one of The Gardeners Dictionary: Containing the Best and Newest Methods of Cultivating and Improving the Kitchen, Fruit, Flower Garden, and Nursery by Philip Miller and published in London in 1759. 

The Gardeners Dictionary was an often-cited reference source compiled by botanist Philip Miller (1691-1771). According to the description on the title page, Miller was “gardener to the worshipful company of apothecaries, at their botanic garden in Chelsea, and member of the Botanick Academy at Florence.” Miller served as the head gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden (also known as the Apothecaries’ Garden) in London from 1722 until his retirement in 1770. Through the publishing of his dictionary, he is also regarded as one of the top horticultural writers of the eighteenth century. One could say that his profession ran in his blood, as his father was a gardener, and his two sons were also botanists. 

The two-volume set in the State Library’s collection is the seventh edition, which as noted on the title page was “revised and altered according to the latest system of botany; and embellished with several copper-plates, which were not in the former editions.” In total, there were eight editions published during Miller’s lifetime, with the first edition dating to 1731. These volumes are incredibly comprehensive, as indicated by the full title: The Gardeners Dictionary: Containing the best and newest methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit, flower garden, and nursery, as also for performing the practical parts of agriculture: including the management of vineyards, with the methods of making and preserving the wine, according to the present practice of the most skilful vignerons in the several wine countries in Europe. Together with directions for propagating and improving, for real practice and experience, all sorts of timber trees. Within the pages are an explanation of technical terms, a listing of the other works and authors that Miller consulted for this publication, and some drawings. But the bulk of the book is an alphabetical listing of plants, along with descriptive information, origin and varieties, and care instructions. While the version in our collection has not been digitized, you can access the full text of the dictionary through the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

We have displayed the book open to its frontispiece and title page. The frontispiece is a beautiful drawing depicting Nature, Industry, Britannia, and Science. Britannia is shown being presented with a cornucopia of fruits and flowers. All the figures are gathered in front of an orangery, which was a structure found on wealthy estates in the 1600s to the 1800s. Orangeries were large buildings that kept orange and other fruit trees protected during the winter months. Below the drawing is a line of Latin that reads, “Behold, the boys bring baskets to you full of flowers.”

Whether you are an avid gardener yourself or just appreciate the beauty that others cultivate, we hope you’ll mark National Garden Month by stopping by the State Library to take a look at The Gardeners Dictionary!

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Friday, April 1, 2022

Friends of the Library Newsletter – April issue

Happy April! Read all about what’s happening at the State Library in this month’s Friends of the Library newsletter – out now! Pictured here is a preview, but the full version can be accessed by clicking here. And you can also sign up for our mailing list to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox.